Toronto Maple Leafs: 2009 Draft Analysis

Tommy GCorrespondent IJuly 2, 2009

There is disappointment in Toronto concerning the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2009 draft picks.


It’s the kind of dissatisfaction your stomach feels after having a rice cake instead of cheese cake. 


But that feeling was only brought about because of Brian Burke’s need to be the center of attention. The majority of fans would be dandy if he had just kept his mouth shut. 


Burke has to realize that he doesn’t have to create any hype about NHL hockey in Toronto.  Maybe it’s just a habit incurred by managing in non-hockey markets. But he doesn’t have to sell the Maple Leafs to the fans in Southern Ontario.


Overall, I give the Maple Leafs a seven out of 10 rating. That’s not because of Nazem Kadri either. I think Burke’s first pick was a great addition to the Maple Leafs.


Kenny Ryan and Jesse Blacker were excellent choices too and Jerry D’Amigo was a steal in round six. 


Eric Knodel and Barron Smith are also late picks and most of the time these types of picks come with a roll of the dice. 


No sir, these picks don’t really bother me either. In fact, with decent development, Knodel may become one of the biggest surprises of the draft.


Jamie Devane bothers me though.


Not as a pick, but more for the time he was drafted. The third round was way too early to pick Devane. Especially when you had decent players still available: Taylor Beck, Michael Latta, Ryan Howse, Igor Bobkov, Matthew Hackett, Ryan Bourque, Toni Rajala, Henrick Bjorklund, Olivier Roy, and Edward Pasquale.


The Leafs’ excuse was that other teams were going to pick him before Toronto picked next.  So what? It’s a draft. That’s what happens during drafts.


Goaltending is always an issue, but especially with the Leafs at the moment. Why not draft Bobkov, Hackett, Roy, or Pasquale?


Draft picks shouldn’t necessarily be based on the best ranked player available, but sometimesby a team's need.


I just hope that Devane develops into more than just a fighter, so that I can eat my words.


In general, drafts are null and void because most players’ success depends on further development. A player that is NHL ready has already reached this plateau and is of a different breed altogether.


The rest need a little more time and 70 percent don’t even make it into the NHL. 


The Leafs haven’t always been that great at developing players. But it’s difficult to measure considering that they usually traded their picks and prospects for veterans past their prime.


Let’s take a closer look at the Maple Leafs’ 2009 draft picks and hope that they can make a great impact in two-to-four years.




Nazem Kadri



Born Oct. 6, 1990—London, ONT

Height 6'0"—Weight 167 lbs.—Shoots L

Selected by Toronto Maple Leafs First Round No. 7 overall 2009 NHL Entry Draft


Positive: Kadri has been described as a fast, offensively creative, and versatile player. He possesses very good hockey sense and vision on the ice. Nazem is also a tenacious forechecker and is excellent at getting away from players who want to pin him against the boards. Overall, he's an offensive spark plug who’s also responsible on the defensive side.


Negative: Often criticized for hanging onto the puck too long and not using his teammates effectively. He didn’t perform very well on the vertical jump and bench press at the NHL Combine. This demonstrates, to many scouts, that he’s not a fiery or athletic player, but his results on the ice are contrary to this belief.


Player Comparison: Scott Gomez, Marc Savard


NHL Potential: Number one or two playmaking center


Tommy G’s Rating: 8/10




Kenny Ryan


Right Wing

Born July 10, 1991—Franklin Village, MI

Height 6'0"—Weight 204 lbs.—Shoots R

Selected by Toronto Maple Leafs Second Round No. 50 overall 2009 NHL Entry Draft


Positive: Ryan’s best attribute is his excellent two-way game. He plays with grit and determination, which makes him strong in the corners and defensively. Kenny also has great upper and lower body strength, which makes him a great skater who is hard to knock off the puck. He has good anticipation and senses how plays will develop. Ryan is also a good shooter and has potential to be a goal scorer.


Negative: Kenny has to improve his playmaking skills if he wants to become a complete player.    


Player Comparison: Jere Lehtinen, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards


NHL Potential: Second or third line two-way player


Tommy G’s Rating: 7.5/10




Jesse Blacker



Born April 19, 1991—Toronto, ONT

Height 6'1"—Weight 190 lbs.—Shoots R

Selected by Toronto Maple Leafs Second Round No. 58 overall 2009 NHL Entry Draft


Positive: Blacker plays a great positional game and he makes smart defensive choices. He’s rarely caught out of position, which allows him to avoid taking reactionary penalties. Jesse has good size and he’s a great team player who will do whatever it takes to defend his teammates. He’s also a homegrown defenseman with a Memorial Cup.


Negative: Blacker is still very raw and he needs another year or two in junior and one or two years in the AHL to improve his overall game.


Player Comparison: Adam Foote, Ken Daneyko, Colin White, Richard Matvichuk, Jay McKee


NHL Potential: Top four defenseman


Tommy G’s Rating: 7/10




Jaime Devane


Left Wing

Born Feb. 20, 1991—Mississauga, ONT

Height 6' 4"—Weight 212 lbs.—Shoots L

Selected by Toronto Maple Leafs Third Round No. 68 overall 2009 NHL Entry Draft


Positive: Devane has the potential to be a power forward, but at the moment he has been described as nothing more than a heavy weight goon. He has excellent size and strength which can’t hurt at the NHL level. Especially, when their Northeast Division rivals have players like Milan Lucic and Zach Kassian.


Negative: He desperately needs to improve his skating ability if wants to develop into anything more than a fighter.


Player Comparison: Derek Boogaard


NHL Potential: Third or fourth line checker and enforcer


Tommy G’s Rating: 5.5/10




Eric Knodel



Born June 8, 1990—West Chester, PA

Height 6'6"—Weight 216 lbs.

Selected by Toronto Maple Leafs Fifth Round No. 128 overall 2009 NHL Entry Draft


Positive: Knodel has exceptional size for a defenseman and his offensive abilities are actually surprising. The Leafs might have a gem on their hands if he develops properly in the next three to four years.


Negative: Knodel is very raw. He will need to develop in a more competitive league to really show people whether he is capable of producing offensively at the NHL level.


Player Comparison: Kyle McLaren, Mike Komisarek


NHL Potential: Top six defenseman


Tommy G’s Rating: 6/10




Jerry D’Amigo


Right Wing

Born Feb. 19, 1991—Binghamton, NY

Height 5'11"—Weight 196 lbs.

Selected by Toronto Maple Leafs Sixth Round No. 158 overall 2009 NHL Entry Draft


Positive: D’Amigo has been described as a player with great leadership qualities and fantastic work habits. He is also an extremely competitive and fast skating player that wins a lot of battles for the puck. Jerry possesses a great hockey sense by making good fast decisions.  He also has a decent physical frame, which he uses to drive hard to the net without hesitation. He also had a great U18 World Championship tournament where the USA won the gold. He led the USA with four goals and nine assists in just seven games, third best in the tournament.    


Negative: Jerry has had trouble with back injuries which made a lot of teams hesitant to draft him for his services. This injury will make or break his ability to develop. What's more, he still needs three or four years to improve his overall game. Amigo is a great defensive player, but he needs to improve this aspect to be on par with his offensive potential.


Player Comparison: Zach Parise, Rod Brind’Amour


NHL Potential: Second line two-way right winger                                                                             


Tommy G’s Rating: 7/10




Barron Smith



Born Apr 2, 1991—Hinsdale, IL

Height 6'4"—Weight 191 lbs.—Shoots R

Selected by Toronto Maple Leafs Seventh Round No. 188 overall 2009 NHL Entry Draft


Positive: Smith has good bloodlines as the son of Steve Smith; most notably known as the man who screwed the Oilers out of five straight Stanley Cups. Nevertheless, he was a reliable defenseman and his son has many of the same qualities. He’s a hard worker and uses his size effectively in his own end to clear the front of the net. Barron is a hard hitter who will drop the gloves without hesitation to defend a teammate


Negative: Smith has poor puck handling skills and for this reason he rarely contributes to a rush up ice. Most importantly, he has to improve his poor backwards skating if he wants to be a defenseman in the NHL. Despite being a fighter, he isn’t a very good pugilist.


Player Comparison: Hall Gill


NHL Potential: Number seven defenseman                                                                                                                                   


Tommy G’s Rating: 5/10




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