It was a deal between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Nashville Predators that saw Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli exchanged for Olli Jokinen, a first round pick and prospect Brendan Leipsic. Arguably the gem of this trade was the first rounder that was sent the Maple Leafs way. For a rebuilding club, the more picks they have in the upcoming draft, the better.
It’s been forecasted a deep class of eligible players and if the Maple Leafs end up keeping their pick at number 24, the chances are good that they will be getting a solid player in return. Obviously there are no guarantees of anything when you draft a player, but you risk it for the potential piece of your franchise down the road.
The 24th pick has seen some legitimate superstars and a few total busts. I will be examine the players taken from the 2002 – 2014 NHL Entry Draft, to see where their respective careers have taken them.
2002: Alexander Steen, Toronto Maple Leafs
Steen played parts of four seasons for the Maple Leafs before being shipped off to the St. Louis Blues. He has since blossomed into a star and set a career best in points with 64 this past season. The former Leaf has played 649 NHL games and has accumulated 429 points.
2003: Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers
It was tough to go wrong in the talented draft class of 2003. Richards was a staple of the Flyers brand of hockey for many years before being traded to the Los Angeles Kings. His leadership and experience helped the Kings go on deep playoff runs and ultimately win a couple of Stanley Cups.
2004: Kris Chucko, Calgary Flames
The right winger is considered a draft day bust. He only played a couple of games for the Flames and has spent the majority of his career in the AHL with the Quad City Flames and later the Abbotsford Heat. His last playing season came in 2010-11.
2005: T.J. Oshie, St. Louis Blues
Oshie has been a consistent performer on the Blues his entire NHL career. He has excellent offensive instincts, good skating and is able to put up solid points. He was also selected to represent the United States on their Olympic hockey team in 2014.
2006: Dennis Persson, Buffalo Sabres
The Swedish defenseman never played an NHL game for the Sabres. He spent time in the AHL with the Portland Pirates and the Rochester Americans before heading back to Sweden. He registered five assists in 48 games this past season in his home country.
2007: Mikael Backlund, Calgary Flames
Backlund has been a staple on the Flames for the last few seasons. He’s dressed for 298 NHL games and scored 128 points, 51 of which were goals. He has yet to play a full season in the NHL, although he came close in 2013-14 when he suited up for 76 contests.
2008: Mattias Tedenby, New Jersey Devils
Tedenby has bounced through the NHL, AHL and Swedish Hockey League through his career. The forwards most recent season was spent playing with HV71 Jonkoping in Sweden where he put up 19 points in 53 games.
2009: Marcus Johansson, Washington Capitals
The Capitals have to be overjoyed with this particular pick. Johansson is a future star who looks better and better with each passing season. 2014-15 saw him put up 20 goals and 47 points in 82 games. The Swede is finding his game and it appears to be paying off for the Caps.
2010: Kevin Hayes, Chicago Blackhawks
Despite being drafted by the Blackhawks, Hayes never suited up for them. Instead, he became a free agent and signed with the New York Rangers. The big forward had a great first year in the NHL and put up 45 points in 79 games. He displayed flashes of immense talent, and drew some comparisons to Rangers teammate Rick Nash.
2011: Matt Puempel, Ottawa Senators
The young prospect got his first taste of NHL action this past year when the Senators called him up for 13 games. He managed to score a pair of goals and add an assist in limited action. He has time on his side and will be looking to make the Sens roster full time next season.
2012: Malcolm Subban, Boston Bruins
The first goaltender on the list, Subban has spent the last couple years with the Providence Bruins of the AHL. Having only played in one NHL game so far, he will be looking to take an increased role with the Bruins in the future.
2013: Hunter Shinkaruk, Vancouver Canucks
Drafted from the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL, Shinkaruk just completed his first season in the AHL with the Utica Comets. The left winger scored 16 goals and 31 points in 74 games for the Comets, who recently lost to the Manchester Monarchs for the AHL’s Calder Cup.
2014: Jared McCann, Vancouver Canucks
It’s much too early to really judge McCann on his NHL potential. The hard-nosed centre completed his third year with the OHL’s Sault Set. Marie Greyhounds and put up his best statistical season with 81 points in 56 games.
The majority of players on this list have found some measure of success at the NHL level. Others are good prospects that are looking to make their mark with their respective big clubs. History is on the side of the Maple Leafs this upcoming draft. If they scout and draft smartly, they should be rewarded for a solid player for the future.