Draft Day! Draft Day!

Draft Day! Draft Day!

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I pray the day comes soon when the Entry Draft isn’t the biggest day for the Leafs on the June calendar, but here we are. The reward for a painful second half of the season comes in the form of a young top five talent soon to be added to the system. Soon, as in roughly 7:30 p.m. this evening. It’s an exciting night for the future of the hockey club.

Making it all the more exciting in a suspenseful kind of way is the mystery surrounding who this fifth pick will be. As Brian Burke put it in an interview with James Duthie yesterday (link after the jump), it’s possible all 30 teams have a different top five list going into this draft. Pretty unheard of.

Alex Galchenyuk likely won’t still be around, and many no longer think Grigorenko is in the top 5 discussion (I still like him, more below). Providing there’s no movement in the order and the Blue Jackets (#2) and Islanders (#4) take defencemen, my gut tells me it’s Swedish forward Filip Forsberg that will become the Leafs‘ new top prospect. Just my guess, and that’s a lot of ifs. Resident prospect guru Alex Tran has Forsberg going earlier than fifth and has defenceman Morgan Rielly going to the Leafs. The Moose Jaw Warrior blueliner has been popping up with increasing frequency on the boards over the last week.

Call me the minority but I hope Burke, Morrison and the draft team have given Grigorenko some real thought, and personally I’d be pleasantly surprised if the Leafs drafted him. Forsberg is a hard pick to hate as probably the safest pick of the Leafs‘ options at forward, but as an ever valuable big centerman, with the type of upside that once had him in the first overall discussion, I find Grigorenko tantalizing. While risky (the extent of which is up for debate… referring to his age here), he fits the bill if we’re talking positional/player type need. Examples do exist to the contrary (and in his favour – see: Kopitar, Anze), but it’s hard to envision a player of Grigorenko’s size and talent combination not panning out unless there is some serious problems with his work ethic or mental game. Obviously, the Leafs‘ staff would have to have done their homework on the whole age issue and the attitude concerns, but the second tier of prospects in the top ten after Yakupov seem so inseparable it might be the time to gamble a bit on a player that offers both a ton of upside and fits an organizational need.

That said, if the homework doesn’t check out, you don’t go playing around with a fifth overall pick if you think the fears are legitimate. Some in the know apparently do think there’s something to be feared with this guy. Based on the recent rankings, some of which have him as low as 20, he’s starting to sound like quite the reach at #5. If I can defend Grigorenko for a second here, he’s been descending ever since he was ranked the second best 2012 prospect at the midpoint, but it’s strange how drastic and quick his latest fall has been. It’s almost like this age scare has made everyone shit the pants, yet no one really knows if it’s true or not. I can guarantee you one thing; the Leafs picking Grigorenko would spark the biggest birth certificate controversy since the 2008 election.

What’s your prediction for the Leafs’ pick tonight?

Onto the links…

Listen here: Leafs’ Vice President of Hockey Operations Dave Poulin talks draft with Sportsnet Fan 590′s Greg Brady and Jim Lang.

Burke sits down with James Duthie. BB thinks he knows who he is picking with #5 and says he doesn’t anticipate trading up, as there’s no one in the draft class worth the going price. Doesn’t sound like he’ll be making waves with any activity outside of the pick.

Jordan Staal rejects a massive extension offer. I guess 10 more years as a third line center didn’t sound too appealing. Now that throwing guaranteed money at the problem failed, it sounds like the only option is a trade. And maybe sooner than later. You would think Staal would want out from behind Crosby and Malkin in his contract year.

Keep an eye on Nash, Ryan, Staal: The blockbuster candidates for the summer. The Wild are mentioned as a possible destination for J. Staal. Minnesota was where Jordan and brother Eric were arrested at Eric’s bachelor party a few years back. Not sure if that means they have a connection to the state or if I’m just reaching here.

Coverage Of Maple Leafs Future Enough To Make You Sick.Depending on the outlet of your choice, this is a weak draft with no visible help available to Burke, there are no free agents that are either going to help the Leafs or who would be interested in coming to Toronto. There are no players either worth trading for or any who the Leafs can ‘afford.‘” On a related note, I hear the 2012 Entry Draft drops off after the top four.

Michael Langlois’ best guess at what the Leafs will actually do in the days ahead. Some predictions for the off-season over at VLM.

2012-13 Maple Leafs Scheduled is announced. Danny Gray highlights a few of the must-see contests.

Vancouver Canucks may stick with Roberto Luongo. You know, they keep saying that, but this just screams of posturing after the coach came out and said Lu wants out, does it not? Guess it depends if you think Alain Vignault actually misspoke when he outed Luongo for requesting a trade, or if this backtrack was just damage control. It wouldn’t be surprising if Gillis is trying to gain back some leverage in the market. According to Darren Dreger, all the offers on Luongo so far have been of the “I’ll take him off your hands” variety.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]

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