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: Offseason acquisition Jakob Silfverberg saw action in 11 games with Anaheim, including two against his former team the Senators, before a broken hand forced him out of the lineup (courtesy of Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Anaheim Ducks' brass has done an excellent job maintaining depth throughout their prospect pool in recent years. They have done incredibly well in the past few drafts, adding players who can score, but also players capable of playing a responsible two-way game.
Photo: John Gibson had stellar showings for Team USA at the WJC, and as pictured here, in leading the U.S. to a shootout win over Finland for the bronze medal at the 2013 IIHF World Championship (courtesy of JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
The Anaheim Ducks added several key prospects this off-season via drafting and trade. While the Ducks world was shaken by the trade of Bobby Ryan to Ottawa, in return they received two tremendous pieces in Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen. They also added via draft Shea Theodore, Nick Sorensen, and Keaton Thompson. The addition of these talented players has caused a bit of a shuffle in the rankings, not due to poor play or a downgrade of potential, but simply due to an increase of quality players in the system.
Photo: The Ducks have selected 10 defensemen in their past three drafts, including Cam Fowler 12th overall in 2010. (courtesy of John Cordes/Icon SMI)
The Anaheim Ducks had a more successful 2013 season than many people expected. After struggling in the 2011-12 season and failing to make the playoffs, the franchise looked ready for a rebuild. However, with a fresh season under new coach Bruce Boudreau in 2013, they surprised everyone and won the Pacific Division. The wealth of prospects that the franchise has are developing well, and a few are starting to poke into the NHL and make an impact.
Photo: Finnish defenseman Sami Vatanen made his North American debut in 2012-13 and ranked in the top five in points among AHL blueliners (courtesy of Bob Frid/Icon SMI)
Normally when you look at a team's top prospect list, the top end of it is a mixture of sleepers and blue chip prospects. There are players who live up to the hype, others who create it out of nowhere. Sometimes organizations struggle with top picks panning out, but that is not the case with the Anaheim Ducks.