The end is here. For the final part of the series, I will look at the top 10 draft picks of the Toronto Maple Leafs since the start of the new millennium.
This list might be a little disheartening to Maple Leafs fans. A good potion of these players hardly played for the Leafs, or they never played for them at all. Of course, we can blame John Ferguson Jr. and Cliff Fletcher for the top two on this list for them not being Leafs right now.
Lets got on with it.
10. Nikolay Kulemin
Drafted: Second round (44th overall) in 2006
GP: 503 G: 99 A: 127 P: 226
Before signing with the New York Islanders, Kulemin was the longest-tenured Maple Leaf. Joining the Leafs a year after he was drafted was usually a good secondary scorer for the Leafs over his career with the team. However, he had a a few off-years led the Leafs to not re-sign him last year.
Reuniting with former linemate Mikhail Grabovski on the Island. He got to the 15-goal mark again this season so maybe the scoring touch has returned.
9. Ian White
Drafted: Sixth round (191st overall) in 2002
GP: 503 G: 45 A: 134 P: 179
White came out of nowhere as a sixth round pick and became a valuable part of the Leafs blueline for parts of six seasons with the team. He was one of the pieces that the Leafs sent to the Calgary Flames in the Dion Phaneuf and was probably the only player that was actually missed.
Since then he has played for the Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings. He left to play in the KHL for the 2013-14 season, but is trying to make back to the NHL. He split this past season between the Providence Bruins and the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL.
8. Luke Schenn
Drafted: First round (5th overall) in 2008
GP: 494 G: 24 A: 88 P: 112
Schenn was a player that Brian Burke once said would be the future captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Let’s just say he was wrong. He was an okay defenseman, but when you’re drafted fifth overall, you’re expected to be better than okay.
Luckily, the Leafs did use him to acquire James van Riemsdyk from the Philadelphia Flyers. In his time with the Flyers, he hasn’t exactly gotten better.
7. Nazem Kadri
Drafted: First round (7th overall) in 2009
GP: 250 G: 64 A: 88 P: 152
One of only two players on this list that remain a Maple Leaf, Kadri has been teasing Maple Leafs fans for years. We all know he can be a premier goal-scorer, but so far in his career, he has only reached the 20-goal plateau once.
However, he is still one of the better players the Leafs have drafted recently. Hopefully, we can see him reach that potential. He will more than likely be the offensive spark plug next season and going forward, so he will have to pick it up.
6. Anton Stralman
Drafted: Seventh round (216th overall) in 2005
GP: 476 G: 27 A: 124 P: 151
The Maple Leafs really let one get away with Stralman. He played 88 games with the Leafs over two seasons before he was traded to the Calgary Flames. Before he could even play a game for Calgary, he was traded again, this time to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He played two seasons there before signing with the New York Rangers in 2011.
It is there he started to make a name for himself, playing three seasons there. He was one of their top defensemen last season when the Rangers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. He turned that into a big contract with the Tamp Bay Lighting.
5. Matt Stajan
Drafted: Second round (57th overall) in 2002
GP: 774 G: 130 A: 231 P: 361
Another one of the Leafs better secondary scorers during his tenure with the Leafs, Stajan played parts of seven seasons with the team. He scored at least 14 goals in a season six times with the Leafs. He was then involved in the Dion Phanuef trade as well.
Stajan has become a leader on the Flames. He might not score as much, but he brings a lot of intangibles that have helped the team.
4. Morgan Rielly
Drafted: First round (5th overall) in 2012
GP: 154 G: 10 A: 46 P: 56
Rielly is is this high on the list based on potential alone. He could end being one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL in a few years. We’ve already seen glimpses of what he will be doing. It will be exciting to see what he becomes in the coming seasons.
3. Brad Boyes
Drafted: First round (24th overall) in 2000
GP: 762 G: 203 A: 278 P: 481
The very first Leafs pick of the millennium, Boyes unfortunately never played a game for the Leafs. He was traded to the San Jose Sharks along with Alyn McCauley and a first round-draft pick in exchange for Owen Nolan. He didn’t last long in San Jose either, being traded to the Boston Bruins. He played a just over a season there before being traded to the St. Louis Blues for Dennis Wideman.
He played parts of five seasons with the Blues before, once again, being traded to the Buffalo Sabres. He spent just over a season there as well before signing a one-year deal with the New York Islanders. After that season, he was offered a tryout with the Florida Panthers and he turned it into a another one-year deal. He re-signed with the Panthers, so it looks like he has found a home in Florida.
2. Alex Steen
Drafted: First round (24th overall) in 2002
GP: 679 G: 180 A: 249 P: 429
These next two players represent two of the worst trades in Leafs history.
Steen looked like he was on his way to being a pretty good goal-scorer with the Leafs, playing just over three seasons. However, Cliff Fletcher made a trade that a trade that was absolutely atrocious, even at the time. He sent Steen, as well as their previous first round pick, Carlo Colaiacovo, to the St. Louis Blues for Lee Stempniak.
Stempniak has been bouncing around the NHL for years, while Steen has been bordering on being an elite NHL player for a few years.
1. Tuukka Rask
Drafted: First round (21st overall) in 2005
This one just hurts to look at.
Only one year after being drafted, Rask was sent to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Andrew Raycroft. Raycroft plays overseas now while Rask has won a Stanley Cup, a Vezina Trophy as well as being named to the NHL First All-Star team for 2013-14. If a Leafs fan could erase a trade from their history, this is probably the one they would choose.
You have to wonder. What would have happened if Rask and Finland had defeated Justin Pogge and Canada at the 2006 World Juniors? Would the Leafs still have Rask?