Photo: Swedish defenseman and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Tom Nilsson has previously competed internationally for his country, but this is his first time playing at the U-20 WJC (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
For Sweden's Filip Forsberg, the 2013 World Junior Championship provides a chance to cement the idea that Sweden has arrived as a hockey power at the junior level. Forsberg was a part of his country's gold medal squad at the 2012 World Juniors, with his performance at that tournament no doubt helping to solidify his stock for the 2012 NHL Draft.
Photo: Stuart Percy is one of several prominent defensive prospects the Maple Leafs have at the CHL level. (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
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.
Photo: After playing the past three seasons in Finland, defenseman Sami Vatanen made his way to North America and currently plays for the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Below is the middle section Hockey’s Future’s NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked in terms of the quality of their overall prospect pool as voted on by the staff of Hockey's Future. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year, with the second scheduled to be published in the Spring.
Photo: Carter Ashton is just one of a handful of young forwards the Maple Leafs have acquired over the past two years. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
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.
Photo: Defenseman Korbinian Holzer is one of several NHL-ready Toronto prospects who was forced to play in the AHL this season due to the NHL lockout. (Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)
The improved prospect depth in the Toronto Maple Leafs system should start to bear fruit through the 2012-13 season, as many prospects make their pro debuts with the Toronto Marlies (AHL). Focus, however, will continue on prospects at the pro level such as Nazem Kadri and Joe Colborne. There is also great interest in 2012 draft pick Morgan Rielly, and what he can do over a full season.