The TLN 2015 Shadow Draft

We’re going to try something new today. A few weeks ago, we at TLN came across a ‘Shadow Draft’ done by the Battle Red Blog, SB Nation’s Houston Texan’s site. What’s a Shadow Draft? Good question. From Battle Red…

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a shadow draft, John Sickels popularized it at Minor League Ball. You pick at exactly the spots your team picks in the draft, and you aren’t able to move down or up on your own.

In their version, there’s some talk about other draft boards and team needs, which is a lot more relevant in the NFL when teams do consider need. The New England Patriots don’t need a new star quarterback, y’know?

Anyway, these Shadow Draft exercises go on for long time, taking an annual look back on how the Shadow Team and its prospects stack up against the real-life team. So without further delay, here we go. It’s the 2015 Shadow Draft, and the Shadow Leafs (cool name, right?) are on the clock…

Leafs Take Mitch Marner, Shadow Leafs Also Take Mitch Marner at #4

No arguments here. Toronto took an elite offensive talent and the best player available with their 4th overall pick. There are some who think that Noah Hanifin should have been chosen here, and while I think he’s an excellent prospect, I have Marner just slightly ahead of him.

Leafs Take Travis Dermott, Shadow Leafs Take Oliver Kylington at #34

I had Kylington 19th on my list, so when he was still available for the Leafs to take in the 34th spot, after trading down twice, I thought it a small miracle. I would have taken Kylington over Dermott because I love the upside and his full body of work. Disappointing draft year? I still take a chance on Kylington.

(Kylington was selected by the Calgary Flames with the 60th overall pick.)

Leafs Take Jeremy Bracco, Shadow Leafs Also Take Jeremy Bracco at #61

I’m thrilled with this pick. A lot of smart people (and I) thought that Bracco was a first round talent. When he was still available with the last pick of the second round, it was a no-brainer. Tremendous upside and great value as a 61st overall pick.

Leafs Take Andrew Nielsen, Shadow Leafs Take Nikita Korostelev at #65

Many of us see Nielsen as a safe pick. Toronto sees him as a late bloomer. I don’t see the upside, and early in the third round I’m still looking to hit a home run on a second round talent that’s slipping. I take Korostelev (sound familiar?). 

Leafs Take Martins Dzierkals, Shadow Leafs Take Mitch Vande Sompel at #68

At the point I’m taking a hard look at who’s still available, as a lot of the more well known names are gone. I start thinking about taking a goalie, but resist. There’s a large number of good options still on the board and if a few of them are available in the fourth round or later, that’s good value. I know nothing about Martins Dzierkals, but I am intrigued by Oshawa Generals defenceman Mitch Vande Sompel and take him with the 68th overall pick. An undersized jack-of-all-trades that also spent some time playing at forward. Again, this is a high-upside pick. 

(Vande Sompel was selected by the New York Islanders with the 82nd pick.)

Leafs Take Jesper Lindgren, Shadow Leafs Take Dmytro Timashov at #95

Well, damn. Seven goaltenders would be snapped up in the last 27 picks, including targets like Felix Sandstrom, Daniel Vladar, Samuel Montembeault and Callum Booth. Suddenly not as interested in the remaining goalies, so I might circle back to that a little later in the draft.

It’s not like I’m disappointed with the Jesper Lindgren pick, but I’m taking Dmytro Timashov. We came across this name earlier on TLN when we took a closer look at Corey Pronman’s top prospects ranking over at ESPN. Pronman had Timashov, he of 90 points in 66 games for the Quebec Remparts this season, down in the 65th pick range, so to pick him up with the 95th pick seems like a pretty good move.

Leafs Take Dmytro Timashov, Shadow Leafs Take Ryan Pilon at #125

Well, it looks like the Leafs one-upped me. They get Timashov with the 125th pick, a whole 30 picks after I took him, so that’s pretty fantastic for them. So because Timashov is already gone, I have to go in another direction. I take Ryan Pilon because I like his size, two-way play, and he looks to be very good value at #125.

(Pilon was selected by the New York Islanders with the 147th pick.)

Leafs Take Stephen Desrocher, Shadow Leafs Take Dante Salituro at #155

Not to be too critical of a very recent Memorial Cup Champion, but in the final rounds the odds of finding an NHLer are so low that you might as well swing for the fences. I take 5’8 forward Dante Salituro here, because he scored 78 points in 68 games for the Ottawa 67’s and that’s pretty damn good for a draft-eligible player still available at this point in the draft.

(It turns out that the Leafs might have had the right idea here, as Salituro went undrafted.)

Leafs Take Nikita Korostelev, Shadow Leafs Take Ryan Larkin at #185

So, we’re back to Korostelev, which is insane. I can’t believe that the Leafs got him in the seventh round, which if you remember is five rounds later than when my Shadow Leafs took him. Good on Toronto, they did excellent work here. 

Instead, the Shadow Leafs take Cedar Rapids goaltender Ryan Larkin. I was pretty bummed out that I missed out on some higher ranked goalies, but I’m pleasantly surprised that Larkin is still available. An Ohio University commit, Larkin is a fine seventh round pick and can be stashed in the NCAA for a few years while Toronto’s current stable of AHL goaltenders push and shove for starts.

(Obviously the Leafs made the right choice with Korostelev, so I can’t complain. Larkin on the other hand went undrafted.)

The Results

Pick The Leafs Take… The Shadow Leafs Take…
4th Mitch Marner Mitch Marner
34th Travis Dermott Oliver Kylington
61st Jeremy Bracco Jeremy Bracco
65th Andrew Nielsen Nikita Korostelev
68th Martins Dzierkals Mitch Vande Sompel
95th Jesper Lindgren Dmytro Timashov
125th Dmytro Timashov Ryan Pilon
155th Stephen Desrocher Dante Salituro
185th Nikita Korostelev Ryan Larkin

So there you have it. Of course I like my Shadow draft board, because, you know, it’s mine. That said, the Leafs drafted four of players that I also drafted (and two of them with lower picks), so I won’t pretend like Toronto didn’t have an awesome weekend. What do you think? Who would you have taken instead? Write it in the comments below so that it will live on forever and we may revisit this next year.

  • Douglas

    I was really hoping for Kylington with one of the picks, unfortunately they didn’t go for it. And is it really a good idea for the leafs to take a guy named pilon… I would see very bad things happening considering, well it’s toronto

  • Gary Empey

    Here are some of the players Leafs passed on with their second pick.

    I have McKenzie’s final ranking beside.

    picked 34 Travis Dermott Mc – not in his top 85

    NHL did have Travis ranked 46th North American Skaters.

    Leafs pass on these guys.

    picked 37 Brandon Carlo Mc -22

    picked 38 Paul Bittner Mc -20

    picked 46 Daniel Sprong Mc -33

    picked 47 Jansen Harkins Mc -30

    picked 60 Oliver Kylington Mc =24

    Some of these guys look pretty good. I wonder what the Leafs didn’t care about them.

  • Gary Empey

    Well, I mentioned I was immensely disappointed before with the Dermott pick because the Leafs traded out of the first round for a consensus second round talent.

    However looking back now to get both Dermott and Bracco seems to be fine I guess.

    Hunter bet on Dermott over Kylington so I hope he’s right.