I Dream of Draft Day

We are just over a day away from the beginning of the season so it's time to make predictions for the upcoming season. Throughout the day we have brought you a number of previews and the latest to step up to the plate is The Muppet. He's directly on the front lines of the digital Battle of Ontario so keep him in your thoughts. He's stuck on his iPhone (fancy schmancy) so I've posted his words below:

 

Being a Toronto Maple Leaf fan these last few years has been tough. No, scratch that. It’s been more like having a red hot copper wire fed through your nostril into the back of your eye socket while you’re being repeatedly slapped in the face by a crack whore. If you don’t agree, at least in principle, you’re probably not as committed as a fan as you should be.

That being said, when a grave Cliff Fletcher post trade-deadline promised us a complete decimation of the team and a few years of losing bad most of us knew inherently, even if reluctantly at first, that it was the right thing to do.  The entire franchise was mired in a hopeless state of never-enough. It was time for all of us to nod solemnly when his sermon spoke of a team that would look younger and less skilled come opening day 2008. In the end, Cliff was a man of his word.

Today, and in the months to follow, enough will be said about this year's edition. I aim to offer a perspective a little further down the road when, in my opinion, the team will have the chance to really set the tone going into the next decade of Toronto Maple Leaf hockey.

The Leafs have their defensive cornerstone in Luke Schenn. That much is obvious. Now what the team really needs is an offensive one. We have all heard that John Tavares’ rank as the best prospect available next year is in jeopardy thanks to challenger Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman -  however none of us should care about that. We need a Center. A Winger, at the very least.  The bad news is that Toronto is no lock for finishing last overall and getting our pick of the crop. We have some grim challengers. The Islanders, for one; Atlanta; Los Angeles; St Louis (although I don’t think they’ll be as bad as advertised). Plus, one or maybe two other teams who will surprise us and really, really suck.

If the Leafs can’t wrangle dead last from the cold grip of the aforementioned we can still do very well drafting 2nd through 5th.

Here are the current Top 5 draft prospects for next year:

1. JOHN TAVARES, C, Ht/Wt:6/199 lbs

2. VICTOR HEDMAN, D, Ht/Wt:6.05/211 lbs

3. JARED COWAN, D, Ht/Wt:6.05/216 lbs

4. MATT DUCHENE, C, Ht/Wt:5.11.5/196 lbs

5. BRAYDEN SCHENN, C, Ht/Wt:6/196 lbs

Tavares without a doubt will be special. Duchene, a Peterborough lad, was captain of WJ Team Canada and has 5 points in 5 games so far for the Battalion this year. Then there’s Brayden Schenn. Imagine the Leafs finish 25th in the NHL and have the chance to take the brother of Luke in the same draft position?  It’s storybook type stuff and he looks to be a damn fine player. More importantly, if he’s anything like Luke he’s a good guy and born leader. Not bad for 5th overall.

Whoever the Leafs choose, I just hope they covet personality as much as they do skill.

As the Silver Fox told us, it’s going to be a long season and there will be losses. The reality of that starts Thursday and it’s going to be difficult at times to be a fan. But late next June when the Leafs send their head scout to the podium in the first 15 minutes of the draft, it will all be very worth it.

Enjoy the Season.

The Muppet.

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