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: 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 Frederik Gauthier was the first selection the Maple Leafs made in the 2013 NHL Draft. Gauthier is a big-bodied forward who plays a good two-way game. (courtesy of Chris So/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Slow and steady development remains the course of action for the Toronto Maple Leafs entering the 2013-14 season. With a patient approach to their draft picks over the last few seasons, the club is now in a large transition phase at the AHL level.
Photo: Kitchener Rangers forward Josh Leivo was one of several Toronto Maple Leafs prospects to join that club’s minor-league affiliate at the completion of the junior hockey season (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
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.