I’m not going to sit here and give you a lecture on whether trading up or down, historically, is a good or bad idea. That’s mostly because Shawn Reis did a fantastic job of that back in May, and quite frankly, I have nothing more to bring to the table beyond what he’s said.
However, I do have a handy list of times the Leafs have actually made a pure draft pick shuffle in the past few years, so let’s take a look at a few case studies, shall we?
The Fall of 2015 (Trade Down)
June 26th, 2015:
- Toronto trades 24th overall to Philadelphia for 29th overall, 61st overall
- Toronto trades 29th overall to Columbus for 34th overall, 68th overall
Analysis: It’s very early to tell here, but Toronto seems to have picked up a pretty likable haul here. While their original pick was used to select Travis Konecny, a faller who had very good Draft+1 numbers until suffering a shoulder injury this year, the Leafs managed to pick up Travis Dermott, Jeremy Bracco, and Martins Dzierkals in return. All three seem to be progressing to expectation, if not ahead of it.
Would I Do It Again? Probably. It’s early, but Toronto managed to secure three very solid prospects thanks to this move, taking advantage of what looked like a foregone conclusion that Bracco would fall to them if they could time their scoop up.
The Anaheim Swindle (Trade Up)
June 24th/25th, 2011:
- Toronto trades 30th overall and 39th overall to Anaheim for 22nd overall
- Toronto trades 160th overall in 2011 to Anaheim for 157th overall in 2012
Analysis: Man, did Brian Burke’s former team get the best of him on this one. The Leafs wanted a bruiser forward up front and thought they were going to get one in Tyler Biggs, so they took the leap of faith. Biggs was a disaster in Toronto and hasn’t been much better in Pittsburgh’s system. The Ducks picked up Rickard Rakell and John Gibson, who have become meaningful young roster players.
Toronto also pushed a pick back a year thanks to a shuffle in a year prior (more on that in a minute) and ended up effectively trading Josh Manson for Ryan Rupert. Manson will play his 100th NHL game next year; Rupert looks to be a decent-ish AHL player.
Would I Do It Again? hahahahahahahaha *cries self to sleep*
What Year Is This? (Both)
June 26th, 2010:
- Toronto trades 66nd overall in 2012 to Los Angeles for 79th overall in 2010
- Toronto trades 202nd overall in 2010 to Edmonton for 152nd overall in 2011
Analysis: As hinted at before, this was peak Burkey, looking to get what he wanted in the present while worrying about the future as he went. He felt that he had spotted a gem in Sondre Olden and traded a 3rd round pick two years in the future to draft him; Olden never panned out and that pick became Jimmy Vesey.
To make up for it, the Leafs got rid of one of their sixth round picks in exchange for a 5th rounder in the following year. That’s a powerplay, and while David Broll didn’t end up being much either, he’s seen more meaningful action than Kellen Jones.
Would I Do It Again? Probably not, but if we find out that Vesey was going to test the market no matter who he was with, then sure. The biggest issue here was that Burke thought the Leafs in 2012 would be a good team, and ended up trading down 13 spots on the first move. If you’re self-aware of your long-term outlook, though, shifting years makes sense. Ideally, however, you’d like to get another pick thrown in so you’re amassing swings in the process.
The Eraser Chaser
June 20th, 2008:
- Toronto trades 7th overall, 68th overall, and 37th overall in 2009 for 5th overall
Analysis: That’s a very, very steep price to pay for two spots, but the Leafs were certain that they had found the NHL-ready prospect who was going to kickstart their rebuild. The good news was that he made it to the NHL right away; the bad news is that it was Luke Schenn. Toronto’s picks ended up becoming Colin Wilson, Shawn Lalonde, and Mat Clark.
Would I Do It Again? I probably wouldn’t apply those pick numbers to a current draft trade, but this specific one? Hindsight works in funny ways. Schenn wasn’t overly great, but Wilson, while good, is far from a star. There isn’t really anybody mindblowing directly below him either, unless you think the Leafs would have gone off the board for Karlsson or Myers at 7. Not a lot was available around Lalonde and Clark’s spots either, which softens the blow. Besides, they managed to get James van Riemsdyk for Schenn a few years later, and that’s still hilarious.