TLN Roundtable: With The First Overall Pick…

With the draft just one week away(!!!), our attention today turns back to where it all began: the first overall pick.

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April 30th was a special day full of happiness, celebration, and some grade A trolling. For a fanbase of a team that has gone through so much crap over the years, to see that final card turned over with the new Maple Leafs on it was a trigger of pure joy.

But it wasn’t long before the media started spinning the narrative.

Should the Leafs actually take Auston Matthews first overall? Is he the best player in the draft? What about Patrik Laine? OH MY GOD YOU GUYS, LOOK AT THOSE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS STATS!!!

It’s been a long and oftentimes annoying ride, getting from April 30th up to today, the proverbial eve of the draft.

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So today we ask the question one more time:

It’s a week before draft day. Has your mind changed from lottery night to tonight on what you’d do with the #1 pick?


No. That’s the short answer. The long answer
goes something like this. If you do trade the #1 pick, one of two things
needs to be taking place. 1) you need to get, in return, enough
expected future value out of your haul as you might get from Auston
Matthews. The easiest place to start would be to ask how much future
value do you need to add to Patrik Laine to equal Auston Matthews.
2) you have to get enough current value to justify a philosophy change.
Thinking about all the quality pieces that are available right now (all
the goalies, Anaheim’s defense, Colorado’s Barrie and Duchene,
Edmonton’s big 3, etc.), I would consider using Auston Matthews to
no less than 2 of those. But it can’t stop there. If you’re throwing it together, you’re throwing it all
together. Trade Marner, trade Nylander, package other prospects
together. It’s a complete philosophy change, and the only way to do it
is to do it completely. If you trade the #1 pick for established
players, your new philosophy is to win the Stanley Cup right now. So you
do everything you can to get there. Two of the above listed players is a
return I could entertain, but only if the whole philosophy changes
(i.e. Marner and Nylander go too). The marginal possibility of being
able to amass all the really good pieces on the market is really
enticing, enough to consider trading the #1. All that said, the
likelihood of these returns being worthwhile is marginal at best, so I’d
much rather stay the course. So again, I’m a no.

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This is a silly question. What kind of
question is this? The Leafs should take the guy who’s probably a future first-line center.
End of story.


My mind hasn’t changed since the draft
lottery. The Leafs need to hold the pick and just select Matthews. From a
hockey standpoint that’s a no-brainer. But even beyond that, the optics
of doing anything otherwise would be poor for this management crew.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know this group doesn’t care about optics,
but it’s worth noting that doing anything other than drafting the
franchise center is going to make people angry, and I’d be able to
sympathize. Hell, I’d be one of them. To put the fans through a
dead-last-place season, then have the major high of winning the draft
lottery, then flick the switch back and decide to move down and take a
couple prospects who’ll go back to junior for a year or two is just not
something that can happen. Make the pick, sell the jerseys, put Matthews
in the lineup on opening night, and let’s get on with it.





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There you have it folks, it’s unanimous.

See you next week Auston.

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  • Metal thrashin dad

    If I were hunter I would go up the the podium and be like “with the first overall pick the Toronto maple leafs are proud to select” *flips coin* “auston Mathews”

  • Gary Empey

    @Ryan Hobart. You should’ve just left it at the short answer. Your long answer would be a terrible situation either way and would fly in the face of what Shanahan has been preaching about sustainable winning (especially #2). In the cap world, the object isn’t just to amass talent, it’s to amass talent cheaply. Good value is key. Your talent to cap hit ratio needs to be as high as possible. You’re suggesting a trade for Duchene and Barrie would be acceptable or a trade for Hall and RNH would be acceptable for the first overall pick. How is that acceptable? Now you have two members of a core that hasn’t been able to win anything so far and worse they are already signed to combine for $12 million/yr contracts (Barrie will likely be in $6mil territory) instead of Auston Matthews who will end up being the best player in either trade and is signed to an ELC for 3 years and then has until 26 before he is a UFA. Even if you could straight up trade marner and nylander for Hall and RNH to round out this fictional team that could make a cup run you still wouldn’t have a core capable of winning and you wouldn’t fit them all under the cap because they are also both signed to $6mil/yr deals. With the current cap set up, the only way to build a winner in the NHL is to draft and develop a core and supplement it with good signings and trades. Period. We do not trade first overall. We do not trade marner or nylander. We stick to the plan and we will be back in the playoffs in 3-4 years. I don’t even know how you let yourself type option 2.

    • The thinking for how I got to option two was: I had to figure out what kind of world we’d have to be in where this #1 pick might actually get traded. The only one I could think of was if Shanahan and Co. had a complete philosophy change and wanted to win now. So I talked it out to add something interesting to the roundtable.

      Your assessment that Hall and RNH aren’t “capable of winning” is silly, but the rest of your points are good ones. It’s a bad plan. But I never said it’s something they should do. I just had to consider that philosophy change in order to consider trading the #1 pick.

      Also, I had more words that explained that better but I had to trim it shorter since it was just a roundtable.

      • CMpuck

        That’s fair and I did kind of figure you were playing that side of it. I wasn’t just saying hall and rnh aren’t capable of winning, I meant that whole fantasy core that we would somehow achieve would still not be a core you look at and say cup favourite for sure. Rnh hall Duchene barrie signed to 24 mil. I love them all individually but that doesn’t look like the blue print for cup success. I don’t see it anyhow.
        Anyhow at least you see Matthews as the clear top choice along with almost everyone else in the scouting community. Once hunter picks Matthews that’ll be his stamp as well but these Laine lovers are still going to think otherwise. Great player mind you…but not the most complete player.

    • Mitch92

      bro…nobody cares anymore that you love laine and puljujarvi. go cry about it and hand in your leafs card so you can regret all this nonsense even more in five years when matthews is the best player to come out of the 2016 draft. maybe you can get a winnipeg jets laine jersey for your birthday.

      • Mitch92

        You cared enough to respond. Btw it is Jesse Puljujarvi that I prefer above Matthews and Laine and I will buy a Puljujarvi jersey before I ever buy another piece of Leaf memorabilia. I doubt Matthews will be around for you to enjoy in five years anyway.

  • Mitch92

    Are you gonna hunt matthews down and take him out because you’re so upset? i hope you don’t have to buy your own puljujarvi jersey if it’s your birthday. so sad.

  • Gary Empey

    the sheeple have spoken. not one of the above made an intelligent comment. they’re a broken record of contemptuous fact and logic ignorers. they’re politicians avoiding the question. they’re also conceited beyond belief, having the shameless shame to bore the reading audience with worthless false dogma. they hang onto the false dogma of ‘position’, versus BPA, like a pitbull with its jaws locked on a toy bone. an interesting writer would ask interesting questions, such as which duo do you imagine would be more dynamic, Matthew-Marner or Marner-Laine? Which player is more entertaining, on and off the ice? Which player had a better record over the past 13 months, and is a birth year younger?
    And the silly answer about trading away everyone, talk about a silly example of a straw-man argument: think about this one: the 1st pick, for Strome, Ekman-Larsson and the 7th overall (Alex Nylander). I’m still thinking about it, and in the meantime, Laine versus Matthews, I’m flipping a coin.

  • Gary Empey

    In my opinion, I agree with Cory Pronman. Laine has become the best player in this years draft. Unfortunately he is not the best player for the Leafs. Laine will need to play on a line with a top center and the Leafs simply do not have one at the moment. Matthews is not really far behind Laine. Matthews can also score, pass, and is solid defensively. He immediately becomes the best player on the Leafs, playing a position where we have a gigantic hole. The opportunity to draft a top number one center rarely occurs for any team. When it does come around a team would be damn foolish not to take it. This year the Jets have lucked out. I don’t believe the Leafs fans will be remotely disappointed in Matthews. On the contrary, we will have the pleasure of watching Matthews win games for us for the next 15 years.

    JVR– Matthews–Marner


    Will be hard to defend against. A major threat to score from all five positions.

    • Gary Empey

      You are laboring under the assumption that all of us are just saying Matthews is the player to draft because he is the center man. On the contrary, I want Matthews in the draft because he is best player available in addition to being a center man. Laine would be BSA…best shot available. But shooting is not the only facet of the game. Matthews is the better prospect and anyone who doesn’t see it is probably just relying on all this media buzz to sway them toward Laine.

      • Gary Empey

        Don’t be so flaming stupid. In the recent worlds the media could of voted Matthews or McDavid most valuable player. They choose Laine instead. The Directorate could of voted Matthews best forward in the tourney. They choose Laine instead. Laine made the first team all-star team. Matthews didn’t. One year ago Matthews was the hands down best player available. Laine’s progress in the last six months has been extraordinary.

        How can you totally ignore the recent facts.

        Still I would choose Matthews as the Leafs pick.

        It would be stupid to draft Laine without having a center for him to play with. Media buz doesn’t get you MVP awards. The awards are what creates the media buz.

        I respect your opinion. My opinion was the same until this last month. Because I am in a 12 hours different time zone I was able to watch a lot of the worlds, not just the highlights. I really wanted to see if Laine was the real deal. Also to get a look a Matthews game.

        • FlareKnight

          Gary…you prob won’t see this anyhow but I need to respond as I’m not the flaming stupid one is this thread. First of all, I’m not basing my assessment on one world championship to determine who is the better prospect. Second, I don’t base my assessment off points alone. Laine was voted mvp and that is great..he had a lot of points and he is a heck of a player
          but what I saw was Laine benefitting from his team and using his wicked shot to put up points. That is a guy any team would love to have in a draft. But while he was benefitting from playing with a good team with established leaders while being put in situations where he could succeed and not giving him any tough minutes at the end of third or really a whole lot of minutes in general, Matthews was busy being the go to center man for everything that a very young American team did. He played in all situations and was out there when game was on the line. He averaged far more ice time than Laine, played a better 200 foot game and made the guys around him better instead of vice versa. He was America’s best player by a landslide. And that’s just world championship…now go back thru the rest of the games both played and assess those as well. Toronto is getting best player available and he’s a center…no contest. And don’t worry I will let u know in 3 years when I’m right.

          • Gary Empey

            One thing we do agree on is the Leafs should and likely will be choosing Matthews in this years draft. There is a very good chance both Laine and Matthews will both become elite players.

            My point on Laine is a lot of people seem to feel there should be no conversation at all. Fact is we are talking about the NHL potential of 18 year old players. This is always hard to predict with any certainty. Honestly I can’t wait to see who Babcock has Matthews play with. Marner says he can’t wait either.

            One of the disappointing things for me in this years draft is our second pick is not a top 15 pick.

            There seems to be about 5 really good defencmen available that no one seems to want. Every mock draft I see these guys seem to move further down the list. Even fans of the Oilers seem pissed off that they might have to pick a defenceman. The odd thing is once the season starts many fans are screaming where can we get a defenceman.

            Speaking of the Oilers I just read Peter Chiarelli is only willing to trade their number 4 pick for either PK Subban or Shea Weber. Makes you wonder what they are thinking way out there.

            PS… I just used the expression ” flaming stupid” as my wife used to say that to me at least once a day. I sort of miss hearing it.

          • Kanuunankuula

            He should be in the conversation yes, but as it stands, he’s not really challenging for the first overall.
            1) AM is way better in the D-zone.
            2) the difference in offencive potential in favor of PL is pretty overhyped.
            3) wow MVP was given to a player playing on a team in the final

            Both are going to be good players, but matthews is still better at this moment. We can’t predict the future, but taking PL with current info would be a mistake.

            Ps. Watched all of Laine’s WJC and WC matches and most of AM’s

    • Gary Empey

      Ok we shall wake you up for the NHL awards night next year. Laine will be picking up the rookie of the year award and maybe a second one. Where have you been for the last six months?

      Laine made the Finish men’s league at 16 and a half as a defensive forward.

      • CMpuck

        Rookie of the Year, wow, move over Raycroft, the ROY is the pinnacle of sports success and the Shannaplan should be designed to secure it at all costs. Remember when Hinske won with the Jays and they threw that parade on Yonge, that’s was sweet.

  • Gary Empey

    Being from switzerland some people might say I’m biased rooting for Mathews but I watched a lot of both players at the worlds (games not highlights) and to me the arizona boy still looks the better overall player. Don’t get me wrong, Laine was the most highlight reel player but he was set up by Nhl linemates whereas Auston carried the US team by himself. Laine was definitely the most impressive player (thus deserving MVP) but Mathews is clearly the best in terms of complete game. Furthermore Mathews slayed the swiss league in a way only Seguin or Kane did it playing together during the lockout, and without disrespect to finish liiga, the NLA is a better league.
    Can’t wait to see Auston wearing the new maple leaf.

  • FlareKnight

    Ignoring some silliness in the comments, I agree this is a no brainer. You take the best player in the draft first overall and that’s Matthews. It isn’t very complicated. A #1 center who does everything well? Why wouldn’t you take that?

    Laine is a fantastic prospect, but he doesn’t do everything well. But he does enough things very well and has cemented himself as the second best in the draft. Winnipeg lucked out big time moving all the way up for that guy.

    Will be a nice day next week when we take Matthews and can just laugh away. A franchise center who can skate really well, shoot really well, see the ice well, has a reliable defensive game, and has the drive to keep improving.

    Will be some fun times ahead with that guy leading the way.

  • Capt.Jay

    As happy as I am for the Jets to have 2nd overall, it also pisses me off that they lucked out so much as I haven’t seen luck like that anywhere near leafs nation… Ever!

    In Laine they get a potential first overall in this draft and a first in most others.

  • Gary Empey

    Well said. I would agree with everything. Center is a much harder position to master. Really good centers are rarely traded. Opportunities to draft one rarely come up.

    What’s your opinion of that goalie Gustafson? Would he be a good pick for the Leafs at 30/31 ?

  • Capt.Jay

    To all the complainers on here saying they’ll hand in their jersey, or card, or whatever leafs memorabilia they have if a certain player isnt picked first needs to stop. I’m sure Mr. Hunter knows far better than us as to who deserves to be taken first. Whoever it is will be the best fit for the Leafs.

    • Mitch92

      Please don’t try to tell people that they are not entitled to their opinions. I wonder if your opinion of Mr. Hunter will remain the same if he doesn’t pick Matthews? If he picks Laine or Puljujarvi or Tkachuk will you still be happy because you trust his opinion?

      • Capt.Jay

        Ha. I never said people weren’t entitled to their opinions, I said people need to stop over reacting by saying if a said player is or isn’t picked they will turn in their “Leaf card”.. Re read the post, sound out the big words, and then re read it again.

        I do love that you came on here telling me not to do what you just told me not to do. I WILL be fine with whoever he picks, that was the point of my comment.