Photo: Greg McKegg (92) was the lone prospect to represent the Leafs at the 2012 Memorial Cup. (Terry Wilson/CHL Images)
It's been a long time since a team in Toronto has played meaningful hockey in the Spring months. The Toronto Marlies have changed those fortunes this season with a strong year that has translated into a lengthy post-season run that has seen the club play in the Calder Cup finals. Led by a handful of solid prospects, the Toronto Maple Leafs hope the recent post-season run by the Marlies will translate into more NHL ready players as soon as next season.
Photo: Sania Sting forward Nail Yakupov heads another strong NHL Draft class coming out of the Ontario Hockey League (courtesy of OHL Images)
Last year, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins effectively ended the OHL's dominance atop the NHL Draft when he was selected first overall by the Edmonton Oilers. This year, the Oilers may start a new streak by calling an OHL player's name with the first pick for the fifth time in six years.
Photo: OHL Commissioner David Branch presents London Knights forward Austin Watson (NAS) with the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award, given to the player most valuable to his team in the OHL playoffs. Watson managed 10 goals and seven assists in 19 playoff games, helping London to their second OHL championship. The Knights will need Watson to keep up his scoring if they hope to win their second Memorial Cup. (Photo courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
A defending champ, a host unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs earlier than expected, a former champ crashing the party one year early, and the new kid on the block — out of 59 teams from nine Canadian provinces and four U.S. states, the 2012 CHL championship will be contested by a quartet of squads that couldn't be more different — save for the common goal of raising the Memorial Cup.
Photo: Mark Scheifele has been one of the top players in OHL all season long. Scheifele will be expected to compete for a spot in Winnipeg next season. (Photo courtesy of CHL Images)
The Ontario Hockey League has been one of the premier pipelines for NHL development over the past couple of decades, particularly down the middle of the ice. From Eric Lindros to Joe Thornton, and more recently, Mike Richards, Ryan Getzlaf, and surging second-year center Tyler Seguin, the league has produced countless blue chip NHL centermen.