In case you missed it, the Leafs will not be drafting first
overall thanks to the rigidly held tradition that the Oilers must pick first
overall. While there was a 9.5% chance at happiness, there was an even greater
chance at sadness (depending on your allegiances as high as 90.5%). We can take
comfort in the fact that Connor McDavid will not be a Bruin, a King, or a
Flyer, and to me that’s worth celebrating. The fact that he’s playing out of
conference is also a nice little plus. And there’s the small matter of the
Leafs being able to select an incredibly talented player with the 4th
overall pick. Hanifin, Strome, Marner, you can’t go wrong (famous last words)
and personally I don’t care which one is selected since at some point of the
past season I’ve made a case for anyone of them being a Leaf.
Like the draft results or not, the draft lottery has set off
a series of events around the league that will shift the way the off season is
approached, and given that there aren’t any Leafs games to base power rankings
on this week. We will instead rank the top ten Leafs who could be impacted by
the draft lottery results.
1. James van Riemsdyk
Now that the Devils haven’t won the lottery we can revisit the speculation that
they would like to add a top six winger to club and aren’t opposed to dealing
their 6th overall pick. New Jersey native and 30(ish) goal scorer
van Riemsdyk would seem to be an obvious candidate since his production and
contract fit in with what you’d want if you are giving up a top ten pick in a
deep draft. The downside for the Leafs is of course you’re giving up van
Riemsdyk in hopes that the player you draft might someday turn into James van
— James van Riemsdyk (@JVReemer21) December 23, 2012
2. Jonathan Bernier
Now that the Oilers will be drafting their way out of next year’s lottery they
may actually start building a team beyond their top six forward group. Looking
at addressing their poor goaltending might be a good place to start and there
will be few young goaltenders with as much experience as Bernier available.
Given the past trade market for goaltenders it may seem unreasonable to think
about the Oilers dealing Pittsburgh’s first round pick for him, but Edmonton’s
33rd overall pick would be a nice way of catching a potential star
falling out of the first round.
Bernier will be easily recognizable in Edmonton as he will be the only person not wearing jorts.
3. Jake Gardiner
— James van Riemsdyk (@JVReemer21) December 24, 2013
So a lot of these players are going to be attached to whether or not they can
be a fit in Edmonton. Jake Gardiner is certainly one of them, as the Oilers
need to fix their blueline, Gardiner is young enough to fit in with their core
and has a history with noted punchline Justin Schultz. While I wouldn’t want to
move Gardiner unless the names Yakupov or Draisaitl are involved, it has stated
by Craig MacTavish in the past that draft picks are currency and the Pittsburgh
pick is very much in play. While I wouldn’t want to see a good young defenceman
moved for a mid first, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs and Oilers talk
about Gardiner in the next few months.
4. Dion Phaneuf
As mentioned with Gardiner, the Oilers need defence. From a Leafs perspective
the idea of moving Phaneuf has to be a lot more appealing than moving Gardiner,
but from the Oilers perspective it’s likely they would be offering less, and it
would also involve the Leafs eating either Nikita Nikitin’s or Teddy Purcell’s
contract. While I’d still make this move in a heartbeat there is the small
issue of Phaneuf’s no movement clause, and even though Phaneuf is from Edmonton
it’s far from guaranteed he’d accept a trade. Understandable. I’m from
Winnipeg, ask me if I’d be excited to move back.
i think i like the idea of dion phaneuf better than actually dion phaneuf
— Jeff Chapman (@NewWaveOil) April 13, 2015
5. Tyler Bozak
As our fearless managing editor, Justin Fisher, pointed out to me this morning,
not winning the McDavid lottery means that Bozak is still the Leafs number one
center. Young Bozak has not immediately been forced out of the Leafs top six
and where there would have been a near 100% chance of Bozak departing with
McDavid arriving, that number certainly drops and we now have to rely on the
Leafs front office getting rid of him for the other major reason which is that
he’s not very good.
6. Phil Kessel
If Bozak has a better chance of staying, than Kessel would too, right? Probably
not. A generational player like McDavid would have sped up the Leafs rebuild
enough that keeping Kessel would have looked like a good idea, and for the
first time since Sundin-Mogilny, there would have been an elite winger paired
with an elite center in Toronto. The Leafs being forced to take the long road
to success is probably a good thing, and it makes for a much more interesting
summer if we hold our breath waiting for a blockbuster trade. Next season, a
little less exciting however.
7. Peter Holland
With McDavid out of the picture and there still a strong possibility that Bozak
could get moved, it’s entirely possible that Peter Holland could be the Leafs
second line center next season by default. Half of you reading this have just thrown up in
your mouth, the other half of you know the Leafs won’t be great next year and
are excited to see what Holland can do when he has more ice time and improved
linemates. In this scenario Nazem Kadri would be the Leafs number one center so
that’s also very appealing.
8. Connor Brown
This will be the last so and so to the Oilers player mentioned on here, I
swear, but Connor Brown is interesting in that he is a solid piece that could
help balance out a larger trade between the Leafs and the Oilers, and he’s a
former teammate of Connor McDavid. While they weren’t always linemates, Brown
may also be ready for a look in the NHL, based off of a strong year in Erie,
followed by a great first pro year with the Marlies. While this may be reaching
a lot, remember that we’re at number eight on this list.
— Connor Brown (@Breeze2Greeze) April 18, 2015
9. William Nylander
Looks like it’s still the WIllenium in Toronto for a few more months until we
start debating if Strome/Marner/Hanifin is the savior of the franchise instead
of Nylander. What’s worth noting about that debate is how awesome it will be to
have at least two amazing players under 20 years old in the organization.
— hottake mushroom (@bobbycappucino) January 3, 2015
10. Frederik Gauthier
Unless the Leafs draft Dylan Strome he’s still the top center prospect in the
organization. Frederik Gauthier is the top center prospect in the organization.
Frederik Gauthier is a top prospect in the organization. Frederik Gauthier top
prospect. I wonder why so many scouts were fired?
So what does all of this mean?
- The Leafs aren’t going into an accelerated rebuild and selling off key assets is still the best approach.
- The Oilers are likely going to attempt to make a big trade as a competitive team is within sight for them.
- Teams like the Devils, Blue Jackets, Sharks, and others may be looking to win sooner than later and have nice picks that the Leafs could acquire if willing to part with top talent.
- The Leafs have an improving prospect pool, but have to do better than Freddy Gauthier as the top center prospect. Either the 4th or the Preds pick should be able to address that.
- You don’t need to set aside money for playoff tickets yet.