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.
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.