There’s nothing like draft weekend to prime the hockey world for free agency.
It was an up and down weekend for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but hopefully it is a draft class we can look back on with a smile one day. It certainly started with a bang for Leafs fans.
Here are some notes and thoughts on the weekend that was:
When a team drafts outside of the top few selections, they’re mining through a pool of players with at least one perceived flaw or deficiency, otherwise these players would have been at the top of the order.
For the Leafs,...
Given the Maple Leafs didn't draft anybody until the 68th overall selection today, let's start with the biggest news of Draft Day Two, which was the trade for Roman Polak in exchange for Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th round draft pick.
Leafs management appear to be rejigging the structure of the defence a little bit with this move. It opens up the left side for developing youngsters Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner to step into top 4 spots if they’re up to it, although that leaves little in the way of insurance if Rielly experiences some sophomore bumps in the...
With their final pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the Maple Leafs have selected big winger Pierre Engvall out of Frolunda in the SuperElit league.
All in all, the Maple Leafs have selected two Swedes, three Americans and a Russian in their six picks in the 2014 Entry Draft. It's the first instance we can find of the Leafs not drafting a single Canadian in an entry draft (although William Nylander was born in Canada, he moved to Sweden at 14 and competes for Sweden internationally). This pick follows the pattern of the Leafs turning over their 7th rounder...
The Maple Leafs have selected left winger Nolan Vesey from the South Shore Kings of the USPHL with their 158th overall draft selection. It is the Leafs' third consecutive pick of a player committed to playing American collegiate hockey next season.
The 6'1, 198-pound Massachusetts native, whose father Jim Vesey had a cup of coffee in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues, will play for Maine next season. Nolan's brother Jimmy was drafted in the third round by the Nashville Predators two years ago (more on his hockey family here). A March '95 birthdate, Vesey was passed over in...
The Maple Leafs have drafted centerman Dakota Joshua of Sioux Falls (USHL) with their 128th overall selection. A second consecutive American college kid selected after picking John Piccinich 103rd overall.
Joshua stands 6'2, 185-pounds and could play for Ohio State next season but may opt to stay another year in the USHL to further develop his offensive game before moving onto college hockey.
The #Leafs take a player I like a lot. Dakota Joshua. We had him ranked 76th overall - size, smarts and skill. Possible steal at this pick
— Mark Edwards (@MarkEdwardsHP) June 28, 2014
Big centers with skill are always...
The Maple Leafs have selected John Piccinich out of the USHL with their 103rd overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Piccinich is a 6'0, 190-pound right winger from New Jersey who is committed to Boston University for next season. He was the 135th ranked skater according to the Central Scouting Service's final rankings.
Boston University head coach David Quinn on Piccinich:
"Makes great plays in the offensive zone... strong on his skates and gets to the dirty areas... game translates well to college hockey... another guy who people will enjoy away from the rink."
Dave Morrison on John Piccinich:
"He's a real...
With their 68th overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the Maple Leafs have drafted Rinat Valiev of the Kootenay Ice in the Western Hockey League.
Valiev is a 6'1, 190-pound left-shot defenceman who was passed over in last year's draft. He turned 19 in May. Valiev was ranked as the 141st North American skater by Central Scouting last June but the Russian factor and a knee injury appeared to push him out of the draft picture altogether. He was invited to the Dallas Stars rookie camp last September.
Valiev's described as a two-way defenceman with good mobility and hockey...
Being that we rely on second-hand reports and highlight clips for many of these prospects, especially for those playing overseas, we can’t really evaluate new Leaf William Nylander on a game in-game out basis, but maybe we can all agree Dave Nonis, Dave Morrison and the draft team seemed to have the right philosophy when approaching their eighth overall pick last night.
After the draft, Nonis spoke about high-end skill up front as an area of weakness in contrast to a more loaded pipeline on the backend. He addressed the size concerns with a sound rationale and emphasized the...
"Nylander might be the most skilled player in the draft."
The Toronto Maple Leafs have selected Modo forward William Nylander with their eighth overall selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
The Maple Leafs have leaned on the expertise of Swedish scout Thommie Bergman in the selection of this high-upside forward. It should dispel any notion of the Leafs shying away from skilled upside in favour of size and safe projectability. The 5'11.5, 183-pound William Nylander owns tantalizing offensive upside, earning the label as perhaps "the most skilled dynamic forward" in the draft class according to Brendan Ross. William Nylander cemented...
It has been a beautifully busy day in the hockey world and the draft has not even started yet.
Here is a quick recap of the moves made:
Some thoughts in relation to the Leafs:
Nothing to complain about in regards to the Ryan Kesler trade. He was never going to come here, so there isn’t much to say to begin with. That’s a really nice move for Anaheim, by the way, who keeps Ottawa’s 10th overall pick in the process. Vancouver did the best they could in a really tough situation considering Kesler targeted only two teams; from their end, it...
Happy NHL Draft Day. Below is a quick interview between Alec Brownscombe and Peterborough Petes' head coach Jody Hull about projected top 10 pick, Nick Ritchie.
MLHS: Size can be a bit of a double edged sword when it comes to evaluating hockey prospects. Nice to have -- and much preferred, skill sets being equal -- but can sometimes allow a player to dominate a junior league in a way he won’t be able to in the pros. How much stock should we put in physical maturity when talking about 18 year old kids in general and Nick Ritchie specifically?
Or listen on SoundCloud here:
TSN 2014 NHL Mock Draft with Craig Button
Michael Dal Colle
Some real Toronto Maple Leafs news is desperately needed,
but in the meantime here is what is being said about the Leafs.
From Chris Johnston at Sportsnet:
Nikolai Kulemin is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and agent Gary Greenstin tells Sportsnet that he plans to make full use of the interview window, which opens Wednesday, to start looking for a new home for his client. Discussions with the Leafs on a new contract have been limited, according to Greenstin, who noted that there is still some time for talks to pick up with Toronto.
Another player that could...
Click on a column heading to sort by draft list
Or listen on SoundCloud here:
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Thanks to Brock Otten of the excellent OHL Prospects site for taking the time to answer some of our questions. Follow him on Twitter @BrockOtten.
MLHS: Do you foresee anyone climbing the board late in the process to sneak into the top 10?
Brock Otten: Anyone who reads my blog knows how I feel about Robby Fabbri. He's undersized, but because of the way he plays, I don't have fear that his skill set won't translate to the NHL level. He's been great all season for Guelph, but really only started to rise after his OHL playoffs MVP performance. If he...
One of the things we try to do in our analysis at MLHS is discuss possibilities for upcoming decisions facing the Maple Leafs in their pursuit of improving the organization. There is no perfect formula for building a winning team, so all avenues have to be explored from a multitude of angles.
A few weeks ago, I discussed the possibility of the Leafs moving up in the 2014 NHL draft and why it might make sense to do so. Trading for the top pick is extremely rare; although the first overall selection appears to be more in play than usual...
Former first overall pick in the 2011 WHL Draft, Jake Virtanen is likely my favourite non-center forward prospect within the Leafs range come the end of next month. While an imperfect prospect, the 6-foot-1, 209-pound Virtanen adds NHL-level tools for teams looking for goal-scoring ability. When asked to paint a picture of the Calgary Hitmen forward, 'speed' and 'mean' are front and center with the goal-scoring winger. He explodes into top speed with a quick first few strides, with an ability to beat defenders wide or burst into open scoring pockets. Utilizing his speed, he has a tendency to...
The race between Aaron Ekblad and Sam Bennett is incredibly close and either one could go first overall. Both have their fans. At different points this year, I flip/flopped between which one to rank first. Ultimately, I'm going with Aaron Ekblad. I think what really sold me on him was his performance at the WJCs where I felt like he was Canada's top defenseman. It's been a long time since we could say that Canada's top defenseman at the U20s was an 18 year old. I think the other thing that really impressed me this year was Aaron Ekblad's...
I was quite rough on Josh Ho-Sang last year, after what I would consider to be a disappointing rookie season (considering the hype he entered the league with). Ho-Sang played with a lot of frustration in his freshman year, forcing plays, committing turnovers, and demonstrated a severe case of tunnel vision. This season, most of those concerns were improved upon considerably. Quite frankly, I was very impressed with the progression of his game in 2013-14. Ho-Sang was a danger to create scoring chances nearly every time he hit the ice because he was able to display more poise and utilize his...