Why Liam Greentree would be a great fit for the Maple Leafs at the 2024 NHL Draft

Photo credit:Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
Steven Ellis
26 days ago
So far, we’ve profiled a few defensemen who’d be great fits for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
EJ Emery gives the team a legit defensive defenseman with top-four potential. Aron Kiviharju would provide the team a nice scoring boost with great skating from the point. And Stian Solberg could end up becoming Toronto’s Jacob Trouba.
But what if the Leafs elect to take a right winger instead? Who’d be the right pickup?
Meet Liam Greentree, a Windsor Spitfires winger coming off an incredible season on a bad team. After a 45-point rookie season last year, he upped the ante with a 36-goal, 90-point sophomore campaign while wearing the captain’s C – a rare accolade for a 17-year-old with just 61 games of major junior experience beforehand.
But the results were clear: Greentree was a difference-maker on a team that desperately needed one. And depending on how many defensemen are taken early – therefore pushing some quality forwards down the list – the Leafs could potentially snag him with the 23rd pick in 2024.
Let’s start with the basics. Greentree plays a power forward game, using his 6-foot-2, 198-pound frame to power past opponents and winning puck battles on a consistent basis. He saw a nice scoring uptick this year, and he definitely knows how to put pucks in the net. But I’d argue he’s a better playmaker, and if he was surrounded by better linemates who could finish more, I think we would have seen him easily put up north of 65 assists in the OHL this year.
I was a bit disappointed with Greentree’s two international tournaments, though. He only had an assist in three games at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and two goals and four points in seven games at the U-18 World Championship. Two of those points came in a lopsided drubbing over Kazakhstan, though, and he ultimately played fewer than 10 minutes in three of the seven games, including the two medal-round bouts.
From a skill perspective, though, there’s so much to like. He’s got one of the better shots in the draft, is an excellent passer and has great hockey sense. There are few wingers in this draft who can drive the puck to where he wants it to go better than him, allowing him to push through traffic to generate a chance. Greentree plays with the muscle and the drive that old-school fans will fall in love with.
There are two prominent concerns, though. He’s one of the weakest skaters projected to go in the first round, and I’m not sure I’ve seen enough improvement over the past two years. That was especially prominent at the U-18s, which, I believe, had something to do with his lack of ice time later in the tournament.
The other is how often I felt watching him try and do too much himself instead of utilizing his teammates. Yes, he was the best player on Windsor, for sure. But when that happens at a young age, it’s not uncommon to find a player that bails on a passing opportunity to instead try and make plays himself. That, again, was something I noticed at the U-18s. That can be adjusted once he plays with higher-quality linemates, but he needs to learn to use all the tools at his disposal more consistently.
All of that is fixable, though, partly through mindset changes and tactical coaching. Honestly, he reminds me of another with similar skating concerns at the same age – Jason Robertson. I’m not saying he’s going to become a star first-line player, but I am saying he has some of the traits that could allow him to take a further step forward and become a legitimate top-six forward, because that’s where I feel he’d be the best.
From an organizational fit, there’s a lot to like about Greentree. The best pure right winger is Nikita Grebyonkin, who had a good season in the KHL, but is a complementary NHLer at best. Nick Moldenhauer and Ryan Tverberg could both see some NHL action, but they look more like depth pieces at best.
Greentree would be an immediate improvement on the right side, giving them some depth they’re desperately missing. He plays a heavy game, can clearly score and isn’t afraid to antagonize others. He has some flaws that need some ironing out, but if Greentree was legitimately available at No. 23, it’s a fit the Leafs could really benefit from in a huge way.

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