The shortened 2012-13 NHL campaign has seen the Toronto Maple Leafs use a number of developed players throughout the season. Eight players who are 26 years old or younger, have suited up for the Maple Leafs this season – all of them playing vital roles for the Toronto Marlies earlier this season . This is a testament to the process the Maple Leafs have implemented in recent years to develop and promote more prospects.
The Toronto Maple Leafs' cupboard is no longer bare, though it is certainly lacking high caliber offensive forwards. In previous years, the Leafs have been known to make rash signings and trades, paying little to no attention to the quality and continuity of their pipeline. They renewed their focus on drafting and development several ago and are only now slowly beginning to reap the benefits.
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.
The Toronto Maple Leafs' system includes extensive depth at all positions, which should soon pay major dividends. Pending an extended lockout, there is expectation for strong competition from within, as a number of players are expected to graduate to the professional level. Recent draftees Morgan Rielly and Matt Finn find themselves ranked in the top-five for the Fall Top 20 rankings. Other new faces to the list include NCAA forward standout Spencer Abbot and Swedish defenseman Petter Granberg.
It's been a long time since a team in Toronto has played meaningful hockey in the Spring months. The Toronto Marlies have changed those fortunes this season with a strong year that has translated into a lengthy post-season run that has seen the club play in the Calder Cup finals. Led by a handful of solid prospects, the Toronto Maple Leafs hope the recent post-season run by the Marlies will translate into more NHL ready players as soon as next season.