Toronto Maple Leafs: Never Trade First Round Picks? Not So Fast...

Dave McCarthyCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2008

Heard On Episode 4.4 of AFITC

Clearly, the 2008-2009 season is one of rebuilding and retooling for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Development of younger players is paramount whereas winning games is really not. After all the more games they lose, the better they set themselves up for a high draft pick at the end of the year and that’s all part of the master plan, or at least some people’s master plan isn’t it?

Certainly, under no circumstances would it make sense for the Maple Leafs to consider trading their first round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft. Well….not necessarily. Earlier last week, it was reported the Maple Leafs attempted to package their first round pick in 2009 along with two unnamed prospects in exchange for Mathieu Schneider and Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks.

For the first time in years, this was a trade that would have sacrificed a top draft pick yet yielded a player that would become a big part of the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bobby Ryan, picked immediately after Sidney Crosby in 2005, is as good a first round pick that the Maple Leafs could possibly hope to land in the summer of 2009 but is also NHL ready.

Add in the caveat that the Maple Leafs would retain their first round pick in 2009 if it ended up being in the top five selections and this was a win-win deal for the Maple Leafs, potentially being able to add to cornerstone players in a short period of time to their roster to go along with 2008 top pick Luke Schenn.

If Cliff Fletcher could have swung this move, the possibility existed that Schneider could then have been flipped for prospects or picks as well. If anything, Schneider’s veteran presence and experience would have benefitted the numerous youngsters that will ply their trades with the Maple Leafs this season.

Trading first round picks is rarely a wise decision, especially during rebuilding years but this was one circumstance that I would have made an exception for. But hey, all that was just rigmarole.