There are more than a few words that would bring a laugh or tear from a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. Stanley Cup, would be one of the most obvious. Waffle, would be another.
But one of the most laughable aspects of the lovable Buds over the past ten years has been the draft—not only their picks, but what they've done with those players after drafting them.
There isn't a Leafs fan on earth that won't give you a profanity-laden opinion of the Phil Kessel trade—one that sent two Toronto first-round picks and a second-round pick to the Boston Bruins—but the history of the draft is so much more than just that.
Dare I say, so much more depressing. And with the St. Louis Blues coming to town on Thursday night, it will only be a painful reminder.
Since the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, the Leafs have picked in the first round seven times. When the team hits the ice on Thursday, one of those selections (Luke Schenn, fifth-overall in 2008) will be on the ice. Nazem Kadri (seventh-overall pick in 2009) is currently with the minors.
The five other first-round picks are no longer members of the organization.
Just a caution to those sensitive fans, this next part is where the real fun starts with the Blues coming to town.
Of those five first-round picks that are no longer on the Leafs, three of them are on the Blues (the other two are Jiri Tlusy and Tukka Rask).
Brad Boyes (24th overall in 2000), Carlo Colaiacovo (17th overall in 2001) and Alex Steen (24th overall in 2002).
Steen leads the team in goals with 13 and is second in points with 27. Boyes is fourth on the team with 19 points. And with four goals and 16 points, Colaiacovo is second on the team in points by a defenseman.
Colaiacovo's four goals is the same number as Tomas Kaberle, Dion Phaneuf, Francois Beauchemin and Mike Komisarek have combined this season.
All three former Leafs first-rounders, all coming back to the city that shipped them away for a whole lot of nothing.
In 2003, the Leafs sent Boyes, along with Alyn McCauley and a 2003 first-round pick, to the San Jose Sharks for 31-year-old Owen Nolan.
Nolan went on to play 79 games as a Leaf, scoring 26 goals and 60 points in that time.
The Sharks took Steve Bernier 16th overall with the Leafs pick in the draft and, before you brush that aside as unimportant, here's a list of the players chosen after him in the first round that year: Zach Parise (17th), Ryan Getzlaf (19th), Ryan Kesler (23rd), Mike Richards (24th) and Corey Perry (28th).
Weep quietly, Leaf Nation.
In 2008, the Leafs traded both Colaiacovo and Steen to the Blues in a deal that brought back Lee Stempniak.
Stempniak played 123 games with the Leafs from 2008-10, scoring 25 goals and 61 points. He was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in 2010 for a fourth- and seventh-round pick and defenseman Matt Jones.
They got him for two former first-round picks and traded him for a fourth, seventh, and a no-name defender, just to sum up.
Which essentially sums up the past ten years of the draft in Toronto—the Leafs usually end up with nothing.
So as the Blues (20-13-5) sweep through town—currently sitting in a playoff position in the Western Conference—led largely by what once were Leafs first-round picks, do your best to forget the paltry efforts of the organization when dealing with draft picks.
Do your best to forget that not only is Schenn the only first-rounder currently playing for the team, but Nikolai Kulemin (44th overall in 2006) is the only second-round pick on the current roster from the last decade.
Try your hardest to bypass the fact that, while Kris Versteeg struggles through mediocrity and trade rumours, the player he was traded for, Viktor Stalberg (Leafs sixth-round pick in 2006) looks to be finding his place on a star-studded Chicago Blackhawks team.
And look past the fact that, while the Leafs seventh-overall pick in 2009, Kadri, sits in the AHL as a player who still doesn't have what it takes to play in the NHL, the 2010 seventh-overall pick, Jeff Skinner (Carolina Hurricanes) has 11 goals and 28 points and has been one of the best rookies in the league this season.
Yes, it's been quite the decade in drafting and trades for the Maple Leafs and whether they end Thursday night with a win or loss against the Blues, the game will serve as a cruel reminder of just how bad it really has been.
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