Photo: Grand Rapids Griffins forward and Detroit Red Wings prospect Teemu Pulkkinen is currently third overall in scoring in the AHL (courtesy of Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)
It’s been a total upheaval in the standings in the AHL‘s Western Conference from last spring through the first third of the 2014-15 season. Two of the top four teams in the conference last season aren’t even in the top nine currently – Grand Rapids (9th) and Toronto (12th) – leaving the Western Conference wide open as teams head into the middle third of the schedule amidst the height of injuries and call-ups. Read more»
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: Speedy forward Jerry D’Amigo is one of many prospects to have been recalled by the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. The 22-year-old is currently in his fourth season of professional hockey. (courtesy of Keith Hamilton/Icon SMI)
With a consistent push of drafted prospects graduating to the American Hockey League this past summer, the Toronto Maple Leafs farm team has seen an overhaul to its core and is sporting a more youthful look.
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: Forward Joe Colborne is one of several Toronto Maple Leafs prospects who has NHL experience. (Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
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.