First Round Position: 7th
Best Picks in last 3 Years:
Luke Schenn (D) – 1st round 2008
Nikolai Kulemin (F) – 2nd round 2006
Chris Didomenico (C) – 6th round 2007
Viktor Stalberg (LW) – 6th round 2006
Jiri Tlusty (LW) – 1st round 2006
Coming Down the Pipe – The Leafs are a team that, in my opinion, has had to undergo a major philosophical shift since the NHL lockout. No longer are they able to deal picks or prospects for high priced talent because of the cap and therefore, much more emphasis is being placed on drafting. Toronto gets a bad rap as a poor drafting team – I don’t think they’ve really been that bad, it’s just that in years past we’ve seen them operating with limited picks or willingly dealing their young assets for more immediate contributors. Now that they have committed to drafting and developing their own talent, the results are starting to show. The Leafs prospect pool is fairly shallow, partly because Luke Schenn completely by-passed it and is now swimming with the big club, and partly because their new philosophy is only a few years old. There are a few boom/bust prospects, small but highly offensive forwards like Chad Rau and Tyler Reugsegger, who could be late round steals if they pan out. GM Brian Burke recently declared his intention to try and move up to select John Tavares and also indicated that he wanted to sign UFA goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
Draft Trends – Since the lockout the Leafs have taken a lot of Europeans and players headed to the NCAA. Toronto has drafted a goalie every year since 1998 with only 2003 and 2007 being exceptions. Size and toughness certainly seemed to be the goal with the selections the club made in 2008 as all 8 players chosen were 6’2 or taller, including 6’4 goalie Grant Rollheiser.
Millard: Brayden Schenn - I don’t see the Leafs being able to nab the top pick and draft John Tavares, so their consolation prize is having Brayden and Luke Schenn punish the opposition for years.
Flaming: Brayden Schenn – A pretty nice fallback if attempts to trade up fail to materialize. Brian Burke’s history with brothers (the Sedins and the Niedermeyers) has worked well for him before. At this point in the draft, however, his name could be Brayden Finklestein and it wouldn't matter; the Brandon sniper is the best player available regardless of his bloodline.