The 2017 NHL Draft is in the books and the Toronto Maple Leafs came away with seven new prospects, with a clear emphasis placed on defencemen.
Toronto Maple Leafs 2017 Draft Picks
Toronto Maple Leafs 2017 Draft Picks by Position
Toronto Maple Leafs 2017 Draft Picks by League
Mark Hunter on the 2017 Draft
On taking three defencemen in six picks on Day 2:
It wasn’t really our mandate. They fell to us. We felt they were the best player at that moment so we ended up taking the defencemen. Two big guys. It seemed like there were more big D in the draft this year. You don’t usually see right defence as much. It was one of those years. There were more D, and they fell at that moment to us.
Overall impressions on the draft:
I’m very happy about it. We got a goalie in the fourth that we liked. We got two defencemen in the first two picks. In general, we filled some holes. Now it’s time for our development department to take a hold and make these young men better.
On taking seven defencemen in the last two drafts:
Some of the kids – like the Greenway kid last year – are in school. He’ll take some time to develop as a hockey player. The O’Connell kid, who we drafted late out of St. Andrew’s College, is going to Penticton next year and then four years at BU. There is time for these young men to develop. We all know how long it takes defencemen to become NHL defencemen. We’ve got to be patient and we’ve got to develop them. Hopefully they improve.
On Eemeli Rasanen:
A big, strong guy that needs to develop his body yet. He’s a little inconsistent because his legs don’t carry that big body around. But he’s got a big shot. He played top pairing for Kingston. He’s got huge upside on his skill level. Of course, he needs to get stronger physically.
On Ian Scott:
A goalie that played on not a great team. His stats aren’t as good as they should be. His technique and his size and his quickness side to side is very good.
On Vladislav Kara:
A big strong winger that plays a two-way game and can handle pucks. He drives the net.
On Fedor Gordeev:
A big, strong defenceman who can dunk a ball. I don’t know if that means anything. He’s got a bomb. He can shoot a puck. He’s a big, strong guy. He’s got skill. He just needs to calm down and make better plays consistently on the ice.
On Ryan McGregor:
A young man that needs strength. He’s got hockey sense and he’s got skill. He didn’t have a great last year. We expected more out of him – myself and the scouting staff – but I really think he’s got some upside and that he’s going to take off next year.
On Ryan O’Connell:
A young man that is right in our backyard in St. Andrew’s. He’s going to Penticton and then to a good program in BU. This kid has a good upswing and can really skate. We’ll be patient with him and watch his development.
Lou Lamoriello on the 2017 Draft
On improving through the draft:
There is no question you’re better. You have players that you now have as assets as well as players that you’re developing. You have to be developing. As Mark said, he has seen each and every one of them, plus most of or scouts have. We feel very good about that because they know the type of people we want and they know the type of players we’re looking for. We’re better. Every team is better. It’s the same. Everybody feels really good today.
We put some size and strength in the lineup. As Mark said, we got a goaltender that we feel very good about. That’s all you can do at this point.
On the trade market:
First of all, you never come close to anything unless you get it done. You always try to make your team better. That’s our responsibility; that’s our job. There wasn’t a transaction that took place. Right now, we just go back and get ready.
On the price for a defenceman:
You as an organization have to determine what price you will pay for a player that you think can help you. Every transaction you make is for today with tomorrow in sight. With where we are as an organization, we have to make sure we’re doing that. We’ve said that right from the beginning. We’re in a process. We’re not going to try to jumpstart anything. We’re going to allow it to take its course. If, along the way, we can get better without hurting the future, we’re going to do that.
On the emphasis on defencemen in the draft with models like Nashville in mind:
We took some defencemen. We know it’s going to take longer than forwards do. But when you’ve got the ability to do that and have patience, you do it. We have a couple of young defencemen with the Marlies (Travis Dermott and Andrew Nielsen) who we don’t know how close they are until we see them next year. They’ve had outstanding years. What you want to do is continue that flow of players coming in in all areas. We took a goaltender this year who, as Mark said, had an off year. But with the talent and what we felt about him as a group, you make that decision. We took a goaltender last year (Joseph Woll) who had an outstanding year.
The more you can keep a farm system and a feeder system going, the better you are going to be as an organization.
On selecting Liljegren:
My take on him is the excitement that the scouting staff had. He’s a right-shot defenceman who has exceptional speed and handles the puck above average. The way the game is going with the speed and the way you push the play – he’s just an outstanding prospect. That’s what he is right now, like every other player that’s been drafted today.