Photo: Frederik Gauthier will attempt to lead the Rimouski Oceanic all the way to the Memorial Cup this spring. (Courtesy of Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
At the dawn of the 2014-15 season, the Leafs featured a number of skilled forward prospects who were looking to either build on past success or transition to the next level of hockey. While most of this group consists of players small in stature, there were no major setbacks among their elite offensive forwards as they made successful transitions to the minor pro ranks or improved statistically over their previous season. Read more»
Photo: Forward Josh Leivo is one of several Toronto Maple Leafs prospects who are expected to take the next step in their development. Leivo was a third round pick in 2011. (courtesy of Abelimages/Getty Images)
The Toronto Maple Leafs have featured a lot of high character, two-way forwards in their prospect pool over the years, but few with pure offensive instinct or elite skill. That is changing with the drafting of high-end talent William Nylander and the progress shown last season from the likes of Josh Leivo, Andreas Johnson, Carter Verhaeghe, and others.
Photo: Frolunda defenseman and Dallas Stars prospect John Klingberg has gotten a small taste of North American hockey the past couple of seasons, but will move to North America for the 2014-15 season (courtesy of Andrew Dieb/Icon SMI)
As the 2014 NHL Draft approaches, it is important to take note that the NHL is currently chock full of players hailing from Sweden. In particular, it would have been difficult to find many NHL rosters that lacked a Swede patrolling the blueline this past season.
Photo: Forward Teemu Hartikainen was acquired by the Maple Leafs in a trade on January 31st, 2014. Hartikainen spent the 2013-14 season in the KHL with Salavat Yulaev Ufa. (courtesy of ANTTI AIMO-KOIVISTO/AFP/Getty Images)
For the greater part of the last decade, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been reluctant to draft outside of the CHL in the first round. Sure, they selected NCAA-bound Tyler Biggs in 2011, but just a season later he was playing for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.
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.