Welcome back. I’m happy to see none of you felt the need to take revenge for the almighty botchjob that was the 2000 draft by, say, commandeering a bulldozer or wrecking ball and laying waste to downtown Buffalo. Because that would be wrong and probably impossible to notice. I’ll admit I’ve never been to or seen Buffalo, but the impression I get from here is that it is effectively nothing more than a wasteland bereft of culture or sophistication, the prototype Bethesda used when they were constructing the world of Fallout 3. This might be incorrect, but I prefer it to the real world, which is often harsh and uncaring.As we saw last time, 2000 was not exactly a banner year for the Maple Leafs’ scouting staff, but the regular season performance was pretty good and getting eliminated by the Stanley Cup champions isn’t the worst way to end a year. 2001 was less impressive in general - Toronto scraped into the playoffs and were again eliminated by New Jersey in the second round, although whitewashing Ottawa in the opening series should bring a smile to all good Maple Leaf fans - and left the Leafs picking 17th.
Round 1, #17 Overall - Carlo COLAIACOVO
306 GP - 218 + 92 = 120, +6, 169 PIM
Good ol’ Splodeybones himself. I have to assume that the Toronto sports media splooged over Cola for being a local boy playing for the team he at least claimed to love as a child, although not too hard as a light breeze typically leaves him sidelined for up to a fortnight. Known as an impressive prospect, the constant grinding frustration that came from Cola having bones the consistency and structure of balsa wood meant he appeared in just 111 games for the Maple Leafs between 2002 and 2008, at which point he was dealt to the St. Louis Blues with Alex Steen in exchange for Lee "Desert Ninja" Stempniak. Of course, since arriving in St. Louis he’s averaged 65 games and 29 points a year, so one has to wonder if maybe part of his inability to stay fit had something to do with living in the pressure cooker Toronto is for it’s players.
Still On The Board: As with Mikael Tellqvist, he might have been the best player available. Colby Armstrong (21) or Tim Gleason (23) are the only others that spring to mind, and they seem like lateral moves.
Verdict: Neutral. His time in Toronto was disappointing, but he appears to have picked things up recently with the change in scenery, and it's worth noting also that he probably was the best player available.
Round 2, #39 Overall - Karel PILAR
90 GP - 6 + 23 = 30, -2, 42 PIM
You can’t help but feel for Pilar, really. His career first jumped the rails in 2002, when he contracted a rare viral infection that attacked his heart and put him on the shelf for more or less the year - he played in 24 games, split between Toronto and St. John’s - but looked promising the year after and appeared in 50 games with the Maple Leafs. He went back to the Czech Republic during the lockout, but relapsed and missed most of the two seasons after that, managing ten games with the Marlies in 2007. Scoring 26 points in 45 games for the Chicago Wolves, Atlanta’s AHL affiliate, in 2008 proved there was still talent there, but he left America to play in the KHL and the Czech league, where he remains. Being on pace for just over 30 points in 2003, Pilar is very much a ‘what could have been’ story, and it’s a shame we’ll never get to find out.
Verdict: The Pilar situation is tricky. My initial verdict was that he was a bust but by no fault of his own, because if you strip away the emotional factors we got ninety games out of our second-round pick, but I'm thinking it might be fairer to rule this a push. Pilar was shaping up nicely, but we don't have enough information to fairly judge how he'd have developed.
Round 3, #65 Overall - Brendan BELL
101 GP - 7 + 21 = 28, -18, 51 PIM
Without looking, anybody know how many games Bell played as a Leaf? 32, it turns out. My guess was much higher, although that’s likely because he spent nearly three full seasons in the AHL. He got traded to Phoenix in 2007 as part of the rather ill-advised deal for Yanic Perreault - the second-round pick that was included in that deal eventually became Roman Josi, who’s probably a better player than Bell ever was - and I forgot he existed until Cox Bloc included him on their list of the ten worst skaters to play for the Leafs since the lockout. He was only tenth, yes, but he beat out such illustrious competition as Garnet Exelby and Mark Bell (whose career was doomed when he got Toskala stink on him) for the honour. Recently latched on with New York, after playing in Switzerland last year.
Verdict: Did you not hear me? He was judged worse than Garnet Exelby, who was Brett Lebda before Lebda was Lebda. BUST.
Round 3, #82 Overall - Jay HARRISON
130 GP - 4 + 14 = 18, -5, 140 PIM
See, the same thing goes for Harrison. I blame EHM. Because I saw the big lug’s face so much, I got deluded into thinking he was a much more important part of the team than what he actually was (i.e. a plug who played exactly twenty games as a Maple Leaf). With scarcely any offensive prowess and defensive talent that GUARANTEES a healthy scratch spot on the Carolina Maple Leafs, he seems doomed to toil forever behind juggernauts of the blueline like Derek Joslin and Bryan Allen. A pick, surely, well spent.
Verdict: Neutral, as he wasn't quite as offensively terrible as Bell, but neutral leaning heavily towards bust.
Round 3, #88 Overall - Nicolas CORBEIL
Hyup. Had a couple of cups of coffee at the AHL level, but has spent most of his career in the ECHL and currently plays in the LNAH. No, I’ve never heard of it either.
Still On The Board: Stephane Veilleux (93), Patrick Sharp (94)
Round 5, #134 Overall - Kyle WELLWOOD
373 GP - 68 + 105 = 173, +8, 30 PIM
Fat joke, fat joke, Kyle Wellfed, fat joke, reports of earthquake due to Wellwood landing in the area and there we go, enough of that. With Wellwood, I think we did the same thing we’ve done more recently with Tyler Bozak - read waaaaay too much into something with a small sample size and instantly decree him the Leafs’ #1 centre now and forever. In Wellwood’s case, the 42 points in 48 games in 2006 and 2007 left us certain he’d be a competitor for years and we collectively ignored the little voices that suggested maybe it was just a flash in the pan, which of course it was. His scoring totals dropped from 0.88 points/game to 0.36, and he was waived at the end of the year. You know the story from there - Vancouver, Vancouver, Russia, San Jose and now Winnipeg, as the comeback tour returns to Canada. (purely because his poutine stockpile has run dry and he’s only interested in refilling it, sources* close to him claim)
*Source may or may not be fictional
Still On The Board: Kevin Bieksa (151), but it’s fair to say Wellwood was probably the top player still available at the time.
Verdict: Definitely a win. He was a fifth-round pick and, whichever way you slice it, his numbers are pretty good going for somebody who was likely a complete flier (British betting slang for ‘wild fucking guess’) and could easily have been picked by throws darts at a board.
Round 6, #168 Overall - Maxim KONDRATIEV
Round 6, #183 Overall - Jaroslav SKLENAR
Round 7, #198 Overall - Ivan KOLOZVARY
Round 7, #213 Overall - Jan CHOVAN
Round 8, #246 Overall - Tomas MOJZIS
Round 9, #276 Overall - Mike KNOEPFLI
Two of these players scored NHL time; Mojzis had cups of coffee with Vancouver, Minnesota and St. Louis and currently plays in Finland, while Kondratiev appeared forty times, the majority with New York in 2005. The other four? Nada. It’s to be expected from the later rounds, although a surprising amount of names you’ll recognise were drafted within a few picks of those above.
Verdict: Bust. Possibly more so than the later rounds in 200 because there was obviously talent still there.
Career Players: Two, with Jay Harrison probably capable of becoming one as well.
Grade: D+. Two career players in twelve picks is a pretty lousy batting average and the players we did pick didn’t make much of themselves in Toronto. Yes, Pilar’s condition was a real blow and Wellwood was a nice find, but our first-round pick disappointed time after time and our three third-round picks were mediocre at best. I’m willing to be convinced otherwise, but I don’t see how you do it.