The NHL Draft. The days of the year where NHL teams look to improve the future of their team. They hope the picks they make turn out to be good players because no one wants to be remembered for picking a bust.
This will be the first part of a series where I look at the very best draft picks the Toronto Maple Leafs have ever made in decades. With the NHL starting to have an Amateur Draft in 1963, the 1960’s will be combined with the 1970’s. Trust me, there is a reason that there is only one player drafted in the 60’s. There were some players that were very close, but not enough to make a top five list, let alone a top 10.
So with that, let’s look at the Maple Leafs’ top picks from 1963 to 1979. Keep in mind that the player didn’t necessarily have to play for the Leafs, just be drafted by them.
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10. Doug Jarvis
Drafted: Second round (24th overall) in 1975
Jarvis is most remembered for never missing a game in his NHL career. However, none of those games would be for the Maple Leafs. He was traded nearly immediately being drafted to the Montreal Canadiens, where he spent seven years, half of his career. Jarvis won four Stanley Cups during his tenure in Montreal. He split the rest of his career between the Washington Capitals and the Hartford Whalers.
In his NHL career, Jarvis scored 139 goals while adding 264 assists for 403 points in 964 games.
9. John Anderson
Drafted: First round (11th overall) in 1977
Perhaps known better for his coaching career more recently, Anderson spent eight seasons with the Maple Leafs. He would eventually play part of one season for the Quebec Nordiques and spend the rest of his NHL career with the Hartford Whalers. He scored 30 or more goals in a season five times in his career.
8. Walt McKechnie
Drafted: First round (6th overall) in 1963
McKechnie was the very first player the Leafs ever drafted. However, he started his career with the expansion Minnesota North Stars in 1968. McKechnie bounced around the NHL, playing for the North Stars, California Golden Seals, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals and the Cleveland Barons in his first 10 seasons. He would find his way back to the Maple Leafs for two seasons beginning in 1978. He would later play for the Colorado Rockies before returning to the Red Wings to finish off his NHL career.
McKechnie played 955 games in the NHL, scoring 214 goals and adding 392 assists for 606 points.
7. Ian Turnbull
Drafted: First round (15th overall) in 1973
The last of three first round picks in 1973, Turnbull spent all but two of his 11-year career with the Leafs. Turnbull still holds the Maple Leafs record for points in a single season for a defenseman with 79, set in 1976-77. On February 2, 1977, Turnbull set the NHL record for defensemen by scoring five goals in one game. A great feat in and of itself, but add to it that he scored those five goals on five shots and it becomes even better. He is definitely one of the Leafs best defensemen of all time.
Turnbull played 628 games in his career, scoring 123 goals while adding 317 assist for 440 points.
6. Laurie Boschman
Drafted: First round (9th overall) in 1979
Boschman spent only parts of three seasons with the Leafs because the infamous Harold Ballard did not like the fact that Boschman had become a born-again Christian. He was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in 1982. Boschman would spend the majority of his career with the Winnipeg Jets. This is where Boschman would have his greatest offensive success.
He would later be traded to the New Jersey Devils before finishing his career with the Ottawa Senators in 1992-93. He was the team’s first captain in it’s history. He is only of 16 players in NHL history to record over 500 points while having over 2,000 penalty minutes.
Boschman played 1,009 NHL games, scoring 229 goals and 348 assists for a total of 577 points.
The Top Five
5. Dave “Tiger” Williams
Drafted: Second round (31st overall) in 1974
Williams is one of the few enforcers in NHL history that could also put the puck in the net on a regular basis. He is the all-time leader in penalty minutes in the NHL with 3,966. If you add his playoff totals, that number becomes 4,421. One of the more entertaining players in NHL history, Williams played for the Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and the Hartford Whalers.
He is also another of the 16 players to have over 500 points and over 2,000 penalty minutes.
Williams scored 241 goals while adding 272 assists for a total of 513 points in 962 NHL games.
4. Rick Kehoe
Drafted: Second round (22nd overall) in 1971
Kehoe is remembered for being one of the best players to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Playing only three seasons with the Leafs, he was traded to the Penguins in 1974. He play the remainder of his career with the Penguins, playing 11 seasons there. Kehoe is fifth in points in Penguins history, behind only Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. That’s pretty good company to have. He retired in 1985.
After retiring, he would return to the organization in 1987 and would stay there until 2003 as a scout or a coach.
In 906 NHL career games, Kehoe scored 371 goals and 396 assists for a total of 767 points.
3. Randy Carlyle
Drafted: Second round (30th overall) in 1976
While he might not be remembered fondly for the results he had as coach in Toronto, he was definitely a great defenseman during his playing days. Carlyle only spent parts of two seasons with the Leafs splitting the rest of his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Winnipeg Jets.
His best year was 1980-81. He would be named to the NHL First All-Star Team for that season as well as winning the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman. He would never win the Stanley Cup as a player, but would guide the Anaheim Ducks to the Cup in 2007.
Carlyle played 1,055 games in the NHL, scoring 148 goals while adding 499 assists for a total of 647 points.
2. Lanny McDonald
Drafted: First round (4th overall) in 1973
Alright, now we get to the very best and the very obvious top two. First we have McDonald. One of the Leafs best offensive players of all time, McDonald is 12th in scoring in the history of the Maple Leafs. He’d probably be higher on that list if not for the feud between Ballard and the man that occupies the No. 1 spot on this list. He would go onto play for the Colorado Rockies and the Calgary Flames, winning the Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989. He was the co-captain of the team.
His best season would be 1982-83 with the Flames. He scored 66 goals and added 32 assists for 98 points. He won the Bill Masterton Trophy and was named to the NHL’s Second All-Star team that season. He would would win the King Clancy Award for the 1987-88 season.
In 1,111 career games, McDonald scored 500 goals while adding 506 assists for 1,006 points.
1. Darryl Sittler
Drafted: First round (8th overall) in 1970
Well, there was no doubting that Sittler would be No. 1 on this list. I mean, what really needs to be said? He’s No. 2 in points scored in Leafs’ history, only behind Mats Sundin. He still holds the NHL record for 10 points in one game. He was the Leafs captain from 1975 until 1982.
Unfortunately, Sittler’s career with the Leafs was ended abruptly because of Ballard. The feud between the two would see McDonald get traded to the Colorado Rockies before Sittler was finally traded, to the Philadelphia Flyers in January of 1982. He played three seasons with the Flyers before being traded again, this time to the Detroit Red Wings. He would retire after only one season with the Wings.
Sittler played 1,096 NHL games in which he scored 484 goals while adding 637 assists for a total of 1,121 points.