The Toronto Maple Leafs' 2009 NHL draft picks have been evaluated by Mark Seidel for the National Post and the resulting is grade is more than a little surprising.
Update: Seidel is the Chief Scout for the North American Scouting Service which is a competitor to the NHL's Central Scouting Service. I confused the two initially.
Toronto Maple Leafs Grade: A+
7th Nazem Kadri, F, London (OHL)
50th Kenny Ryan, F, USA Under-18 (USDP)
58th Jesse Blacker, D, Windsor (OHL)
68th Jamie Devane, F, Plymouth (OHL)
128th Eric Knodel, D, Philadelphia Jr. (US AAA)
158th Jerry D’Amigo, F, USA Under-18 (USDP)
188th Barron Smith, D, Peterborough (OHL)
Breakdown: The Leafs went with offensive skill for their first pick, but then chose what GM Brian Burke called "pick and axe men" who could make Toronto tougher if and when they develop into NHL players. Ryan is a grinder who admires Sean Avery, Devane is one of the toughest fighters in junior and two others are 6-foot-4 or taller.
Seidel Says: "One thing that John Ferguson, Cliff Fletcher and now Brian Burke deserve credit for is compiling one of the best scouting staffs in the NHL and their work showed this weekend … there haven't been a lot of days like this in Leafs history where they can feel that they are near the top of the class on Draft day, but this is one."- Posted Sports
Considering the reaction of so many Leafs fans it's nice to see a different perspective. I have a lot more material to get up from the draft in Montreal including audio, video, and some funny tidbits from my first venture into actual journalism. Considering the expectations prior to the draft (some were far from realistic in retrospect) knowing that a professional has a good initial reaction helps soothe the disappointment of not seeing the Leafs make the big splash that Burke had promised to work towards.
It's definitely difficult for fans to have an accurate view of the prospects selected as we can only rely on what is written by professionals and self-proclaimed experts as well as local beat writers, YouTube, and second-hand reports. In most cases, we'll never have seen the players or probably even heard their names mentioned. In reality, this ranking just means that the Leafs have, in the opinion of one scout, gathered excellent raw materials. As we saw with Dauost and The Falconer's analyses of drafting in the NHL the key component once you're out of the first round is the franchise's player development system. While the drafting is getting a lot of kudos it's still to be seen whether the player development team will be reaping the same plaudits within three to five years.