The shortened 2012-13 NHL campaign has seen the Toronto Maple Leafs use a number of developed players throughout the season. Eight players who are 26 years old or younger, have suited up for the Maple Leafs this season – all of them playing vital roles for the Toronto Marlies earlier this season . This is a testament to the process the Maple Leafs have implemented in recent years to develop and promote more prospects.
With five of the past six first-overall NHL draft picks being forwards from the Ontario Hockey League, OHL defensemen have had a lot of practice playing against elite offensive talent. And that’s reflected in the continued development of these 10 promising young NHL-drafted defensemen.
The Toronto Maple Leafs junior prospects feature a handful of the organizations top young talent such as Tyler Biggs, Matt Finn, Morgan Rielly, and Stuart Percy. In total the Maple Leafs have eight prospects playing in the Ontario Hockey League, and only two in Rielly (WHL) and Dominic Toninato (USHL) playing in other North American junior leagues. The Maple Leafs have three prospects from the junior level heading to World Junior camps this December.
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.
The Toronto Maple Leafs' system includes extensive depth at all positions, which should soon pay major dividends. Pending an extended lockout, there is expectation for strong competition from within, as a number of players are expected to graduate to the professional level. Recent draftees Morgan Rielly and Matt Finn find themselves ranked in the top-five for the Fall Top 20 rankings. Other new faces to the list include NCAA forward standout Spencer Abbot and Swedish defenseman Petter Granberg.