Toronto Maple Leafs: Potential Pickups at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft

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Toronto Maple Leafs: Potential Pickups at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Claus Andersen/Getty Images
Matt Puempel

With the NHL Entry draft next on the task list for Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs, they'll have to start looking to narrow down the list of names they're interested in drafting.

Rumours seem to suggest there are a few select names on the Leafs' radar, however, most suggested are usually a result of Burke trading him. Here are a few names that could fall to us with the picks we current know we have, the 24th (100 percent) and the 26th-30th, but we'll say the 28th just to even it out.

 

Matt Puempel, Peterborough (OHL), 6'0, 190  

Puempel will be a bit of stretch to draft, as scouts have him pegged to go anywhere in the second half of the draft (15-30). However, should he fall down to the 24th pick, he could scooped up.

The versatile winger can be viewed as a potential "seventh forward," having the defensive prowess to succeed in a third line role, and though he doesn't have the natural offensive touch, he works hard to get into the scoring areas to generate opportunities, good enough to be in the top six. He will need to beef up before getting a look in the NHL, though.

He has the potential to be one of the bigger steals in the draft if he falls below the 20th spot.

NHL comparable: Daniel Cleary

 

Zach Phillips, Saint John's (QMJHL), 6'1", 185

He projects as a lower echelon version of projected top-five pick, Ryan Strome. Phillips has tremendous discipline and high hockey IQ and plays very big for his size. Many scouts feel Phillips was a big part of the reason why Jonathan Huberdeau was able to increase his point production by 72 percent, as he created open ice for the Sea Dogs winger with his surprisingly effective physical play.

Aside from being a physical, smart center, he can pass the puck very well and can hold his own on the offensive side. However, it's his hockey sense and edge that intrigue scouts, and many feel he can develop into a versatile second-line center. Like Puempel, his size could hold him back if he doesn't beef up.

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NHL Comparable: Dave Bolland

 

Scott Mayfield, Youngstown (USHL), 6'4", 205  

 Focusing on his defensive game this season has done wonders for the big, physical Mayfield. Despite an expected drop in offensive production, Mayfield ermerged as one of the better two-way, minute-eating defensemen in the USHL.

Scouts have him topping out as a second pairing, two-way defenseman, but it's not something that's out of reach for the towering defenseman either. Even if he doesn't completely pan out, Mayfield could reprise a role as a very good minute-eating, physical bottom pairing defenseman.

NHL comparable: Mattias Ohlund/Francois Beauchemin in best of cases, someone like Brett Clark or  Jan Hejda more likely

 

Jamie Oleksiak, Northeastern University, NCAA, 6'7", 246

 Oleksiak is viewed as a project. He has tremendous size obviously and surprisingly soft hands for a defenseman of his size. His skating isn't as far behind as most players his size usually is too, in fact it's pretty close to being ready.

Should he properly develop, he has all the tools to be a dominant force in the league for numerous years, many scouts feel he is over-hyped because of his very rare size at his current age.

NHL comparable: Fully maxed potential will result in him being just as every bit effective as Tyler Myers or Zdeno Chara are now, down the road a couple years. However, amounting to something like Hal Gill is what logic suggests he'll end up as.

Of course, these are a few picks that the Leafs could choose from in their current state, but recent reports suggest Burke could be trying to trade up into the top 15 for different reasons. Names from Sean Couturier to Mark McNeill have come up, however those require setup shuffling in the order to get done.

Personally, I think attempting to pick up one of Phillips or Puempel and Mayfield would make most sense for the buds. The forwards can deepen the shallow forward prospect pool for the Leafs, and Mayfield's strong on-ice presence would be a welcomed addition down the road to a defensive squad that will seek some stability.

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