Ladies and gentlemen, the Toronto Maple Leafs are ripping it up at the NHL Entry Draft.
I have waited so long to say that.
First, Cliff Fletcher makes an unbelievable trade to move up to fifth overall and pick Luke Schenn, the "human eraser" from the Kelowna Rockets.
This, my friends, is the Maple Leafs' next franchise player.
For the last decade, Mats Sundin has been the face of the franchise. For the next decade, it will be Luke Schenn.
Not only did the Leafs get the best player available, but Schenn fills a HUGE need on their blueline. They have long lacked the tough-as-nails, take-no-prisoners, shutdown defenseman that is Luke Schenn.
As for trading two picks to get him? Not a problem.
I was hoping the Islanders would choose to take No. 60 this year and our third-rounder in 2009 because our second-rounder next year will be a lot higher than 60th.
But this is still a fantastic deal for Toronto. Cliff is right; there is no substitute for quality.
After all, who wants to have three third-pairing defensemen when you can have one Luke Schenn?
But it gets even better for the Leafs. Schenn wasn't their only home run of the draft.
At No. 60, with the Islanders electing to pick at No. 68, the Leafs plucked gritty right-winger Jimmy Hayes, who will play at Boston University next year.
Hayes was ranked in the upper half of the first round at one point. He's a budding power forward who models his game after Ryan Getzlaf.
That's right, Ryan Getzlaf. Well done Cliff, you sly old silver fox.
But it gets better!
The Leafs' next pick was No. 98. And somehow, one player who was expected to go late in the first round was still on the board.
Mikhail Stefanovich, welcome to Toronto.
This Quebec Remparts forward could be the steal of the draft. There are concerns about his work ethic and consistency, which is why he dropped, but he would be a top 10 pick if things were based on talent alone.
Stefanovich has boatloads of skill. Think Alexander Radulov skill in cheaper packaging.
If Stefanovich can commit to improving his all-around game, this pick is simply brilliant.
One thing's for certain.
The rebuild in Toronto is off to a hell of a good start.
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