For the second straight year, the Toronto Maple Leafs are without a first-round pick in the NHL Draft. While that pick would’ve been beneficial, the list of high-end talent extends into the second round.
With the 50th pick at the moment, they have the opportunity to draft an impact player, or even find another Nick Robertson who might slip to them when they make their selection. There could be a lot of player movement during the draft but here are five prospects that are in the Maple Leafs’ selection range and who are worth keeping an eye on.
For this article, I’ve asked THW’s Draft and Prospects writer Josh Bell to give his take on the following prospects that the Maple Leafs could draft.
Jaromir Pytlik, C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL
In his second season with the Greyhounds, Pytlik was given the opportunity to play first-line minutes as the team’s top centre and he didn’t disappoint. While his offense may not stand out, 50 points in 56 games, it’s not a reason to pass on a player of Pytlik’s abilities.
In the THW’s Mock Draft, I used the 50th pick to select Pytlik. He’s a very sound and versatile centre, capable of playing a strong and effective two-way game. He can be put in any situation and excel while making excellent decisions with and without the puck. He has great size and mobility and is great at using that to his advantage, especially in the corners and net-drive presence. His ability to be a steady and smart 200-foot player makes him extremely reliable, and head coach John Dean described him as already, “playing like a pro.”
THW’s Mark Scheig wrote an excellent draft profile of Pytlik and, like him, I’m high on Pytlik as a great mid-round pick. The more I saw games and clips of Pytlik during the season, the more I believe he would excel in the Maple Leafs system. He’s a complete player and already has that pro mentality which could make him coveted by teams. The Maple Leafs should be one of them.
Bell’s Take: Pytlik is an underrated player in my mind, who I think I’m higher on than most. I see him as a second-rounder, which could fall right into the lap of the Maple Leafs. While his numbers didn’t jump out at you this season, the centreman can make his presence known every time he’s on the ice. Some players can disappear as games go on, but Pytlik makes sure you know that he’s out there. He’s a dynamic two-way forward that can stun you in your own zone and shut you down in his. He’s a bit raw still, which you can see in his positioning sometimes. But overall, I think Pytlik will be a player that leads by example, whether that’s going out to score, blocking shots, or working the penalty kill. He’s a player that a coach will love.
Sam Colangelo, RW, Chicago Steel, USHL
Central Scouting Final Rank: 33rd overall (among NA skaters)
THW Larry Fisher’s Final Rankings: 44th
A dominant player on a Chicago Steel team that demolished the United States Hockey League, Colangelo was a key part of his team’s success. He was a major offensive threat and he already has the size and power to be an effective power forward in the NHL.
Colangelo finished third in the league and in team scoring with 58 points. His strength is his greatest asset. He’s strong on the puck, which makes it difficult to knock it off his stick. He shields and protects the puck extremely well against opponents and when driving to the net. His ability to read the ice and get to the open areas allows him to use his heavy shot and get it on net. He would bring an edge to a team that has lacked physicality for some time now.
The Maple Leafs have ample prospects on the wing which gives Colangelo some time to improve his game overall. He already has a connection to the organization, as current Toronto Marlies head coach Greg Moore was the Steel’s head coach before he was hired by the Marlies. That familiarity makes the transition to the pro level that much more comforting for a player.
Bell’s Take: Moore actually had an interesting NHL comparable for Colangelo: Auston Matthews. He noted that the Steel forward can get himself open where others can’t, has strong feet and hands, and has a good shot. Additionally, Moore noted that Colangelo’s poise on the ice resembles Matthews. Don’t expect him to go out and challenge Alex Ovechkin for the Rocket Richard, but that’s high praise for the 2020 NHL Draft-eligible player. He’s definitely a player that could be on the Maple Leafs radar in the second round. On top of his shot, he brings a level of grit to his game that the opposition hates to play against. He has some work to do to take his game to the next step, most notably in his skating, but this could be a very Toronto pick.
Kasper Simontaival, RW, Tappara, Jr. A SM-Liiga
Central Scouting Final Rank: 21st overall (among EU skaters)
THW’s Larry Fisher’s Final Rankings: 37th
Despite dealing with some injuries, Simontaival still remains one of the top offensive players with great potential. Despite the obstacles, he finished tied for first in team scoring for Tappara with 57 points, as well as fifth overall in the Jr. A SM- Liiga.
Don’t let his size fool you, he’s an energetic and aggressive player who constantly battles for the puck. He is a major dual threat when he is on the ice, whether it’s distributing the puck or getting it on net. He possesses excellent vision, which allows him to create and read plays at a quick pace. That vision also allows him to be an excellent playmaker, finding his teammates easily while making crisp tape-to-tape passes. On top of that, he has great power on his shot, and he’s very accurate.
Simontaival has also been working to round out his game on defense. He does a great job of pressuring the opposition, forcing them to turn the puck over and creating plays that lead to the offensive zone. Simontaival has a lot of offensive upside, and his foot is always on the gas when pursuing the puck. You can see some similarities between him and Nick Robertson, as they always want the puck on their stick.
Bell’s Take: Some injuries slowed his development, but Simontaival could be one of the most offensive players in this draft class. He really brings it all in the opposition’s end, having the ability to fire a shot past a goaltender or make a high-danger pass across the ice look easy. He sees the ice so well, sometimes looking like he’s three steps ahead of the opposition. But he can also hold his own in the defensive end, even seeing time on the penalty kill this season. Personally, Simontaival is firmly in my first round, but I think it’s likely he falls to the second. From his smaller size to the injuries, it could just be enough to see him fall to the Maple Leafs.
Carter Savoie, LW, Sherwood Park Crusaders, AJHL
Central Scouting Final Rank: 50th overall (among NA skaters)
THW Larry Fisher’s Final Rankings: 49th
There’s much to love about the Crusaders top scorer.
While he’s known for his scoring abilities, Savoie brings a well-rounded and complete game. He has great vision, which allows him to read the play perfectly and apply pressure to retrieve the puck. His speed allows him to play an intense style as he’s constantly in a battle, applying pressure for puck possession.
Savoie’s strengths lie in his ability to be a major offensive threat, most notably because of his shot and accuracy. In two seasons in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, he scored 84 goals and 172 points in 112 games. Teams would love to have this kind of firepower.
There’s going to be a “be patient approach” with Savoie as he continues to develop. Already committed to the University of Denver, it may take some time for him before he turns pro.
Bell’s Take: Savoie is a player that I really like. I think if he wasn’t playing in the AJHL this season, he likely would be in first-round discussions. If you’ve heard about him, you’ve likely heard about his shot. The kid can shoot. He had 53 goals in 54 games this season, finishing with 99 points. He was a dominant player in the league, showing off his offensive flair every game. He needs to work on his defensive game, which he knows and is working on, but he’s shown some potential there. Don’t be surprised to see him be a dominant force in the NCAA next season. Between Savoie this season and Alex Newhook in the BCHL last season, the Canadian Junior Hockey Leagues are looking like a promising path for future NHLers.
Joni Jurmo, D, Jokerit, Jr. A SM-Liiga
Central Scouting Final Rank: 20th overall (among EU skaters)
THW Larry Fisher’s Final Rankings: 30th
If there’s one word to describe Jurmo, it’s complete. He’s everything you want in an NHL defenseman and more. The 6-foot-4, 198-pound defender is becoming a household name and his potential is limitless. A prolific puck-moving defenseman, Jurmo put up 28 points in 43 games this season.
Jurmo excels in every category. He possesses excellent speed for his size, which allows him to carry the puck up effortlessly, charging the offensive zone. His vision is top-notch as he’s able to find different routes on the ice to blow by the opposition. Even the most difficult routes are easy for him. His size is another valuable asset as he’s able to separate the opponent from the puck very well.
Jurmo’s ceiling and upside are extremely high. His draft projection is scattered throughout the rankings and mocks. Some see him as a late-first or early second-round pick. Others see him as a mid-second-round pick. His name will likely be called early, but based on his ability to move the puck and his great skating abilities, the Maple Leafs should consider selecting him with their pick if he’s available.
Bell’s Take: The lone defender that Peter mentions is definitely one to keep an eye on. The Maple Leafs’ second-round pick is about the range I’ll have Jurmo in my final rankings. At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team reach to grab him. As Peter says, he’s the complete package. He can contribute offensively, he can skate, and he can hold his own defensively. Obviously, he’ll need to continue to develop all of this, but there’s a very promising foundation in Jurmo. I will say that I think he might have gone from underrated to overhyped as the season went on, but he is still a defenseman that I would grab at the right spot.
While it’s not a first-round player, there’s still ample talent and skill in the mid-second round that’ll benefit the Maple Leafs. From speed to size, to smarts, the options are limitless for the team to boost their prospect pool.
Who do you feel the Maple Leafs should select 50th overall?
Hockey has been a big part of my life since watching my first Leafs game to currently coaching minor hockey. I previously interned at The Hockey News and worked on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. Aside from hockey, I also enjoy drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.