Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowsk / USA TODAY Sports

The Top Five Worst Drafts in Leafs History

The NHL draft is just around the corner, and the Leafs have a newish management at the helm, with Dubas taking full control of the draft table (compared to minimal control thus far). With that, it’s time to take a look at some of the past drafts from the Leafs previous regimes that have either been a great success or an utter failure.

First, the worst. The Leafs have been plagued with some rough stretches in their history of just playoff droughts alone, never mind their 51 year Stanley Cup drought, so it’s no surprise that they’ve had their fair share of poor drafts. Whether it’s Dave Nonis, Brian Burke, John Ferguson Jr. or one of the many GMs in the Leafs history, the Leafs have had some really bad drafts, so let’s take a look at some of the worst, as well as their worst picks.

To have a good idea as to what drafts went well or poorly, I dove into some basic numbers. I looked into the percentage of successful picks (basically, picks where the player ended up with some NHL experience, whether or not it was with the Leafs), and games played per pick (the combined games played among all of the players divided by the total number of picks the Leafs had in that draft, regardless of if they all panned out).

However, I will be ignoring two things:

  1. Outlier drafts (drafts that only had one pick above 100 games played, which misleads the numbers, ie. the 1996 draft)
  2. Recent drafts (drafts that happened in the past few years, where the prospects haven’t had enough time to develop and analyze)

So, let’s get started.

June 23, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Timothy Liljegren (right) speaks with head coach Mike Babcock after being selected as the number seventeen overall pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Honourable Mention: 2017 Draft

Percentage of Successful Picks: 0% (0 for 7)

Games Played per Pick: 0 (0 combined games played)

Not a single pick made it to the NHL, the only draft in the Leafs history to do so. That doesn’t bode well for the Leafs future, or draft guru Mark Hunter’s resume.

(But seriously, aside from Liljegren, who fell in their laps, and maybe Ian Scott, this draft looks like it might be bad, and didn’t even look all that good at the draft).

5. 2010 Draft

Percentage of Successful Picks: 42.86% (3 of 7)

Games Played per Pick: 22.14 (155 combined games played)

While Brian Burke was always great at making some excellent trades, he was never really good at running the draft table. Ironically, his wheeling and dealing was what got him into trouble with this draft.

Going into the 2010 draft, the Leafs were already absent a first round pick due to the Phil Kessel trade (the 2nd overall pick, no less), but the picks that he did make, he didn’t hit on. He selected Brad Ross in the 2nd round, who didn’t even play an NHL game and has been in Europe for the last few years, and only Greg McKegg, Peter Granberg, and Sam Carrick ever got any NHL action. Missing out on Tyler Seguin definitely hurt, but the Leafs didn’t really help themselves with the rest of their picks.

Notable pick: Daniel Brodin (5th round)

4. 2013 Draft

Percentage of Successful Picks: 60% (3 for 5)

Games Played per Pick: 9.6 (48 combined games played)

You’d think a guy who only ran two drafts among the team’s 54 in their history would probably be able to avoid this list, but Dave Nonis is a wizard in that regards.

While 2013 might be too soon to evaluate and add to this list, a majority of the picks look really bad at this point. With their first round pick, they selected Frederik Gauthier, who’s got the most games played among their picks, but those were due to injury replacement, and he’s been okay at best at the AHL level. The only other players in that draft to play were Antoine Bibeau (also for injury replacement) and Andres Johnsson, which if not for his potential, this draft would probably be lower on this list.

Notable pick: Fabrice Herzog (5th round)

Feb 14, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Josh Leivo (32) celebrates after scoring a goal as New York Islanders forward Josh Bailey (12) looks on during the first period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

3. 2011 Draft

Percentage of Successful Picks: 44.44% (4 for 9)

Games Played per Pick: 10.11 (91 combined games played)

Brian Burke makes another appearance with his job in the 2011 draft. While he had more picks, including two first round picks, he did just as bad, including the two first round picks.

With the first round picks, Burke selected Tyler Biggs, who’s arguable one of the worst first round picks in recent history, and Stuart Percy, who got 12 games, and hasn’t made the jump since. The only good picks in that draft were Josh Leivo and Garret Sparks, who haven’t found a role in the NHL yet, although Leivo probably should have by this point, and Sparks will probably get his shot next season after a great year in the AHL. Those two have a shot to make this draft look better, but this still is arguably Burke’s worst draft.

Notable pick: Tyler Biggs (1st round)

2. 2004 Draft

Percentage of Successful Picks: 28.57% (2 for 7)

Games Played per Pick: 7.71 (54 combined games played)

Much like the 2010 draft, the Leafs went into this draft with a bit less ammo then they probably wanted. Without picks in the first two rounds, they probably knew it wouldn’t go well, but they didn’t really help themselves.

Many will remember this as the infamous Justin Pogge draft, who the Leafs went all in on and thought of him as their goalie of the future, so much that they traded Tuukka Rask, a goalie they picked two years later. However, Pogge was one of two players in that draft that got some NHL experience, the other being Robbie Earl, who played a grand total of 47 games. This draft was really bad, but unfortunately for the Leafs, this one is only second.

Notable Pick: Dmitry Vorobiev (5th round)

1. 1999 Draft

Percentage of Successful Picks: 11.11% (1 for 9)

Games Played per Pick: 0.33 (3 combined games played)

Yeah, this one was bad. Not only did the Leafs have a decent amount of picks, which increased the likeliness that they should’ve hit on at least one pick, but they didn’t hit on any of them. Only one player got any NHL experience, as Pierre Hedin cracked the NHL for three games (and even got an assist!). The fact that the average games played per pick was less than one should speak miles to how bad this draft was, and it hurt the team down the road (especially during the team’s postseason drought after the lockout).

Notable Pick: Luca Cereda (1st round)

Up next: Tomorrow, we’ll look on the brighter side of Leafs history, and look at some of the best drafts the team has put together.

MLN Draft #Content


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