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Perhaps the most endearing quality about the Toronto Maple Leafs this season has been their resilience and depth in the face of injuries to key players.
Colby Armstrong, Mike Brown, Mike Komisarek and John-Michael Liles have all had significant amounts of time off due to injury. Thankfully, Toronto's young guns have been able to fill the void and gain incredible experience in the process.
From where has all this depth come?
General manager Brian Burke has shown there are other ways to rebuild a team besides the draft, and he has proven this by swinging multi-player deals with cap-conscious teams.
Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner, Matthew Lombardi and Cody Franson are all players that have been wrangled away from their former clubs with great deliberation.
Scouting college player Tyler Bozak from the University of Denver in 2009 has also proven to pay off for Burke's Maple Leafs. Bozak has enjoyed comparable offensive stats to Tim Connolly, has a better faceoff percentage at 52.1 and comes with an extremely economical $1.5 million cap hit.
He has also exhibited complimentary chemistry on the top line with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.
Another interesting discovery with respect to the Leafs' depth has been revealed by Ron Wilson's line juggling—paring Lupul with Connolly and Nazem Kadri and Kessel with Bozak and Matthew Lombardi, in the game versus the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 19, 2012.
This line shakeup resulted in a three-point night for Lupul and Kessel's 25th goal on the season—a good sign that Toronto is not just a one-line/one-trick pony.
The Mikhail Grabovski/Nikolai Kulemin/Clarke MacArthur line also seems to be picking up some steam as of late.
Grabovski has five points in his last two games, while MacArthur is on pace for a career-best 25 goals.
Seeing other players such as Joey Crabb contributing offense on the fourth line is also an extremely encouraging sign.
The cherry on top for the Maple Leafs organization is that they have the likes of Joe Colborne, Matt Frattin, Korbinian Holzer, Jesse Blacker and Jerry D'Amigo contributing to a strong Toronto Marlies team—with Tyler Biggs, Stewart Percy and Greg McKegg still in the pipeline.
As a result of a few very nice trades, Burke has managed to assemble an array of options for Ron Wilson to play with.