In an interview with Paul Hendrick, Brian Burke stated that his plan for the upcoming draft is to package one of the first-rounders they acquired from Boston and Philadelphia with their own second-rounder to try to move up. In the same interview, he mentioned that the Leafs' strategy at the draft is to take the best player available and not to make a pick according to a need at a particular position.
With a package of a late first-rounder and an early second-round pick, the Leafs will most likely be able to move up to about the 15-20 range, possibly earlier depending on how some general manager's are viewing the draft.
That being said, with a pick in that range, who would the Leafs go after?
Would it be Mark McNiell, who has been said to be of interest to Brian Burke, or could it be a player like Zack Phillips, who several people on this site say would be a great pickup for the Leafs if he fell to the 25th pick.
Here are five players that could be in Brian Burke's sights if he is successful in moving up in the draft.
Weight: 201 lbs
Team: Prince Albert Raiders(WHL)
Stats: 70 games played, 32 goals, 49 assists, 81 points, 53 penalty minutes
Why The Leafs Pick Him: Raiders head coach/general manager, Bruno Campese, to NHL.com: "He's one of those kids that has the ability to do so many different things... He's got so much upside to him... He's a powerful skater and has great hockey sense. He's got very good basic skills and he's got the ability to be a real tough person to play against. He's got the mental capabilities to understand the game as well."
McNiell has caught the interest of several scouts, and one of them has to be Dave Morrison, the Leafs head amateur scout. If the Leafs move up and McNeill is still available, I'd expect McNeill to be putting on a Leafs jersey.
Weight: 178 lbs
Team: Saint John Sea Dogs
Stats: 67 games played, 38 goals, 57 assists, 95 points, 16 penalty minutes
Why The Leafs Pick Him: Being the No. 2 point scorer for the best team in junior hockey this season ain't too shabby. While teammate Jonathan Huberdeau will be selected in the top 10, no question, there is a question whether he or Nathan Beaulieu will be the next Sea Dog selected. If Burke is thinking what many Leafs fans are thinking, Phillips will be a Leaf on June 24th.
Weight: 244 lbs
Team: Northeastern University
Stats: 34 games played, 3 goals, 9 assists, 12 points
Why The Leafs Pick Him: One of my personal favorite prospects in this year's draft for one reason. With the Leafs in the same division as Zdeno Chara, Tyler Myers and Hal Gill, it would be nice to have a behemoth on the Leafs' blue line as well. While it will take a little more time for him to develop, Oleksiak could turn into a steal of the first round if he becomes a Chara-like player.
Weight: 204 lbs
Team: Oshawa Generals(OHL)
Stats: 63 games played, 25 goals, 41 assists, 66 points, 57 penalty minutes
Why The Leafs Pick Him: NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards on Jenner: "The phrase, 'I want 20 of those guys on my team' gets overused, but it not only applies to Boone, he can be the poster boy for it. Boone does what it takes to win. He blocks shots, wins battles along the boards and is an outstanding forechecker. He wants to be first to the puck every time. He's solid on his skates and fights through checks on his way to the net.”
Unquestionably, the best name in the draft. If Jenner can play better than his name sounds, the Leafs have a good pickup on their hands.
Position: Left Wing
Weight: 208 lbs
Team: Saginaw Spirit(OHL)
Stats: 59 games played, 27 goals, 28 assists, 55 points, 47 penalty minutes
Why The Leafs Pick Him? While his stats fell off the second half of the season, resulting in him falling nine spots in the Central Scouting Rankings of North American skaters. If I remember correctly, in The Hockey News' "Draft Preview", a few scouts said that Saad could physically be ready for the NHL, so he may make the team as early as 2012-13. He is also a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 2010 Under-18 World Championships.
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards on Saad: “Brandon has very good speed and agility and that makes him dangerous, he’s solid on his skates and fights through checks very well. He plays a solid two-way game and is very responsible defensively.”