NHL Draft 2013: 5 Possible Scenarios the Leafs Can Take at the Draft
It's an odd situation for everyone associated with the Toronto Maple Leafs. For one, they have not dealt their first-round pick as of yet like in previous years, and secondly, they do not own a lottery pick for the first time in nine years.
In fact, the Leafs don't pick until 21st, a long way from their fifth overall pick last year in which they took Morgan Rielly (pictured) at No. 5.
The Leafs are armed with a good amount of cap space and are poised to improve their team for the long haul.
Generally, one of the busier days of the hockey season is draft day.
Teams are looking to either unload contracts for draft picks, move up or down in the draft or even for the odd blockbuster deal that can go down at the draft.
The Leafs are armed with over 19 million in cap space, and it could be more if they buyout the right players. If that's the case, look for the Leafs to be fairly active during draft week. After the draft, July 5th marks the first day free agency opens, so again, you can expect plenty of activity in that direction.
So here's a look at what could happen on draft day for the Leafs in New Jersey, June 30 at 3 p.m. ET.
Trade Up into the 10-20 Range
With the Leafs sitting at 21st, the team could be targeting a player who could go in the 10-20 range in the draft.
Trading up might not cost the Leafs as much as, say, trading into the top 10 and might be an avenue they look at.
With the Leafs having selected three defencemen (Morgan Rielly, Stuart Percy and Luke Schenn) with their five most recent first-round picks (Tyler Biggs and Nazem Kadri are the others), look for the Leafs to add who they believe to be the best player available, regardless of position.
As it stands, the Leafs could still use some help on the defensive end, so don't rule out the Leafs targeting 6'5", 230-pound Russian Nikita Zadorov, formerly of the London Knights.He will only grow into that frame and likely will add 10-20 pounds of muscle still. He finished this year with 25 points in 63 games and an astounding plus-33 rating.
Another Knight to watch out for is Max Domi. Son of former Leaf tough guy Tie Domi, Max is the complete opposite of what Tie was.
Max is a more finesse, quick playmaking type of player in the Joe Pavelski mold. He might be the sentimental pick of many Leaf fans. Domi led the Knights in scoring with 87 points in 64 games and a plus-33 rating. He also led the Knights in scoring in the playoffs with 32 points in 21 games.
Lastly, another name that might come up is 6'4", 190-pound winger Anthony Mantha of the Val-d'Or Foreurs. He finished this season with 50 goals in 67 games, added 39 assists and played a rugged game accumulating 71 penalty minutes. The previous season, Mantha only got 51 points total in 63 games. His progression from year to year was great to see.
Odds Leafs Trade Up to 10-15: 50 to 1
Odds Leafs Trade Up to 16-20: 10 to 1
Trade Up into the Top 10
It's not out of the realm of possibilities that the Leafs could trade up into the top 10 of this year's draft.
Doing so, though, will require the Leafs trading a significant roster player, prospect or multiple first- and second-round pick to do so.
The draft class this year is relatively deep, so look for teams to be a little more thrifty when it comes to dealing away high picks.
Seth Jones would be an obvious target if the Leafs were to trade up. His size, mobility and ability to just dominate the game would be a welcomed addition to the club. His game is reminiscent of Chris Chelios' (without the nastiness) right now. A more realistic comparison could be Alex Pietrangelo.
Another obvious target is Nathan MacKinnon, although I personally believe he will go first overall. The price for the first overall pick has generally been enormous: see the Eric Lindros deal back in 1991.
However, a more realistic option could be trading into the top four through 10.
A few names to keep an eye on are Sasha Barkov of Finland, Bo Horvat of the London Knights and Sean Monahan of the Ottawa 67's.
Barkov is a rare talent, and at over 6'2" and 210 pounds, he has the framework to be an absolute dominant player for years to come. He's drawn comparisons to Joe Thornton, but I see more of a power forward type of game instead of playmaking from Barkov.
Horvat is likely going to be similar to what Mike Richards is—an above-average second-line center with a great two-way game. He can play in all situations and seems like a perfect fit for the Leafs, who could use a centerman like that.
Lastly, Monahan did not have a great year with the lowly Ottawa 67's. He struggled with injury, suspensions and playing with a team that probably could have been beaten by Junior-A teams.
Monahan reminds me a lot of former Ottawa 67 Logan Couture: responsible in his own end and an absolute offensive dynamo at the other end.
Odds Leafs Trade Into Top Five: 250 to 1
Odds Leafs Trade Into 6 Through 10: 100 to 1
Leafs Stick at 21
If the Leafs decide to sit at 21, I expect them to either draft three players who are projected to go in the 21-25 range.
The first player is Fredrick Gauthier of the Rimouski Oceanic. Gauthier, at 6'5" and 210 pounds, is a big presence out there already and will continue to grow into his already massive frame.
He's a very smart, strong two-way forward who has some physical upside. He had nearly a point per game this past season, but I think he could have had an even better year.
When you see the size, you automatically think of Joe Colborne, but Gauthier actually has slightly better hands, defensive awareness and foot speed.
Another name that might be available at 21 is goaltender Zach Fucale of the Halifax Mooseheads. Fucale has a decent Memorial Cup but nothing spectacular. He really didn't have to be though, as Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Martin Frk carried the Mooseheads to a Memorial Cup Championship, winning the crown jewel of Junior Hockey in Canada.
It wouldn't surprise me to see a team like the Devils select him ninth overall though, so I'm not overly confident he'll last past 20.
The last name available around 21 could be former Leaf and Warren Rychel's son, Kerby Rychel. Rychel had a down year with the Spitfires this past season, but he still has great upside.
Rychel has a great two-way game, a wonderful release and is a great leader. After his rookie year in the OHL, Rychel has scored at least 40 goals the past two seasons. He's a pure goal scorer and a pure talent. If the Leafs can get him here, the pick could end up being the steal of the first round.
Odds Leafs Stick at 21: 1.5 to 1
Leafs Trade Down in 1st Round
Another intriguing option is the Leafs trading down in the first round and acquiring another draft pick, prospect or roster player along with a late first.
A name that immediately comes to mind is Plymouth Whalers tough guy Ryan Hartman. At only 5'11", 190 pounds, Hartman is still a little too small to be regarded as a Milan Lucic type of player. But amazingly enough, he plays that way.
He was a point-per-game player for the Whalers this past season, finished a plus-29 and finished the year with 120 penalty minutes. He's a tough guy but with some scoring touch. I think of him like a smaller David Clarkson or David Backes.
Another name that could be around late in the first round could be Nicolas Petan of the Portland Winterhawks.
Petan enjoyed a breakout year with the Winterhawks, scoring 46 goals and adding 74 assists for 120 points in 71 games, and he finished with an eye-popping plus-68 rating. His size and weight, though, will always be the major question marks, as he stands only 5'9" and weighs only 166 pounds.
But like I said, if you have talent, you have talent. In today's NHL, a small guy can succeed. Martin St. Louis led the league in scoring, and Patrick Kane helps carry the Presidents' champion Chicago Blackhawks squad.
Odds Leafs Trade Down in Draft: 3 to 1
Leafs Trade out of the 1st Round
Another completely realistic option could be trading entirely out of the first round.
There's a couple of options that could happen here. They could just trade their 21st pick for a couple of high seconds, or they could trade their first-round pick for multiple picks in 2015.
Another option is trading their pick as well as a roster player for a better roster player on another team.
A name I'm thinking of here might be a guy like Keith Yandle. A package that includes Liles, their first-round pick and say, Matt Finn, Stuart Percy, Tyler Biggs, Joe Colborne, Matt Frattin, etc. could be explored here.
Another idea is to trade their first-round pick for a player straight up without having to give up another prospect. You will likely not get a Keith Yandle type of defenceman, but you will still get a wonderful player who will have instant impact on your current roster. Right now, a pick at 21 will likely not have any impact for at least one to three years.
Odds Leafs Trade Out of First Round: 25 to 1