WWYDW: Picking Fourth

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With ten games left in the regular season and, obviously, no playoffs to look forward to, your focus is probably moving towards the 2016 offseason and all of the fun that comes with it. Besides a potentially enormous dip into the free agent pool, the NHL Entry Draft is going to demand a lot of our attention. In fact, it already is.

We at TLN have already begun putting together consolidated draft rankings and updating them regularly, and we’ve also received a number of draft-related questions in recent weeks in our Monday Mailbags. It’s clear you guys want to talk about it, so let’s do that.

My favourute question I received in this Monday’s Mailbag was “who would you pick 4th overall?” My initial reaction was “Easy. Tkachuk,” but I decided I’d do some reading and watch some highlights and see if I felt any differently afterwards. I still lean Tkachuk, but it’s not as clear a decision as I originally thought. So many others – like Chychrun, Dunois, Juolevi, McLeod and Nylander – make it a really tough call.

So, let’s say the Leafs finish dead last in the NHL standings and have a poor showing on lottery night. Or maybe they actual leapfrog a couple teams and land their naturally. Let’s pretend that Toronto has their second-consecutive fourth overall selection in the 2016 Draft. Who would you take?

  • Harold Ballard

    Its hard to say when as of now there is no clear cut #2 and #3 picks. But I think a centre should be the #1 priority. The harder question is what will they do with the PIT pick.

  • CMpuck

    Nothing to complain about at 4…

    Tkachuk, seems to be 4th on everyone’s draft list, I’ll bow to the authority of BPA even though he doesn’t seem like a sexy pick

    Nylander, really no one else like the thought of building around the Nylanders, could cement a Sedins like commitment to the organization where they start and finish their careers with the organization while being open to a small haircut on contract demands in order to play together.

    Chychrun, we need stud D prospect, he fits the bill

    Dubios, we need a high end forward with size, can play center

    Juolevi, Babcock likes his PMD, think he could force Gardiner to be traded as he develops

    Really not going to moan about anyone of these guys at 4. Leaning toward Nylander given how William came on during his post draft development, though on draft I wanted Ritchie, oh well lesson learned.

  • Gary Empey

    If we trade down, the non-leafs, teams with two first round picks
    1. WPG
    2. ARI
    3. CAR
    4. BOS

    WPG will be close to picking 4th so it won’t make sense for them. If we can get both of ARI picks, that looks promising risk/return, though the last two teams need to add.to their 2 1st round picks.

    At any rate, whatever Dubas and Hunter decide will be the right decision come draft day so I won’t second guess them.

    • CMpuck

      What is it about McLeod? I have to admit I’ve never seen him play but his stats aren’t that great. Yet I know a lot of people rank him very highly. How come?

        • Spoken like someone obviously hasn’t watched McLeod play. He is nothing like Ritchie.
          To MST’s question, McLeod plays a lot like Matt Duchene. He’s likely the fastest player in the draft and is the one that drives offense on that line.
          When tracked this season, his controlled zone entries greatly outweigh those of Nylander.

          He’s a guy who as underlying numbers that are far greater than his offensive production

        • He is most likely the fastest player in the draft, he is an elite passer, great in the dot, and plays a great two way game.

          He needs to work on finishing, and shooting more often.

          He could be a number one or two center for the leafs in years to come. Also why do you think scout love him for no reason?

      • I agree with the mystery about McLoed, he has a 4% sh%, not a 2-way center like Rubtsov or Brown. obviously, he has the size, skating, edge to step right into NHL, the lawson cruise or oliver kylington of this year’s draft.

        • This is hurting my head. So many comparisons to players McLeod is NOTHING like.
          McLeod’s low shooting % is a perfect example of an underlying statistic showing he’s better than his point total indicates.

          • FlareKnight

            What if his low shooting percentage is because he’s not very good? Scoring=shots on goal×shooting percentage. Some players are patient and pick their spots to raise shooting percentage, others have the ability to shoot more without having to sacrifice too much in shooting percentage.

            It’s the combination of those two things that matters.

    • CMpuck

      So you are against BPA? Or do you think McLeod and Keller are better than Dubois? I could see it, just wondering what you’re reasoning is there. To me it looks like Dubois could develop into a big skilled center. I’m not a button fan, but he thinks Dubois will be pushing the Finns to enter the top 3. Would Keller not have the same problem as Marner for being a center in the NHL? Size? I would be happy with Chychrun at 4 if that is who Hunter decided on. Personally though, I’d like Dubois or Nylander even more. McLeod I can see at 4 although I don’t think he’s BPA. Keller seems like a stretch.

      • Dubois has 1.56 pts/game season long but he’s only 17 and improving every game as the seasons gone on. Since the new year he’s 1.9 pts/ game. Even adjusting for the Q’s lower quality he’s still in the elite class.

        Dubois or Chychurn at 4 or else trade if you can find an overpayment somehow.

    • Gary Empey

      I’d be more than okay with it, but there is less than 0 chance Tampa does that. Why would they send those players to their division rivals, plus allow the Leafs to get an extra year of stammer for so little. If i’m them, they only way I even deal stammer, much less Drouin, is if they get a significant return, considering they have no reason to trade him to a division rival.

      • Gary Empey

        You make good points but where else are they going to get a 4th overall pick or its equivalent for Druoin? They tried to get 22nd overall fabri but st loius said no already. And if Stamkos wants to be a leaf there’s nothing they can do to stop him so getting a reasonable return for Druoin is a nice consolation prize.

        The division rival argument cuts both ways. Yes it hurts Tampa all the games they have to play against the leafs but it hurts all their other division rivals just as much. But Tampa would be getting a great prospect which would more than offset the loss.

    • Ok so it seems like the consensus is that most people don’t like the Druoin trade proposal. May I ask why? I know one person thought that Tampa wouldn’t go for it. Is that the reason? Or do people not like Druoin? Is it his attitude?

      • CMpuck

        I put the proposal up on HFboards it’s getting roasted, I didn’t think it that bad though. People seem to think that Stamkos to Toronto is a sure thing regardless, which is shows their gullible.

      • CMpuck

        Hot Take Alert, but I honestly don’t think signing Stamkos would be a good decision for the Leafs considered the commitment they would likely need to make (assuming 8 years at $10 million/year).

        Although he’s put up points, it doesn’t seem like he’s slowed down considerably since his broken leg. This contract would lock him up to age 34 and considering it already seems like he’s declining in production, that scares me at such a long-term and high cap hit.

        I think we’ve got lots of talent up front and I would like to see that cap space used on a #1 d-man, even if it involves trading away some good assets.

        Look at the teams that underachieve each year, and it always seems to be teams with strong forwards and weak defense and occasionally weak goaltending.

        • FlareKnight

          He’s tied for 4th place in goal scoring in the entire league and he plays fewer minutes than everyone else ahead of him.

          His points are down because his coach has cut his ice time significantly not because he his play is declining.

  • CMpuck

    So I go to school in London and I have had the honour of watching the Knights and for what it’s worth, Juolevi is unreal. He’s a fantastic skater, has a pretty good shot and there weren’t many moments where I questioned his hockey IQ. He does need to bulk up if he’s going to translate his OHL success to the NHL but I think the Leafs would do well picking him.

    However, I have been pretty impressed with the highlights of Chychrun. He’s a big dude who’s probably ready to go straight to the NHL. He reminds me of Ekblad but with less skill (let’s not kid ourselves, Ekblad is exceptional).

    Another note about the Knights, I personally think that the hockey world is viewing Tkachuk through rose coloured glasses. Although he definitely has skill, I personally think that is the result of being on the same line as Marner and Dvorak. While you do have to be gifted in order to play alongside such skill, I think that he’s a benefactor as opposed to a genuine contributor. He’s very good but I don’t think he’s fourth overall good.

    I’d be good with Juolevi or Chychrun personally because I think they are the most skilled aside from the top three of Matthews, Laine and Puljujarvi. I don’t believe in drafting for need at all. You always take the most skilled player available and imho, that’s Juolevi or Chychrun.

    But let’s be real….#TorontoMatthewsLeafs

      • Harold Ballard

        Honestly, I barely noticed him on the ice. That’s good and bad. I mean he didn’t do anything extraordinary but he also never messed up either. A player that impressed me was Pu. I don’t know if he has been drafted yet but he was so fast and had the hands to match. It was a thrill to watch. Aiden Jamieson was also pretty decent.

    • Gary Empey

      Re- “viewing Tkachuk through rose coloured glasses”

      First, thanks for posting eye-test information. I do have a question for you though.

      When assessing/comparing Tkachuk with Marner and Dvorak, did you take into consideration this is his first year in the OHL?

      He is also over a year younger than Dvorak and about six months younger than Marner. Both those players are in their 3rd year with the Knights.

      Another thing to consider is. his father Keith Tkachuk Cente(Height 6.02 — Weight 235) played 19 years in the NHL scoring 538 goals, and 527 assists, along with 2219 PIM’s

      • Gary Empey

        The problem with Tkachuk is that a large potion of his points are second assists. If only goals and 1st assists counted then Tkachuk is not the best draft eligible player. Dubois and Debrincat beat him and Nylander and mascherin are almost equal.

        It’s somewhat arbitrary that we include 2nd assists and usually it doesn’t change rankings that much. But in Tkachuk’s case it’s strong evidence that he’s being helped out by playing with two super exceptional players.

        Keep in mind last year Tkachuk and Bracco had virtually identical stats in the Ushl. And if we ignore 2nd assists then Tkachuk and Bracco are about the same again.

        • Gary Empey

          You have a valid concern. Personally how much weight to place on a secondary assist is always difficult to interpret. In some cases it is almost a freebee. In other cases the secondary assist guy did all the work.

          I found this from the Hamilton News

          Dale Hunter compares Matthew and Keith Tkachuk.

          As an NHL player, Dale Hunter saw first-hand the skills that made Keith Tkachuk an elite power forward. Hunter sees the same toughness and scoring prowess in Tkachuk’s son, who is shaping up an intimidating power forward much like his father. “You see (Keith’s) stature, he could score goals, played hard and again, a lot like Matthew,” Hunter said.
          “He finds good areas to score and he plays hard, and he’s hard to play against. (Keith) was very hard to play against, he’s a lot like his son, they’re sort of a spitting image.”
          Keith Tkachuk was one of the best power forwards of his era.

      • Even though it is difficult trying to separate a first year OHL player like Tkachuk from OHL veterans like Marner and Dvorak, I did try my best to temper my expectations. Tkachuk’s point totals look elite for a rookie but he is on one of the best OHL lines in recent memory. I did seen glimpses of controlling the play but it was sparse and far between. Tkachuk is incredibly skilled. There is no doubt about that. Any team would love to have him but I just think Juolevi, Chychrun and McLeod are more skilled and have better upside. Tkachuk is the kind of player that succeeds when offense is happening but cannot make offense happen himself.

        Juolevi genuinely made offense happen. Juolevi was the backbone of their defense. He was a great base for their powerplay and did very well on their penalty kill as well. He was an amazing passer and wasn’t afraid to shoot if that was the best decision to make. What impressed me about Juolevi was his competency at both ends of the ice. I don’t think his point totals truly reflect his ability to score due to his penchance to remain sound defensively.

        I’ve been at university here for over 3 years now and I was able to see Marner and Dvorak in their rookie seasons. Although Tkachuk’s rookie numbers are better than both of his peers, Marner and Dvorak just stood out so much more in their rookie seasons. This may be because of the amount of high end skill on this current team but thats my two cents 🙂

      • FlareKnight

        Ever read Scott Cullen’s “Updated NHL Draft Pick Values, Observations” article on tsn.ca?

        A top-3 pick, historically speaking, has an 80%+chance of being a top-line F or top pairing D (85% for first, 90% for 2nd, 80% for 3rd). The 4th pick, historically, has a 50% chance of being a top liner. And while pick #5 bumps up 5% over #4, you never get remotely close to a coin-toss again at hitting the home run.

        On the other side of the equation, the odds of getting one 100+game player (ie: an NHL regular) out of the 12 picks the Leafs currently have approaches 100% (just the odds of one out of two 1st rounders making the bigs is roughly 95%, without any of the other picks at all).

        One pick guarantees something, but has something like an 55-60% chance (at best) of getting a first liner; the other risks it all on the toss of one dice, but is nearly a 100% chance of getting at least a replacement level player, and an 85% chance of getting the big fish.

        So do you like poker, or roulette?

  • Gary Empey

    I would go off the board and draft Keller I think he is the 4th best player and he is being severely undervalued. You could probably trade down for him though and an alternative I would consider Alex Nylander.

  • Harold Ballard

    Ideally, I would like to see them trade back 3 – 5 spots (similar to the deal they almost made with Columbus at the draft last year) and scoop the last of the next tier (Juolevi,Tkachuk, Nylander, Chychrun, Dubois, Sergachev).

    If there isn’t a good deal available, I’m torn between taking the top d-man (they need a future #1 badly, but drafted d-men this high is risky) and picking another skilled winger, which is safer, but they already have so many young skilled forwards already.

    With that being said, I would go with Dubois because I think that he’s got that size up front that they need and the chance to be a big centre to complement W. Nylander as a great 1-2 for the future. As I said before, I would love to take one of the d-men, but it seems like a reach this year to take either guy and it’s usually a higher risk move in any year.

    Really pumped for the draft, regardless of what happens in the lottery, and I can’t wait to see who Hunter and the scouts choose because I’m confident it’ll a good selection.

  • Gary Empey

    Tkachuk is the top ranked draft pick in the CHL I suspect he may be gone at fourth.

    This is how I rank the top five.–Matthews–Tkachuk–Lane– Almost a dead heat for 4th(Chychrun-then-Puljujarvi)

    Edit– I do change my mind everyday.

  • As a long time leaf fan.60 years.
    And yes I saw them win the last cup.and I was at the parade.
    With this year’s draft coming up.and the lottery.
    I hope the leafs can pick first or second over all.
    Now I understand that picking Auston mattews.a center would be great.
    But here’s my plan.i think would benefit the leafs better.
    I would pick one of the Finnish kids first.
    Now comes the tricky part. We have to obtain the next pick.do what ever it takes. Burke did it in Vancouver to obtain the twins.
    Once we get that pick.we take the other Finnish kid.
    Put kadri as there center.and next year there’s your second line.
    Love to here your opinions.
    Ty frank liuzzi

    • CMpuck

      I think we’d have to give up more than what the second Finn would be worth in order to make it worth it to the team trading.

      You need to find a trade in which someone was willing to over pay.

      If we had the first maybe Arizona would overpay to have the PR and marketing coup of a home town kid.

      I think Tampa would overpay with a package including Druoin simply because there’s no better trade out there and they can’t keep druoin for themselves.

      Columbus’ GM is a Finn too so maybe he would overpay for a fellow Finn but I doubt it.

      I just don’t think your scenario could happen in a way that would really benefit us.

      Just my 2 cents. Maybe the Finns are just that much better than everyone thinks. It’s hard to tell because the Finnish pro league doesn’t have enough nhle data to really make a good comparison.

    • Gary Empey

      It has some merit. I don’t believe it you could make the trade for the second pick without giving up someone like Rielly or Nylander.

      Plus anyone who passes on Auston Mattews should expect a lot of flack from the rank and file of TankNation, considering our desperate need for a #1 center.

      • Hi Gary ty for commenting
        I can see your point.i would not give up Nylander or Reilly
        I would give up Jake gardiner though
        And some picks.
        Not taking Auston mattews. I know he’s good. But I have a gut feeling about the 2 Finnish boys.i think they would be a good fit for us

  • Juolevi Is the guy I would look at. I think defence is the single most important position on the ice. I still wish the Leafs had drafted Provorov last year. No knock on Marner who looks like he will be very good but he plays the least important position (winger). The oilers give us a good example of what a whack load of elite forwards without anyone to get them the puck look like. Juolevi, Reilly, Gardiner and possibly Carrik and Dermott could be a surpeb blue line for years to come. Every single team is looking for top 4 dmen and having a surplus of them could set the Leafs with a ton of options moving forward.

  • Being from Sarnia, I’ve seen Chychrun a number of times and I really like him. I feel like juolevi is getting a lot of praise because of his WJC, which is deserved, but I don’t think he is necessarily a better prospect than Chychrun. The sting play a very defensive style and Chychrun anchors their defense. He is also still offensive enough to put up better points per game numbers than Juolevi in a much more defensive system. He is a great skater and has good size. Juolevi looks great too, but considering he plays on the most offensive team in the league, I would have liked to see him put up a few more points. Chychrun is a great powerplay quarterback as well and has a good shot.

  • Gary Empey

    The interesting question too is, if we win the lottery and get #1, do we consider trading it? Look, obviously Matthews is exactly what we need and has been for a long time. But, if Arizona comes along, offers their 5-8th first rounder and Oliver Ekman-Larson, that’s awfully tempting. We trade potential (again, significant potential) for a proven #1 D man to make us better immediately, plus we still pick Willie Jr.
    I’m not sure Arizona would even do this, but at some point, they may decide building around a #1C who’s a hometown hero may work better than what they’ve tried with OEL thus far.

  • Gary Empey

    I’ve heard some really good things about Alex Nylander and hearing everyone in this thread say good things about Chychrun and Juolevi makes me feel way better about the wins that the Leafs are piling up right now.

  • FlareKnight

    The fourth spot is pretty interesting. It really seems like an open field at that point.

    No matter who we take with our first pick I’ll put faith in Hunter that he’s right. But from my view right now….my least preferred guy is Tkachuk. He’s certainly an elite….complementary player. The guy seems extremely good at working with very skilled players. Heck we haven’t been against that kind of guy. We did draft Dermott last draft. Of course…that was with a second round pick. I don’t know. Do we want a guy who can be the guy for a line and brings up the level of those around him or one of those guys that thrives when on the line with an elite player?

    Honestly I’d probably go with Dubois. The poor guy who had his name misspelled in the post XD. Really just getting better as the year has gone on. Either him or Chychrun. A lot of skill there and someone we could definitely use. Giving a huge boost to the defense which is going to be an important part of the future if we are going to win. Either of those guys would be great.

    But again…whatever Hunter decides. If he thinks Tkachuk is that guy then go with him.