NHL Draft 2012: Why the Toronto Maple Leafs Should Draft a Defenseman

Curtis NgContributor IIIApril 22, 2012

MONTREAL, CANADA - MARCH 3:  Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke speaks to the media during a press conference to introduce new head coach Randy Carlyle at the Bell Centre on March 3, 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

It's no secret that the Toronto Maple Leafs require a first-line centreman with size.

Of course, they also need a starting goaltender, tougher bottom-six forwards and smarter defensemen.

Forward Nail Yakupov is almost universally accepted as the best player in the 2012 NHL draft. After that, it's anyone's guess.

The former consensus second overall pick Mikhail Grigorenko could now go anywhere between second and fifth.

Alex Galchenyuk, a teammate of Yakupov's with the Sarnia Sting, has seen his stock rise in recent weeks and could go as high as second overall.

Galchenyuk and Grigorenko are two players that Leaf fans seem to be high on because they're both centremen with size and skill.

It would be glorious to see either of them in blue and white, but acquiring a top-six centreman is only the third most pressing organizational need behind getting a goalie and fixing the D.

The Leafs need an impact goalie right away, so drafting one this June is not a priority.

That makes drafting a defenseman who can make the team this fall the organization's top priority in June.

It is generally understood that a team should always pick the best player available when it's its turn to pick, as opposed to picking based on organizational needs.

Therefore, the Leafs should draft a defenseman in the top five and switch picks with someone if necessary.

Ryan Murray of the Everitt Silvertips and Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors are the only two defensemen who have a chance at going fifth or higher.

The former is rated higher and is more likely to be able to make the jump to the NHL straight away.

The Leafs are weak down the middle, but the fact is that this past season, they were 10th in the league in goals-for with 227 and 29th in the league in goals-against with 259.

Even the Columbus Blue Jackets let in fewer goals with 257. Offense is clearly not the biggest problem right now, so the top-six centreman can wait.

The defensive corps needs a shake-up, and the upcoming draft presents a prime opportunity to do so.