Last night we found out that, with the elimination of the Capitals, the Leafs will own the 24th pick (from Nashville) in the upcoming draft – which will go along nicely with their big selection in the four spot.
But what are the chances of them hauling out two impact players in the first thirty picks? We can only speculate on who they might pick, but we can also go back and see how other teams have fared in these slots over the last few years.
Here’s a quick glance at who’s been selected fourth overall since 2000. In that time, the Leafs have had four top ten picks, which they’ve used to take Schenn (5th), Kadri (7th), Rielly (5th), and Nylander (8th), but fifth has been the line, despite a decade in the dumpster. This will be the highest pick the Leafs have held on to since 1989.
Some major players here – perhaps even future Hall of Famers – but a few journeymen as well. Dubas mentioned last week the Leafs need to get a great player at four, not just a good one – that’s basically the difference between a Backstrom and a Pouliot. That the Leafs need to get this pick absolutely right can’t be overstated, and as you can see, it’s not mistake-proof.
Seven defencemen in that slot in fifteen years seems heavy, but there’s a realistic chance the Leafs could add to that total if Hanifin is kicking around.
On to 24th, where there’s some more work involved in getting it right.
This stings; two of the top four producers taken in this slot since 2000 are Leafs picks they failed to hold on to. We don’t need a reminder of how they were dealt.
To be honest, it was a little surprising to me how many decent NHLers were taken here. Only two real “busts” in Chucko and Persson – though Tedenby isn’t exactly much to hang your hat on. Puempel should be a regular for the Senators soon, while Shinkaruk and McCann are works-in-progress for the Canucks so it’s too early to look at them critically.
Of note, only two defencemen taken here in the last 15 years, neither of which impressed at the NHL level. We also have one goaltender selection in Subban.
I don’t believe the Leafs will stray from the trend of taking a forward in this slot, focusing on some of the names we’ve talked about like Konecny, Harkins or Kylington. The question after that becomes how they turn out on the scale of Kris Chucko to T.J. Oshie.