Top Ten Leafs Prospects
To be eligible for this list, a player must be 25 or younger at the beginning of 2012, and must also have played less than 50 NHL games. This means that both Jake Gardiner and James Reimer are ineligible, as both are now bona fide NHLers, having each played significantly more than 50 games.
Nazem Kadri, F – October 6, 1990
Many would argue against keeping Kadri as the Maple Leafs #1 prospect, however if he isn't traded he is likely to make the main club's roster next season as a fast young scorer, and then it will be up to him to prove he belongs in the bigs. Look for him to get time at centre and on the left wing.
Carter Ashton, F – April 1, 1991
Keith Aulie was a fair price to pay for Ashton, and as the Leafs defence is deep and young, the Buds could afford to let Aulie go. Based on his late-season callup, Carter plays the style of game that endears him to coach Randy Carlyle, and should begin the 2012-2013 season with the Maple Leafs.
Joe Colborne, F – January 30, 1990
Though he has been strong for the Marlies, he hasn't been spectacular and his stock may have fallen during this season. If Joe leads the Marlies to a Calder Cup he will get a long long look at Leafs training camp, however if he falters in the playoffs, he may be back with Marlies again at the beginning of next season.
Matt Frattin, F – January 3, 1988
The 2nd-oldest prospect in the Top Ten at 24, Matt looks able to secure a Big Nine position coming out of Carlyle's training camp this September. When he was sent down to the AHL this year, he scored something like 9 goals in 12 games and proved he was too good for that league, and his rough'n'tumble style of play appeals to Carlyle.
Jesse Blacker, D – April 19, 1991
Not likely to make the Maple Leafs next season, another year with the Marlies should prep him well for a long NHL career, and he may see some callup time if there are any injuries.
Tyler Biggs, F – April 30, 1993
Enjoying a solid rookie season with NCAA University of Miami (Ohio) squad, Tyler will head back to school after Leafs camp and continue his development at university. Next year will be key, and Biggs remains one of the Toronto Maple Leafs' best prospects, though patience will be key as he is still 18 years old!
Mark Owuya, G – July 18, 1989
Mark's AHL record (9-5, .926, 2.07) was far better than Jussi Rynnas this year and slightly better than Ben Scrivens, however as Ben is a lot older and was going to be given the bulk of the load down the stretch, Owuya was sent back to Reading of the ECHL so he too could get in a lot of games.
If Gustavsson isn't re-signed (he'll be 28 in October and is unlikely to improve much from here), Owuya should be given every opportunity to compete for the backup spot on the Maple Leafs, and if for some reason (eg. no other teams bidding and he signs for $1.2 mil to stay) Jonas is re-signed, then Rynnas needs to be traded so Owuya can compete for Marlies top job, and be ready for an NHL callup that may come sooner than most Leafs fans expect.
Matt Lashoff, D - September 29, 1986
Turning 26 in the Autumn and coming off a lost season due to a leg injury, Matt will look to make a big impression on Carlyle at training camp. He could also be a key piece in a Summer trade.
Korbinian Holzer, D – February 16, 1988
Holzer is highly regarded and many believe he is ready for the NHL, so either he or Lashoff is likely to be traded as part of a deal for a big centre or winger.
Summary: Look for Kadri, Ashton, Colborne and Frattin to inject some youth and vigor into the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 2012-2013 season.