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Toronto Maple Leafs: The Franchise's 5 Most Untouchable Prospects

Jon ReidCorrespondent IINovember 26, 2012

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Franchise's 5 Most Untouchable Prospects

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    The NHL lockout may still be dragging on, but every team's top prospects are still playing hockey. Whether it be in the AHL, ECHL or in one of many junior leagues (some may even be playing in Europe), prospects everywhere are still showcasing their talent for their team's scouts.

    With GMs undoubtedly still chatting amongst themselves about potential trades should some part of the regular season be salvaged, some of these prospects names are surely bouncing around.

    Here are the Toronto Maple Leafs' five most untouchable prospects.

5. Joe Colborne

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    Since acquiring Joe Colborne from the Boston Bruins a few years ago, the Leafs young center prospect has been a major disappointment.

    While he still possesses the potential to be a big, physical, yet offensively gifted center, he hasn't shown many signs of ever reaching that potential.

    Unlike fellow prospect Nazem Kadri who has been somewhat of a disappointment, Colborne has many wondering if he was ever worth trading for in the first place.

    The only reason he makes this list is because the Leafs are still shallow when it comes to talent up the middle and dealing away their one prospect who could still turn into a first-line guy wouldn't be wise.

4. Jake Gardiner

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    The first question many of you are probably asking right now is, "How on earth is Jake Gardiner ranked at No. 4?!?!"

    I wouldn't fault you for thinking I'm crazy.

    Jake Gardiner has an incredible amount of talent.

    Problem is, he is extremely valuable on the trade market and could bring the Leafs a huge return.

    With Morgan Rielly being just a year or so off from being ready to play in the NHL, the Leafs could plausibly deal Jake Gardiner for some help up front or in net and not miss him as much as some believe.

    While it's still not likely that the Leafs move Gardiner, he's not necessarily "untouchable" either.

3. Nazem Kadri

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    Whether or not to trade Nazem Kadri has become a huge debate among Leafs fans.

    Like it or not, though, Nazem still has the niftiest set of hands of any Leafs prospect and probably better hands than anyone on the current roster.

    Sure, his development has been agonizingly slow for some, but the talent is there and Kadri does have the potential to be a brilliant NHL player.

    If you are one who believes that trading Luke Schenn will come back to haunt the Leafs in a few years, then you should also be weary of the Leafs dealing Nazem Kadri.

2. Jesse Blacker

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    After dealing Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers for power forward James van Riemsdyk, the Leafs don't really have all that many young, physical, defensive defensemen to replace him.

    Sure, Korbinian Holzer is ready to challenge for a roster spot, but he's not exactly the type of guy that will get big minutes. Other than Dion Phaneuf, the Leafs top-four defensemen are all smaller, more offense-oriented kind of guys (John-Michael Liles, Jake Gardiner and Carl Gunnarsson).

    Jesse Blacker is the next physical, defensive defenseman that will be able to play top-four kind of minutes for Toronto on the blue line.

    With the Leafs having a plethora of young, talented defensemen to be able to trade, Blacker is the one that the Leafs should hold onto.

1. Morgan Rielly

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    This should be a no-brainer.

    Toronto's most recent first-round draft pick is their top prospect and one of the best prospects to come out of his draft class.

    In fact, according to hockeysfuture.com, Rielly is one of the top 20 prospects in all of hockey right now.

    With his vision, skating and ability to handle the puck, the Leafs would be crazy to trade Rielly. The fact that he's been absolutely phenomenal for his junior team, the Moose Jaw Warriors, the last few years goes to show that he's well ahead of other players his age.

     

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