Reviewing the 2018 Leaf Draft Class

Photo credit:Christopher Katsarov/CP
Bennett Jull
1 year ago
One area that General Managers are easily critiqued on is drafting. It’s quite simple really, did the players that were drafted pan out? How many have positively affected the organization? We all know the likeliness of producing NHL players dwindles as the picks go on, and ‘hitting’ on your high draft picks is crucial. Perhaps equally as important is unearthing some hidden gems in the later rounds.
Kyle Dubas was named General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 11th, 2018. His first big course of action was the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, which took place on June 22nd. This gave Dubas over a full month without Lou Lamoriello and Mark Hunter to prepare for the 2 day event in Dallas.
Say what you want about Kyle Dubas, he definitely has his supporters, and also undoubtedly has his haters. Toronto’s success or lack thereof this year will go a long way in terms of defining his legacy. One thing that we can do is analyze his first ever draft class. It’s been over 4 years since Dubas made 9 selections, which I believe is enough time to formulate a solid opinion.
Round #1: Rasmus Sandin
Dubas traded down from pick 25, and got back pick 29 + pick 76. At #29, he promptly chose Rasmus Sandin. Sandin has been a very solid choice, and tomorrow night against Boston will play his 100th NHL game. He has put the contract talks behind him, and has been a solid NHL player thus far. His ceiling is yet to be determined, but I think we can all agree this draft pick has been a success, there are multiple players taken before him that are nowhere near 100 games.
Round #2: Sean Durzi
Taken at #52 was Sean Durzi. Durzi was traded with Carl Grundstrom and a 1st round pick for Jake Muzzin before he ever played in the Leafs organization. Regardless, Durzi has carved out a solid start to his career, and will also eclipse the 100 game NHL mark this season. While never playing for the Leafs or Marlies, this was also a solid draft choice.
Round #3: Semyon Der-Argutchinsev, Riley Stotts
Dubas chose twice this round, with SDA being picked at #76, and Stotts at #83. SDA is now in his 3rd season with the Toronto Marlies. He has good skill, and will hope to be more of a points contributor this year. He is off to a good start, with 7 points in 8 games. I personally cannot see SDA making the jump up to the Leafs, but he is a valued member of the Marlies, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Riley Stotts was drafted as a dependable forward that down the road could possibly blend in to a bottom 6 forward role. He was around a point per game player in the WHL for a couple seasons, but never showed enough to warrant an entry level contract. He currently plays for the University of Calgary. This could be classified as a miss, and serves as a reminder that not all 3rd round picks will positively affect an organization.
Round #4: Mac Hollowell
With pick #118, Kyle Dubas chose Mac Hollowell. Just like Rasmus Sandin, Hollowell came from the Soo in the OHL and is a defenceman. A smooth skating offensive minded player, he has played over 100 games for the Toronto Marlies. Last year was his best to date, as he amassed 26 points in 45 games. He seems to be a pretty likeable guy in the locker room, and has carved out a solid career to this point. Like SDA, I don’t see Hollowell making the jump. Defensively and physically I don’t believe he is ready for the Leafs, but I hope he has continued success with the Marlies, or makes the jump elsewhere. There’s nothing wrong with how this draft pick has panned out.
Round #5: Flip Kral
Pick #149 was Filip Kral. This is for sure a success story, as Kral has managed to break through and play a couple games this year with the Leafs. He is a solid 2 way defender, and will now look to build off his big league stint. Having had a taste of the NHL, it will be interesting to watch Kral the rest of this season. Liljegren looks poised to return tomorrow night, and Jordie Benn isn’t far off. Kral is destined for the Marlies, and we shall see if he begins to dominate more in the AHL. This pick was for sure a hit.
Round #6: Pontus Holmberg
Taken just 7 picks later at #156 was Pontus Holmberg. Just like Kral, Holmberg has managed to force his way into the Leafs lineup. Toronto has a history of trading back in drafts, so when Kyle Dubas traded into this spot to select Holmberg, I raised an eyebrow. It has definitely panned out, and kudos to Mr. Dubas for seeing enough to take a chance on a player that had already been passed over in the previous draft, and never played a game in North America. Holmberg is still relatively new to North American hockey, but his very steady 2-way game has clearly impressed thus far. I view him as a potential 3C or 4C in the future, and hopefully he continues his upward trajectory this season. This was a great draft pick.
Round #7: Zachary Bouthillier, Semyon Kizimov
Into the 200’s. Bouthillier was chosen at 209, and Kizimov at 211. Neither has factored into the Maple Leafs organization, and that’s what happens in the 7th round of the draft. Both were shots in the dark, and neither has panned out at all.
Kyle Dubas made 9 selections in the 2018 Draft. 3 have played for the Leafs to date, 4 in the NHL overall. 2 others are solid AHL players, and will hope to make the jump to the show at some point. Overall, I view this draft as a success. Riley Stotts was the only true disappointment, and that has been made up for and more with the progress of Kral and Holmberg.
Dubas hit on his high picks (Sandin and Durzi), and managed to find a couple of hidden gems in the 5th and 6th round. Holmberg in particular is someone I have penciled down for more NHL games down the road. I would give Kyle Dubas and his team an 8.25/10 on their 2018 draft class as of today.

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