The Best Fit at Each Position for Toronto Maple Leafs in 2014 NHL Draft
While the Leafs had a disappointing finish to their 2013-14 NHL season, their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, had another good playoff run following an impressive 45-win season.
Let's take a look at each position and see who the Leafs might select with their first-round pick at No. 8.
We'll take a bold stance and assume the Leafs won't take a goalie with that pick. Instead, we'll consider who they might take in goal with a later-round pick.
Centre: Ivan Barbashev, Moncton Wildcats
Ivan Barbashev is a talented forward who plays both on the wing and at centre ice. He would not provide immediate help to the Leafs, but he has the tools to be a top-six NHL forward.
He's developed a solid two-way game, and it looks like he'll be able to play a strong game along the boards on the cycle as he matures.
He's a good playmaker with vision beyond his years. He can handle the puck at high speed and makes good decisions while doing so.
He had 68 points in 48 games as he continues to adjust to North American hockey. He could be a dark-horse pick at No. 8 and will likely be one of the top two picks from the QMJHL.
Winger: Michael Dal Colle, Oshawa Generals
Michael Dal Colle has improved over the course of the past two seasons—so much so that he's become an elite prospect who may not be available to the Leafs at No. 8
But if he is, he would make a lot of sense as the Leafs try to build a winner. Dal Colle has good size at 6'2" and 170 pounds. He needs to add more weight, but that is not unique among young prospects.
He's got a tremendous release. He also makes great decisions with and without the puck.
Here's a more in-depth profile of Dal Colle I produced for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey.
He is unlikely to be an NHL player next year, but with how much he continues to mature and develop, one never knows.
The Woodbridge, Ontario, native posted an impressive 95 points in his second OHL regular season and another 20 in 12 playoff games. He's one of the top offensive talents in this year's draft.
Defenceman: Haydn Fleury, Red Deer Rebels
This draft is not deep in terms of impact defenders.
Aaron Ekblad is likely to go in the first two picks. The next defender to be selected is the Red Deer Rebels' Haydn Fleury.
Fleury would not be joining the Leafs for a few seasons, but at 6'3" and nearly 210 pounds, he has the size all NHL teams covet on the point.
The Carlyle, Saskatchewan, product is a puck-moving defenceman who will not only join the rush but also lead it at times. He's got very good offensive instincts, but he can defend in his own end thanks to his size and commitment to defensive-zone play.
Fleury put up 46 points in the WHL this season as a 17-year-old. He is one of the younger prospects in the draft, as he won't be 18 until July.
He's got a lot of promise, but Leafs fans would need to be patient with the talented Rebels standout.
Goalie: Ville Husso, HIFK
The Leafs may want to take a long look at Finnish prospect Ville Husso. At 6'3" and 200 pounds, Husso has good size to go along with some improving technique in goal.
He's been passed over in the draft once, but with the difficulty of predicting future success for 17- and 18-year-old goalies, that shouldn't set off alarm bells.
Husso was very good in Finland's top league in 2013-14. He played in 41 games and earned a .923 save percentage along with a 1.99 goals-against average.
There are question marks surrounding him, but as the top-ranked European goalie in this year's draft, he has to be considered a possibility to become a future NHL puck-stopper.
All stats can be found on HockeyDB.com unless noted otherwise.