Toronto Maple Leafs Draft History: Breaking Down Leafs Draft Years Since 2000
In many expert's opinions, drafting well at the NHL draft is critical in the success of a franchise. Drafting poorly, as a result, can set your franchise back a few years and give fans more years of misery as an outcome.
To no surprise, since the lockout and even before the lockout, the Leafs have really been a poster child of trading away high draft picks, or selecting the wrong player at the wrong time.
As you can tell, the recent draft history of the Toronto Maple Leafs is the reason why the Leafs are what they are today. A failure of keeping high draft picks and selecting the wrong player at the wrong time, leaves the Leafs still in search of a Stanley Cup. In 2011, the Leafs will try and break that 44-year curse and rise to the cream of the NHL crop.
So without further interruption, here is a breakdown of the last 10 years in Maple Leafs Draft History.
The 2000 NHL Entry Draft
Brad Boyes: First Round (24th)
Kris Vernarsky: Second Round (51st)
Mikael Tellqvist: Third Round (70th)
Jean Francois Racine: Third Round (90th)
Miguel Delisle: Fourth Round (100th)
Vadim Sozinov: Sixth Round (179th)
Markus Seikola: Seventh Round (209th)
Lubos Velebny: Seventh Round (223rd)
Alexander Shinkov: Eighth Round (254th)
Jean-Phillipe Cote: Ninth Round (265th)
Players with 100+ Games Played: Two (Boyes and Tellqvist)
Best Pick: Brad Boyes
Worst Pick: Kris Vernarsky
Where He is Today: The 6'3", 210-pound winger is playing for the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL. This season he finished with 21 points in 52 games for the Nailers. He has one NHL goal in 17 games played in the NHL with the Boston Bruins.
Who Could Have Been Picked: Lubomir Visnovsky, John Michael Liles, Antoine Vermette, Paul Martin, Henrik Lundqvist, Dominic Moore, Matt Lombardi and Antti Miettinen
Draft Grade: D
The 2001 NHL Entry Draft
Carlo Colaiacovo: First Round (17th)
Karel Pilar: Second Round (39th)
Brendan Bell: Third Round (65th)
Jay Harrison: Third Round (82nd)
Nicolas Corbeil: Third Round (88th)
Kyle Wellwood: Fifth Round (134th)
Maxim Kondratiev: Sixth Round (168th)
Jaroslav Sklenar: Sixth Round (183rd)
Ivan Kolozvary Seventh Round (198th)
Jan Chovan: Seventh Round (213th)
Tomas Mojzis: Eighth Round (246th)
Mike Knoepfli: Ninth Round (276th)
Players with 100+ Games Played: Four (Colaiacovo, Bell, Harrison, Wellwood)
Best Pick: Carlo Colaiacovo
Where He is Today: Playing top four minutes with a young St. Louis Blues team. Injuries have really set back his career, but his overall game is very good, in the Wade Redden mold. He was traded by the Leafs along with Alex Steen in return for Lee Stempniak. Stempniak was later traded for a fourth- and seventh-round pick from the Coyotes.
Worst Pick: Brendan Bell
Where He is Today: Playing in Biel in the Swiss Elite League. He did get a cup of coffee in the NHL, but it didn't last long. His overall lack of foot-speed and any offensive skill has resulted in him playing overseas. He has played for Canada's Spengler Cup team.
If you're curious as to why Pilar wasn't named the worst pick, its simple. His game I found translated well to the NHL. But with his bad heart resulting in him calling it a career, all we can wonder today is "What if?"
Who Could Have Been Picked: Tomas Plekanec, Craig Anderson, Patrick Sharp, Ray Emery, Christian Ehrhoff, Kevin Bieksa, Dennis Seidenberg, Ryan Clowe, Marek Zidlicky, Jussi Jokinen, Brooks Laich and Cristobal Huet
Draft Grade: C+
The 2002 NHL Entry Draft
Alex Steen: First Round (24th)
Matthew Stajan: Second Round (57th)
Todd Ford: Third Round (74th)
Dominic D'Amour: Third Round (88th)
David Turon: Fourth Round (122nd)
Ian White: Sixth Round (191st)
Scott May: Seventh Round (222nd)
Jarkko Immonen: Eighth Round (254th)
Staffan Kronwall: Ninth Round (285th)
Players with 100+ Games Played: Steen, Stajan and White
Best Pick: Alex Steen
Where He is Today: Steen is currently playing on the first line along side David Backes and TJ Oshie in St. Louis. Once considered Toronto's best prospect in the Mats Sundin era, Steen could not find his stride with the Leafs back then. However, after getting traded by the Leafs, Steen has woken up and turned into a very solid NHLer. He's not a first-line player, in my opinion, but a very solid second liner and can check in a pinch on the third line on a championship team.
Worst Pick: Todd Ford
Where He is Today: Currently playing in the ECHL for the South Carolina Stingrays. Ford, in my opinion was a wasted pick. He never had good junior numbers before he was drafted, and there was a boatload of better picks to be had later in the draft. The majority of his hockey career has been played in the ECHL, so I'll go out on a limb and say he's been a bust so far.
Who Could Have Been Picked: Frans Nielsen, Matthew Lombardi, Valtteri Filppula, Tom Gilbert, James Wisniewski, Max Talbot, Dennis Wideman and Jonathan Ericsson
Draft Grade: B
The 2003 NHL Entry Draft
John Doherty: Second Round (57th)
Martin Sagat:Third Round (91st)
Konstantin Volkov: Fourth Round (125th)
John Mitchell: Fifth Round (158th)
Jeremy Williams: Seventh Round (220th)
Shaun Landolt: Eighth Round (237th)
Players with 100+ Games Played: One (Mitchell)
Best Pick: John Mitchell
Where He is Today: You know things are bad draft wise when John Mitchell is your best draft pick in a year that saw the likes of Corey Perry, Zach Parise, Mike Richards, Ryan Getzlaf and many more taken. Mitchell is the equivalent of what Milt Palacio was to the Toronto Raptors. Wonderful moves until he gets two feet away from the net and proceeds to miss a lay up. Mitchell was the same way. Beautiful skater, good hands, that is until he has to shoot the puck.
Worst Pick: John Doherty
Where He is Today: He has been out of hockey since the 2007-08 season where he played two games for the Central Hockey League's Tulsa Oilers. To no one's surprise he registered zero points. The 6'4", 235-pound defender was supposed to be the next Mike Komisarek, but it turned out he was even worse than Komisarek. Pretty sad draft overall for the Leafs in one of the deepest drafts ever.
Who Could Have Been Picked: David Backes, Clarke MacArthur, Jan Hejda, Kyle Quincey, Lee Stempniak, Marc Methot, Joe Pavelski, Tobias Entstrom, Dustin Byfuglien, Matt Moulson, Jaroslav Halak and David Jones
Draft Grade: F- (It can't get much worse than that.)
The 2004 NHL Entry Draft
Justin Pogge: Third Round (90th)
Roman Kukemberg: Fourth Round (113th)
Dmitry Vorobiev: Fifth Round (157th)
Robert Earl: Sixth Round (187th)
Maxim Semenov: Seventh Round (220th)
Jan Steber: Eighth Round (252nd)
Pierce Norton: Ninth Round (285th)
Players with 100+ Games Played: None
Best Pick: Justin Pogge
Where He is Today: Before the World Juniors in Vancouver, many people wondered who Justin Pogge even was. However, after leading the Canadians to another World Junior Hockey Championship in 2006, his name was now well known in Leafs nation. He was good enough that John Ferguson Jr. thought that Pogge was the better goalie between him and Tuukka Rask, and elected to trade Rask for Andrew Raycroft.
Looking back on that move, Pogge has struggled since to make his mark on the NHL and Rask is looking like Boston's No. 1 goalie for years to come. Pogge was the best player to play in the NHL in this draft crop. Yet another draft failure for the Leafs scouting team, who were without a top-two round pick in 2004.
Worst Pick: Roman Kukemberg
Where He is Today: He is currently playing in the KHL for the Khabarovsk Amur. Recorded 11 points in 34 games with the club. Saw 54 games with the Toronto Marlies in 2005-2006 and recorded eight points in that span.
Who Could Have Been Picked: Torrey Mitchell, Ryan Callahan, Kris Versteeg, Mikhail Grabovski, Troy Brouwer, Chris Campoli, Mark Streit and Jannik Hansen
Draft Grade: D-
The 2005 NHL Entry Draft
Tuukka Rask: First Round (21st)
Phil Oreskovic: Third Round (82nd)
Alex Berry: Fifth Round (153rd)
Johan Dahlberg: Sixth Round (173rd)
Anton Stralman: Seventh Round (216th)
Chad Rau: Seventh Round (228th)
Players with 100+ Games Played: One (Stralman, eventually two with Rask, who is at 71)
Best Pick: Tuukka Rask
Where He is Today: Rask is currently the backup goalie for the Eastern Conference Finalist Boston Bruins squad. Before the start of the season and Tim Thomas' hot start, many believed Rask was Boston's starter. Last season was a great year for Rask who had a minuscule 1.92 GAA and a .931 SV%.
Thomas' hot start, however, set Rask's development back a few pegs.
Worst Pick: Phil Oreskovic
Where He is Today: Currently playing with the Hershey Beards in the AHL. Was looked upon as a shutdown, tough defenceman in the Douglas Murray mold, but really has yet to develop into that player type. He isn't even in the Toronto organization any longer.
Who Could Have Been Picked: Keith Yandle, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Darren Helm and Patric Hornqvist
Draft Grade: C-
The 2006 NHL Entry Draft
Jiri Tlusty: First Round (13th)
Nikolai Kulemin: Second Round (44th)
James Reimer: Fourth Round (99th)
Korbinian Holzer: Fourth Round (111th)
Viktor Stalberg: Sixth Round (161st)
Tyler Ruegsegger: Sixth Round (166th)
Leo Komorov: Sixth Round (180th)
Players with 100+ Games Played: Three (Tlusty, Kulemin and Stalberg, eventually four with Reimer)
Best Pick: Nikolai Kulemin
Where He is Today: Surprise, he still remains with the Leafs and is their best two-way forward on the team. His combination of speed, skill and defensive awareness makes him a valuable piece to the Leafs puzzle. Coming off his first 30-goal season, Kulemin next year will look to build upon a very solid foundation.
Worst Pick: Jiri Tlusty
Where He is Today: Tlusty currently is playing on the third line in Carolina with a minimal role for Paul Maurice's Hurricanes. He's a very replaceable part, in my opinion, and going 13th overall was far too high for him.
Who Could Have Been Picked: Patrick Berglund, Claude Giroux, Chris Stewart, Michael Grabner, Milan Lucic and Cal Clutterbuck
Draft Grade: B+ (Still one of Toronto's best drafts in recent memory)
The 2007 NHL Entry Draft
Dale Mitchell: Third Round (74th)
Matt Frattin: Fourth Round (99th)
Ben Winnett: Fourth Round (104th)
Juraj Mikus: Fifth Round (134th)
Christopher Didomenico: Sixth Round (164th)
Carl Gunnarsson: Seventh Round (194th)
Players with 100+ Games Played: One (Gunnarrson)
Best Pick: Carl Gunnarsson
Where He is Today: He'll likely be playing top four minutes this season for the Leafs if they do not add another defenceman in the offseason. He's had a strong career so far for the Leafs and even a stronger showing internationally with Team Sweden at World Championships. A very good two-way defenceman with some power-play upside.
Worst Pick: Dale Mitchell
Where He is Today: He is currently playing a checking role with the Toronto Marlies. Out of everyone taken, Mitchell was the Leafs first pick in this draft and likely should never have been. The Leafs traded their first round pick for Vesa Toskala in an attempt to fix their goaltending problems. What did it create? A total mess and San Jose eventually using Toronto's pick to select ninth overall and take center Logan Couture.
Couture would go on to have a wonderful rookie season with the Sharks this year and is a finalist for the Calder Trophy. Sometimes the best deals you make are the ones you don't make.
Who Could Have Been Picked: Linus Omark, Keith Aulie, Luca Caputi and Jamie Benn, among others.
Draft Grade: D
The 2008 NHL Entry Draft
Luke Schenn: First Round (5th)
Jimmy Hayes: Second Round (60th)
Mikhail Stefanovich: Fourth Round (98th)
Greg Pateryn: Fifth Round (128th)
Joel Champagne: Fifth Round (129th)
Jerome Flaake: Fifth Round (130th)
Grant Rollheiser: Sixth Round (158th)
Andrew MacWilliam: Seventh Round (188th)
Players with 100+ Games Played: One (Schenn)
Best Pick: Luke Schenn
Where He is Today: He is one of Toronto's top two defenceman and an absolute eraser on that teams back-end. Schenn is developing his offensive game still, but defensively he's one of the best picks from the 2007 draft. Tyler Myers was taken after him, and that's about the only gripe I have with the selection.
Worst Pick: Mikhail Stefanovich
Where He is Today: He is currently playing a minimal role for Minsk Dynamo in the KHL after being traded by the Leafs to the Dallas Stars for Fabian Brunnstrom.
Who Could Have Been Picked: Jason Demers, Andres Lindback and Justin DiBinedetto
Draft Grade: B-
The 2009 NHL Entry Draft
Nazem Kadri: First Round (7th)
Kenny Ryan: Second Round (50th)
Jesse Blacker: Second Round (58th)
Jamie Devane: Third Round (68th)
Eric Knodel: Fifth Round (128th)
Jerry D'Amigo: Sixth Round (158th)
Barron Smith: Seventh Round (188th)
Players with 100+ Games Played: None (Eventually I believe four will hit 100 soon in Kadri, Blacker, Ryan and D'Amigo)
Best Pick: Nazem Kadri
Where He is Today: Coming into his Leaf career with a massive amount of pressure, Kadri has handled it fairly well coming back from a demotion to the minors. Playing alongside Darryl Boyce and Joey Crabb helped Kadri play a more defensively responsible game for the remainder of the season. He switched from center to wing this past season, so we will see how long that lasts.
Worst Pick: Jamie DeVane
Where He is Today: Playing his last year with the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League. He scored 19 goals and assisted on 19 as well for 38 points in 63 games. He finished with a team high 131 penalty minutes for the Whalers. However, taken 68th, I found DeVane was taken far too high for what he could provide in the NHL.
Who Could Have Been Picked: Taylor Beck, Ryan Bourque, Matt Hackett, Cody Eakin, Casey Cizikas, Marcus Foligno, Garrett Wilson, Nicolas Riopel, Olivier Roy and Jordan Szwarz
Draft Grade: B+
The 2010 NHL Entry Draft
Brad Ross: Second Round (43rd)
Greg McKegg: Third Round (62nd)
Sondre Olden: Third Round (79th)
Petter Granberg: Fourth Round (116th)
Sam Carrick: Fifth Round (144th)
Daniel Brodin: Fifth Round (146th)
Josh Nicholls: Seventh Round (182nd)
Players with 100+ Games Played: None (I believe Ross, McKegg and possibly Nicholls can all reach 100 games eventually in the NHL)
Best Pick: Greg McKegg
Where He is Today: McKegg just finished off a dominant season with the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League. Next season he will likely head back to junior and possibly earn himself a spot on the Canadian Junior team, who will look to avenge a third-period collapse against the Russians last December.
Worst Pick: I'm not going to add my opinion here, as I really can't tell you who was a terrible pick here. People can say Granberg, but from what I hear, he compares favorably to Carl Gunnarsson with a more physical edge. He was one of the youngest player in the 2010 NHL draft to be selected, so he has a ways to go yet in his development.
Sondre Olden is one of Norway's best under-21 prospects and compares well to Kings power forward Dustin Brown. Will he ever develop into him remains to be seen.
Sam Carrick is one of those gritty, fourth liners who will likely be a very good dressing room guy in the future. I think of him in the Adam Mair type of mold.
Daniel Brodin is a hard-working, checking winger who will likely not be an offensive threat. Think of him in the Fredrick Sjostrom mold with a bit more physicality.
Lastly, Josh Nicholls is the real wild card here. He had an astounding season this past season with the Saskatoon Blades 87 points in 71 games and finishing with an amazing plus-50 rating. He will likely be a bottom six forward at the next level and a strong penalty killer.
Draft Grade: INCOMPLETE
The 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Toronto will select 25th overall with the pick owed from Philadelphia in the Kris Versteeg deal.
Toronto will select either 27th, 29th or 30th, depending on the fate of the Boston Bruins as a result of the Tomas Kaberle trade.
If the Boston Bruins make it to the Cup Finals, the Leafs will also acquire a 2012 second-round selection from the Bruins.
Leafs select in the second round, 39th overall, which is their own pick.
The Leafs will select 86th overall in the third round, a pick owed to them from the Flyers as a result of the Kris Versteeg trade.
The Leafs will select 100th overall in the fourth round, a pick they own themselves.
Again, the Leafs will select 130th overall in the fifth round, a pick they own themselves.
In the sixth round, the Leafs will select 152nd, 160th and 173rd. The 160th pick is theirs while the Leafs acquired the 152nd from Edmonton as the result of a trade on June 26, 2010 that sent a seventh-round pick in 2010 to Edmonton in exchange for this pick.
The Leafs will pick 190th overall and 203rd overall in the seventh round. The 190th pick is theirs, while the 203rd pick is Anaheim's that they traded to get backup goaltender Joey MacDonald in March of 2010.
Leafs Picks in 2011
(27th, 29th or 30th)