Take a look at Friday, Jun. 20 on Cliff Fletcher's calendar.
Is there a big red circle around it? There is? Good.
Lip-synch lessons with Richard? Ah, jeez.
Cliff's calendar aside, Jun. 20 is a very important day for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and so is the day after. That's when the 2008 NHL Entry Draft will take place.
And while Trader Cliff has a lot of work to do to get the Leafs out of their mess of bad contracts, it all begins at the podium in Ottawa on Friday night. That's when the Leafs will try to land a player to build their team around.
But the next day is almost equally crucial. Good teams don't just make good picks in the first round. They hit home runs late in the draft.
Don't make me mention Zetterberg and Datsyuk. They're on the verge of becoming cliché.
So, keeping in mind that some good bounces will be required to pull this off, and ignoring the fact that the Leafs never get good bounces, here's my dream 2008 draft for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Seventh overall is a pretty good spot, but it's not enough to guarantee a franchise player. That's why we trade Bryan McCabe and No. seven to the Islanders for No. five and the fifty-third overall pick. Remember, this is a dream, so McCabe waives his no-trade clause on the spot.
At number five, the Leafs should pick the best player available, and that will likely be a d-man, which they need anyway.
5. Alex Pietrangelo (or Luke Schenn if he's gone)
Down in Columbus, the Blue Jackets are desperate to get into the playoffs next season. While it's unlikely they'll trade the sixth overall for a roster player, the nineteenth pick couldn't be better trade bait if you included a worm with honey garlic sauce.
Trade Pavel Kubina for No. 19. (again, this is a dream draft)
19. Anton Gustafsson, C. Gustafsson is a very well-rounded player with high upside and a defensive conscience. The son of Bengt-Ake.
Time to go back to Sweden, this time for a defenseman.
53. Johan Motin, D. Looks to become a very strong stay-at-home guy, like a rich man's Phil Oreskovic.
60. David Toews, C. His brother is Jonathan Toews and he played at Shattuck-St. Mary's. What could go wrong?
68. Mikhail Stefanovich, C. Had an excellent rookie season with the Quebec Remparts. Needs to mature, but this Belarussian could be a solid NHL second-liner.
I'm not sure why, but they say you should always pick a goalie in the third round, so here goes:
70. Peter Delmas, G. Didn't get a lot of playing time behind Jonathan Bernier in Lewiston this year, but he's got excellent fundamentals and could wind up the best goalie in the draft. If he's not there, take Harri Sateri from Finland.
98. Kristoffer Berglund, D. Had an outstanding world junior tournament and plays a very balanced game.
128. Jordon Southorn, D. I've had lots of opportunity to see this guy develop with the P.E.I. Rocket the last couple of years and he has very quickly become a leader on the blueline. Good skater who likes to join the rush.
I'll be honest, at this point I'm not very familiar with the players left. The rest of these picks are based on Internet reports or guys with cool names. Sorry.
129. Anders Lindback, G. He's a goalie who stands six-foot-six. What's not to like?
130. Robert Czarnik, C. Committing to the U. of Michigan is never a bad thing.
158. Tomas Knotek, W. Spent his rookie season on a line with Jakub Voracek and Logan MacMillan in Halifax. Not surprisingly, he put up great numbers. His skating needs work, though.
188 - Roberts Jekimovs, RW. I just love Latvians. Don't you?