TSN.ca has reported that the Maple Leafs made significant roster moves prior to the September 15 CBA deadline.
Some of the most notable moves were sending Jake Gardiner, Nazem Kadri and Joe Colborne to their AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies, while also sending first-round pick Morgan Rielly back to Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are not a bad team by any means, but are full of young and talented players who have yet to fully develop.
Though Kadri has been criticized for his time to develop and size, he is still very young and could be on the brink of a breakout season once given a chance to play at the NHL level.
For now, time to master his game at the AHL level will surely help him hone the skills to be a future star in the NHL.
Ditto for Jake Gardiner, though he proved to be a legitimate blueliner with a 30-point rookie campaign in 75 games last year.
It was almost certain that Rielly would return to the WHL, but Gardiner, Kadri and Colborne seemed on the verge of full-time roles.
Nevertheless, with the lockout officially starting, these decisions are in the best interest of the players.
Who will have the best season with the Toronto Marlies?
In addition to the more notable names, Jesse Blacker, Brad Ross, Andrew Crescenzi, Nicolas Deschamps, Carter Ashton, Sam Carrick and Greg McKegg are all legitimate prospects in the Maple Leafs' system and have also been sent to the Marlies.
These players have the potential to dominate their current level of hockey, and if they succeed, all the more reason to call them up to the NHL level next season.
Even though the sadness of an NHL lockout cannot be stressed enough, the fact is, the Toronto Maple Leafs benefit more from taking this season off than playing it out.
The Maple Leafs are in desperate need of high-end talent at the top-six forward level, primarily at center. With several of these young prospects listed at the center position, the NHL squad could only benefit from giving these players more time to develop.
Leafs Nation, if the NHL season is cancelled, turn your attention to the Toronto Marlies.
These will be the players carrying the Toronto Maple Leafs into, hopefully, a successful future.