Draft picks, even first rounders aren’t ever a guarantee of greatness and many solid players over the years have been found in later rounds.
The Toronto Maple Leafs history of drafting players certainly isn’t a bright one but in recent years more specifically these last few with Brian Burke at the helm, picks are starting to show some prospect.
Here are a five guys drafted higher that 50th overall that I believe and Leafs Nation is hoping will become
impact players in the near future.
We all remember D’Amigo’s contributions and stellar play at the 2010 World Juniors at which the USA claimed Gold in overtime over the Canadians (sad memories for us Canadians).
D’Amigo scored six goals in that tourney including one in the gold medal game and eventually tying him with Taylor Hall, Nino Niederreiter and two others for second overall in goals.
A year later at the WJC he didn’t have the same impact with team USA winning Bronze (1 G 1 A) and seemed to have dropped off the radar a tad as he continued to do in his stint with the Marlies (41 games 5 G 9 A). Leafs brass sent him back recently to junior and in ten games he has seven goals and eight assists with the Kitchener Rangers.
I look for D’Amigo’s stock to rise again and still see him as an asset with good NHL potential and I believe he can be a clutch guy in pressure situations which is good test to evaluate ones character.
Blacker has certainly shown he has no qualms about dropping the gloves and will be a tough presence on the Leafs blue line as he grows into his 6’1" frame. Looking past his toughness to his offensive numbers which have improved steadily while splitting his OHL career between the Windsor Spitfires and Owen Sound Attack.
Having a tough guy who can put the puck in the net and make heads up plays to the forwards while not be a defensive liability is certainly a coveted commodity in the NHL.
And this is what Toronto seems to have in this 6’1" 190 pound 19 year-old hometown Toronto Ontario Native.
Blacker = Future Bonus for the Toronto faithful!
We’ve watched this young 24 year-old Swede develop before our eyes over the last two seasons under the tutelage of now Boston Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle.
Granted this season has become the proverbial dreaded Sophomore jinx and it seems the clip may be slightly jammed somewhat while talking about Carl "UZI" Gunnarsson.
But the smooth skating 6’2" 196 pound native of Orebro Sweden has more to offer in my books.
He may have lost a bit of confidence and in a young defenceman that can certainly hurt as they begin to hesitate on making stretch passes instead of using the instinct that got them to the NHL.
Gunnarsson will continue to develop and will contribute to runs at and in the playoffs in years to come as long as Brian Burke and company get a contract in place, which I am quite sure they will.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the year, James Reimer or Optimus Reim as has been the nick name floated around has certainly created a goal tending conundrum for Leafs brass. A good one at that!
His positioning is picture perfect making some difficult stops seem easy. When he’s had to be agile and athletic to make saves it’s apparent that he’s got that in his bag of tricks as well.
It took some injuries for him to get his chance but he’s made the best of the situation posting a 9-4-2 record with two shutouts, a .943 save percentage and 2.14 goals against average in his time with the big club.
Pretty gritty numbers for the 6’ 2" 22 year-old from Winnipeg Manitoba.
Reimer has certainly made a mark for himself and Leafs Nation all hope that finally the Buds have found their guy.
And being draft at 99 which has been a number that holds some pretty big weight in the NHL though it was on the back of a Oilers/Kings jersey, we in Leafs Nation hope it can equate to greatness in a different fashion.
As we’ve all been made aware of, unless you’re living under a rock, McKegg is exceeding all expectations so far and looks to have been a steal at 62nd overall.
This 18 year-old St.Thomas Ontario native has already surpassed his goal-scoring total from last season and should eclipse his total points from a year ago (67 Gms 37 G 48 A for 85 Pts) with the Erie Otters. He’s leading the team with 38 goals and 38 assists for 76 points in only 56 games and sits12th in overall scoring in the OHL.
At six foot and hovering around 190 pounds McKegg has solid skating ability a great shot and can dangle in tight spaces while drawing defenceman to him because of those skills his vision on the ice has made him a legit playmaker as well.
Yep he’s the whole package, and he’s not afraid to drop the gloves in defense of a teammate, it’s nice to know he’s got some fire!
Certainly one of the very bright spots and a future impact player for the Buds down the road!