Toronto Maple Leafs: Ten Prospects That Could Pull a “James Reimer” in 2011

« Prev
1 of 12
Next »
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse the slideshow
Toronto Maple Leafs: Ten Prospects That Could Pull a “James Reimer” in 2011
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Its official. With the Toronto Maple leafs 4-3 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night our beloved Maple Leafs have now gone without a Stanley Cup victory for 44 years.

While the Toronto Maple Leafs organization has had a number of bright spots along the way, the fact remains that, for the most part, the Maple Leafs have been an organization marred in mediocrity for over four decades.

For many years the Blue and White ignored the NHL Entry Draft in favor of trading for grizzled veterans. Needless to say, given the lack of Stanley Cups, that philosophy never really worked, often leaving the team void of any homegrown star talent, which, in turn, was a major reason the organization has suffered for so long.

Since his arrival Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has endured an extreme amount of criticism for his trading of two first round draft choices (2010 and 2011) and a second rounder in 2010 for talented sniper Phil Kessel.

At the time of the deal Burke maintained that the acquisition of Kessel would help put the Maple Leafs on the right track towards respectability, which, to some extent, it has.

In an effort to speed up the rebuilding process Burke acquired several veteran players. Francois Beauchemin, J.S. Giguere, Kris Versteeg, Mike Komisarek, Mike Zigomanis (currently with the Toronto Marlies), Mike Brown and Colby Armstrong were among Burke’s many moves, with each player paying off in various degrees.

Burke managed to turn Beauchemin into top-six forward Joffrey Lupul, prospect Jake Gardiner and a fourth round draft choice, while Kris Versteeg was shipped off to the Philadelphia Flyers for their first and third round draft choices in 2011.

Determined to stockpile more young talent, Burke finalized a trade involving veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the Boston Bruins which netted Burke prospect Joe Colborne and Boston first round selection in this years draft and a conditional draft choice should Kaberle re-sign with the Bruins this summer.

Combined with Burke’s numerous College and European acquisitions, Burke has helped build a minor league system that is more than respectable.

Goaltenders Ben Scrivens, Jonas Gustavsson and Jussi Rynnas all came to the Maple Leafs via free agency. That means Burke gave up nothing more than a few dollars for three very good goaltending prospects, assets that he may choose to use as bargaining chips when he attempts to trade up in the draft and/or trades for a player that can help his team now.

Tyler Bozak is another example of a College signing that, while nowhere near perfect, has paid dividends as is/was the signing of Brayden Irwin, Tyler Brenner, Hobey Baker Award finalist Matt Frattin (three more College products) and Marcel Mueller (European free agent signing), all of whom help give the Maple Leafs a measure of organizational depth they haven’t seen in, well, upwards of 40 years!

There are other top prospects within the organization that may make an impact on the big club as early as next season (Nazem Kadri and Jerry D’amigo come to mind), not to mention the fine jobs that both goaltender James Reimer (a John Ferguson Jr. draft pick) and rugged defenseman Keith Aulie (brought over in the Dion Phaneuf deal) are currently doing in Toronto.

At the end of the day the man that should get most of the credit is Brian Burke. First because he had the vision to focus on the U.S. College ranks and second, because it appears as if many of his signings are not just filler, they are actually contributing to the success of the big club.

With all this in mind let’s take a look at the top ten Maple Leafs’ prospects…which one will pull a “James Reimer in 2011?”

Begin Slideshow »
Load More Stories

Follow Toronto Maple Leafs from B/R on Facebook

Follow Toronto Maple Leafs from B/R on Facebook and get the latest updates straight to your newsfeed!

Toronto Maple Leafs

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.