Foreword: After a couple months on hiatus, I felt the need to comment on the Leafs selections in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. I’m going to try and rebuild LeafsWire, so if you or anyone you know wants to come along for the ride, don’t hesitate to get in contact. Leave a comment below, or send me a tweet (@LeafsWire) and I will get back to you ASAP.
The Leafs significantly improved their depth on the blueline by taking a pair of high-profile young men in the first two rounds. They were also able to add some decent forward prospects with their later picks, and rounded it out with a Thommie Bergmann hand-chosen Swedish defender. All in all, here’s how it shook out:
- Morgan Rielly, 5th overall (Defense, 6’0″, 197lbs)
- Matt Finn, 35th overall (Defense, 6’0″, 197lbs)
- Dominic Toninato, 126th overall (Forward, 6’1″, 165lbs)
- Connor Brown, 156th overall (Forward, 5’11″, 170lbs)
- Ryan Rupert, 157th overall (Forward, 5’9″, 186lbs)
- Viktor Loov, 209th overall (Defense, 6’3″, 190lbs
If you click on any of the above links, you’ll be directed to their respective profile pages in the leagues in which they play. You’ll be able to scrutinize their statistics and come to your own conclusions, but I will warn you that the numbers tell only half the story. Never make your assumptions based on numbers alone.
I’m not going to pretend that I am a scout, or have an eye for talent, so I’ll withhold ‘scouting report’ type comments.
All in all, Burke was able to restock the cupboards this weekend by adding 6 prospects to our system. Although typically Burke looks to add size with his draftees, only two were 6’1″ or taller. By adding two premium defenders, the Leafs have stockpiled enough prospect depth at the position in order o facilitate a trade for a forward if need be. *EDIT* The Toronto Maple Leafs have since traded D Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers for F James van Riemsdyk. In adding Brown and Rupert, the Leafs have added some more sandpaper-type players that will eventually have a shot at slotting in on the bottom two lines. Loov will be a darkhorse pick, much like the Stalberg and Gunnarsson picks of the last decade. Toninato is a lanky, skilled player but is definitely more of a project pick. I think he’s pretty boom/bust in that regard.
Here are my ratings for each pick based on players skillset and comparibles, as well as organizational needs:
Morgan Rielly (8.5/10) : I would have wanted a forward here, but you have to respect and admire Rielly’s skillsets and ceiling. His addition also gives the Leafs some depth on the blueline, which they may be able to parlay into some forward help.
Matt Finn (7/10) : Finn’s not considered overly offensive or defensive, but rather a smart two-way defender. He’s considered a steal at 35 by many draft experts, so you have to be content knowing this but, like Rielly, unless some defensive chips are moved out for help up front, this won’t pay dividends anytime soon.
Dominic Toninato (5/10) : Toninato is a skilled center, but a little on the smaller side. He’s a project pick and also playing his way through first the USHL and then the NCAA, so he won’t be playing professionally for a while. He’ll need to fill out his frame a bit more as well, but if his offensive side develops nicely, it’ll help pave his way to the big leagues eventually.
Connor Brown (6/10) : Brown was drafted to fill a need down the road for the Leafs, and that would be the physical, tough forward in the bottom ranks. He’s a tad diminutive, but with players like this, it’s the heart and determination that counts. See Brown, Mike.
Ryan Rupert (7/10) : Seems like I’m not the only one extremely excited about this pick. Like Brown, Rupert is a smaller forward but his level of compete and physicality make up for all his physical shortcomings. Burke absolutely gushed about him in his post-draft interview. Plus, the Leafs have invited his twin brother Matt to their prospect camp, so it could be double the trouble somewhere down the line.
Viktor Loov (4/10) : As a seventh round pick, Loov’s journey to the NHL will be difficult to say the least, but never say never in regards to late round Euro picks by Thommie Bergmann. As another defender, and a 7th rounder at that, Loov only scores a 4 but I’d be ecstatic to be proven wrong in 5 years time.
On Wednesday morning the Leafs announced that they have called up forward Carter Ashton with their most recent plethora of injuries from last night’s game. We can all breathe a sigh of relief as the “savior” to our playoff dreams has now come. All kidding aside, Leaf fans will get to watch one of our youngest prospects play in his first NHL game of what hopes to be a long and successful career.
Since being acquired for defenceman Keith Aulie at the trade deadline, Ashton has looked great with the Marlies putting up a goal and an assist, as well as 8 penalty minutes in 3 games played. It is not known yet where the 20 year old will suit up in terms of line arrangements, however it is speculated that a 2nd line role alongside centerman Mikhail Grabovski is where he may be suiting up. Some may wonder why Nazem Kadri or Joe Colborne failed to get the call instead; but the matter is simple, they had their shot and Ashton has had a wonderful year in the AHL, so it is his turn. Not to mention, Ashton brings a physical dimension to his game which Burke and Carlyle love.
Puck drop tonight is at 7:30 pm et as the Leafs visit the Pens. Lets hope Ashton can spark the team as these next few games are essentially playoff games and must win scenarios in order to get back into a playoff position. GO LEAFS GO.
With the Leafs currently displaying the exact opposite of their usual stretch-run brilliance, Many fans are looking toward the future, and more immediately, the 2012 NHL Draft, to be held at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. Despite the fact that the curtains are not technically down on the current season, The dramatic fall by the Maple Leafs since the start of the new year has brought the fan base from dreams of a playoff spot, to dreams of filling a gaping hole in the top-6, with a legitimate talent for the future. Over the course of the months leading up to the draft, I’ll use at least one of my posts each week to highlight potential draft targets of the Blue and White, and shed a little light on the next group of possible Maple Leafs.
It’s fitting, I believe, to start my profile series off with a player that will (potentially) fill the team’s most glaring need. The ever-elusive, often talked about, number one center. It’s often stated that you can rarely trade a commodity as highly sought after as a #1 center, and that holds true, for the most part. It’s extremely rare that a player like Joe Thornton or Jeff Carter becomes available. We’ve seen it happen, as illustrated in the previous examples, but once again, deals involving these prizes rarely become available.
We start at the top, with a player that could easily be in the discussion for the top two picks in the draft, if not for suffering a serious MCL injury at the beginning of the 2011/2012 OHL regular season. Sarnia Sting star center, Alexander Galchenyuk, was picked 1st overall in the 2010 OHL Priority Draft. Galchenyuk, as his name would suggest, is of Russian descent, although he was born in Milwaukee, while his father played pro hockey for the Admirals of the IHL. Before Alex would turn 16, he lived in Italy, Germany, and the United States.
Before being selected by the Sting, Galchenyuk made his name in the Midwest Elite Hockey League, for the Chicago Young Americans. In his single season in the league (as a 15 year old), Galchenyuk recorded 44 goals and 43 assists, for 87 points in just 38 games. Entering his rookie year in the OHL, Galchenyuk generated a ton of buzz, being selected as a key piece to begin a resurgence for the Sting, after a 17-win 2009/10 campaign. Alex wasted little time making an impact, registering 31 goals and 52 assists, for an 83 point rookie campaign, alongside fellow rookie sensation, Nail Yakupov. Galchenyuk was selected to the 1st team All-Rookie squad for the OHL, and finished second in rookie scoring behind only Yakupov.
Prior to the start of the 2011/12 regular season, Galchenyuk suffered a potentially season ending injury, when his skate stuck in a rut, in a pre-season game against the Windsor Spitfires in early October. The injury; a tear to his medial collateral ligament, will inherently raise questions in the eyes of management teams across the NHL, but much like Tampa’s 6th overall pick in 2010, Brett Connolly, it’s expected that his talent and skill will keep him in the top-10 of the draft. Here is video, courtesy of Cogeco TV Ontario, of the injury itself:
Despite missing the entire 2011/12 season to date, Galchenyuk is expected to return for the playoffs, and will be expected to once again find his game. I look for Alex to be chosen between picks 4-9. Even though a knee injury of the caliber Alex suffered can be a major set-back, there are few players available in this draft that are able to match the pure skills and talent possessed by the young Russian.
Here are a few videos of who I believe should be the Leafs’ #1 priority come draft day, whether or not in takes some wheeling and dealing to get him in the fold.