With a week to go until the trade deadline the draft might not be at the front of anyone’s mind. Of course with the Leafs already into seller mode, and with Toronto strictly looking to acquire futures, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at who’s at the top of this years draft class.
In December and January we relied on ISS, Future Considerations, Draft Buzz Hockey, HockeyProspects.com, McKeens, Craig Button, and Sportsnet to build our consolidated rankings. This month we add two of the most important draft rankings into the fold with Bob McKenzie and Corey Pronman’s lists giving us some fresh consolidated perspective.
We also have the CHL Top Prospects Game behind us now, which certainly had a positive impact for Pierre-Luc Dubois and Pascal Laberge, although Laberge still hasn’t climbed into the consolidated top 30.
THE CONSOLIDATED RANKING
At this point, we still don’t have new rankings from McKeens, so that is why you don’t see Matthews as the unanimous first overall pick. We are also seeing nineteen players as being unanimous first round selections.
Samuel Girard remains in the top 30 solely off of Craig Button ranking him 16th.
Tage Thompson makes his first appearance on this list, with his greatest asset being the fact that he’s 6’6.
RISERS AND FALLERS
It’s nice to see that Michael McLeod managed to climb in the rankings, as he’s probably going to tumble now that he’s undergone surgery. That really shouldn’t effect him, as he is still the player that earned this ranking, but as we can see from Tyler Benson, the world of draft rankings can be cruel and without recent viewings you are destined to tumble. I can only hope that Benson falls to where the Leafs can grab him in the second round.
Jake Bean has been on a steady climb this season, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the well rounded defenseman ultimately get picked before Fabbro or Sergachyov. Sergachyov’s decline is a little puzzling. He has the size that teams want, he creates offense and defends well. His lower standing may be more attributed to the rise of players like McLeod, Dubois, and Keller, than his own performance.
Rasmus Asplund is a player who very much came back on radar during the World Junior Championships. He was somewhat neglected in Sweden, and now that everyone has recency bias again, he’s back in first round consideration. It’s hard not to like the idea of taking a well rounded Swedish center late in the first round.
Dillon Dube is a small point per game center who has been a bubble first round player throughout the season. It’s likely that he could go anywhere in the 20-40 range and it wouldn’t get looked at as him falling or a team reaching. He’s very similar to his teammate Nick Merkley is that aspect.
Every month I ask for Tom Hunter‘s help in providing a bit more detail on some of the prospects in the top thirty, this month he’s taking a look at Windsor Spitfires defenseman Logan Stanley, and Penticton Vee’s center Tyson Jost.
Logan Stanley, (the other Logan on Windsor) is a defender who is making the jump up the draft rankings with a strong season for the Spitfires. The big defenseman already has pro size and has shown some skill in his game that many scouts didn’t know he had.At 6’6 and almost 220lbs, Stanley was seen as a one-dimensional “shut-down defender” that was only any good because of his size and ability to overpower opponents. This year in Windsor, Stanley has shown a little more finesse to his game and is playing with a confidence that we didn’t see in his rooie year. Playing against the opposition’s top line most nights in the OHLs incredibly tough Western Conference, Stanley has shown the ability to be relied upon when his team needs to protect a lead. This season, Stanley has worked with new assistant coach Trevor Letowski to bring a more all-around skill set to his game. He’s got a very underrated breakout pass and looks significantly more comfortable carrying the puck than he did a year ago. Modeling his game after Shea Weber, Stanley has shown the desire to get better every day and not let people lump him into the “big rugged defenseman” mold. After moving up the rankings through the season, Stanley is sneaking into the 1st round projections from some scouts and could end up going a lot higher than expected if we see a run on defenders. He’s won’t bring much flash to the team that drafts him but a risk-adverse team may see him as a low-ceiling/high-floor type of prospect that could slot in as a valuable #4 down the road.
Tyson Jost is one of those guys that is hard ot pin down, he’s aving an absolutely do,minant season averaging more than 2 points per game but he is doing so while playing againts inferior competition in the BCHL while he waits to join the University of North Dakota next season. The skilled forward is being ranked in thhe top-10 by some and near the bottom of the first round by others. This has a lot to do with the question marks about both his team and opponents.The hope is that we get to see Jost in the U-18 this year so we can see how he matches up against other top draft eleigible players. Jost is a fast player, not just in terms of how he skates but how he makes plays. He thinks quickly and can perform offensive plays in a way that has other standing around watching. He plays a lot of center but can also play on the wing and is no stranger to winning battles down low and against the boards. Jost brings an energyu to each shift that you like to see and is able to frustrate opponents both with and without the puck on his stick. he can stand to improve his game in his own end but Jost is far from a liability defensively. A less defensively aware Zach Parise? A slightly less offensively dynamic Patrick Kane? a Brad Marchand that you don’t want to punch in the face? It’s hard to peg down a compareable but Jost defeinitely has the skills to make an impct in the NHL and will make a team picking in the middle of the first round pretty happy.
The Pittsburgh Penguins seem to have finally cemented themselves in a playoff position and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the Leafs will in fact have a second first round pick this season. We can also be excited about the fact that the Penguins are still not looking like world beaters, so that pick could very well fall in the 15-20th overall range.
Potentially that will be giving the Leafs access to a blue chip defender like Jake Bean, Charlie McAvoy, or Dante Fabbro. It could also be a pick used on whoever surprises us by falling out the top 15.
The Leafs have no shortage of additional picks to package to move up to grab a second top prospect in this draft, but this draft also doesn’t lack the depth that if they don’t feel strongly, that it’s a bad idea to trade down.
Given the fact that this is the week leading into the trade deadline, it seems likely that we’ll see a deal or two that may impact the later rounds of this draft, but with the Leafs owning a number of picks already and likely the 31st-33rd overall pick in the draft, it’s entirely possible that we see a draft day deal that sees the Leafs picking three times in the first round in June.