Leafs Showing Interest in 2015 Draft Prospect Mikko Rantanen

At this point, it appears as if the Toronto Maple Leafs are reportedly “interested” in pretty much every projected first round prospect. 

According to a report in Finland’s Ilta Sanomat, the Leafs invited draft eligible Mikko Rantanen to visit Toronto. More past the jump…

Unfortunately, I don’t read Finnish, and apparently Google Translate doesn’t read Finnish all that well either, but I was able to pull the following out of Ilta Sanomat’s report…

  • Rantanen visited Toronto and (I believe) the Air Canada Centre following the Draft Combine festivities in Buffalo
  • He met with members of both the Leafs’ coaching staff and executive team
  • He will be returning home to Finland from Toronto
  • The report speculates that the Leafs are “very interested” in Rantanen
  • More speculation that Toronto may be willing to trade down from their fourth overall selection in order to pick up another draft pick later in the first round or in the second round

That last point lines up with Leafs Assistant GM Kyle Dubas told media just yesterday – Toronto is willing to discuss trading down in the draft order later this month. Rantanen will likely still be available several picks behind where the Leafs will currently pick, so if they’re in love with Rantanen, it may make sense to move down.

Rantanen is a 6’4, 212lb winger that, at 18 years old, has already played nearly two full seasons in SM Liiga, Finland’s top league. This season, while wearing the “A” on a men’s team, Rantanen scored nine goals and 28 points in 56 games played. Those are excellent numbers for such a young player.

s/t to both @jhiitela and @breakaway23 for sharing the report.

  • I’d much rather see the Leafs move out a big piece (Kessel, JVR..) and acquire a second top 10 pick instead of trade down. The top 10-12 players in this draft look very promising, why not grab 2 of these guys instead of moving down and taking a bit of a gamble on a late 1st/early 2nd?

  • Brooksterman

    Hunter has said before he doesn’t think there is much if any gap between the guys ranked 3-5 and the guys ranked 6-10. He believes they are all potentially first line players.

    • Gary Empey

      It looks like Hunter has his own top ten list of players he considers can’t miss NHL.
      He was hoping one of them on his list would still be available at the 24th pick.
      To me this means his list is a fair bit different from Central Scouting.
      If a trade occurs then it will be to insure the Leafs get one of Hunter’s top ten.

      Or am I reading this all wrong?

      • Brooksterman

        I would say this could mean anything. hunter has said in the past that he’d rank Barzal right up there on the same level as Marner and Strome. I think it’s pretty clear though that Hunter will probably either pick someone at 4 that we wouldn’t think or they’ll trade the pick to move down to either Philly’s spot or Columbus’ spot and take which ever of Barzal, Rantanen, or Provorov that’s available. I think Hunter’s past with Marner is overblown and I think he doesn’t see Marner as high or that big of a difference compared to others in the draft as we do or other scouts. I believe Hunter has Marner ranked lower on his list than most people would think considering they were interviewing both McDavid and Eichel for the sole purpose of getting more info about Strome and Hanifin. It is safe to say thought that no one truly knows what Hunter will do or who he is leaning towards.

  • giproc

    My guess is that they’re looking at players projected between #4 and #24 since the chatter about dumping at least a few of their core before the draft is almost guaranteed to happen. it seems they expect to have more picks than we know of at this time.

    With two picks already in the 2015 first round, plus Kessel / JVR / Phaneuf / Lupul / Bozak / Bernier and possibly even Kadri / Gardiner to package, I can easily see the Leafs entering the 2015 deep draft with 4 first round picks. Sign me up for that.

    I think they should aim at getting 2 Top 10 picks for both 2015 and 2016 and then whatever else they can muster. There’s wonderful depth for at least two rounds this year, especially considering Hunter’s knowledge of the OHL.

    Haters will say the Leafs don’t have the assets to pick up two more first rounders. I don’t agree. If UFAs Franson and Santorelli could land a 1st plus a decent prospect, what could Kessel and JVR bring by themselves, let alone the other chips? I’d say JVR alone is worth a top 10 pick, Kessel ea Top 10 pick and more.

  • FlareKnight

    It’s no wonder the Leafs are taking a good look. They have to keep their options open and know how to react when the time comes.

    Right now they have options in just moving back or getting bold and using those core pieces to try and snag another top 10. In either case this would be a fair option there.

  • CMpuck

    He sounds like a nice pick. Grab him with the pick you get for 81, 3, 21 etc. DON’T MUCK ABOUT! I want a C, we need everything but this the highest pick we’ve had in a quarter of a century, grab the biggest most skilled C you can, then back fill. C is the hardest asset to obtain, get one here.

  • Gary Empey

    I think we need to keep in mind that the Leafs likely only had Mikko in for a tour today because it was their only opportunity to do so – he’s flying right back to Finland. They can have Marner and Strome visit at any time because they live in TO, and it’s not like it would be that difficult to get Hanifin and some others in at a later time either. Just a thought 🙂

  • Kanuunankuula

    Luckily I do read Finnish. Justin is pretty much spot on with his key points, they say that he got a tour of “gorgeous facilities”, does not specify further than that, would assume ACC is included. The article is not that deep either way.

  • STAN

    Shanahan MUST get at least one more top 10 pick via trade, por the hype surrounding his mystical abilities will ring hollow.

    Phaneuf should bring a 2015 first and, at minimum, a 2016 second. Kessel might get you two firsts, this year and 2016 or 2017.

    It’s crucial to bring in as many solid prospects who are the same age and can start playing together right now.

    • Jeremy Ian

      “MUST?” Or what?

      It would be great to pick up another top 10er. But no fire-sale. If Kessel can fetch that kind of deal, fine. But Shanahan et al should not be discounting their best players just because we all want to feel he’s got some mystique. Just be a smart executive, that’s all.

      Fans should not judge management by their own hype. The Leafs have plagued themselves with enough self-fulfulling prophecies over the years. Let up.

      • STAN

        I only used “must” to emphasize the difference between competence and exceptional. In which category does Shanahan fit?

        Absolutely no case has been made, so far, to show Shanahan is anything more than a firing machine. Sacking people is easy, especially when money is absolutely no object.

        Getting the rest right and separating yourself from the maddening crowd of plan, old run-of-the-mill managers from the Old Boys Club is far more difficult.

        At the upcoming draft I want to hear Gary Bettman announcing, “Ladies and gentleman… we have a trade to announce. I think you’re gonna want to hear this.”

        And that will be the Leafs making a major (shocking, career-defining) impact by moving out some “unmovable” pieces to get those valuable draft picks that Babcock was talking about getting for Mark Hunter at his introductory news conference.

        That’s all.

  • jimbobray

    When I first read that Leafs were willing to trade 4th choice for multiple lower choices I was totally against it, but had forgotten that Rantanen was lurking a few places below. On sober (only because of Sunday) second thought I think this SHOULD happen if they can get Rantanen and another top 15 choice. Dude is a giant among boys, great hands, good skater and quite experienced.

    Also, given that the draft this year is the deepest and strongest in a decade or more, Leafs should do all they can to trade their older, still decent players for draft choices, i.e. Kessel, Phaneuf, Gardiner, Reimer, Bernier maybe even JVR. Leafs may never get a draft as deep as this one so 1st round choices right now mean a fantastic opportunity to massively jump start their rebuild. I believe Hunter knows this, so let the dealings begin.

  • STAN

    I honestly think that Toronto should just pick where they are picking. Unless the return is one-sided for the leafs, it just wouldn’t be worth it. Marner is pretty much the second serving of Patrick Kane (seriously the comparables are eerily similar; london knights, record setting points in a season, slick hands). Even if the Leafs didn’t choose Marner, Hanifin would be great too! Plays like Doughty and who wouldn’t want that? Strome seems ridiculously overrated. His PPG is lower when McDavid wasn’t in the lineup whereas Marner’s PPG was up an entire point when Domi wasn’t in the lineup.

    However, Rantanen or Barzal would be amazing pick ups as well! Trading Phaneuf or JVR should definitely command a return of a first round pick this year among other things. The leafs would probably have to package some more roster players to get a top 10 pick though. Kessel would guarantee a top 10 pick among other picks and prospects.