The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to pull brain trust from the talent pool in the OHL, adding Jim Paliafito of the Saganaw Spirit to the front office in the role of Director of Player Evaluation.
Mark Hunter (London Knights), Kyle Dubas (Sault Ste. Marie), Lindsay Hofford (London Knights), Wes Clark (Sault Ste. Marie) and now Jim Paliafito—from the old boys club to the OHL boys club. The Leafs could not be better prepared for the OHL prospects in the 2015 draft class and should have some good intel on who might be undervalued for that #24 overall pick, in particular.
Paliafito has a unique multi-sport background, including NFL player agent, representing Hall of Famers Lawrence Taylor, Anthony Munoz and Tony Dorsett before joining the Spirit as Head Scout in May, 2009. He took over the GM’s role in 2011; the team consistently made low-seed playoff appearances in his time as GM and has lost out in the first round three of the last four years, with one second round appearance in 2011-12.
Paliafito is well known as one of the hardest working GMs in the OHL according to contacts in the O, is close with Mark Hunter, and has a reputation as an excellent talent evaluator.
Saginaw’s top prospect for the 2015 draft, for those curious, is right-handed centerman Mitchell Stephens, who is a projected second round pick and played for the 2014-15 National Men’s Under-18 Team at the Ivan Hlinka. He scored four goals and six points in five games in the tournament.
A quick list of players that Paliafito drafted or traded for, who have gone onto play in the NHL:
Traded for: Dalton Prout, Ben Chiarot.
Drafted: Brandon Saad, Drafted Michael Sgarbossa, Vincent Trocheck, Jamie Oleksiak
A list of Saginaw Spirit players that have been drafted into the NHL under Paliafito:
2014 NHL Draft Class
- Dylan Sadowy – San Jose Sharks 3rd Round 71st overall
2013 NHL Draft Class
- Jimmy Lodge- Winnipeg Jets 3rd round, 84th overall
- Nick Moutrey- Columbus Blue Jackets 4th round, 105th overall
- Eric Locke- Buffalo Sabres 7th round, 189th overall
2012 NHL Draft Class
- Justin Kea- Buffalo Sabres 3rd round, 73rd overall
- Jake Paterson- Detroit Red Wings 3rd round, 80th overall
- Garret Ross- Chicago Blackhawks 5th round, 139th overall
2011 NHL Draft Class
- Jamie Oleksiak- Dallas Stars 1st round, 14th overall
- Brandon Saad – Chicago Blackhawks 2nd round, 43rd overall
- Vincent Trocheck – Florida Panthers 3rd round, 64th overall
- Anthony Camara – Boston Bruins 3rd round, 81st overall
- Josh Shalla – Nashville Predators 4th round, 94th overall
2010 NHL Draft Class
- John McFarland – Florida Panthers 2nd round, 33rd overall
- Brandon Archibald – Columbus Blue Jackets 4th round, 94th overall
- Ivan Telegin – Atlanta Thrashers 4th round, 101st overall
- Dalton Prout – Columbus Blue Jackets 6th round, 154th overall
2009 NHL Draft Class
- Jordan Szwarz – Phoenix Coyotes 4th round, 97th overall
- Edward Pasquale – Atlanta Thrashers 4th round, 117th overall
- Ben Chiarot – Atlanta Thrashers 4th round, 120th overall
- Cody Sol – Atlanta Thrashers 5th round, 125th overall