We’re at the logical conclusion of this series of posts. So far we’ve covered off:
- Trading up from the 25th overall pick
- Trading down from the 25th overall pick
- Trading the pick for a roster player
So now let’s discuss what the case is for the Leafs staying put and drafting 25th overall and maintaining the proud hockey tradition of always choosing the most boring option. It doesn’t mean it’s the worst option, but it is pretty darn boring and with a new GM running the draft there is a very good chance that boring is what we’ll get and could be the general theme of the offseason if it isn’t one of the Leafs internal candidates filling the role.
The case for keeping the pick
- Let’s start with the safety and security of it. We know exactly what we are getting in that spot, a well researched prospect that will immediately be considered one of the top five prospects within the organization. We don’t know if it’s going to be a boom or bust high end talent or the safety of size, but what we do know is that Shanahan, Dubas, and Hunter haven’t given us any reason to doubt them in the first round, and a late round first round pick with them doesn’t have to mean Tyler Biggs, Stuart Percy, or Frederik Gauthier. Look no further than what the Ducks have been able to accomplish with late 1st round picks that belonged to the Leafs. They’ve been able to successfully add Sam Steel and Rickard Rackell to their organization.
- Someone is going to slide in the draft. There’s always one. Mat Barzal and Timothy Liljegren are two great recent examples, but when looking at potential top ten talent that slide even further down to the mid 20s, you’ve got another former Leaf owned pick in Travis Konecny in 2015, and last year saw Kailer Yamamoto slide to 22nd, Eeli Tolvanen slide to 30, and Klim Kostin went 31st. Looking at 2016 you can point to Max Jones (24th) and German Rubtsov (22nd) as sliders before you even begin to look at the talent that fell into the 2nd round that draft.This year is no different. Ryan Merkley’s attitude problems are still something that organizations are going to be put off by, and the higher the pick the less likely a team is going to be willing to risk it on someone they can’t work with. He may be close to a top ten talent in the draft, but he’ll be drafted by team that was in the playoffs this season.
Unless something radical has happened to NHL GMs over the past 12 months, I’m pretty sure they are still terrified that Russians they draft won’t come over and play them, and that’s going to see two more talented players in Vitali Kravtsov and Grigori Denisenko slide as well.
- History dictates that good players have been found at 25 before. Pension Plan Puppets has the entire history of who has been picked at 25, and it includes the highs of David Pastrnak, Andrew Cogliano, Patrik Berglund, and Brendan Morrow, but also the lows of Stuart Percy, Jordan Caron, and Robbie Schremp. The fact that you CAN find a player at 25 isn’t surprising given that there’s a whole lot of draft after 25 that also produces great players, but with a competent scouting and analytics team it seems plausible that the Leafs can make the most of this pick.
Who’s expected to go 25th?
|Canucks Army (site)||Jonatan Berggen||C/RW||Sweden|
|Canucks Army (industry consolidated)||Jacob Olofsson||C||Sweden|
|Future Considerations||Ryan Merkley||D||OHL|
|Hockey Prospects||Alexander Alexeyev||D||WHL|
|ISS Hockey||Jacob Bernard-Docker||D||AJHL|
|Mile High Hockey||Ty Dellandrea||C||OHL|
|The Athletic||Bode Wilde||D||USNTDP|
|TSN (Craig Button)||Nicolas Beaudin||D||QMJHL|
A lot of these names are very encouraging. The Ryan Merkley sighting gives hope, as does the Bode Wilde sighting. Sandin, Lundkvist, Olofsson, and Berggen are all solid safe options in that range as well, while Ty Dellandrea would be a solid swing for the fences offensive gamble for the Leafs. Similarly, my own personal rankings #25th overall is Jack McBain of the OJHL, and he could be a solid center with size for the Leafs in the not too distant future.
Final Thoughts on the 25th Overall Pick
Looking back on these four posts, I think it’s safe to say a case can be made for any one of these approaches, though admittedly the picking at 25 seems the least appealing to me. Every other option gives Toronto a chance to do something extra and improve their team beyond just adding one quality prospect and I’d hope maintaining the status quo is a last resort.
That being said, there’s also a ton of moving parts in the NHL during week leading up to draft and following it. If the Maple Leafs are focusing their efforts on free agency or the trade market, the draft may not be the priority, and the team may want to do nothing more than walk to the podium, make their selections, and go home. I hope it’s not that simple as it would nice if this team can be good for a period as long as they managed to be bad for or longer.