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Toronto Maple Leafs Draft Options

This article has been submitted by Jack Forsayeth.

The Maple Leafs have had a pretty confusing and rough off-season to date. Richard Peddie has no idea what is going on but I think that Cliff Fletcher does. Ron Wilson is a good and probably safe hire for this franchise. He is a proven winner and his only knock seems to be ONLY getting to late rounds of playoffs, and maybe some GM feuds along the way. That sounds like a breeze as a Leaf fan.

One thing is for certain: there will be a whole new team out there that may not include the likes of Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker, Brian McCabe, Pavel Kubina, and the list goes on. Based on last year’s record I would say that is a good thing, although I do hope Mats stays around and Kubina can be useful.

Cliff Fletcher made another decision recently that may be the best one a GM has made for the Leafs, or any team, in a very long time and that is checking your ego at the door as you walk into the draft room. He has stated that every final decision will come down through Dave Morrison and the rest of his Amateur Scouting crew. He has put full trust in the guys who see thousands of amateur games a year rather than himself, having only watched a few. Sounds pretty smart to me. They haven’t been given much of a chance in recent years because they don’t get picks until the 3rd or 4th round. I already see a turnaround in this organization when a member of top management lets someone else make decisions.

The draft is deep this year and the Leafs should be able to get a great player with their 7th pick, if they keep it. Unfortunately they may not get one of the big four defensemen this year. There have been rumors that they are looking to move up and Fletcher has been known to make trades on draft day.

Tampa will take Stamkos, that much is for sure.

The next two picks will be defensemen Drew Doughty and Zach Bogosian, not necessarily in that order but I think it should be.

Alex Pietrangelo and Luke Schenn will probably be taken somewhere between 4 and 6. The Leafs really want one of these two guys and will be willing to move up to get them. They are both defensemen but both extremely different players. Pietrangelo is a mobile offensive playmaker compared to a Zubov or Lidstrom whereas Schenn is a bruising defensive player who has been compared to Phaneuf or Foote. Both sound pretty damn good to me and neither is a liability at any time on the ice. Both will eat up minutes and become a top-2 defenseman on any team very soon.

Now it gets into those players that might be available. Nikita Filatov will be the most interesting on draft day. He could probably go as high as 3 or pull an Alexei Cherepanov and fall way down. He is an extremely skilled and talented forward that may have the most potential of this impressive class. My guess is that he will fall somewhere in the top six and the Leafs will miss out on a growing superstar.

So the Leafs miss out on six great players, but there are more, and this is where the Leafs list likely starts. The best player left is LW Mikkel Boedker from the Kitchener Rangers, who originally comes from Denmark. He is extremely fast and has great vision and Hockey IQ. He quarterbacks the Kitchener power play from the point, something that not many forwards can pull off, especially in the OHL. He is more of a playmaker than a sniper but he is probably the most versatile forward in the draft. If I am the Leafs, I take Boedker, given the other six aren’t available.

Other players that have been mentioned are Colin Wilson, Cody Hodgson, Kyle Beach and Tyler Myers. Wilson is a great passer who isn’t afraid to lay a hit, Hodgson is an American who also quarterbacks the PP, and Beach is a feisty power forward who scores and gets a lot of penalty minutes. His character may have him drop out of the top-10, but not because of talent. I would be surprised if the Leafs took one of these three over Boedker, but stranger things have happened. If they decide to take another defenseman over a forward it will be Tyler Myers, who is the best available after the big four. Myers, however, is the biggest of the D at 6’7.

He is very similar to Zdeno Chara except he is probably a stronger skater. He doesn’t get beat by smaller and faster players because of his quick feet and long reach. He also, like Chara, has a cannon from the point and is very useful on the PP. He can be offensively inconsistent 5-on-5 but many feel he could be a steal, especially if he drops out of the top-10.

As I said, if the Leafs stay at 7, Boedker is the best and safest choice unless one of the top six fall into their laps. The Leafs are apparently high on Myers as a franchise defenseman but he doesn’t have the playmaking ability that is necessary as a top flight D in the NHL. It is such a deep draft that the Leafs may try and pursue trading future/later picks to grab another first rounder which would be very useful in building for the future. If Myers is their guy, look for a trade down a couple spots to get some later picks.

Even though I think Boedker is the pick at 7, I do not see him dawning the Blue and White. I think that Fletcher and Myers will take a defenseman, either trading up for Schenn or Pietrangelo or taking/trading down for Myers. All of the eleven players mentioned would be great additions to the team who desperately needs some new blood.

This article has been submitted by Jack Forsayeth.

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2 Responses to “Toronto Maple Leafs Draft Options”

  1. paul Says:

    Great preview, although I’m not quite sold on Boedker yet. He came on strong at the end of the year, but, his is Danish… Which just weirds me out. Either way, I’m looking forward to this draft year more than ever, we’re finally going to pick up a top prospect or two.

  2. Blake Murphy Says:

    As exciting as it is to draft forwards who can fill it up, this team has lacked strong defensive presence for some time now. With Toskala established as a strong goaltender (and Pogge coming up), and given the nature of the Wings and Ducks formula, I think it’s imperative for the team to try and build from their own zone out. Scoring is nice but it’s also the easiest need to fill via the open market, whereas top-flight defensemen are tougher to find. I wouldn’t mind at all if the Leafs dealt away a middling prospect in order to move up and grab one of the top D available.

    I also agree completely with the rumors that the Leafs are planning on cleaning house with a lot of players. Draft a good D, stockpile some picks, and jump in the 2008-09 Tavares sweepstakes. Now tell me who isn’t on THAT bandwagon?

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