Toronto Maple Leafs 2012 Draft Strategy
With the Stanley Cup finals just starting and my beloved Leafs on the golf courses, I cannot help but become the armchair GM for this up coming draft.
With the Leafs at the 5 slot - things are actually looking pretty good. They'll actually get a player of some decent potential providing they've done their homework.
Their immediate needs in a prospect are clear. They need a centre prospect that has an NHL ceiling of becoming a PPG player. Now lets be clear, teams can get these players across the draft board - see Detroit & New Jersey. However at the 5th position, they can actually manage to get the player they covet, or the very least one of their top two choices.
And no - I do not want them to deal for the 1st overall pick. He's great - but not too big, and he plays way too hardcore with the body not to be an injury concern. We don't need that.
So what could we do? Here we go...
Best Forward Available
Take the best forward player available. My banking is that the best forward falling to the 5th spot being Grigorenko or Forsberg.
And I like both players. However the player I'd want the Leafs to call out would be Grigs.
I don't buy the "lazy, disinterested" moniker that he's been labeled. The guy had mono - if that was a Canadian Prospect on the board with his talent and (despite his mono) point production we'd be screaming his accolades.
The "Russian Factor?" well he's playing in North America for a reason - exposure and for the fact that he wants to play in the NHL.
Lets hear it from Mark Seidel, the chief scout of North American Central Scouting.
“Talent-wise, he might be above Yakupov. He has a chance to be a franchise centre. But the problem is he plays when he wants to.”
Now lets hear from Grigs himself.
"If I wanted to go in the KHL, why would I come here? It would have been easier to stay in Russia. For my mom, it was really hard. For me it was really hard too, but I had teammates and hockey. When I went to some road trips, she was alone. I worked for this all my life. Hopefully someone will give me a chance to play in the NHL. That’s all I want.”
If Burke called his name I'd be real happy.
Trade Up for Galchenyuk
The kid has some serious talent and skills, a high NHL ceiling of potential, and fits the Leafs needs to a "T".
To get him, we'd have to give up some assets to Columbus in order to nab him at the 2nd overall spot. We're taking either Schenn, Gardner, or Gunnarson, the Leafs 5th pick, an additional pick (most likely their 2nd rounder this year) plus perhaps another prospect of lesser calibre.
Not that I don't believe this player to be a fantastic prospect - he will be, it's just that - I feel - the level of potential from him to Grigorenko is marginal so why would you give away the farm to get him.
Plus he was injured the ENTIRE 2011/2012 season. Meaning he was 16 the last time they got to see him play for a season.
That doesn't mean he isn't the real deal - far from it. I just feel that to cut him some slack because of the injury and then pony up to trade up to get him when at the same time you don't cut Grigs any slack at all for his illness and he can just as easily land in your draft position is nuts!
Trade Back and Draft Faksa
Radek Faksa will likely be drafted anywhere from the 8th to 15th spot.
Watching videos of Radek and seeing him play for my hometown of Kitchener, I got to say this: he's very exiting and energizing! The kids big, he's fast, he's feisty, he doesn't give up on puck pursuit, and his wrist shot is Wendel Clarkish. I don't say that lightly either!
Now ideally we deal with Washington's picks (11th & 16th) for our 5th. Maybe we get more maybe we don't.
If we get their 11th we could very realistically draft Faksa and we would be very happy campers. With the 16th we could then grab another kid off the board like Zemgus Girgensons (providing he's still there), Jacob Trouba (for Burke), or Cody Ceci (unlikely with the 16th.) Or they could place the 16th with a package for a trade (say Nash for example.)
Or we could trade the 5th for a swap and a prospect with any of the other teams they think might be in the Faksa position.
Alternatively we could even trade the 5th for an older prospect - maybe we need to add more (say we go after Strome) maybe we get a little more back (say for Jaden Schwartz and their 2nd rounder)
Hope & Promises
Whatever happens, it's exiting times when draft day approaches.
Either of Grigorenko, Galchenyuk or Faksa would be fulfilling the mold of their needs perfectly.
Burke could shock us yet again by doing something completely off the board (re: Percy) but I highly doubt he'd do something so off the board with the 5th overall and still have a job.
Or he could go with a defenseman - which wouldn't be a total buzz-kill for us, but not nearly as exiting as drafting the future star centre that we all crave. After all the Leafs cupboards are quite decent in the D-man area.
And that's without Gardiner and (shall I dream) Schultz.
So there you have it Burke.
Now go get us a real goalie - chop chop!