With the 2012 NHL Entry Draft days away, teams are starting to look at the potential player they will be able to pick in the first and second round of the draft.
While this class is not predicted as being as deep in talent as years previous, each team will be looking at the best player available once the No. 1 pick overall is gone.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs, they will have the opportunity to add some young talent to their roster. Their first round selection could be ready to come up this year.
Their second round will more than likely need a year or two with the Marlies before making the switch to the NHL.
In the slides that follow, utilizing the June list of TSN’s Craig Button, we’ll look at three possible picks the Leafs can make in the first two rounds.
After they have chosen their picks on Friday and Saturday, we’ll revisit this piece with the results and analysis for their picks.
Moose Jaw’s Morgan Rielly was Toronto’s first pick in the 2012 Entry Draft. The defenseman was considered one of the best blueliners from the WHL.
In 18 games last season in the WHL Rielly notched 18 points before being sidelined with an injury.
Rielly is a talented defender who “can lead the rush and he’ll be the first guy back” according to NHL Central Scouting’s Blair MacDonald.
With Schenn having been traded to Philly, Rielly should be able to step up and fill the hole left by Schenn, but it will take at least a season.
For the pick that had some fans scratching their head, Burke’s trade brought some clarity to picking the defender fifth overall.
The 18-year old Matthew Finn led the Guelph Storm among scoring defenseman, tallying 47 points in 61 games.
His solid physical game helps make Finn a reliable defender. Who alongside Stuart Percy, will help form the core blueliners for the Leafs in the future.
It’s going to be quite a few years before Toronto sees Finn playing in the NHL, but when he does he will be a help at both ends.
He was a player that should have gone much sooner than 35th overall, and could develop into a top defender in time.
Having traded their picks in the third and fourth round, the Maple Leafs next pick was in the fifth round. They took center Dominic Toninato.
Toninato played last season with Duluth East high school out of Minnesota, in 29 games the young center tallied an astounding 61 points.
He won’t be joining the Leafs for a while yet as he will play with Fargo of the USHL then onto Minnesota-Duluth of the NCAA.
Once he obtains some higher level of play in both the USHL and the NCAA Toninato could well be the next elite scorer for Toronto.
His skill is already there, it just needs to remain consistent at the higher levels of play.
For the first pick Toronto had in the sixth round went with another forward in Connor Brown.
In his 68 games with the Erie Otters, Brown managed 58 points with 25 being goals.
Brown will spend some time in the minors before he is elevated to the Leafs, but like Toninato brings some much needed offensive capabilities to the Leafs organization.
The Erie Otters may have had a tough season this year; it was Brown who was their shinning piece.
Addressing their need for a grittier offensive team Toronto drafted Ryan Rupert with their second pick in the sixth round; the pick was obtained in a trade with Colorado.
Rupert played this past season with the London Knights along side his twin brother Matt, where their seemed to flourish in their role of agitators.
In 68 games Ryan Rupert tallied 48 points for the Knights with 120 penalty minutes.
He is another prospect that will need some time in the AHL, but seems to be the kind of player that will thrive under Randy Carlyle’s system.
In the seventh and final round the Leafs had traded their pick, having acquired the 209 pick from the New York Rangers.
Their pick was another defender in Swedish player Viktor Loov, making three defensemen drafted this year for the Leafs.
Loov is a decent two-way defender, who played with both the Sodertalje J20 and Sodertalje teams this season.
He managed a combined 9 points in 55 games with 44 penalty minutes.
In a few years he could join the Leafs and be a solid NHL defenseman, he will likely play next season with the Marlies to help him become accustomed to the North American style.
Toronto's 2011 First round pick
Toronto’s collapse in the later part of the season saw them gain the fifth draft position at this years draft lottery.
In the first round there are a number of defenders placed within the top 13 positions on Craig Button’s list. Other predictions have a number of defensemen near the top as well.
For immediate needs, Toronto should not be looking at another defender, as they have a wealth of them at both the NHL and AHL level.
There are a few forwards in this years draft that could make the Leafs as soon as September, should they still remain Toronto should draft one of them over a defender.
The Maple Leafs should not completely dismiss the top defenders in this year’s draft. However, if it becomes apparent that the best option is for the blue line, they should take it.
The second round is a slightly different story, as there are a few defenders that Button has placed to be drafted around Toronto’s second round pick.
Toronto may be wiser to skip over these second round defenders and look at a couple of the hidden gems discussed in the following slides.
There are a few scorers that are ranked to be drafted near Toronto's second pick that could make an impact in a few years. The Leafs might be farther ahead to take a chance on one of those players rather than a defender.
In many of the mock drafts going around, Galchenyuk seems to be headed for Toronto. He is currently ranked fourth overall of the draft prospects.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the American-born Galchenyuk, as injury kept him from playing all but two games of the regular season.
The Sarnia Sting player had scouts drooling last year as he scored 83 points as a 16-year-old rookie in the OHL.
He has the potential to be a big play-making center; his size allows him to be a potent threat on both the fore and back check.
Galchenyuk is not an overly physical player, preferring to avoid the bone-crunching hits. He will have many wondering how well he bounces back from his knee injury.
Should the Leafs take Galchenyuk in the first round, expect to see him at training camp as he could be ready to play in the NHL this season.
Galchenyuk could be this years surprise pick. He has been likened to Marian Hossa by former NHL player, Igor Larionov.
Currently sitting in seventh on Button’s prospect list, Forsberg was seen ranked higher on some lists earlier this season.
He is one of the more highly touted Swedish prospects in a while, and already has a season and a half in the Swedish Elite League.
At six-foot-one he is not among the largest skaters, he is a powerful skater with potential to be a strong power forward.
His main weakness is his skating, as he possesses a slightly choppy stride, according to former NHL scout Grant McCagg.
If the Leafs select Forsberg, he will most likely remain in Sweden to finish out the one year remaining on his contract with Leksand.
He may then spend another year in the AHL before seeing time on the Leafs.
Forsberg would be a solid pick, ready to play in the NHL in a few years. If he isn’t taken before his predicted seventh, than don’t be surprised to see Toronto go after him.
The Oil Kings defenseman is currently predicted as the third highest defender in the prospect draft.
Hockey is in Griffin’s blood; his father Paul played over 600 career games, while his brother Max is a highly touted Calgary Flames prospect.
Reinhart has shown over the last few seasons that he has what it takes to be a top two-way defender in the league.
He is a big, mobile blue liner who can handle the puck extremely well. He also possesses a hard shot that is quite accurate, and he is a very skilled passer.
Reinhart could stand to be a more physical player, at 6-foot-4 and 200-pounds he has the size to do so.
While Toronto may currently have an overabundance of defenders, Reinhart has steadily improved his game since December.
If he is selected by Toronto he will probably remain in the AHL for a few seasons to fully develop into Toronto’s top blue-line prospect.
When it comes to their second round pick, the names that Toronto will be looking at may have placed a little further down the list.
Tanner Pearson should be one of those names.
At 19, he has been eligible for the draft twice, and both times has been passed over.
This season, his game has truly matured as his confidence has grown. He is currently projected to go within the first ten picks of the second round and is listed at number 39.
Having scored 91 points in 61 games with the OHL Barrie Colts, he is a very attractive forward.
His skating needs some work for it to be at the NHL level, but his offensive talent has really improved this year.
Don’t expect him to be playing for the Leafs immediately if drafted, but in a few years he should develop nicely into a solid third or fourth line player.
One person who would like Toronto to draft Pearson is Don Cherry, who blasted the Leafs for not having enough Ontario natives on their team. Pearson is from Kitchener.
Shore played this past season for the OJHL Whitby Colts, where he was the league's Rookie of the Year.
He was also named MVP for the 2011 World Junior A Challenge tournament.
He is a talented forward who has been able to create offensive chances throughout this season.
According The Sports Reporters he needs some improvement in skating and zone awareness, and they have him ranked 71. Unlike TSN's Button who ranked Shore at 37.
Shore is looking at playing with University of Maine next year. However, his options remain open and could play for the OHL Barrie Colts if drafted.
He will probably not see time with the Leafs for a couple of seasons as he matures and refines his game.
Ranked as the lowest of the second round picks discussed, Jarrod Maidens is predicted to be picked around the number 36 spot, by Craig Button.
Maidens has a great shot with deadly accuracy, he has good puck possession and can read the ice well in all zones.
His largest downside, and the main reason that many teams will stay away from him, is that in his two seasons with the OHL Owen Sound, he has been injured for significant time.
This past season an undisclosed injury kept Maidens from all but 28 games, though he still managed 23 points.
He also returned from an injury the season before to lead Owen Sound to its first OHL Championship season.
With his health being the biggest issue, he could be worth taking a chance on. Should he remain healthy, Maidens could be making an impact for Toronto in just a few short years.