Who The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Target At The Draft

Coming into the season many thought that the Toronto Maple Leafs would be able to make the playoffs after a long absence. With the season winding down and not many games left to play, they are still in contention, but the odds are not in their favor, as they will have to jump a sizable group of teams in order to crack the top eight. So let’s assume they do not make it when the clock strikes midnight on the seaso.

Alex Galchenyuk (Aaron Bell/CHL Images)

The Entry Draft should be their main focus and they will likely pick in the 5th to 10th slot range. The team has many needs, but some must be addressed sooner than others. If you look at need number one for Brian Burke and company, it has to be getting a top line centre.The second need would be that of a goalie, but going that route through the draft is a timely process and not always effective.

If you look at this draft it is  heavy on talent among blue liners, especially in the top half of the first round. This is not great news for the Leafs, but if they do their homework they can still make the draft work and address the needs that they have.

The Leafs would love to get Nail Yakupov, but chances are he will be selected by either the Edmonton Oliers or the Columbus Blue Jackets early on. They do however have a slim chance at big Russian centre Mikhail Grigorenko. They will have to move a couple of spots down in the standings and hope that the Oliers take a defenseman for this to happen. Grigorenko is a big power forward, which also is a plus for Brian Burke as he likes to draft big forwards like he did last year with Tyler Biggs.

Chances are they are not going to be able to get Grigorenko so I will not focus too heavily on him. The next available centre in most scout’s rankings is Alex Galchenyuk who plays for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. Coming into the season Alex was rated as high as 2nd for the draft behind teammate and friend Yakupov. Luck has not been on Alex’s side this year as he has not played a single game because of a leg injury. Even with this injury a lot of rankings have him still in the top ten for the draft, which is a testament to the skill that scouts have seen in him. There is a chance he could slip out of the top ten because of this injury, but because he was so prolific in the year before I am sure some teams will not care that he has been injured and still pick him early. I feel if he can come back from this injury he has a chance at being the best player in his class.

The Leafs have to do whatever it takes to select Alex because he is exactly what the team needs in the future and now. He would be a great fit with Phil Kessel and could be the perfect set-up guy for him. Some say he had great numbers last year because he was playing with Yakupov, but I think he would have been just as good even without a guy who’s potentially number one on the board. He will have to do without him next year if he doesn’t make a pro roster coming out of training camp.

If for some reason the Leafs are unable to get Alex the next available centres would be Radek Faksa and Brendan Gaunce. I feel they will both be good players, but are not high end talents like Galchenyuk. In the event that Galchenyuk is taken, it would probably be smart to pass on Gaunce and Faksa and make a trade down to draft a goalie. They should be able to grab a goalie later in the first round.

The Leafs do not want to make another mistake with a top ten pick. These decisions could mean the difference between being a Cup contender or being the team they are now.  Drafting guys like Nazem Kadri and Luke Schenn have cost the Leafs greatly. The fans need a young high end prospect for something to look forward to. This summer should be a busy one for the Leafs as they will be probably making deals to improve their team leading up the Draft. As a Leaf fan myself I hope they finally make the right decision and take the player who makes the most sense for the team in the future.

5 thoughts on “Who The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Target At The Draft”

  1. Andrei Vasilevski and/or Malcolm Subban 2 goalie prospects I would LOVE the leafs to draft. can’t have enough actual Top goalie prospects

  2. Nazem Kadri I can understand, Brian Burke wanted Brayden Schenn.  However, Luke Schenn was seen as a shut-down blueliner and a huge win for the Leafs when they drafted him.  Sure he could have benefitted by staying in junior hockey or starting in the minors, but I can’t  help but wonder if Luke Schenn’s stagnation has much more to do with Ron Wilson rather than how high he was drafted.  He’s always been a defensive defenceman and it wasknown like that back then.  If I were GM, I would consider moving up to get Mikhail Grigorenko, even at the cost of Nazem Kadri, a first round pick, and probably something else.

    • I think that’s too much for another prospect. If you’re trading Kadri, a first, AND another asset, you’d better be getting a sure thing. 

      • You’re absolutely right, it is a high risk.  The other team could draft a stud with your old pick and get another stud with such a trade, but if your goal is to win a championship and you’re in a position where your team isn’t good enough to win one as it is but not bad enough to have a top-tier franchise talent fall into you lap, then theses are the type of moves one must consider.  Of course it is much safer to stand pat and draft the best player available and hope that he is the quick fix that is good enough to help the team become good enough to win, but hope is always a stretch in professional sports and history has shown that that type of safety is more likely to land you on the mediocrity treadmill than to ever push you over the top to win a championship.

        I brought up Nazem Kadri originally because of Brayden Schenn, but recently I read that Mikhail Grabovski was given a five-year extension.  Unless somebody else is moved, Nazem Kadri will now be hard pressed to make the  top six on the Leafs.  He could challenge Joffrey Lupul, Clarke MacArthur, and  Nikolai Kulemin for a spot on the wing, but can he be as good or better than any of those guys when playing out of position?  Tyler Bozak is not a top-six centreman, especially on a winning team, but Joe Colborne will also be fighting for a spot on the top six and he is a safer prospect with no less potential than Nazem Kadri is at this point.

        Simply put, Nazem Kadri is now an expendable asset.  He can still become a very good NHL player, but never somebody to build a team around.  Playing him out of position or on the bottom six just for the sake of keeping him is likely to be a lateral move that wastes his talent and more importantly, a high draft pick.  Championship builders don’t make moves to simply keep their best players, they make moves to make the team better and better.

        As for the Toronto Maple Leafs, i’m sure that everybody will be happy enough if the team makes the playoffs this year, but soon after that, nothing short of the Stanley Cup will be satisfying.

  3. Do you not bother editing your articles? I found at least 3 spelling mistakes in the first paragraph! #johnasaysnoway!

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