Oh yeah, the draft. We should probably start putting up some posts about that. The Leafs are picking 25th, which is the latest into the first round we’ve seen them draft in a while, and the recent memories of that haven’t been too endearing, as Tyler Biggs and Frederik Gauthier are a couple of the more haunting Burke transactions. Both of these picks were deemed safe, non-flashy and came with the guarantee of being able to fill the both of the Leafs forward group at the very least. In reality, Biggs struggled to make the AHL, and Gauthier has received 37 games in the NHL to see what the Leafs have in him, a courtesy that probably would not have been extended to him if he was selected any later in the draft.
The good news is that Kyle Dubas doesn’t want to play it safe and neither does Brendan Shanahan. We got a glimpse of what Dubas’ heightened involvement in the draft looks like in 2015, and skill and upside certainly seemed to play a bigger part in the selections than height and truculence. This is pretty promising and should redefine what the Leafs identify as the best player available.
Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at who may be available at 25, and try to make the case for why they are the future of the Maple Leafs.
Who Is Calen Addison?
Calen Addison is a somewhat undersized (5’10), right shooting defenseman, who spent last season playing for the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League. He was a near point per game player this season, and then exceeded the ppg mark in his 16 playoff games. He’s represented Canada at the Hlinka Cup, again being over a point per game, and his April birthday doesn’t really put him on the young or old side of the draft.
Where Is Addison Ranked?
|Canucks Army- Jeremy Davis||19th|
|Central Scouting (North America)||30th|
|The Athletic- Corey Pronman||Top 31 ($)|
|The Athletic- Scott Wheeler||Top 31 ($)|
|TSN- Craig Button||33th|
Addison definitely seems to fall into the part of the draft that opens up after the top 15 or so picks. More than recent years it seems like there is a potential for a lot of different names to be called between the mid first round and the mid third round without people really being too shocked. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that recent shortage of highly skilled right handed defenseman didn’t factor into my appreciation for Addison, but can’t really speak for the others who ranked him.
What the Numbers Say About Addison
Mitch Brown has manually tracked data on a number of prospects, and Calen Addison is one of those players who fared very well, with the exception of his performance in the neutral zone. Like most top draft eligible defensemen, Addison has been a key contributor to the offense of his team, and most importantly both shot attempts and scoring chances increase for his team when he is on the ice.
So there’s some things left to be desired up there. The goals for situation speaks to Addison being used heavily as an all situations top four defender on a middle of the road WHL team. The lack of point production off the power play isn’t uncommon for defensemen, especially at this level. What does make him a standout is the amount of offense that Addison has produced on special teams.
What’s Been Written About Addison
The right shot defenseman oozes hockey sense, is a precision passer and has a decent shot, but excels at creating transition offence and distributing the puck. Skating is an asset as he moves quickly, has good mobility and agility and strong edges. Addison is smart on both sides of the puck, is positionally sound and is not shy about playing physically, albeit his effectiveness is limited even at the junior level due to his size.
He has some tools at his disposal that can help him become less of a liability defensively. In addition to the active stick and fluid mobility that help him engage attacking players, he has the lower-body strength to engage physically both in front of his net and in board battles, but his desire to turn every play into an offensive opportunity prevents him from incorporating those elements into his play with enough regularity.
The Eye Test
Why The Leafs Should Draft Calen Addison
With Travis Dermott graduated to the Leafs, and with Timothy Liljegren graduating to the Leafs likely in the next two seasons, the Leafs have a lack of offensive upside defensive prospects in their system. Additionally the Leafs are coming up a little short on right side of the blueline, though addressing current roster needs through the draft is generally not the best idea.
This draft should be all about defensemen, at least in the mid first to second rounds. There are a number of high end options even after Dahlin, Bouchard, Dobson, Smith, and Boqvist are gone. Addison joins the group of Sandin and Merkley as the best of the rest. Merkley would likely fall into the highest risk with the highest reward, and purely drafting for talent teams will lean towards him. Sandin seems to be the safest of three options, with Addison falling somewhere in between. Additionally players like K’Andre Miller, Jonathan Tychonick, and Bode Wilde may factor into consideration for teams looking for a blueliner, and might be an incentive for teams trading down.
Addison’s stock will likely go up as final draft rankings begin appearing, based on his strong playoff performance. It seems that taking him in the teens would be a stretch as far as consensus is concerned, but he is definitely seen as having value as a late first rounder and has a good chance of being available when the Leafs pick and also could still be available if they attempt to move down in the draft.
The case for drafting Addison is simple, he’s likely to be the best defenseman available at the time the Leafs select, and there’s a strong case that can be made that he’ll be the best player of any position available at the time unless someone slides out of the top 15.