Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports
There’s been a fair amount of debate over how good the Leafs have performed at the draft under Dave Morrison, who’s held a position in the scouting department since the 2004 lockout, obviously most recently as the director of amateur scouting. Yesterday we took a look at some of his favourite fishing holes, and today we’ll see how the team has picked since then in regards to player size.
Using the always-convenient Draft Tool compiled by TLN’s own Justin Fisher, we can easily dig in and see what trends, if any, exist when it comes to the Leafs’ draft record and the value they place on stature.
For the purpose of this piece we’re only going to take a look at the Leafs’ draft record since the 2004 lockout. So, 2005 up to and including 2014. That also more or less falls in line with the entirety of Morrison’s tenure with the team. It should be noted he moved into his more prominent role starting with the 2006 draft, however.
Since the 2004 lockout, the Leafs have used a total of 67 draft picks, which of course is some sort of sick joke. But anyway, out of those 67, they’ve gone with what I would consider giant players ten times. I decided my definition of “giant” would be any prospect who was 6’4″ or above when drafted. If there’s such thing as undersized prospects, these guys would almost be oversized, if you will.
Here’s the list:
|2014||7||188||Pierre Engvall||6′ 4″||191||Sweden Jr.|
|2013||1||21||Frederik Gauthier||6′ 4″||214||QMJHL|
|2009||3||68||Jamie Devane||6′ 5″||217||OHL|
|2009||5||128||Eric Knodel||6′ 6″||216||USMAAA|
|2009||7||188||Barron Smith||6′ 4″||191||OHL|
|2008||2||60||Jimmy Hayes||6′ 5″||210||USHL|
|2008||5||129||Joel Champagne||6′ 4″||210||QMJHL|
|2008||6||158||Grant Rollheiser||6′ 4″||195||BCHL|
|2007||5||134||Juraj Mikus||6′ 4″||185||Slovakia|
|2005||3||82||Phil Oreskovic||6′ 4″||217||OHL|
Definitely not much to write home about here. Jimmy Hayes is an NHL regular but no one else has turned out, or at least not yet in the case of more recent selections. Most of these picks occurred in the later rounds, with Gauthier being the exception as a first rounder in 2013.
At a glance, it really doesn’t appear the Leafs are size-crazy or anything, and especially not with their early selections.
If we look a little deeper, the Leafs have used 15% of their picks on players 6’4″ or taller, but how does that stack up with other teams? Well, for comparison’s sake, I took a quick look at the last five franchises to win the Stanley Cup to see how they drafted in that same size range.
|Total Picks||6’4″ +||%|
As you can see, the Leafs have drafted a slightly higher-percentage of vertically-advanced prospects than the other teams on this list, but I’m not sure if it’s enough be considered notable.
The Big Fellas
Next we’re looking at the 6’2″ to 6’3″ guys, players whose size is often considered a plus, but they’re not mammoths like the ones we’ve already mentioned. They certainly have tallness in their favour, but it isn’t their main attribute.
Again, from 2005 up to and including the 2014 draft.
|2013||5||142||Fabrice Herzog||6′ 2″||176||Switzerland Jr.|
|2013||6||172||Antoine Bibeau||6′ 2″||207||QMJHL|
|2011||1||22||Tyler Biggs||6′ 2″||205||USHL|
|2011||6||152||David Broll||6′ 2″||216||OHL|
|2011||7||190||Garret Sparks||6′ 2″||200||OHL|
|2010||3||79||Sondre Olden||6′ 3″||172||Sweden Jr.|
|2010||4||116||Petter Granberg||6′ 3″||200||Sweden Jr.|
|2010||7||182||Josh Nicholls||6′ 2″||174||WHL|
|2008||1||5||Luke Schenn||6′ 2″||229||WHL|
|2008||4||98||Mikhail Stefanovich||6′ 2″||202||QMJHL|
|2008||5||128||Greg Pateryn||6′ 2″||212||USHL|
|2008||5||130||Jerome Flaake||6′ 2″||187||Germany|
|2008||7||188||Andrew MacWilliam||6′ 2″||214||AJHL|
|2007||7||194||Carl Gunnarsson||6′ 2″||196||Sweden|
|2006||4||99||James Reimer||6′ 2″||208||WHL|
|2006||4||111||Korbinian Holzer||6′ 3″||205||Germany|
|2006||6||161||Viktor Stalberg||6′ 3″||210||Sweden|
|2005||1||21||Tuukka Rask||6′ 3″||169||Finland Jr.|
|2005||5||153||Alex Berry||6′ 2″||218||EJHL|
|2005||6||173||Johan Dahlberg||6′ 2″||194||Sweden Jr.|
In this category, where does this leave Toronto among the teams we mentioned earlier?
|Total Picks||6’2 to 6’3||%|
Based on the overall picture, it looks like the Leafs fall right in line with the Cup winners in this regard. Again, nothing really to suggest they lean heavily one way or the other.
This group makes up the biggest chunk of the draft, for the Leafs and league-wide.
|2014||1||8||William Nylander||5′ 11″||169||Sweden|
|2014||3||68||Rinat Valiev||6′ 1″||205||WHL|
|2014||4||103||John Piccinich||5′ 11″||190||USHL|
|2014||5||128||Dakota Joshua||6′ 1″||182||USHL|
|2014||6||158||Nolan Vesey||5′ 11″||198||USPHL PRE.|
|2013||3||82||Carter Verhaeghe||6′ 1″||181||OHL|
|2012||1||5||Morgan Rielly||6′ 0″||200||WHL|
|2012||2||35||Matthew Finn||6′ 0″||199||OHL|
|2012||5||126||Dominic Toninato||6′ 0″||165||Minnesota|
|2012||7||209||Viktor Loov||6′ 1″||187||Sweden D2|
|2011||1||25||Stuart Percy||6′ 1″||187||OHL|
|2011||3||86||Josh Leivo||6′ 1″||173||OHL|
|2011||4||100||Tom Nilsson||6′ 0″||176||Sweden Jr.|
|2011||6||173||Dennis Robertson||6′ 0″||195||ECAC|
|2011||7||203||Max Everson||6′ 1″||184||Minnesota|
|2010||2||43||Brad Ross||6′ 0″||175||WHL|
|2010||3||62||Greg McKegg||6′ 0″||191||OHL|
|2010||5||144||Sam Carrick||6′ 0″||188||OHL|
|2010||5||146||Daniel Brodin||6′ 1″||172||Sweden|
|2009||1||7||Nazem Kadri||6′ 0″||188||OHL|
|2009||2||50||Kenny Ryan||6′ 0″||204||USDP|
|2009||2||58||Jesse Blacker||6′ 1″||190||OHL|
|2009||6||158||Jerry D’Amigo||5′ 11″||208||USDP|
|2007||4||99||Matt Frattin||5′ 11″||187||AJHL|
|2007||4||104||Ben Winnett||6′ 0″||173||BCHL|
|2006||1||13||Jiri Tlusty||6′ 0″||209||Czech Republic|
|2006||2||44||Nikolai Kulemin||6′ 1″||225||Russia|
|2006||6||166||Tyler Ruegsegger||5′ 11″||170||USHSW|
|2005||7||216||Anton Stralman||5′ 11″||193||Sweden D2|
|2005||7||228||Chad Rau||5′ 11″||175||USHL|
This is the most common size category from where the Leafs make their picks, and obviously they’re not the only ones.
|Total Picks||5’11” to 6’1″||%|
At 46% the Leafs are the second-lowest on this list but it doesn’t appear to be anything to draw conclusions from.
Here’s where you find the Marchands or Gallaghers or, dare I say, Connor Browns of the draft. I considered anyone listed 5’10” or below at draft time to fit this category.
|2013||7||202||Andreas Johnson||5′ 10″||183||Sweden Jr.|
|2012||6||156||Connor Brown||5′ 10″||160||OHL|
|2012||6||157||Ryan Rupert||5′ 8″||186||OHL|
|2011||5||130||Tony Cameranesi||5′ 9″||162||Minnesota|
|2007||3||74||Dale Mitchell||5′ 9″||200||OHL|
|2006||6||180||Leo Komarov||5′ 10″||187||Finland|
Much like the giants on the other end of the spectrum, the Leafs were limited in their selections here (and mainly pushed them to the later rounds), which seems typical. Let’s see how the other teams selected in this category.
|Total Picks||5’10 or below||%|
Of course the sample isn’t huge, but among these teams the Leafs are about middle of the pack.
It’s funny to note though, the Bruins – a team with a reputation for wanting to be tough and big and scary – drafted the highest percentage of undersized kids in this group. Detroit, on the other hand – perhaps known best for their ability to churn out skill regardless of size – have only taken four of these smaller prospects in the last decade.
Looking through these lists, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence the Leafs put too much of a premium on size, at least compared to some of their peers (most notably the winning ones). They haven’t had a Gallagher or Tyler Johnson come all the way through their system in the past decade, so it’s probably easy to assume they stay away from undersized prospects, but that doesn’t appear to be the case based on the numbers above.
We can – and likely will – dive into this further over the summer to see how the Leafs picked based on size, round-by-round, in comparison to the entire league, but that’ll be a bigger project and much longer post. For the purposes of the draft this Friday though, I think it’s fair to say, given the Leafs’ recent history, there shouldn’t be any worries about them shying away from a player deemed a little undersized if they feel the upside is there.
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