The Value Behind 35

The Value Behind 35

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In this period without any Leafs hockey, Leafs Nation speculates about the draft and summer trades and acquisitions. Once again, yours truly is here to do the former, only this time I’ll be looking at value beyond the top 10 selection.

At the moment, the Leafs hold the 35th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. It’s possible, plausible even, that our second round pick gets moved in order for us to move up for a shot at that future top line forward. However, given the uncertainty of draft day decisions, especially for the top five, six draft eligible players, I doubt that will be the case.

As Alex Tran wrote in his scouting report on Mikhail Grigorenko, “A player once believed to be a lock for the 2nd or 3rd spot in the draft is beginning to slide down the rankings, and is currently pegged anywhere from 4th to 20th.” The big factor in this type of reasoning was also a big number of injuries, which could result in some prime talent falling through the cracks. Grigorenko was out for weeks with an ankle injury, Yakupov suffered a concussion and my personal favorite first rounder, Alex Galchenyuk, missed most of the season. Malcolm Subban and Ryan Murray also missed a considerable amount of some ice time, as did Olli Maatta and Morgan Rielly.

Keeping that in mind, and adding the fact that many scouts pegged this NHL draft to be lacking of generational talents but full of (potentially) good future NHL players it’s very reasonable to assume that our second round pick will be used and not traded away. After all, the Leafs don’t pick again until the 5th round (126th overall pick) so trading that pick makes even less sense.

So, in that kind of draft, what is the value of said pick? Well, as always, the value of the pick lies in the player that can be picked at that particular position -  not exactly a Nobel Prize winning discovery. Names ranging from Andreas Athanasiou, Jordan Schmaltz, Mike Winther and Burke-type players like Stefan Matteau and Dalton Thrower (who can throw ‘em) should still do enough to pique your curiosity.

Because Athanasiou underachieved in a stacked London lineup he could be available at 35. He has all the tools to be a creative force but needs to work on his consistency and the physical aspect of his game. As his performance in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament showed (where he was slotted as the No1 C for team Canada), he can be a force in all three zones. Winther is another guy that possesses all the skill in the world, but is also another player who needs to put more consistent performances on a nightly basis. Then you have Matteau and Thrower. Stefan Matteau is a LW who will likely be behind the D-man Thrower in the selection process because he takes silly penalties and takes it over the edge on occasion. Don’t expect the second part to deter Burke. He does have solid scoring ability, especially around the net and a decent, heavy shot.

I haven’t watched nearly enough of expected early second round picks (except Athanasiou) to be able to claim anything, let alone their NHL potential and ceiling, but from what I’ve seen there seems to be a good deal to like.

While the pick’s trade value might be diminished because of the said “crowdedness” of similar projected ceilings or projected future values of the prospects in the early to middle second round of the draft, that doesn’t mean that the pick has any less actual value. In fact, if the “picking field” is indeed less tilted it could mean less chance of making the wrong choice and more actual value if you make the right pick. Claude Giroux might be the best example of that.

So, unless you can find a GM that has his heart set on a particular player (it has to be done on the draft floor) which increases the value of your 35th overall pick, trading away such a pick doesn’t hold as much value as keeping it.