The Toronto Maple Leafs are awaiting the 2017 NHL Draft on Friday and Saturday. The Leafs have seven picks throughout the draft, with them having no third-rounder and two fourth-rounders. Now, in any draft, you hope that as many of the players picked make the NHL as they can. You want your scouts to prove just how good they are.
This list will countdown the drafts where the Leafs’ scouts did especially well at their job. Sure the Leafs have had drafts where they drafted one superstar, but not many other picks made it to the NHL. That’s why you won’t see the drafts that netted the Leafs players like Darryl Sittler or Lanny McDonald. This list is about the drafts with the most NHLers. So let’s take a look.
Notable Players Taken: Gary Nylund, Gary Leeman, Peter Ihnacak, Ken Wregget
Nylund played four seasons with the Maple Leafs before being the first NHL player to leave a team via free agency. Leeman was a part of the Leafs “Hound Line” in the late ‘80s along with Wendel Clark and Russ Courtnall. He is also the second Leafs player to score 50 goals in a season, after Rick Vaive. Finally, he was sent to Calgary in the 10-man trade in which the Leafs acquired Doug Gilmour.
Ihnacak played his entire eight-year career with the Maple Leafs. The Leafs even drafted his younger brother Miroslav later on in the draft, in the ninth round. Wregget played five and half seasons for the Maple Leafs before playing for the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings.
The Leafs also drafted Vladimir Ruzicka, Dominic Campedelli and Leigh Verstraete.
Notable Players Taken: Drake Berehowsky, Felix Potvin, Darby Hendrickson
This might have the lowest amount of players of any draft on this list, but these players were all with the Leafs for a good tenure of their careers. Berehowsky played parts of five seasons with the Leafs before becoming a journeyman defenseman. He ended up playing for five different teams in his 14-year career, never staying in one place too long. He actually ended his NHL career with a nine-game second stint with the Leafs in 2004. He currently is the head coach of the Orlando Solar Bears, the Leafs’ ECHL affiliate.
Not many people don’t know the story of Potvin in Toronto. He guided the Leafs to two straight Western Conference (how was that ever a thing) Finals in 1993 and 1994. He played just over seven seasons with the Leafs out of his 14-year career. Let’s not forget that he has one of the Leafs’ most iconic goalie mask designs.
Hendrickson might not that be that big of a name, he also spent parts of five seasons with the Leafs. He eventually was traded to the Vancouver Canucks and would be an expansion draft pick of the Minnesota Wild when they and the Columbus Blue Jackets made their picks.
Other Leafs picks to play in the NHL were Alexander Godynyuk and Eric Lacroix. Twelfth-rounder Nicholas Vachon played one game with the New York Islanders.
Notable Players Taken: Jiri Tlusty, Nikolai Kulemin, James Reimer, Korbinian Holzer, Viktor Stalberg, Leo Komarov
This is quite possibly the Leafs best draft when it comes to pick success. Only one player, Tyler Ruegsegger, never made the NHL.
The Leafs gave up on Tlusty too early, playing only a total of 74 games for them before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. Kulemin became a fixture for the Leafs for six seasons, before leaving to sign with the New York Islanders. Reimer went on to be a fan-favorite in Toronto, helping the Leafs get to the playoffs in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
Holzer never really found a spot with the Leafs, and is currently part of the Anaheim Ducks organization. Stalberg only played 40 games with the Leafs, having since become a bit of a journeyman as he has played for five different teams. Komarov is the only player to still be with the Leafs.
Will this year’s draft be added to the list? Is it possible that more recent drafts could as well as players develop? The next few years will determine that.