NHL Draft 2013: Final Look at Toronto Maple Leafs' Best Options in 1st Round
After having made his first major splash as GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs on June 23 having acquired young netminder Jonathan Bernier, Dave Nonis will continue to put his stamp on this Leafs squad on Sunday at the NHL Draft 2013.
With the Leafs set to pick 21st overall, Nonis has several options that should be available to him once the Leafs are on the clock.
Keep in mind, there are rumors swirling that the Leafs may end up moving their pick:
June 19, 2013
Dave Nonis expects the #leafs to make a couple more moves before July 5.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 23, 2013
Should the Maple Leafs choose to stand pat, however, here are the players they should target at No. 21 overall.
Kerby Rychel, LW
The ideal option for the Maple Leafs with at pick No. 21 is Windsor Spitfires left wing Kerby Rychel.
Rychel has averaged at least a point-per-game in each of his last two seasons, notching at least 40 goals and 74 points in just 68 games played in 2011-12, as well as 2012-13.
Another plus about Rychel?
He has an edge and a grittier side — Rychel averaged 74 penalty minutes over his last two seasons, something current head coach Randy Carlyle likes in his players.
Unfortunately, as with most mid-to-late-first-round picks, Rychel will need some time to develop.
He possesses high-end talent, but still lacks in terms of acceleration and foot speed, and he still needs to develop a more consistent game.
Bo Horvat, C
Bo Horvat is another possibility for the Buds with the 21 pick.
He may not have the offensive upside that someone like Rychel does, but he can contribute offensively and could, if he reaches his peak, end up as a second-line center.
Horvat's awareness and ability to play in his own end and in the faceoff circle, though, is what really makes his game so compelling.
After having emerged as one of the London Knights' leaders this season, Horvat could develop into the type of all-around presence every team loves to have down the middle.
Alexander Wennberg, C
Alexander Wennberg is another intriguing option for the Leafs should he fall to pick No. 21.
Wennberg, as is the case with many other Swedish draft prospects, already has experience playing against grown men.
According to hockeysfuture.com, Wennberg has a heightened sense of awareness on the ice and is another forward who can play a solid game in all three zones.
Signed to play this season in the Swedish Elite League, Wennberg will continue to develop his game at the pro level overseas.
Should he drop to the Leafs, Toronto should seriously consider scooping him up.
You can rarely go wrong drafting players who excel in all three zones and already have some pro experience.
Frederik Gauthier, C
Despite only having one year under his belt at the QMJHL junior level, Frederik Gauthier is considered a fairly polished prospect, with many impressive facets to his game.
Gauthier was able to register nearly a point-per-game in his only major junior season (60 points in 62 games) and is yet another forward who has shown he can play well both in the offensive zone and in his own end.
Should players like Rychel and Wennberg be off the board by the time the Leafs' pick rolls around, Gauthier is a solid alternative.
Ryan Hartman, C/RW
If all of the more skilled forwards happen to be drafted by the time the Leafs find themselves on the clock, the Buds could turn to Ryan Hartman.
The American right wing (who also has some experience playing center) spent two years with the US National Development Team before making the jump to the OHL, where he racked up 60 points in 56 games for the Plymouth Whalers this past season.
Another number that stands out with Hartman, is the 120 penalty minutes he accumulated in 2012-13.
As a guy who has refined his game and can convert offensively when presented with the opportunity, Hartman has become an all-around forward, playing with an edge that would make him seem much bigger than 5'11" and 181 pounds (his actual size).
While the Leafs would certainly rather have a shot at someone with a little more offensive prowess, the depth found in this draft class should provide them with some excellent talent regardless.
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