Yeah, no one is specifically saying these are the players the Leafs are looking at. Even in Toronto no one is putting in that leg work for picks outside the first round, and we’re relying entirely on who ranked at 53rd and 84th overall on draft lists to project potential targets for the Leafs.
No matter how we get there, the results are pretty encouraging as some of these players listed seem like steals or worthwhile projects for development.
|53rd Overall||84th Overall|
|Dobber Prospects||Anttoni Honka-D
Yes, he’s the brother of Julius Honka and most scouts seem to paint him with the same brush of being an offense first defenseman who needs to work on his game in his own zone. That might mean some work is required, but it seems like getting him at 53 would be a steal
He’s technically an overager, but was one of the youngest eligible players last year, so if you treat him like a first year eligible he’s a find at 84. He’s part of a strong QMJHL program which is a plus, and could be AHL eligible a season from now.
|Bob McKenzie||Antti Tuomisto-D
Some sites list Antti at 6’4, others at 6’3, but if you are expecting a physical force, you’ll be disappointed. Tuomisto is a two-way puck mover with the coveted right handed shot.
You have to think the Russian factor has pushed him down a bit in the rankings, and honestly I’d be thrilled to get a player who exhibits some second line center potential in the third round.
It’s like the universe is calling to the Leafs to take a right handed D based on the draft rankings, and Spence is another on that list. He’s not a particularly glamourous option, but an undersized two-way guy who could pan out. Elite Prospects lists him as being born in Australia with dual citizenship in Canada and Japan. I make note of that because it’s marginally interesting.
I’m thinking Finnish Jeremy Bracco. He’s an undersized winger who lives or dies by his ability to produce offensively, relying more on playmaking.
|Canucks Army||Dillon Hamaliuk-W
Injuries kept Hamaliuk out of action for half the season and that’s definitely worked against him in the rankings. That could present a swing for the fences option on a 6’3 winger. It’s been a while since the Leafs developed a power forward prospect, and he certainly brings something different.
A two-way center committed to University of North Dakota. Admittedly I get worried with drafting Junior-A players, and think “two-way” is code for nothing stands out on them, but this isn’t a bad pick.
|Elite Prospects||Ilya Nikolayev- C
Another Russian prospect that would need to be encouraged to play in North America. The Leafs have had success with this, and Korshkov proves they’ll consider taking Russians in the second round. Nikolayev has had some consideration as an early 2nd rounder, possibly late 1st rounder.
It always seems like playing in Flint counts against players since a 30 goal winger standing 6’2 is a real treat for the 3rd round. If he’s available he’s worth taking a chance on, but you work that trade to the Greyhounds as fast as you can.
|The Draft Analyst||Danil Gutik-W
At 53rd overall, Gutik seems like an incredible stretch, and might even be a risky pick at 84 as he does seem like a bit of a project. The size is there, and he’s apparently got a decent shot, but skating requires some work.
Back to Flint to consider another player in desperate need of a trade. Kolyachonok is a 6’2 defender who has put up solid numbers for a two way defender on a bad team. His raw talent generally has people considering him for a 2nd round, possible third round pick, and could be worth the gamble here.
|Craig Button||Alex Vlasic-D
He’s the cousin of Pickles, in case you were wondering, and he’s also projected to be drafted in the early 2nd round. Like his cousin his offensive game leaves a lot to be desired, but at 6’6, someone is going to give him the opportunity to see if he can find it. Big defensemen typically don’t slide in the rankings, even if I agree with Button and people might be ranking him too high.
I was hoping to escape this exercise without mentioning a goaltender, but here we are. Hugo is the 2nd ranked European goaltender by NHL Central Scouting and did pretty darn good at the U-18s. I can’t imagine the Leafs are ready to take a goaltender with 3rd round pick when so many other areas need to be restocked prospect wise and they have interesting options in Woll and Scott.
All of this is encouraging and at least informs what players we can be wrapping our heads around. There’s also the reality that the it is highly probable that teams will reach for players outside the top 50 at least three times in the top 52 picks and put Toronto in the situation to draft potentially an even better player than who has been listed here. There is also that potential that the Leafs may be one of those reaching teams that go off the board, but that seems unlikely now that “draft guru” Mark Hunter is gone.
Each of these lists also include a few names that seem like they’d be great pick ups at 53, that are ranked even lower than 53, so if you aren’t a fan of the name on the list above, here are some options that may have more appeal to you…
|My Pick @ 53 based on who’s left on their draft board||Also interesting and available|
|Dobber Prospects||Nathan Legare (ranked 54) is the name that immediately sticks out to me. He’s one of the better goal scorers available in this draft including those that went in the first round. If he’s available there’s no way I’d be willing to pass on him at 53.||Brayden Tracey (58)
Nolan Foote (60)
Michal Teply (65)
|Bob McKenzie||Patrik Puistola (71) gets mentioned by a lot of people much smarter than me, and leads me to believe he’s a good get. Some of them put his lower league Finnish star in their 1st round. Definitely worth considering at 53||Nathan Legare (59)
Antonni Honka (65)
Mikko Kokkenen (67)
Michal Teply (73)
Pavel Dorofeyev (82!!!)
|Scouching.ca||Michal Teply (57) is probably a bit of reach on my part, but I am intrigued by the small sample of international play and want to see what he can do in North America.||Shane Pinto (69)
Nolan Foote (72)
Ilya Nikolayev (77)
Nathan Legare (78)
|Canucks Army||John Beecher (73) plays center behind a collection of top 10 overall centers. He’s a little bit sheltered, and there’s a bit of concern he benefits from them. That’s fair. He’s also pretty good and has some size and skill that warrant taking him sooner.||Brayden Tracey (66)
Jamieson Rees (71)
|Elite Prospects||Brayden Tracey (55) has put up solid offensive numbers with 36 goals in 66 games, 81 points total. He’s in a similar boat to Legare as the best of remaining tier of offense available outside of the “sure things”||Michal Teply (56)
Nathan Legare (62)
Nolan Foote (87)
|The Draft Analyst||Nolan Foote (55) seems doesn’t have the speed that you’d want, but has the size that allow him to remain productive, and that size and power play opportunities can work against him in some standings. I’m not sure if he’s the ideal fit for Toronto, but he remains an interesting option||Mikko Kokkonen (69)
Shane Pinto (80)
Nathan Legare (87)
Brayden Tracey (99)
|Craig Button||Nils Hoglander (61) should be a first round pick plain and simple. If somehow he’s available when the Leafs pick, I’d imagine they thank their lucky stars for another Timothy Liljegren type situation which overrides other plans. Don’t count on this happening.||Lassi Thomson (57)|
So I guess the takeaway I want you to have from this is that there are plenty of good options still available in the second round and likely into the third. I guess the takeaway for me is that I’ve really targeted Foote, Tracey, Teply, and Legare as the most likely to be available picks I’d make in the range of the 53rd overall pick. Of course once the Leafs roll around to picking at 84 I’ll probably be ready to abandon common sense and want Danil Antropov picked no matter how much that would be reaching at that point, but hey, we can’t chance him not being there in the fourth round, right?
Anyways, prospects are good and hopefully we’ll get more of them soon.