Draft Analysis: Toronto Maple Leafs
With the seventh overall selection, the Toronto Maple Leafs have selected Nazem Kadri.
The coveted center was thought to be passed over by the Leafs, because he does not exactly play "Brian Burke hockey," but alas the Leafs have selected him, much to the dismay of Ottawa Senators fans.
Kadri is not at all a big lad. Kadri stands 6'0", and is only 167 pounds. Kadri's a skilled forward, a good puck handler, and has a keen eye for the game. Kadri had a breakout season with his hometown London Knights, scoring 78 points in 56 games. He finished second in team scoring for the Knights behind only John Tavares who joined at the deadline. The Leafs went out to pick the best available player and they did just that.
With the 50th overall selection the Leafs went out and got Kenny Ryan a rather size-able fellow from the US Under 18 program. Ryan is exactly the type of player Brian Burke wants. Kenny is not afraid to go in the corners, he is hard to knock off the puck, and has good defensive awareness. In time, if his offensive game improves, Ryan may play a very similar role to that of another Ryan that Burkey is fairly high on.
Eight picks later, the Leafs select a defenseman from the Memorial Cup-winning Windsor Spitfires in Jesse Blacker. Blacker is a Toronto native, and grew up watching the Maple Leafs. Blacker is a good skater, and is steady in his own end. Potential flows from this guy as he continues to improve with every new season.
With the 68th selection, the Leafs take Eric Knodel out of Philadelphia. The first thing that comes to mind when I see Knodel is his sheer size. Knodel is 6'6", and is 216 pounds. That is a very imposing defenseman. Knodel also has a flair for offence, producing 45 points in 51 games for the Philadelphia Jr. B's. Knodel may eventually become one of the biggest players in the NHL in years to come.
In the sixth round, the Leafs selected Jerry D'Amigo from Binghamton New York. D'Amigo is a winger and played for the United States in the Under 18 Tournament, where he led the team in scoring and won a gold medal. Jerry was a steal at 158th, as he was the 67th ranked prospect.
Last but not least, Brian Burke selected Barron Smith of the Peterborough Petes. Smith the son of former NHL blue-liner Steve Smith is a long-shot prospect. Smith sat out a good portion of last season with a shoulder injury, and when played, he looked shaky and was prone to little mistakes. This past season however was his first season in the Ontario Hockey League, so some mistakes may have been just rookie errors, and could hopefully get worked out soon enough.
Overall: Burke had a very good draft, and in typical fashion managed to stay away from the European players, and stick to rugged North American hockey. Leafs fans should be happy with how everything went.
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