As expected, the Toronto Maple Leafs will pick 8th in the upcoming 2014 NHL Entry Draft, set to take place on June 27th and 28th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Florida Panthers will pick first overall, winning the lottery with an 18.8%. Sorry Buffalo.
Picking 8th, it’s pretty certain that the Leafs won’t have a shot the likes of Kootenay’s Sam Reinhart, Kingston’s Sam Bennett, or Barrie’s Aaron Ekblad. Realistically, they’re probably too far back to get one of Oshawa’s Michael Dal Colle or Prince Albert’s Leon Draisaitl as well.
That being said, this isn’t a half-bad draft. While there isn’t a Nathan MacKinnon, John Tavares, or Steven Stamkos available this time around, there’s about a half-a-round of solid prospects. The Leafs should be able to draft one of them, assuming they don’t go off the board.
Some of the players who might be available? The Leafs will probably end up picking one of Brendan Perlini, Haydn Fleury, Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Kasperi Kapanen, Nicholas Ritchie, Nikolaj Ehlers, or William Nylander.
There you go – eight possibilities for the eighth overall pick.
- Brendan Perlini, a winger with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, is probably the player the Leafs’ scouting department has seen the most of. They did, after all, closely scout Carter verhaeghe last season, and have surely kept tabs this year as well. Perlini was slotted 8th amongst N.A. skaters in NHL Central Scouting Services’ final ranking, and 7th in ISS Hockey’s April Top 30.
- Haydn Fleury, who plays for Red Deer in the WHL, is a balanced defender that does a little bit of everything. He’s the highest ranked blueliner in the draft behind Ekblad. NHL CSS ranks Fleury 9th amongst N.A. skaters, while ISS ranks him 12th.
- Jake Virtanen is an offensively talented point-per-game winger for the Calgary Hitmen, and a former 1st overall pick in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft. He sits 6th amongst NHL CSS’s N.A skaters, while ISS has him at 10th.
- Jared McCann is a two-way centre with size, currently playing for the Soo Greyhounds. He is ranked 10th by NHL CSS amongst N.A. skaters, and 15th by ISS, so selecting McCann might be seen by some as another “safe pick” by the Leafs.
- Kasperi Kapanen is considered the top European Skater by NHL CSS, but ranks 13th on ISS’s Top 30 list. The offensively-gifted right winger is the son of former NHLer Sami Kapanen.
- Nicholas Ritchie is a certified man-child at 6’2″ and 226lbs, and he produced some big numbers on a Peterborough team that didn’t produce much in the way of offence. Lots of people call him “the next Lucic”, and while I hate that tired narrative, they might be right.
- Nikolaj Ehlers is an undersized Danish winger who put up 104 points in 63 games with the Halifax Moosehead in the QMJHL. He’s a wild card, in that he could go anywhere from 5 to 30. He’s ranked 13th amongst N.A skaters by the NHL CSS, and 11th by ISS.
- Lastly, and like the aforementioned Kapanen, William Nylander is also a European skater (ranked 2nd by NHL CSS and 5th by ISS), also the son of a former NHLer (Michael Nylander), and also offensively gift. That being said, he’s a centre.