Maple Leafs director of amateur scouting Wes Clark reviews Ben Danford’s game

Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
21 days ago
For the second consecutive year, the Toronto Maple Leafs went off the board with their first-round pick, selecting an ascending talent from the Ontario Hockey League that would’ve been available per consensus opinion in the draft community. Toronto hit the equivalent of a 500-foot home run last year after selecting Easton Cowan with the No. 28 pick, who responded by winning OHL MVP, OHL playoff MVP and will genuinely compete for a roster spot this fall.
Toronto selected defenceman Ben Danford with the No. 31 pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, trading down from the No. 23 spot to receive the No. 31 and No. 58 selections from the Anaheim Ducks. Danford improved significantly during the second half of the year, particularly on the offensive side of the game as a member of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, registering four goals and 10 points in 21 playoff games.
Maple Leafs director of player personnel and amateur scouting Wes Clark provided his impressions of Danford to reporters in Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon.
“Elite intangibles,” Clark said of Danford to Sportsnet’s Luke Fox. “Excellent defensive instincts. Just checks all the boxes that we were looking for. The upside, I think, is sky high. Ben was pretty much the target all the way along. So, lucky we got him.”
This explains why Toronto traded down, with the premonition that Danford would be available at No. 31. Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving hinted Wednesday that some teams have players higher on their boards than others, perhaps alluding to the team’s internal confidence about Danford.
Danford admitted he’s been a lifelong Maple Leafs fan upon being drafted, naming Phil Kessel and Tampa Bay Lightning star Victor Hedman as his two favourite players. He fits a need in the Maple Leafs’ system and his selection marked the first time Toronto used its first-round pick on a blue liner since Rasmus Sandin in 2018.
Here’s what Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis wrote about Danford leading up to the draft:
For a defenseman with Danford’s offensive abilities, it’s crazy he had just one goal during the regular season with Oshawa. But he’s a guy his teammates like to rely on because he’s rarely caught making a mistake distributing the puck. I’ve seen Danford play both sides on the blueline this year but I think he’s got something going on the left side – it fits his shot better.
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