Photo: Notre Dame defenseman and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns will cap off his college career with his most productive offensive season for the Fighting Irish (courtesy of Zumapress/Icon SMI)
This season, the NCAA features an array of outstanding NHL-drafted defensemen and many of them, particularly underclassmen, have been left off this year’s list. The ten defensemen ranked here are all having excellent seasons with their respective teams and have made tremendous strides in their development.
Photo: Defenseman Morgan Rielly has experienced a lot of ups and downs in his first NHL season. Rielly has recorded two goals and 18 assists through 54 games with the Maple Leafs. (courtesy of Abelimages/Getty Images)
Outside of Nazem Kadri and the soon-to-graduate Morgan Rielly, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been void of big-name prospects for a few years. Moreover, they have lacked the prospect depth of most other NHL teams, either as a result of trading picks or players not yet meeting their potential.
Photo: Selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs seventh overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, forward Nazem Kadri has developed into a solid top-six forward in the NHL. (courtesy of Nick Turchiaro/Icon SMI)
Brian Burke's first draft as General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs featured a variety of picks intended to help implement his somewhat idiosyncratic vision for a franchise in dire need of direction. The Maple Leafs finished the 2008-09 season with 34 wins and 81 points, and had missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
Photo: Ohio State Buckeyes forward and Ottawa Senators prospect Ryan Dzingel had a hot hand in January, posting 14 points in eight games during that month (courtesy of Dan Sanger/Icon SMI)
The first month of 2014 featured a little bit of everything involving prospects around NCAA hockey. Hockey’s Future looks back at the notable performances and news items during from that month. Unless otherwise noted, all stats are current as of February 1st.
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.