With the NHL Draft literally just around the corner, I think it’s time we take a look at some of the Toronto Maple Leafs' options for their first pick.
That first pick won’t actually occur until the third round, where general manager Brian Burke will have the joy of drafting 62nd overall with his first choice. Like I said, in this article, it’s not all bad, so I won’t get into any Leafs-bashing on the side of draft picks.
Barrels of teams build through late draft picks, including the San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings. If you have a good GM, which I think the Leafs do, there’s no reason that every draft pick shouldn’t count.
Burke will attempt to make all six of his picks count in some way or another next month. Barring any surprise trades to grab a firstst or second rounder, No. 62 will be where the Leafs finally get in to the mix.
Here is a list of the Central Scouting ranked North American prospects from Nos. 55 to 65, that could give you a little insight as to what may be available for Toronto at No. 62 and beyond.
Bored? Google a few of these names if you haven’t seen them already.
Of course, tons of European skaters will be drafted amongst the first 61 skaters, so there will be a lot of moving around, and these guys will shift up and down quite easily. But the Leafs have draft picks starting in the third round and going on from there, so these guys will likely be around for the third- and fourth-round selections.
The Leafs could elect to take a European skater, but something tells me Burke will take a North American to get things started.
Take a look:
55. Joey Hishon, C, Owen Sound (OHL);
56. Justin Faulk, D, USA U-18;
57. Austin Madaisky, D, Kamloops (WHL);
58. Connor Brickley, C, Des Moines (USHL);
59. Bradley Ross, LW, Portland (WHL);
60. Stephen Silas, D, Belleville (OHL).
61. Andrew Yogan, C/LW, Erie (OHL);
62. Freddie Hamilton, C, Niagara (OHL);
63. Mike Pereira, LW, Avon Old Farms (HIGH-CT);
64. Brandon Archibald, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL);
65. Brett Bulmer, RW, Kelowna (WHL)
I’m fully aware that the chances of the Leafs actually drafting the No. 62-ranked prospect in the preliminary rankings is about a million-to-one. But we can have a little fun with it and see what a few of these guys are about. I’ll pick three, you can look up some more on your own.
I’ll start with Andrew Yogan (61) of the Erie Otters. A 6'3" center, who can also play the wing, Yogan weighs in at over 200 pounds, so you know size will be something to look at if he’s still around for the Leafs. His numbers are pretty impressive as well.
Yogan put up 34 points in 35 games in 2008-09, and followed up with another solid year with 55 points in 63 games this season. Yogan is an American from Boca Raton, Fla., and has a bit of a mean streak, with 97 penalty minutes this year.
Up next, Connor Brickley.
This guy was born in 1992, which makes me feel super old. Brickley is another American born player from Everett, Mass., with a 6′2″, 195-pound build. Again, size is no issue for this guy.
Racking up 43 points (22 goals) in 52 games in the USHL ain’t too shabby, either. Brickley is at No. 58 amongst North American skaters as of the final ranking given by CSB on April 7. If he’s around until the Leafs take the podium, he boasts as a tempting prospect.
And now on to the infamous 62nd-ranked North American skater, Freddie Hamilton.
Hamilton played for Canada at the U-18 Worlds, and comes in at 6′1″, 190 pounds. In 64 games with the Niagra IceDogs this past season, he picked up a solid 55 points (25 goals).
He is another forward with decent size who obviously has some offensive upside. The Leafs may take a look at him. If not in the third round, then maybe in the fourth.
The reason I stuck with all forwards, is because I believe that’s the area the Leafs will address first. Right now, the Buds are blocked with defensemen.
It may seem foolish because many of these players won’t play pro for at least another two or three years, but the Leafs are alright on the back-end for the time being.
If you have any ideas of who you think the Leafs might take with their first pick fire off an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and now you can follow me at twitter.com/maplestirup