TLN Roundtable: Let’s Talk About That 4th Overall Pick Again


Earlier in the week during the Monday Mailbag, I was asked who I would draft if I held the fourth overall pick in the upcoming 2016 Draft (to which I answered Matthew Tkachuk, which is apparently wrong). We followed up on this again in Wednesday’s WWYDW article and it garnered an enormous response from you fine folks. Today, we’re going back to that same well (perhaps out of laziness) and asking some of our own staff who they’d pick if it were them on the draft floor. They did have some pretty strong opinions earlier in the week, so this should be fun.

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Bobby Cappuccino

With a very defined top 3 in this draft, it’s inevitable that the Leafs will draft 4th at best. With us accepting that, it’s time to accept one other thing: Matthew Tkachuk should not be taken 4th, under any circumstance. Sure, his point totals are impressive, but the amount of secondary assists he has is worrisome for future production. His overall game is still worthy of a high pick, but there are better choices at 4.

Jakob Chychrun would be my top choice at 4th overall. An unfortunate (for Chychrun) combination of the two Finns being really really good, and his game being over-dissected has led to him falling down draft boards. But his size, skating, and skill is too hard to pass on. In addition to him being the choice at 4, it also helps that he’s a D-man. The Leafs are pretty loaded organizationally at forward, and even though a bunch of young d-men have impressed at the NHL level this season, they need another bonafide top 3 on the back end. Chychrun is that guy.

Additionally, based on all potential options at 4, Chychrun is the only one that is even partly Canadian. It’s an easy choice.

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Tom Hunter

If I’m the Maple Leafs and I’m drafting 4th overall, I am running up to the podium and drafting Jakob Chychrun as quickly as possible. 19 years after his uncle Luke Richardson was drafted in the top-10 by the Leafs, Chychrun is the type of defender that every team needs to be successful. Beyond Rielly and Gardiner, the Leafs blue line depth chart is troubling. There’s Travis Dermott and not a whole lot else. Sure Dermott could end up being a fine NHLer but the potential Chychrun possesses greatly eclipses that of Dermott. 

It may sounds that I’m advocating the idea of drafting based on positional need as opposed to drafting the best player available. In this case you’d be doing both. After the top-3, the prospect pool gets very muddied this year. Fourth through ten (or even 12) are going to be interchangeable on a lot of boards and come down to a team’s preference. Personally I believe Chychrun is the best defenseman in the draft and the recent hype talk about Juolevi is a based a little too much on hype coming out of the World Juniors. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Juolevi (he was in my top-10 when everyone else had him in the 20s in October) but and no point have I thought he’s a better prospect than Chychrun. Juolevi will a good NHL defender but he’s more of a low risk, lower reward type of player. Juolevi will be very good, Chychrun could be great. 

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He had a rough start to the season, but has been the best defenceman in the OHL since Christmas and is showing the growth that was expected coming off of his rookie season that many thought was on par or better than Aaron Ekblad’s a few years ago. Chychrun is the type of two-way, huge minute players that can anchor a defense for more than a decade, and with Mike Babcock at the helm he’s exactly the type of defender the Leafs need. Watching the impact Ekblad, Jones and Hanifin have had already in their short NHL careers, it would be a tough pill to swallow seeing the Leafs pass on a future #1 defenseman like Chychrun.

Ryan Fancey

I hate to be the “pedigree” guy, but I think there’s an argument for the Leafs drafting Alex Nylander at fourth overall and I’d be fine with it if that’s the way they go. There’s plenty of talk out there that 4-12 are almost interchangeable at this draft, but if Toronto is thinking about re-uniting the Nylander brothers and sending the fanbase into all-out hysteria, the easiest way to ensure that is taking the younger one right there at fourth overall and not leaving it up to chance that he may or may not be there a couple spots down the line. 

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In terms of other forwards that will be in the conversation at that selection, the main target appears to be Matthew Tkachuk, but as others have mentioned, there have been some concerns over how much of his own offense he can create. Nylander is not far off Tkachuk in primary points per game this year (0.579 to 0.649 at even strength), and when you consider the latter plays for an absolutely loaded Knights squad, it’s tough to say if any gap exists there at all between these two. And while we’re always careful to keep our expectations in check after the World Junior tournament, it’s undeniable that the young Nylander looked dominant at times as a draft-eligible with his flashy skill, which certainly put some minds at ease about his potential. He’s a major playmaker, no question. 

If it’s essentially a wash talent-wise between a couple options when the Leafs select at fourth, I’d go ahead and take Nylander and get the bros together, send the fanbase into a stir, and have the jerseys flying off the racks for the next ten years.

Jeff Veillette

If the Leafs pick fourth, I’m not entirely against the idea of trading down by a pick or two. It sounds a little crazy, but with Matthews and the Finn’s being the consensus top three, the Leafs might be able to pick up a couple of extra assets if they can play their cards right with teams eager to pick a specific prospect.

Toronto has a couple of blue chip forward prospects in William Nylander and Mitch Marner, with a lot of secondary players following behind them. Defence, though? Lots of good, young depth, but nobody who stands out, particularly in that age group as Morgan Rielly goes from prospect age to plain ol’ young talent. Olli Juolevi and Jakob Chychrun aren’t totally out of the #4 conversation to begin with, but with Matthew Tkachuk and Pierre-Luc Dubois earning a lot of hype in traditional circles, it wouldn’t be a shock to see one of the two top defencemen drop to the 6-8 range. Going down to, say, 7th or 8th gives you a high chance of nabbing one of the two while also adding a slightly older prospect, more picks, or a roster player in a position of immediate need.

Worst case, you miss out on them and get one of Tkachuk or Dubois later than expected, or you settle for Alex Nylander. It’s an out there thought, but something to consider no less.

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  • Jeremy Ian

    Jakob Chychrun.

    With Rielly, Gardiner, and one or two of Corrado, Marincin, Loov et al panning out, then throw in Nikita Zaitsev and add Chychrun, what a great foundation on the blue line.

  • Gary Empey

    Earlier this week I read we were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. This means with 9 games remaining, we are guaranteed to be in the entry draft lottery.

    Using a kind of reverse of the “magic number” to clinch a playoff spot, I did a sort of “worst case” scenario for Tank Nation.

    In the unlikely event the 12 teams ahead of us in the standings failed to get another point and Toronto ran the table to finish out the season, the Leafs would pick 13th. The odds for 13th to pick first are 2 percent.

  • Gary Empey

    @Tom Hunter–Re- “There’s Travis Dermott and not a whole lot else.”

    Here is how our CHL defensive prospects ended the year.

    Andrew Nielsen (D) points per game–0.99

    Travis Dermott (D) points per game–0.84

    Stephen Desrocher (D) points per game — 0.69

    I don’t understand why you consider Nielsen chopped liver.

  • Gary Empey

    @Tom Hunter–Bobby Cappuccino–Ryan Fancey–Jeff Veillette

    HEY!!! ARE YOU GUYS OUT OF YOUR COLLECTIVE MINDS ? Are you all suffering from Analytical Fatigue ?

    Come-on, were talking fourth overall pick here. Not second tier.

    Justin is 100 percent correct is choosing Matthew Tkachuk if he is still on the board at #4.

    The only question with Tkachuk is whether his goes to the NHL all-star game in his first or second year. (secondary assists my a$$.)

  • jimbobray

    How do you draft a guy like Chychrun when he couldn’t even make the Canadian Junior team this year? How can he be all that good? And Matthew Tkachuk made the USA team and got 11 points in 7 games, without Marner or Dvorak feeding him. The guy can play, has an extra gear around the net, a real grinder in the scoring zone.

    If Leafs want a D-man, a better prospect is Mikhail Sergachyov with Windsor Spitfires. He’s 6’2″ and 205, heavier than Chychrun, and put up 17 goals, 40 assists with 8 goals on power play, in his first year away from Russia. Chychrun has only 11 goals, 8 of which were power play, even though Chychrun got more minutes than Sergachyov on the power play. No contest, Sergachyov is to me a much better prospect than Chychrun.

    IN addition, I would like to see the Leafs trade Marner’s rights to one of the non playoff teams for their first choice this year. Marner hasn’t improved a bit this year, same size as last year (164 lbs) gives the puck away a lot, doesn’t get all that many points 5 on 5 and seems to disappear when playing against better teams. And he’s a prima donna, dives with the best of them, comes up limping like chester in gunsmoke. He’s got a hell of a lot to learn before he’ll ever be a decent pro. Watch the playoffs, see how Marner does against teams that get past the first round. If he comes through deep into the playoffs, all is forgiven. He’s got to prove to Lou that he’s a grown up before he’ll get a chance in the bigs.

    • Jeremy Ian

      Trade Marner? Now? It’s so ironic that you write this the day that the London downed Owen Sound; Marner had 6 of the Knights’ 18 shots. One third of the winning team’s SOG. And you want to dump this guy already?

  • MikeFleury

    I’d be cool with either one of OtherNylander or Jakob Chychrun.

    I’m leaning toward Nylander, though. I don’t think you HAVE to draft a defenseman early. I feel like you can draft D-Men later and with a proper system you can make them very good (if not near elite). Moreso than you can take a non-elite skilled forward and make him a Top-6 guy via system.

    I mean, most of the D-Men on this team either in the NHL or in the system aren’t 1st Rounders.

    Connor Carrick – 137th Pick (5th Round)
    Martin Marincin – 46th Pick (2nd Round)
    Rinat Valiev – 68th Pick (3rd Round)
    Frank Corrado – 150th Pick (5th Round)
    Scott Harrington – 54th Pick (2nd Round)

    And, neither Percy (25th) nor Gardiner (17th) are Top 10 picks.

    Nevermind that so many top D-Men (Keith, Subban, Webber, Vlasic, Giordano, Letang, Josi, etc.) aren’t 1st Rounders. Others (Karlsson, Seabrook, McDonagh, etc.) aren’t Top 10 picks.

    So, I’m leaning towards Nylander. But, only just barely.

  • Kanuunankuula

    A lot commentors here put too much stock into world junior’s selections. You do realize this is the same Hockey Canada making these choices? It’s not always the best players that get the call.

  • FlareKnight

    Yeah, I’d probably lean towards Chychrun as well. Either him or Dubois. I do think that it’s important to find the best guy regardless of position but darn it if we couldn’t use a guy like Chychrun and frankly it is so muddy after the top 3 that you can argue BPA with him. I’m sure Babcock could survive adding a guy like that as well.

    Dubois just has had an insane second half to the year and definitely is a guy I’d be fine with taking. Add some more skill and a guy who can play center/wing and keep the pattern of trying to develop the best centers we can if possible.

    Otherwise…I’m ok with considering Nylander. I mean the Nylander brothers on a team would be cool and he is a skilled guy so it’s hardly ridiculous. But he’s probably further down on my list than other guys. But he might be the reasonable option if we keep moving up the standings.

  • jasken

    I’m starting to agree with Jeff V on most things.
    There’s are consensus big 3, and also a consensus top 9. I agree with the scouting community, to base a lot of the evaluation on tournaments, where top players compete with their peers. The World Juniors had the fab five forwards, and a defenceman. So, after the big 3, the next 6 are such a coin-toss, that I would trade down to AZ, who have two 1st rounders. They can have Tkachuk to play with Dvorak. I would also trade up, with the Pittsburgh pick, to get Jost.

    • Let’s be very clear that we as fans and casual observers may see a ‘consensus top nine’. My guess, though, is that by the time the NHL Draft rolls around, the Leafs will have a very, very clearly defined ranking. It’s their job to eliminate those ‘tiers’ that we talk about and very definitively have one player ranked above another.

      I’m not saying Toronto shouldn’t trade down, but they should not for the reason of picking someone up within a same tier. The only reason a team should trade down, in my opinion, is if they believe that their target or ‘top ranked guy’ is being underappreciated by the league at large and they believe they can get their guy *and* an additional asset.

      In other words – if the Leafs were picking 4th and traded down to say, 7th, and drafted Pierre-Luc Dubois, I’d certainly hope they feel that Pierre-Luc Dubois is at least the 4th best prospect in the class.

      I understand that there’s an argument to be made for quantity over quality at the draft, but I think that line of thinking shouldn’t apply to all teams. The Leafs have quantity right now, and in my opinion, should strictly be focusing on taking the best player available when their picks come up (or, like I said, trade down if they feel their BPA will still be around a few picks down the road).

      I certainly don’t want to see the Leafs trade down to 9th and take ‘what’s left’ of these so-called tiers.

  • SEER

    I sort of side with Ryan and Jeff’s analysis.. and if Nylander is by any chance still there at fourth..and if we somehow also get 1st pick and nab Matthews.., that no matter what we get after, we will have more than won the Draft.., with Matthews and Nylander..! : )


    Game Pump – Tonight: Boston vs Toronto

    Leafs Resurrection: Toronto vs Boston 6-1 Blowout – TML 2014-15



    ..And here’s a late 1st video-montage for one of our 2014 Draft Picks.., who is having a great rookie season with the London Knights, in the OHL.. PPG… and an assist in his 1st OHL playoff game..

    J.J. Piccinich/
    Right Wing/ shoots R/
    Born Jun 12 1996/ Paramus, NJ/
    19 yrs. ago/
    Height 6.00/ Weight 190

    RECENT STATS: (*up to March 26th 2016)

    2013-14 Youngstown Phantoms – USHL
    60 Games… 27 Goals… 31 Assists… 58 Points… -12
    2014-15 Boston College – H-East – NCAA
    25 Games… 1 Goal… 3 Assists… 4 Points… -6
    2015-16 London Knights – OHL
    66 Games… 30 Goals… 36 Assists… 66 Points… +23 *PPG
    2016 OHL PLAYOFFS – 1 Game… 0 Goals… 1 Assist.. 1 Point…

    Beyond The Realms Of Picc: J.J. Piccinich 2013-16 Highlights – TML


  • Harold Ballard

    I know this thread is about what we do with the fourth pick but Im more concerned with the PIT pick as well as the picks in the later rounds. Will we package them with a player to move up? Will we keep them and pick a gem? I think this is the main concern because at fourth we are going to get a great talent no matter who we choose. But if we drop the ball on our later round picks we might be in some trouble. Like how we picked Juri Tlusy over Claude Giroux in 2006.

  • CMpuck

    Timothy Liljegren is a big RHD projected to go top five next year, really good numbers in the Swedish Elite league. Looking to him as the answer on our blueline long term. He’s Craig Button’s early golden boy, take that for whatever it’s worth.

    Chychrun or Juolevi are solids picks, I’d love to have either but given their both LHD, are they not going to be placed in the 3 spot behind Rielly? In which case Juolevi might be an excellent fit. Gardiner is a good bridge piece in the meantime.

    Just saying if we’re looking big picture we should be keeping an eye on future drafts. I get this is too early to tell but I would like to see the Leafs in a position to move up if necessary in next year’s draft with Liljergen in mind.

    Liljergen would be a nice compliment to the Nylanders.

  • Bob Canuck


    “Marner hasn’t improved a bit this year, same size as last year (164 lbs) gives the puck away a lot, doesn’t get all that many points 5 on 5 and seems to disappear when playing against better teams …”

    The OHL does not provide 5v5 data but it does give overall, power play, and short-handed data. By subtracting the power play and shorthanded goals and assists from the all-situations totals, it shows that Marner had 1.06 points-per-game (“PPG”) in 2014/15. This ranked third in the OHL. In 2015/16, the comparable figure for Marner was 1.12 PPG, which ranked fifth.

    I think these figures (1.06 and 1.12) are a good proxy of 5v5 play; therefore, I don’t see how you can claim that Marner does not get many points at 5v5.

    In 2015/16, against the top six teams other than London, Marner had 1.59 PPG; against Erie, Marner had 9 points in 6 games or 1.5 PPG. Overall, Marner had 1.87 PPG against teams that made the playoff. This is very good production against the better competition.

    Well, at least the OHL web site supported your claim that Marner weighs 164 pounds.

  • RedLightRaycroft

    The Leafs made a mistake taking Nylander over Ehlers. Both are fine prospects, but the TO press has hyped the former and whitewashed the decision to pass on the former, who is a better prospect. Now, I think the younger Nylander is the better of the two brothers. I’d trade down for him and double down, which would potentially make the first Nylander choice seem enlightened.