On a night where the stars were aligned for the first-pick lottery, where a Leafs loss coupled with Phoenix and Los Angeles wins would give the Leafs a chance at the #1 pick overall, a night where Phoenix and LA both did their part … the Maple Leafs took the high road and won the game.
The end result is Toronto finishes with the 7th pick in the draft, entering this week’s lottery draw.
Now, it is conceivable that the Maple Leafs could somehow win the lottery, and move from the 7th pick to the 3rd, as all 14 non-playoff teams are entered into it.Â However, we’re talking a 4.7 % chance of that happening according to the weighted lottery system, so any Leafs fans holding their breath on that one will probably have bluer faces than their jerseys come lottery day.
A safer bet might be to start looking at who might be available at #7 overall.
Svensson-Paajarvi, Duchene, Schenn, Kane, and Cowen are currently ranked 3 – 7 by ISS.Â Of course, we all know that the draft never goes in the order of the ISS rankings, as many teams tend to draft according to their depth needs as opposed to best available.Â Which means any of those players could technically be available come the Leafs’ pick.Â Notables such as Schroeder (ranked 12), Ellis (13), Kassian (19) and Morin (28) could also be available in the 7 spot.
As for the Leafs’ final game itself, let’s look at the positives.Â Once you get past the fact that they kept themselves out of the Tavares race, there are actually a few good things to come of this win:
- They played hard to the end.Â Â Paul Maurice was a good coach in his own right, and is a terrific person, but how often could you say his teams played as hard as they could every night?Â Â Ron Wilson’s greatest accomplishment with this team is the effort they exude in every game, on nearly every shift.
- Boyd.Â Freaking. Devereaux.Â Â What a way to cap off the season.Â Â Here’s an NHL veteran, stuck in the minors all season because nobody would take him off the Leafs’ hands.Â Â He didn’t complain, he worked hard, and Brian Burke rewarded him with a late season call-up in which he has played very well.Â Â Devereaux is one of the few veterans who I would personally like to see remain on this team.Â He’s a good mentor for the young players, has a team-first attitude, and still one heck of a good defensive player.Â The perfect 12th or 13th forward, in my books.Â It should be noted that I see Brad May in the exact same light, and wouldn’t mind seeing him back either.
- Martin Gerber could still be a decent goaltender in this league … provided that somebody gets around to reminding him that he is not Marty Turco.Â Â Keep him from handling the puck away from the crease, and you could have yourself a fairly decent netminder.Â Â A Toskala-Gerber tandem is an idea that I am (slowly) beginning to warm up to … but only if we’re talking about a one or two year deal.
- Nicklas Hagman proved again that, without a doubt, he has been one of the best Maple Leaf signings in years, a perfect fit in Ron Wilson’s forecheck-driven system.Â Â Some questioned the size of his contract, but he earned every dime this season with his solid two-way play.
- Lee Stempniak had a nice game.Â He has shown up in a big way over the past 10 games, and may have earned himself a spot on next season’s roster.Â Â Given the way that he has come on lately, I would be willing to give him a mulligan on this season and see what he can do next year with (hopefully) better players around him.Â Â After all, the Leafs do desperately need more right-handed shots up front.
- Luke Schenn was taking more offensive chances than usual during this game, often pinching deep into the offensive zone, and managing to recover well when necessary.Â Â Watching him lately, 40 points one day doesn’t seem out of the question at all.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Maple Leafs beat the snot out of the Senators … again.Â What’s that, 4-1-1 this season?Â And here I thought the Senators were supposed to be the better team, on a roll and playing like champs under their new coach.Â What happened, SensFan?Â Â You lost to a Leafs team whose fanbase actually wanted them to lose to you!Â Â How the heck do you manage that???!!!
So what did you think of this game?Â What/who makes you look forward to next season?Â And will we give SensFan even more reason to cry in 2009-10?
BTW I will be posting a season wrap-up with my final thoughts on each Maple Leafs player who saw NHL action this season, during the upcoming week.