Toronto Maple Leafs 2014 NHL Draft Picks: Grades, Results and Analysis

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IJune 27, 2014

Toronto Maple Leafs 2014 NHL Draft Picks: Grades, Results and Analysis

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs have only made the playoffs once in the last five seasons, so they needed to make the most of their draft position this season.

    General manager Dave Nonis tried to trade up in the draft, but Toronto ended up keeping the eight overall pick. The Leafs are trying to get back to winning ways with Brendan Shanahan now with the franchise, and this was their first draft since Shanahan joined the organization.

    Here is an in-depth analysis of the six players selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2014 NHL draft.

Round 1, Pick 8: William Nylander, Center/Winger, MODO (SEL)

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs used their first pick to select William Nylander from MODO of the Swedish Elite League. Nylander is the son of former NHL player Michael Nylander, and he is an amazing offensive talent that will really help the Maple Leafs.

    Nylander was given almost perfect marks by TSN during their live coverage at the NHL draft, and the Maple Leafs are very lucky he fell as far as he did.

    He's an amazing skater; he has a ton of creativity when the puck is in his hand and he projects to be an elite offensive player. Nylander is a hard working forward with silky smooth hands, and he could be an amazing addition to the Leafs lineup in the next few years.

    Nylander will mesh well with someone like Phil Kessel one day, and Maple Leaf fans will be in for a real treat.


    Grade: A+


Round 3, Pick 68: Rinat Valiev, Defenseman, Kootenay (WHL)

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    Rinat Valiev may have a very big upside with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Russian defenseman came over to the Western Hockey League and showed significant improvement throughout the season.

    Valiev is a big defenseman at 6'1" and 197 pounds and he will eventually give the Leafs a physical presence on the blue line. He scored five goals and added 23 assists for Kootenay last season.

    Valiev was ranked 103rd among all draft prospects at midterm, and his improved play allowed him to raise that figure to the 83rd spot in Central Scouting's final rankings.

    Valiev has had just one season on the smaller North American ice. It's fair to assume he will improve as he gets even more used to his surroundings.

    Grade: B

    ---Update by Steve Silverman---

Round 4, Pick 103: John Piccinich, Right Wing, Youngstown (USHL)

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    Piccinich demonstrated he could become a solid scorer as he netted 27 goals last season for Youngstown in the USHL.

    Piccinich is also a solid passer, as he handed out 31 assists last season. If he is going to get a chance to compete in the NHL, he is going to have to improve his overall skill level.

    At 6'0" and 190 pounds, he is not afraid to go into the corners and pound opponents.

    Grade: C

    ---Update by Steve Silverman---

Round 5, Pick 128, Dakota Joshua, Center, Sioux Falls, USHL

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    The Leafs went for a big center with the 128th overall pick when they selected Dakota Joshua.

    At 6'2" and 182 pounds, the native of Dearborn, Michigan, projects as a power forward once he grows into his frame.

    Joshua is not a natural goal scorer or big point producer. He scored 17 goals and 38 points in 55 games for Sioux Falls of the USHL while adding 58 penalty minutes.

    Joshua is most likely tabbed as a bottom-six forward who will play a checking role and add occasional offense. Because of his size, he may be converted to wing at some point in his development.

    Joshua is headed to Ohio State in a year. That should give him plenty of time to develop his skills and bulk up his body to prepare for a pro hockey career.

    Grade: B-

    --update by Brad Kurtzberg--

Round 6, Pick 158: Nolan Vesey, South Shore HS (USA)

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    The Maple Leafs selected forward Nolan Vesey with the 158th pick in this year's NHL draft.

    Vesey comes from a hockey family. His father played briefly for the St. Louis Blues while his brother Jimmy was drafted by the Nashville Predators two years ago.

    Vesey was passed over in last year's draft and is considered a bit of a late bloomer. He has developed some grit to his game and has improving hands, but seems to need a little more maturity.

    Last year, Vesey scored 26 goals and 66 points for South Shore.

    The Massachusetts native will be playing college hockey at Maine next season.

    If he continues to mature, Vesey could develop into a prospect. In the sixth round, he was a good gamble when you consider his upside.

    Grade: B+

    --update by Brad Kurtzberg--

Round 7, Pick 188: Pierre Engvall, RW, Frolunda (Jr) (Sweden)

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    The Maple Leafs used the 188th pick in the NHL draft to select Swedish forward Pierre Engvall.

    The Leafs like Engvall's size and his potential. At 6'4", 191 pounds, has the size to develop into a power forward once he puts on a few pounds. He also skates well for a big man which makes him tough to knock off the puck and has pretty good hands.

    Last year, Engvall scored 17 goals and 35 points in 29 games for Frolunda's junior club in Sweden. He is expected to remain in Europe for at least another year or two.

    The biggest issue scouts have with Engvall is his consistency. If the big Swede keeps his game at a higher level on a game-by-game basis, he could have a future in North America.

    Grade: B-

    --updated by Brad Kurtzberg--