NHL Draft 2011: 10 Guys the Toronto Maple Leafs Could Have Had
As part of the Phil Kessel deal the Toronto Maple Leafs sent over a first rounder in 2010 (Tyler Seguin) a second rounder in 2010 (Jared Knight), and a first rounder in 2011. The Boston Bruins should capitalize once again this year on what should be a very good draft pick.
This draft may not be as hyped as in years past, but there is still plenty of talent in the top end of the draft.
A top 10 pick will surely have a significant impact for any club, and for a club that is already full of talent, the Boston Bruins will really stand to gain.
Looking at the top end of the draft we shall take a closer look at the top 10 picks the Maple Leafs could have had.
10. Ryan Strome
Ryan Strome has really come out of nowhere this year. Having only scored 27 points in his previous 61 games with the Niagara Ice Dogs and Barrie Colts, Strome has really come out guns a blazing this year. Already having scored 47 points in 31 games, Ryan could be around the top of the league in scoring come seasons end.
Ryan is a very gifted forward, he is shifty, quick, and can pull off some jaw-dropping moves in the offensive zone.
You would think this would culminate into a top five player, but Ryan has been known to play a very one dimensional game, and has also been noted as being fairly weak along the boards. This is all very disappointing considering his skill, but all of that drive and determination can be picked up over time.
A team will take a chance with Ryan but the rewards shall far outweigh the risk.
9. Duncan Siemens
Duncan Siemens (now with the Saskatoon Blades) brings a presence on defence that every team needs. Siemens is a very steady defencemen in his own end.
Not known for his offensive talent, Siemens has put up solid numbers in his sophomore season with the Blades, posting 21 points in 32 games played. Siemens has really improved his awareness on the ice, and can set up plays better then ever before.
What's best about Siemen's game is that he makes few mistakes, along with playing a physical game.
While he could still work on his craft, he has shown great improvement since joining the Blades, and has a lot of potential to be a very steady blueliner in the NHL.
8. Seth Ambroz
Seth Ambroz is an American-born forward currently playing for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL.
Seth would likely be considered a bit of a project, as he will likely take the college route next season with the University of Minnesota. Which means he likely will not make an instant impact in the National Hockey League.
While some have questioned his skating, Ambroz has shown that he has the quickness, and that it shouldn't hinder his performance. One of the many great qualities that Ambroz brings to the game is that he can put up numbers and be a gritty kind of player.
In consecutive seasons Ambroz has put up decent numbers, while putting up nearly 100 PIMs on average.
Seth may not be your top line guy, but his complete game should make him a very solid NHLer.
7. Matt Puempel
Matt Puempel could be one of the best pure goal scorers in this year's draft.
The 09/10 CHL rookie of the year put up an astounding 33 goals in his rookie campaign, and is on pace to top his totals this year, on one of the leagues worst teams.
Puempel has good vision on the ice, is a solid skater, and has an incredible shot for his age. Unlike many snipers though, Puempel always plays on the edge. He isn't afraid to crash the net, or mix it up in the corners to get the puck.
Puempel has dropped in the rankings, but only because of the team that surrounds him, without a doubt Matt will be a solid NHL player at some point in his career.
6. Jonathan Huberdeau
After a fairly lackluster rookie season, Jonathan Huberdeau has exploded in his sophomore season, and has asserted himself as one of the best players available in this draft.
In his rookie season with the Saint John Sea Dogs, Huberdeau recorded 35 points in 61 games. So far this season in just 33 games, Huberdeau has put up 24 goals and 28 assists for 52 points, and is a league leading +35.
There is no doubting that he as talent, but could it be a case of being on a good team in a league that thrives on offence, as opposed to defence?
It's a little to early to tell, but all signs point to Jonathan being the real deal. It should be exciting to see what he can put up this season, and if he can keep up the pace at a higher level of competition.
5. Ryan Murphy
Many question whether Ryan Murphy will make the NHL or not as a defencemen, considering he is only 5'10" and 160 lbs, but with his skating and offensive ability, he could very well be a staple in any team's defensive core.
Murphy is one of only three players eligible for this draft to make Canada's selection roster for the World Juniors, and while he did not make the cut he still had an outstanding camp, and should be a staple on the blueline next year.
Murphy brings a decent defensive game, but really shines on offence. With the Kitchener Rangers, Murphy has recorded 44 points in 28 games this year.
He has an excellent breakout pass, has good foot speed, and is very aware of everything going on. Murphy plays a very similar game to Nashville Predators prospect Ryan Ellis. Which is very high praise indeed.
The size could be an issue with the big boys, but as of now, I can't see it happening.
4. Dougie Hamilton
Hamilton represents one of several quality defencemen eligible for this draft. Playing with the Niagara Ice Dogs, Dougie has excelled on the back end, and has asserted himself as one of the better two-way defenders in the league.
Dougie is currently in his sophomore year, and has already surpassed his offensive totals of last season. While many would likely consider him more of an offensive-type player, he does play quite well in his own end.
Dougie can read plays fairly well, and does a good job shutting down plays. If he can use his frame, and play a little more physical game, he would be a more complete defender.
With a few adjustments, there is no telling how good he could really be.
3. Brandon Saad
Brandon Saad has made the jump from the U-18 development program in the USHL, to playing a prominent role on a very solid Saginaw Spirit squad in the OHL.
Having seen Saad play on a couple of occasions, and through the World Juniors, I am quite interested to see how he can play in the big leagues. With an absolutely wicked shot, size, speed and everything necessary to play in the NHL, Saad could be one of the best prospects in this pool.
His numbers don't quite match up with some in this draft, but he will get there, and some teams may be very upset passing over the Pennsylvania native.
Saad has shown that he can compete at a high level as he has one World Junior gold to his name, and will be on a very solid American squad this year.
Saad is ready to play in the big leagues now, but with another year or two in juniors, could make him an absolute force.
2. Adam Larsson
Adam Larsson has drawn considerable praise this year, often being slotted as the first overall pick for this draft. What sets him apart from the rest of the defencemen of this group is that he has the most complete package of size, speed, and grit.
Larsson has performed exceptionally well, in one of Europes top professional hockey leagues (SEL).
What Larsson brings is an intimidating presence, solid offensive abilities, and most importantly, strong defensive abilities. While his numbers may not be quite as good, he has been frequently compared to Tampa blueliner Victor Hedman.
While many would consider him ahead of Hedman at this point in the game, he still has a lot to prove, and hasn't quite shown it yet.
Larsson will without a doubt be a solid blueliner, but the top pick seems like a bit of a stretch.
1. Gabriel Landeskog
With players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sean Couturier in this draft, Landeskog may be passed over for the top two spots, but what Landeskog brings is the best overall game of any player available this year.
The Kitchener Ranger can do just about anything. His 23 goals and 19 assists in 29 games show the offensive side of his game, but what rarely gets noticed is that he is just as strong in his own end. Landeskog brings a very competitive edge, and outworks most of the players he plays against.
While many may not have heard of the Kitchener Ranger, he certainly will make a name for himself at the draft, and a keen scout may pick up on his many talents, and draft him in the top spot.
A shoe-in for the Swedish World Junior squad, Gabriel Landeskog will show the world this holiday break what he is made of.