Photo: Notre Dame defenseman and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns will cap off his college career with his most productive offensive season for the Fighting Irish (courtesy of Zumapress/Icon SMI)
This season, the NCAA features an array of outstanding NHL-drafted defensemen and many of them, particularly underclassmen, have been left off this year’s list. The ten defensemen ranked here are all having excellent seasons with their respective teams and have made tremendous strides in their development.
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: University of Minnesota backstop Adam Wilcox, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, and the Gophers hold the top spot in the Big Ten going into the final weeks of the NCAA regular season (courtesy of Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
Welcome to the February 2014 edition of On the Rush, a monthly column featuring prospects at various levels of competition who are either exceeding expectations or falling a little behind.
Photo: Selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs seventh overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, forward Nazem Kadri has developed into a solid top-six forward in the NHL. (courtesy of Nick Turchiaro/Icon SMI)
Brian Burke's first draft as General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs featured a variety of picks intended to help implement his somewhat idiosyncratic vision for a franchise in dire need of direction. The Maple Leafs finished the 2008-09 season with 34 wins and 81 points, and had missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
Photo: Toronto Marlies forward and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Spencer Abbott is currently ranked fifth in scoring in the AHL with 42 points in 40 games (courtesy of David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
With the American Hockey League season passing the midway point, a great deal of young prospects have already made some noise with their respective NHL clubs while others continue to adjust to the pro-style game.