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Sorry Leafs fans, we’re going to start talking about the draft

It would be nice if this came a little later next year, especially when the Leafs are still going to drafting after at least one team that went further in the playoffs than they did, but hey, at least this year Toronto has a first round pick, it’s a good high end (and deep-ish) draft so it’s worth starting to care and start feverishly typing the names of draft eligible players into Elite Prospects and YouTube to get a better understanding of who we’re supposed to like. Or some of our writers, who are far more knowledgeable than me, can fill in some of the blanks over the next couple of months.

When will the Leafs pick? 

With the fourth best record in the NHL, the default position for the Leafs was 29th overall. Of course, they were never truly locked into that as the final four teams in the playoffs occupy the last four spots of the draft (Cup winner last, Cup finalist second last, and the two Conference Final teams based on their regular season points at 29th and 30th.) So given that the three teams ahead of the Leafs in the standings (Avalanche, Panthers, and Hurricanes) all advanced to the second round and are still in the playoffs the worst the Leafs pick can be is 28th overall given that one team will ranked below the Leafs is guaranteed to be in the Conference Finals. Now, if the Canes, Avs, and Panthers all get upset in the second round, the best the Leafs can pick is 25th overall. This seems pretty unlikely, but then again, so does not making it out of the first round of the playoffs for 18 years. It’s most likely the Leafs will pick at 26th or 27th.

Who’s available when the Leafs pick?

Future Considerations HockeyProspect.com Bob McKenzie
25th Lian Bichsel- D (SHL) Matyas Sapovaliv- F (OHL) Kevin Korchinski- D (WHL)
26th Elias Salomonsson- D (SHL) Jani Nyman- F (Mestis) Rutger McGroarty- C (USNTDP)
27th Lane Hutson- D (USNTDP) Alexander Perevalov- F (MHL) Jack Hughes- C (NCAA)
28th Ryan Chesley- D (USNTDP) Artyom Duda- D (MHL) Maveric Lamoureux- D (QMJHL)
HM Owen Beck- C (OHL) Luca Del Bel Belluz- F (OHL)
HM David Goyette- C (OHL) Denton Mateychuk- D (WHL)

Right now those are largely just names to do deeper dives into, but players like Owen Beck, David Goyette, Luca Del Bel Belluz, Jani Nyman, Rutger McGroarty, and Jack Hughes all carry a lot of appeal to me, a person who is hellbent on seeing the Leafs draft a promising forward.

All of these players have a good chance of being impact players in the NHL and it’s not a bad year to pick late. There would also be something satisfying about the Leafs drafting the son of the Habs GM (Jack Hughes.)

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Beyond the first round…

The Leafs presently only own two other picks in the draft. A third round pick (originally belonging to the Jets) and their 7th round pick. The 7th round pick we know will be somewhere between the 8th and 5th last pick in the draft, and the Jets pick is locked in, and Toronto will be selecting 78th overall. So at least two picks in the top 100 and a chance to grab a diamond in the rough at the end. It’s not a bad starting point, but it seems likely the Leafs could try to pick up some additional draft picks either via their need to shed some salary to properly overhaul their roster (assuming they go that route.) Or they could pick them up the old fashioned way, as Dubas as often traded a pick from the next draft for the current one.

The Leafs still find themselves in a strong position prospect wise. Having Robertson, Niemela, Hirvonen, Holmberg, and Abruzzese all being close to ready to take their next steps is encouraging. Hopefully we’ll see a full recovery for Rodion Amirov and he’ll also be in that mix too soon enough. Knies will have another year at school, but could come out in time for the playoffs next season, and there’s always some hope that someone in the Marlies mix separates themselves from the pack as well. Still, having seven players that can be perceived as adding value on an NHL roster over the next couple of years is a good situation to be in and that might curb the interest in acquiring further picks.

With the draft being two months away the intent here is to just scratch the surface and come to terms with when the Leafs will be picking despite their early playoff exit. The consolation is always that Toronto under Kyle Dubas has found a way to consistently hit the mark with their selections.

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