Beginning with the 2011 Entry Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs made a minor but significant shift in their draft strategy. Among the typical hockey skills one would expect to be key in deciding who would become the future of the organization, the Leafs also began to prioritize individuals who were born much later in their draft year.
The theory was that by selecting individuals who were a few months younger than their peers it would give them more time to develop into professional players. By drafting younger players, they might also find a couple of "late bloomers" who, having been exposed to higher levels of competition at a younger age, would be able to take big steps forward in small periods of time as they physically and emotionally matured.
This past season, the Leafs 3rd round pick from the 2011 draft, Josh Leivo, did just that. Leivo more than doubled his output from his rookie season in the OHL and became a key piece of the Sudbury Wolves offence. Still just 19 years of age, the young winger has plenty of time to continue to grow and develop, and his progress from the winter moves him up 3 spots in our countdown.
The Leafs drafted Leivo off the strength of the second half of his 2010-11 season, where a significant majority of his 30 points were tallied. This past season, Leivo took on more responsibilities as a key member of Sudbury's attack. Playing primarily on the 1st line wing with OHL leading scorer Michael Sgarbossa, Leivo scored at over a point a game, with 32 goals and 73 points while appearing in all 66 games. Leivo and Sgarbossa led Sudbury's attack in the playoffs, scoring 3 points in 4 games as the Wolves were smothered defensively in a first-round sweep at the hands of the Brampton Batallion.
|Prior Rank||JP Nikota||PPP||Chemmy||SkinnyFish||birky||Plea From A Cat Named Felix||clrkaitken||Rank|
So far in the countdown we've seen a large amount of variance, with everyone seemingly receiving at least one vote that's quite different from the consensus of everyone else. Most of Leivo's hover around his actual position on the list. Most people moved Leivo up a couple of spots, but JP NIkota kept him where he had him last time, at #22.
I think I made a mistake in my rankings. Specifically, I've ranked Tyler Biggs at least one peg too high. You see, I've actually always thought Biggs was a terrible pick, and I've also been equally underwhelmed by his post-draft year numbers; in short, I don't think he should actually be ranked 21st on the list - and definitely not higher than Josh Leivo, as I have him ranked.Josh Leivo had a great post-draft year. He exerted exactly the kind of dominance that you would expect a future 3rd line NHLer to. He more than doubled his point total from his previous year in junior, and even got a look in a Marlies uniform. It's unlikely he'll develop into a top-six forward, as this year as his NHL equivalency only works out to 28 points assuming the same ice time, but he's not a prospect the team has to rush, either... not that they should 'rush' anyone.Leivo made reasonable progress this year. Hope to see him keep it up next season.