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: London Knights defenseman and Buffalo Sabres prospect Nikita Zadorov didn’t look out of place during seven NHL games played in the early portion of the 2013-14 season, but returned to the Knights following the 2014 World Junior Championship (courtesy of Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
The OHL has long been known for its ability to pump out marquee offensive talent, but don’t sell the league short on the blueline. This year’s elite draft-eligible defensemen, like Aaron Ekblad and Roland McKeown, have a number of role models within the league whose path they can follow to the draft podium and beyond.
Photo: Forward Carter Verhaeghe is one of several high-scoring junior prospects for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Verhaeghe was selected in the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
The Toronto Maple Leafs' dynamic duo of Connor Brown and Carter Verhaeghe are taking the OHL by storm this season. The two are among the most offensively gifted prospects in the Maple Leafs system, though both still have ways to go before becoming NHL players.
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: Now in his fourth season of junior hockey, Matt Finn is expected to be a leader for the Guelph Storm on and off the ice. (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
The AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Marlies, are expected to ice a very youthful lineup for the 2013-14 season, comprised mostly of players aged 23 and under. The Marlies will welcome eight players who make their rookie debuts in the AHL.