The NHL Draft has been Brad Treliving’s time to shine

Photo credit:Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
25 days ago
Whether you are a fan of Brad Treliving or not, his greatest area of success during his time as General Manager is drafting. The guy has a strong track record in the first round as you’ll see below, and has also unearthed Rasmus Andersson, Adam Fox, Dustin Wolf, Martin Pospisil, Adam Ruzicka, Oliver Kylington, and Andrew Mangiapane on the second day of the draft. The results are strong and coupled with Wes Clark’s insights the Maple Leafs should be in good shape.
That said, it’s still worth taking a look at his drafting tendencies and we’ll focus on what he has done in the first round given that the Leafs are slated to select 23rd overall and then kill time until the fourth round. Treliving’s had 10 NHL drafts to look at, 9 of them have been with the Flames, the last one with the Leafs with very little insight into the process. Given that Treliving landed the Calgary GM job at the end of April heading into the 2014 draft, it’s also debatable how involved he would have been there though at least he could meet with his amateur scouting team beforehand.
In the 10 drafts, Treliving has traded his 1st three times. All in different ways. The 2022 1st was dealt for Tyler Toffoli heading into the trade deadline. Toffoli had term on his contract and wasn’t a pure rental. Given that the Leafs still have their pick, this situation will not come up.
Nor will the situation where Treliving can deal a pick a year out like in 2017 when he dealt the 2018 1st in a package for Travis Hamonic. That didn’t work out so well and the Islanders went on to use the pick to select Noah Dobson to add some insult to injury.
The first time Brad Treliving dealt his first is likely the situation the Leafs would like to emulate and that is when the first was packaged to get Dougie Hamilton out of Boston. The fact that the Bruins proceeded to whiff on the pick was a bonus, but the Flames getting a few years of service out of Hamilton was a great way to push the team forward.
Not surprisingly, the most frequent habit at the draft for Brad Treliving is to make the pick when he is slated to. Six times out of ten that is what has occurred, and the only time that Treliving differed from that was in 2020 when he traded down from 19th (Rangers selected Braden Schneider) to 22nd, and then from 22nd to 24th picking up two third-round picks in the process. The Capitals would use the 22nd on Hendrix Lapierre and the Flames selected Connor Zary, who looks like a bright part of their future. Ultimately everyone is probably happy with their moves, but the Flames picked up two 3rds benefiting from a deep draft. With Wes Clark’s appreciation for under-the-radar players, the trading down philosophy isn’t a bad idea (except when you’ve been watching the draft for 3 hours and desperately want to see the Leafs do something.)
As for the picks themselves…
2014: 4th overall Sam Bennett
2015: (no first)
2016: 6th overall Matthew Tkachuk
2017: 16th overall Juuso Valimaki
2018: (no first)
2019: 26th overall Jakob Pelletier
2020: 24th overall Connor Zary
2021: 13th overall Matt Coronato
2022: (no first)
2023: 28th overall Easton Cowan
There is a lot of good on Brad Treliving’s 1st round history even if their best hockey hasn’t been played for the Flames. The Panthers are certainly a fan of Treliving’s drafting, but it is also easy to get it right when you are picking in the top 15.
Treliving’s picks of Valimaki, Pelletier, Zary, and Cowan in the later parts of the 1st round is where Toronto can find encouragement. A Connor Zary type player would be a dream for the Leafs this year but knowing that Pelletier seems to be the baseline for what Treliving might do is calming in a lot of ways. The organization doesn’t draft enough that it can afford busts and Treliving has done an adequate job of avoiding that.
When it comes to what is best for the Maple Leafs it probably comes with putting trust in Treliving and Clark. It doesn’t seem like they will overcomplicate things and they will pick at 23. Trading up is always an exciting prospect because those are the names best known to casual prospect people and the ones that draft experts have become most attached to, but it looks like an unnecessary expenditure for the Leafs. Trading down might still be an option but it’s hard to have an opinion on that without an understanding of the Leafs draft list. And as for trading the pick, it’s nice to have the bar set at Dougie Hamilton for the type of move that Treliving would consider.

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