If there's one thing that's missing from the Leafs chat forums this year, its the talk about the up-coming draft.
As I was browsing through the Leafs archives today I didn't see one recent article discussing this draft, and its pretty obvious why.
For those of you that have been living under a rock the entire year, the leafs traded away this years first round draft pick along with a second this year and another first in 2011 for sniper Phil Kessel.
This by all means took the excitement out of the draft by not having a first or second round pick, especially when your supposed to be drafting second overall.
Let's take a look at what we still have shall we?
- Their own 3rd round pick
- Phoenix's 4th round pick [acquired for Lee Stempniak]
- Their own 5th round pick
- New Jersey's 5th round pick [acquired for Martin Skoula]
- Their own 7th round pick
- Phoenix's 7th round pick [also acquired for Lee Stempniak]
Now, the purpose of this article is to make you optimistic about the draft, not less excited, and even I can admit that looking at this I'm not excited.
But here's the fun part, speculating and anticipating what Brian Burke still has up his sleeve in terms of receiving draft picks via trade.
I am one of those fans that has come to the realization that Tomas Kaberle can not and will not remain a leaf. It just does not make sense to have that much money committed to defense men while your offensive corps is struggling.
So with that being said, I think Brian Burke will be very heavily shopping the Czech defenseman come June 25th. I would say he has already had some serious talks with other GM's for when the trade freeze is revoked.
I believe you could get a first round pick from teams like the Caps Devils or Penguins, since their draft position is so bad.
But more probable would be a second, third, and good prospect or proven scorer.
I could spend all day running through trade possibilities for other picks, but with Kaberle being most significant, I will leave it at him.
So with that you may still be saying so what if they get a second round pick? Well I have some news that will change your mind.
After doing much research, I have come to a conclusion that this draft is not particularly deep in the first round, but very deep in the second round.
Huh doesn't make sense? Two words: 'Russian Factor'.
This term has become more and more significant every year. It's used on the highly skilled Russian prospects that you aren't sure whether they are going to sign with the team that drafts him or run off to the KHL for the big paycheck.
This years list includes Alex Burmistrov, Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Kirill Kabanov, and Maxim Kitsyn ("The Next Evgeny Malkin")
These are all top 20 talent players who's stock has fallen because of the Russian Factor. These players are more likely to be chosen in the second round now (except Burmistrov) according to ISS ratings because GMs don't want to take a gamble on their coveted first round pick.
Some scouts even say that these guys are more talented then Hall or Seguin, and they may be rivaling them for first overall if not for this risk.
One scout on Kabanov: "There may not be a more talented player in this year's draft then Kirill Kabanov, but there isn't one with more red flags attached to him either."
That's where Toronto comes in.
If they manage to grab some last minute first or second round picks, then it is realistic that they could draft any one of these skilled Russians. If Burke could sway them into signing with the team, then he would be walking away with a top 5 caliber player.
If you're not willing to take the risk on these Russians, this draft has many ridiculously under-rated players that have been projected to the second and third round.
Some prominent examples:
Tyler Toffoli ranked 50th by ISS.
Stats: (OHL) GP:65 G:37 A:42 PTS: 79 PIM: 54. Translation: Goal scoring forward
Petr Straka ranked 48th by ISS
Stats: (QMJHL) GP:62 G:28 A:36 PTS:64 Translation: Skilled top 6 forward.
Teemu Pulkkinen ranked 53rd by ISS
Stats: (WU18) GP:12 G:7 A:6 PTS:13 Translation: Goal scoring forward
If we land a first:
Jeffery Skinner ranked 15th by ISS and 25th by THN
Stats: (OHL) GP:64 G:50 A:40 PTS:90 PIM:72 Translation: Pure goal scorer
Those are just a few examples of highly skilled offensive players that have somewhat slipped under the radar this year.
So now when you think of the draft don't think of all the big name players you'll be missing out on, think of all the diamonds in the rough we can land!
Thanks for reading, keep believing!
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