If you’re a regular reader of this site you may have already seen my case for moving up at the draft, and my case for trading the Leafs first round pick. Every time I write one of these posts the Leafs draft pick situation gets a little more bleak. First they had a shot at the 23rd overall pick and that went away, then after the second post the Penguins were eliminated and locked the Leafs into 25th overall. It now seems like it’s safe to say the pick won’t get any lower, unless the Leafs are interesting in following the idea in this post, and that’s trading down from the 25th overall.
We’ve seen the Leafs do this once before and it was the same three headed monster at the helm of the Leafs at the time. Shanahan, Dubas, and Hunter decided to have some fun in 2015 with the Leafs additional first round pick (24th overall) that they acquired for Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli (more trades like this, please.) The Flyers apparently felt very strongly about the idea of taking Travis Konecny (so did I, by the way) and dealt the Leafs their 29th overall pick and the Leafs picked up the 61st overall in the process. The Leafs then traded the 29th overall for the 34th overall and the 68th overall draft pick. The Leafs would go on to select Travis Dermott with the 34th overall pick and Jeremy Bracco with the 61st overall pick. They also took Martins Dzierkals with the 68th overall and he serves as a reminder that you can’t win them all.
Assuming that Travis Dermott was a player the Leafs wanted regardless, picking up Bracco and a swing for the fences pick in Dzierkals wasn’t too shabby. Given the current draft position of the Leafs, and the way the talent in draft seems to be distributed, it may be time to once again “Belichick” the draft and see how much talent the Leafs can accumulate.
“It’s something we would definitely look at…If someone else was adamant about a player, we’re pretty comfortable with the players in that cluster…We need to be acquiring as many draft pick assets as we can, as many prospects as we can. If there was something that made sense, we’d be open to listening and having some thorough discussions on the fourth pick.”
Kind of makes you wonder what would have happened if the Leafs traded down the Marner pick with the purpose of drafting someone like Barzal later. Not that I or anyone else should complain about drafting Mitch Marner.
The Case For Trading Down
- That’s pretty much the strongest case in that Dubas quote. If you aren’t feeling really strongly about a player or have a number of players that you would be fairly comfortable with picking up, why not see what additional futures can be picked up along the way. The Leafs talent pipeline isn’t what it was a couple of years ago, largely because it was so amazing that Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Johnsson, Kapanen, Dermott, Hyman, and Brown quickly found roles on the Leafs. It’s reasonable to assume that Timothy Liljegren and Carl Grundstrom aren’t too far behind and that really leaves a pretty shallow prospect pool in the Leafs system.
- If you’ve read the other two posts, you’ve already seen the draft tiers and pick valuation, and once again they are an important consideration in this…
The draft tiers identified by Jeremy Davis now put the Leafs squarely in the darker blue area. That’s not to say that there won’t be players sliding from the higher tiers, Merkley and Denisenko are two that immediately come to mind, and we’re yet to see what the final rankings will do to shift some of these names around. While the names may change the philosophy behind it remains similar and that is with the draft pick valuing…Using Schucker’s draft pick valuation, you can see where the Leafs moving down from 24 to 34 and picking up 61 and 68 along the way benefited the club in 2015. I think with Dermott and Bracco you can eye test the results just as well as you can quantify them here. In contrast to the Leafs success with moving down, there’s something to be said about their disastrous moving up attempt to grab Tyler Biggs. The Leafs moved up 8 spots from 30 to 39 (valuation of 59) at the expense of the 39th overall pick valued at 209. The Ducks walked away with Rickard Rackell, and John Gibson, two players that the Leafs front office probably wasn’t smart enough to consider at the time anyway. There’s probably a good moral in here about not being hung up on “getting your guy” and instead casting a wider net of a similar tier of talent.
- Is it fine that part of the case for doing this is that it’s incredibly fun? I know I still want to see the Leafs make a pick on Friday night, and selfishly I’d want to keep them in the top 31, but 2015 was a wild ride that I’m glad we went on. As much I didn’t know anything about Dermott and was in love with the idea of taking Konecny, I’m pretty darn happy with Dermott today and Bracco definitely has some optimism attached to him too.
Who’s Going To Trade Up?
Some of the usual suspects in recent years seem to be the Blues, Islanders, and Flyers. The Blues pick two picks after the Leafs, the Islanders hold two mid round 2nds which could be enticing, but the Flyers will have already picked twice ahead of the Leafs and probably won’t factor into this. There are the Rangers and Red Wings which will be interesting to watch. Both teams are very much in the early stages of complete overhauls, and the Rangers aren’t particularly shy about making significant moves.
The Rangers will have already picked once in the first round, but own the pick immediately following the Leafs, as well as Tampa’s 1st round pick. They have three second round picks before pick 50 as well. There is a good chance they’ll be looking to make 4 picks in the first round, and the Leafs can definitely help them with that. As for the Wings, they’ve got the necessary pieces to be a good trade partner as well, and I’m sure these aren’t the only five teams that are could be hung up on a certain player and if the Leafs are flexible there is great opportunity to repeat some of the success of the 2015 draft.