Did many of us set our expectations too high? Do many of us tend to get fixated on our guy and judge a success draft based on how many of our guys got picked? Would trades have been nice? Do you find yourself saying “enough with the overagers” on a regular basis?
If the answer is yes to any of those questions, you may be someone underwhelmed by Kyle Dubas’ first solo draft, when in reality there isn’t much to fault him for, even the overagers.
Drafting Rasmus Sandin at 29, or at 25 for that matter is not something worthy of criticism, so it seems odd that we’d heap criticism on Dubas for taking a player from a system he trusts, one that will provide him with additional information on the prospect, and a prospect that has the option to be in Sweden, the AHL, or junior next season. Sandin might be an incredibly safe pick, but when you look at the Leafs defensive depth chart after Liljegren and a safe middle pairing minute eater isn’t a bad option to put into the system.
Mac Hollowell in the 4th round is a similar type of comfort food. He’s a bit more of a risk as an overager, and a short one at that, but again Dubas has good reason to trust the Greyhounds system and the hand-off to Sheldon Keefe to work with Hollowell with the Marlies should be fairly smooth as a result. Since Dubas has a good idea of what he can develop Hollowell into, there is a chance he can get more out of this pick that others would.
We already touched on Hollowell, and honestly the other OHL overager, Sean Durzi, has even greater upside. There was plenty of surprise when Durzi wasn’t drafted last year, and it seemed like that mistake wasn’t going to be made again. Durzi was one of the most celebrated overagers coming into this draft, and went right around where people expected him to. Canucks Army had him at 52nd overall, as did the Leafs apparently, and looking at his metric percentiles, Durzi has been a standout
The Leafs potentially backfilling their blueline with affordable prospects on ELCs will certainly help keep the Leafs afloat in the tightest cap years to come as well. The overagers may be ready sooner, and I guess you can make a case for them that way too.
As for Pontus Holmberg, he’s put up points in the lower Swedish leagues, and looks ready to make the jump to the SHL. He could be another Thommie Bergman special, which has served the Leafs pretty well in the past.
There is no doubt the Leafs hit a home run by bringing Semyon Der-Arguchintsev into the fold. He’s one of the youngest players in the draft, and already producing well in the OHL. Given the Leafs need to add a scoring center into their prospect pool, you have to say they’ve done well here.
Der-Arguchintsev is more of a playmaker than a scorer – though he’s got a pretty nice shot. With only 1.5 shots per game, the numbers suggest that he looks to make a play for his linemates before he shoots himself. The eye test tells you the same thing. You can seem him weave his way through traffic, looking for an open man – sometimes even passing up better shots for himself. If he learns that it’s ok to be a little more selfish, we could see a jump in shot and goal production.
This season, SDA’s 39 assists was good enough to leave him tied for fourth among draft eligible OHL forwards. The high assist total comes from a combination of tremendous passing skills and elite vision.
His skating is above average. Like Mitch Marner at the same age, Der-Arguchintsev is a very agile skater that works very well east-west but currently lacks the top-end straight away speed you like to see from elite skater. He’s quick and shifty, but when you do catch him, SDA can be knocked off the puck rather easily by bigger opponents.
I can’t say I know a whole lot about Semyon Kizimov at this point, but using a 7th round pick on a player developing in Russia is a fairly move if you want to chase a potential high reward situation. It’s likely the Leafs will just be watching his development from afar, but with the indefinite ownership of his NHL rights, this is a solid lottery ticket move.
Kizimov shows some offensive promise with 18 points in 30 MHL games last season and ISS had him as their 104th ranked prospected. That’s good for some modest excitement.
Riley Stotts was the second center selected by the Leafs in this draft, and they seemingly did so on the strength of the back half of his season. Stotts seems to think the game well, but lacks any one ability that really made him a standout in this draft. He was a near a point per game player after joining Calgary, and I’m sure he’ll only add to that next season. He’s got the height to be a pro, but it’s not surprising that he still needs to fill out a bit before Leafs fans will know what they really have here. Given the Leafs player development budget, there’s no reason to believe his skating won’t improve either.
Filip Kral may have been an absolute steal, and Mitch Brown probably best sums up why…
Leafs take Filip Kral, yet another one of my favourites. Above-average offence and transition numbers. He was one of the very best NZ defenders I tracked all season — and he did it playing on his off side. pic.twitter.com/yF31TnOuaH
— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) June 23, 2018
Once upon a time the Leafs drafted a Chicoutimi Saguenéen and that goaltender become Felix Potvin. Maybe something magical like that can happen again with Zachary Bouthillier. He played in 38 games last season, and may get a chance to increase his workload next year. The Leafs currently have goaltenders developing in the WHL, QMJHL, and NCAA in addition to their backlog of AHL goaltenders. For a position labelled difficult to predict this is probably a very good thing.
Grading the Draft
This is a solid B draft. The Leafs addressed important areas of need like scoring, defense, and center, and avoided going after players that would project as bottom pairing defensmen or bottom six forwards. We’re back to chasing skill, which is what most of us wanted. We can criticize Dubas for not going with the names most commonly put out by draft experts, but he did well. Even when it comes to overagers, I had to admit this year the overage draft class had a lot of appeal, and Durzi was one of the names driving that appeal.
If we’re going to criticize anything and be right about it, it’s that the Leafs were very quiet on the trade front, but again I can talk myself into that being the right move too. Players like Martin and Zaitsev have bonuses to be paid out on July 1st, and players like Hainsey would have much value until other options can’t be found in free agency. A larger deal happening this weekend was probably too much to ask for anyway.
At the end of the day this was an unexciting draft that could yield a solid return for the Leafs.