A thing to do around this time of the year is to start looking at who are the top prospects heading into the NHL entry draft. This task is decidedly less fun when the team you follow isn’t picking until the 53rd overall pick over half way through the second round. The Kings, Ducks, Rangers, Hurricanes, Canadiens, and Senators are all currently scheduled to pick three times before the Leafs make their first selection.
The thing is, there’s not a lot of reason to believe the Leafs won’t be acquiring a draft pick or two. Maybe not in the first round, but it seems that with the need to shed salary and a lot of money being spent on the wing or about to be committed to the wing, the Leafs are going to deal some talent and talent tends to translate into first and second round picks.
We’ve got six more weeks to explore who is getting dealt and what they will bring in, so instead we’ll offer up the players that will motivate us to be supportive of the Leafs making trades for draft picks.
As I’ve done in the past, I’ve pulled together a number of draft rankings and gave the prospects a total score based on their ranking in those publications. This includes HockeyProspect.com, Future Considerations, ISS Hockey, The Hockey News, Dobber Prospects, McKeens, Sportsnet, and TSN’s rankings by both Craig Button and Bob McKenzie.
A few things to note…
- NHLe is particularly cruel to the US National Team Development Program. I’m sure Jack Hughes, Alex Turcotte, Matthew Boldy, Trevor Zegras, Cole Caufield, and Cam York are all having their results understated a little. Of course it’s also an incredibly deep USNTDP team and it’s difficult to gauge who is benefiting from who without a deeper dive. For now we’ll assume Hughes really is that good.
- Of the 31 players above, 18 of them appeared on all of the rankings. The top 17 and Moritz Seider were on every list, and it should also be noted that some rankings purposely do not include goaltenders in their player rankings, so there is reason to believe that Spencer Knight’s appeal is being understated.
- In total there were 49 players across these nine rankings that received consideration for the first round. I mention that largely because of the Leafs picking 53rd and it seems likely that at least one player considered a first rounder by someone will fall to them in the draft. Use that to enjoy your day. A couple of interesting names near the bottom of that list are Nolan Foote, Albin Grewe, and Mikko Kokkonen.
- Brett Leason is a 6’5 overager, and that’s why his NHLe is as high as it is and he’s still at the bottom of the first. That’s not to say that someone shouldn’t draft him or he’d be a bad pick, but it does qualify that there is some risk associated with him that isn’t done justice by the simple table above.
That doesn’t really help me too much with the Leafs picks
If that’s what you’re thinking I’ve got good news for you. I’ve got a second set of consolidated rankings geared at the first three rounds. Consider it the stripped down version of the rankings relying on sites with publicly available rankings beyond the top 31. For these rankings I’ve used Scouching.ca, TheDraftAnalyst.com, Canucks Army, Dobber Prospects, and Craig Button’s rankings. In a couple of these cases the rankings are a little older and represent the midterm rankings, but also I’d say in the case of Scouching, CA, and Dobber Prospects, three of the key people I’d most trust for solid draft rankings are reflected in this list.
|92||Martin Hugo Has||RHD||Jr. A SM-Liiga|
I’ve bolded the rankings where the Leafs are scheduled to pick.
Things that are particularly noteworthy here…
- Oh look a Zaitsev! First, there’s no relation to Nikita. Second, he wouldn’t be a terrible pick, but I’d rather have either one of the two players right in front of him a whole lot more, especially Blake Murray.
- Cole Mackay is an interesting player of note at #89, since he’s a Soo Greyhound, and the Leafs have some pretty strong ties to that organization and he should be available when the Leafs pick in the third round. He scored very highly on the Canucks Army midterm rankings, but only appeared on the Canucks Army and Dobber Prospect lists.
- Using different lists than what was in the top listing means this is going to have some different results, and one of the encouraging different results is that Ilya Nikolaev looks more attainable to the Leafs at 46 on this list. It’s still a bit of a reach, but some optimism exists.
- If you are a draft for positional need type of person, the four right handed defensemen ranked around the Leafs draft spots are Billy Constantinou, Drew Helleson, Martin Hugo Has and Case McCarthy.
After the draft combine is completed, and scouting services have the chance to complete their final rankings we should both of these lists take on their final form. Using the first list, you can probably be fairly certain that the top 20 will remain the top 20 with a couple of small movements, and maybe a couple of new names added to Top 31, but nothing too shocking.
As for the the secondary list, the top 93, well, we can assume that changes from the midterm, as well as the inclusion of other rankings may give us a much clearer picture of who will be available to the Leafs at 53 and 84. As for now, it looks like decent options should be available.