We’ve officially entered into August, my friends; otherwise known as the final month of the NHL offseason.

I mean, sure, the regular-season doesn’t get down to business until early-October, but summer vacations tend to reach their natural climax as the calendar flips to September. It’s a magical month, really. September is for training camps to open, NHL preseason action to kick off, and far too many steadfast opinions to get formed on the basis of minuscule samples.

August, on the other hand, provides you with one last-ditch stab at summer peace.

Oh, and it’s also the Official Month of Prospect Rankings™. Everyone’s doing them. They’re, like, in. 

We here at The Leafs Nation take our prospect rankings very seriously. As the Leafs descend deeper into a contention window that is underlined by a claustrophobic cap squeeze, the presence of young talent locked down on ELC-induced term will naturally play a key role in helping this team challenge for Lord Stanley’s coffee mug year after year. Those youngsters can come from anywhere, mind you; the Junior ranks, the AHL, or even a second-tier Russian league you never knew existed. No stone is unworthy of being turned.

That being said, some stones are more worthy than others. Not every prospect is going to make it. It’s one of life’s harshest truths. Welcome to the real world.

So to save you, our valued readers, from the malaise of the medium’s standard “#1-20” format that gets rolled out each and every summer, we’re switching things up this time:

TLN’s Official 2019 Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Rankings will be done in tiers. 

Ever heard of Steve Dangle’s innovative “Prospect Pyramid” concept? Yeah, it will be a lot like that. And yes, he gave us permission. Thank you, Steve – always helping out the less fortunate.

The practice of stuffing borderline teenagers into definitive ranking positions naturally comes with a ton of clutter. This new approach is meant to streamline it. A “tier by tier” format allows us to form a better idea of where each Leaf prospect stands in their respective career at the moment – information which we then pass on to you to be met with unabashed scrutiny.

Think about it this way: Instead of haggling over whether Vladimir Bobylev or Vladislav Kara deserves to hold down the #27 spot and therefore losing the pipeline forest in the fringe-prospect trees, both players will be sorted into a group alongside peers who each sit at more or less the same juncture on their own developmental curves.

Make sense? Terrific!

Our 2019 rankings kick off next week.