Today I continue the series looking at the Toronto Maple Leafs best draft picks by decade.
Now, with the 80’s, the Leafs drafting skill picked up a bit. More of the players the Leafs drafted had meaningful careers in the NHL. They found more players in the later rounds that actually made the NHL. However, the trend in which Leafs draft picks not playing much in Toronto really picked up.
So with that, lets take a look at the top ten.
10. Damian Rhodes
Drafted: Sixth round (112th overall) in 1987
Rhodes becomes the first goaltender to make one of these lists. While he didn’t have a particularly long career, Rhodes had an good impact on two new NHL teams. He only played 47 games for the Maple Leafs over four seasons, serving primarily as a backup. He was then traded to the Ottawa Senators in 1996, where he would play another four seasons. In those four years, he split time with Ron Tugnutt, but in three of the four years, Rhodes played the majority of games.
He was then traded to the expansion team Atlanta Thrashers in 1999. In his three seasons with the Thrashers, he played the role of the veteran backup as the Thrashers tried to find a capable No. 1.
Rhodes played 309 games, winning 69 of them with 12 shutouts. He is also one of the rare goalies to have scored a goal in the NHL.
9. Gary Leeman
Drafted: Second Round (24th overall) in 1982
Leeman is one of the longest-tenured Leafs on this list. He played parts of nine seasons with the Leafs from 1983 to 1992. He formed “The Hound Line” with two players that will appear later on this list and would become only the second Toronto Maple Leaf to score 50 goals in a season with the team.
With all that, he is more remembered for being the key piece sent to the Calgary Flames in the 10-player trade that saw the Leafs acquire Doug Gilmour. Leeman would later play for the Montreal Canadiens, where he won a Stanley Cup in 1993, as well as the Vancouver Canucks and the St. Louis Blues.
In 667 career NHL games, Leeman scored 199 goals while adding 267 assist for a total of 466 points.
8. Al Iafrate
Drafted: First round (4th overall) in 1984
With the Leafs drafting fourth overall in this year’s draft, hopefully they can at least match the success of when they last had that pick. Iafrate played parts of seven seasons with the Leafs before being traded to the Washington Capitals. During his time time with the Capitals, he would be invited to the All-Star Game in 1993. He participated in the Hardest Shot competition and set a new record of 105.2 miles per hour, a record that stood for 16 years before Zdeno Chara broke it.
While being one of the more consistent offensive defenseman in the NHL with the Leafs and Capitals, his career fell apart after those tenures. He was traded to the Boston Bruins in 1994, only playing twelve games for them. He then played for the San Jose Sharks, only playing 59 games over two seasons. Injuries truly derailed the end of his career.
He played 799 games in the NHL, scoring 152 goals while adding 311 assists for 463 points.
7. Mike Eastwood
Drafted: Fifth round (91st overall) in 1987
Eastwood will not be remembered for his offensive numbers, but he was one of the better bott0m-six type players of his time. He would play parts of four seasons with the Leafs, splitting time with their farm team in St. John’s, Newfoundland. In 1995, Eastwood would be traded to the Winnipeg Jets in order for the Leafs to reacquire the No. 5 player on this list.
This would start a run of a four years where he play for three teams. He would spend two years in Winnipeg, then half a season with the Phoenix Coyotes and then a season and a half with the New York Rangers. He would find a more consistent home with his next team, the St. Louis Blues, where he would play for four seasons. In his fifth season with the Blues, he was traded 17 games into the season to the Chicago Blackhawks. After that season, he would spend one year with the Pittsburgh Penguins before retiring.
Eastood played 783 games in the NHL, scoring 87 goals and adding 149 assists for 236 points.
6. Todd Gill
Drafted: Second round (25th overall) in 1984
Gill played 10 games with the Leafs the season after he was drafted, followed by another 15 the season after that. In his third season, he made the jump permanently. Gill would go on to play 12 seasons with the Leafs. He would end up being an important part of the Leafs lineup in their run to the 1993 Campbell Conference Finals, before the Leafs lost to the Los Angeles Kings.
He would battle injuries throughout his career with the Leafs. He would be traded to the San Jose Sharks in 1996, where he would spend two seasons. He would then go onto play for the Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and the Chicago Blackhawks.
In 1,007 NHL career games, Gill scored 82 goals while adding 272 for a total of 354 points.
The Top Five
5. Tie Domi
Drafted: Second round (27th overall) in 1988
Domi is probably one of the biggest fan favorites of recent Leafs history. Never one to shy away from a fight, Domi preferred to use his fists. He holds the Leafs record for penalty minutes and is third in NHL history in that category.
After only playing two games with the Leafs, he was traded to the New York Rangers. After three seasons with them, he was traded again, this time to the Winnipeg Jets. He would spend another three seasons with them before finding his way back to the Leafs. He would spend the rest of his career in Toronto. His career would unfortunately end with a whimper, being bought in 2006.
Domi played 1,020 NHL career games, scoring 104 goals and adding 141 assists for 245 points.
4. Luke Richardson
Drafted: First round (7th overall) in 1987
Richardson is 28th in NHL history in games played. That should give you an idea in just how valuable he was during his career. Richardson became a consistent stay-at-home blueliner in the NHL, becoming one of the most coveted defensemen.
Playing for the Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators. He was a captain during his tenure with the Blue Jackets. After his career, he started as an assistant coach with the Senators. After three seasons behind the Senators bench, he became the head coach of their farm team in Binghamton, a position he still holds.
In 1,417 games, Richardson scored 35 goals and 166 assists for 201 points
3. Russ Courtnall
Drafted: First round (7th overall) in 1983
The next member of “The Hound Line” on this list, Courtnall only played six seasons with the Leafs before being involved in one of the worst trades in Leafs history. He was sent 1988 to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for enforer John Kordic. Kordic played 104 games for the Leafs over three seasons and only lasted in the NHL until 1992, while Courtnall would play in the NHL until 1999.
Courtnall would go onto to play for the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings. In his short stint with the Canucks, he played with his brother Geoff.
Courtnall played 1,029 NHL games, scoring 297 goals while adding 447 assist for 744 points
2. Wendel Clark
Drafted: First round (1st overall) in 1985
While being one of the best Leafs of all time, Clark just misses out on the No. 1 spot by a hair. The final member of “The Hound Line”, Clark enjoyed three stints with the Maple Leafs. He could score as well as play a rough and tumble game. He captained the team from 1991 to 1994. He was also the player used to acquire a player who would become arguably the best Leaf ever in Mats Sundin.
During his latter two seasons as captain, he lead the Maple Leafs to the final four in the final playoffs. The line of Clark, Gilmour and Dave Andreychuk should be considered as one of the best the Leafs have ever iced. Clark would go onto play for the Quebec Nordiques and New York Islanders before his second stint with the Leafs and then played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks before being traded back to Toronto, playing the final 20 games of the 1999-00 season with the Leafs.
In 793 NHL games, Clark would score 330 goals as well as adding 234 assists for a total of 564 points.
1. Vincent Damphousse
Drafted: First round (6th overall) in 1986
Just edging out Clark is Damphousse. Drafted one year later, Damphousse would have less injury troubles which enabled him have a longer career. Damphousse only played five seasons with the Leafs before being involved in a blockbuster deal with the Edmonton Oilers being sent there, along with Luke Richardson, Scott Thornton and Peter Ing in exchange for eventaual Hall of Famers Grant Fuhr and Glenn Anderson, as well as Craig Berube.
After only one season in Edmonton, he was traded to Montreal for Shayne Corson. Damphousse would win the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1993. He would serve as the Habs captain from 1996 until 1999. He would then be traded to San Jose where he would play his final five seasons of his career. He would be one of three rotating captains for the team during the 2003-04 season. He is currently seventh in points in San Jose’s history.
In 1,378 career NHL games, Damphousse scored 432 goals while adding 773 assists for 1,205 points.