Photo: Forward Spencer Abbott has been a standout for the Toronto Marlies, the AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Abbott is in his second full season of professional hockey. (courtesy of Abelimages/Getty Images)
The Toronto Maple Leafs strong start can be attributed to the depth they have accumulated over previous seasons. Under general manager Dave Nonis, the Maple Leafs continue to foster the development of their youth in hopes they will one day become NHL players.
Photo: Kitchener Rangers forward Josh Leivo was one of several Toronto Maple Leafs prospects to join that club’s minor-league affiliate at the completion of the junior hockey season (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
Years of building the Toronto Maple Leafs from the ground up started to pay off for the club in the 2012-13 season. The Maple Leafs returned to the playoffs after a nine-year absence to play the Boston Bruins in round one. Toronto took Boston all the way to game seven and looked poised to head into the second round before a third period collapse changed everything. While it was a heartbreaking collapse which led to an overtime loss (and subsequent elimination) it provided a learning experience for a club which lacked playoff experience.
Photo: Defenseman Andrew MacWilliam recently signed an entry-level deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. MacWilliam spent the season playing for North Dakota. (courtesy of Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
The Maple Leafs have several prospects playing at the NCAA and European level. Tony Cameranesi boasts the most impressive season out of any NCAA prospect, while a strong performance from Swedish defenseman Tom Nilsson has earned him an entry-level deal with the Maple Leafs. All three of the Maple Leafs European prospects are Swedish.
Photo: Selected by the Maple Leafs in the second round of the 2008 draft, Jimmy Hayes was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010. He is currently playing for the Blackhawks AHL affiliate. (courtesy of Warren Wimmer/Icon SMI)
With interim GM Cliff Fletcher at the helm (prior the arrival of Brian Burke) the Toronto Maple Leafs made eight selections at the 2008 NHL-Entry Draft including a coveted top-10 selection.
Photo: Carter Ashton is just one of a handful of young forwards the Maple Leafs have acquired over the past two years. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
The additions of defensemen Morgan Rielly and Matt Finn at the 2012 NHL Draft have bolstered what was once a weak point in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ system. They are added to a list of names such as Korbinian Holzer, Jesse Blacker, Stuart Percy, and Petter Granberg that are in the fold currently. Each player offers a different dynamic that should complement the team’s defensive core if they continue to progress in their development.