FanPost

The Leafs Secret Sauce... And Who They'll Draft From Europe.

PSYCH OUT THE DRAFT.

Want to know which Europeans the Leafs are going to draft?

Of course you do.

But before we begin, you people are too stressed. Say hey.

So. We’re going to take all that work we did on how the Leafs drafted in Europe, and use it to identify who the Leafs are gonna draft from Europe this year.

How? Well, we're going to extract the half-dozen screens (or "filters" or "biases" or "preferences") that Leaf scouts and Leaf GMs have actually been using to make their picks.

Then we’re going to apply these same screens to this year’s potential European draft selections. We will set the screens so that every single one of our past Top 3 round draft picks [over 40 years] can make it through, but with no unnecessary tightness, or ridiculous loosening.

To re-emphasize that point - because I think it has some importance - the use of just these half-dozen screens FITS EVERY TOP 100 PICK THE LEAFS HAVE EVER MADE FROM EUROPE.

In other words, it is extremely stable over time - and has made it through 12 GMs.

And... there's no funny stuff, or only catching 2 out of 3. It catches every. single. one.

When applied to this year’s draft, the effect is even more interesting. Without adding in any personal information, or information about on-ice performance, these screens eliminate 75% of the Leafs potential 2015 European picks from further consideration.

Which leaves us with a very short list of which Europeans the Leafs would be interested in.

For this year’s draft, fewer than 40 players make it through, out of 160 reviewed.

What I’m saying here is... that the Leafs drafting screens [none of which measure on-ice performance, BTW, but which relate to size, nationality and the like]... remove 75% of the potential talent pool from consideration. And this likely occurs even before they sit down for serious discussion of individual prospects.

Now, once we have the short-list of ~40 players, we will then apply the ratings of the major scouting systems to allocate these players into 3 bins - 1st rounders, 2nd-3rd-4th rounds, and Late rounds.

Surprisingly, this method actually cuts through a tonne of possibilities and actually throws up the 1, 2 or 3 European kids the Leafs will be considering at any point in the draft.

Obviously, we can’t tell precisely whether the Leafs will pick Player X, because other teams get to make selections too, and that messes up the order. Plus, we don’t know which Canadian and American kids are in the mix. And plus, there are always personal/character reasons internal to the Leafs scouting system which can up or down-rate a player.

But it WILL give us the short-list for this year’s picks.

Unless....

Unless the Leafs have actually, finally, made some major changes in how they draft, and where they see the team going.

And so, if you see names picked by the Leafs that AREN’T on the list generated below, that is an extremely strong [and likely good] signal that the team is headed in a new direction.

Because so far? Over 40 years? It’s held. And it’s held into what is now its TWELTH change of GMs.

So the system has had some staying power.

THE CLASS OF 2015.

Say hello to... this year’s draft class.

Big picture, while this isn’t the best European draft class ever, it’s doesn’t look half-bad, with at least 20 Europeans basically guaranteed to go in the Top 3 rounds, and another dozen knocking on the door. Here are some of the bigger names you may have read about (scored by Scott’s averaged rankings):

# 6. Ivan Provorov. Powerful Russian D-man playing in the WHL. Hits, carries the puck, shoots. Lotta Leaf love.

#10. Mikko Rantanen. Big Finnish forward, already playing - and already scoring - in their men’s league.

#11. Pavel Zacha. Big Czech forward - but also all kinds of skill - playing in the OHL.

#15. Yevgeni Svechnikov. Big Russian winger, great puck-handling, shot, already came over, in the Q.

#27. Oliver Kylington. Slighter Swedish D-man, great skater, bit of a scrambled year. Record-setting 2013-14.

There are others, often highly-skilled, but regarded as perhaps too small or as having some holes in their game, who are ranked a bit less high. Players such as Dmytro Timashov playing in the Q, or the huge Alexander Dergachyov from Russia, and the two Sebastien Ahos, and a Forsberg, and a Franzen and many many more.

And it’s entirely possible that the Leafs could walk away from the draft in a few days with 1-2-3 of these players.

40 YEARS IN THE HOLE.

As quickly and precisely as I can, I’m going to list the half-dozen screens/filters/biases which our previous posts showed us the Leafs are likely using. And I’m going to focus on our picks from the 1st 3 rounds, because that let’s us define the filters more tightly, and also, because the players picked early have much greater worth to the organization.

For starters, there have only been 17 European picks by the Leafs in the Top 3 rounds, over these past 40 years. Even in the last 20 years, with full access to an expanding European talent pool, we’ve only taken 13 picks in the Top 3 rounds. So the odds-makers would say that, on average, we’re only likely to see 1 European pick in these rounds. Here are the past 17 with the key, screenable variables listed:

4.0.png

Now, a word on the screens/filters/biases/preferences.

All teams not only rate potential picks by how they perform ON the ice, but also by gathering a series of other personal as well as contextual information, and then... weighing it. Screening.

  • A player’s size, for instance, and how they are likely to develop physically is an obvious one. Each team will have its own sense of what minimum size requirements make the best sense. Similarly, with a player’s age and a sense of his likely development path.
  • Teams will also weigh in personality and social variables. A player’s "character" and lifestyle off the ice may be relevant. As may their family dynamics. A crazy parent acting as a kid’s agent can be entirely relevant to making investment decisions worth tens of millions of dollars over a lifetime.
  • More widely, players from a particular country may be screened because of wider political events. For example, where the activities of the KHL weigh in on how Russian players are rated.
  • Other screens may not be so explicit. They may simply be an that a team has a shared hockey culture, and team "style." For example, a player may be regarded as not playing "our style" of hockey, and thus be down-rated. And again, there is a logic here, as teams need to make sure players mesh with their systems.
  • Finally, some screens are never actually discussed - because they are invisible to those in the room. For example, the absence of a strong scouting presence [or strong voice at the table] for players from a particular country means their cases may never get made adequately, or even, at all.

In our posts on the Leafs scouting efforts in Europe, we identified a half-dozen such screens. Let’s now pull them out, define them, and then... get to the fun part, applying them to the draft to come.

But first, maybe the greatest song from the band that did "Time Has Come Today."

THE LEAFS 4 BIG SCREENS.

#1. Size. There is no way to NOT see how heavily the Leafs have screened their top European draft picks for size. Antropov 6’ 6". Posmyk 6’ 5". Five guys at 6’ 4". Two 6’ 3’s. Three at 6’ 2". And of the guys shorter than this? Well... they weighed 225, 210, 205, 200. Size matters to the Leafs, and has for decades. So, we’ll use a screen for size, set according to how the Leafs have actually drafted.

#2A. Geographic Hole: Finland. Our earlier reviews made clear that Finnish picks have been effectively screened out by the Leafs. This need not be conscious, but can simply be an unintended consequence of our Swedish scouts being much stronger than the Finnish voices. With the result that - when there are only a limited number of draft slots available - fewer Finns are moved forward as strongly as the more heavily-scouted, and connected, Swedish kids.

#2B. Geographic Hole: Swedes? Swedes. Even with this, potential Swedish picks have a difficult time with the Leafs. As discussed in our last post, the Leafs have never taken a Swedish-born forward in the 1st two rounds of the draft, and only one D-man. Modin was selected in the 3rd round, and Jonsson was the only Swedish D-man who made it anywhere into the Top 3 rounds. And even during selections in later rounds, the Leafs Swedish selections have historically faced pressures to be extra-large.

#2C. Geographic Hole: Moscow & Russia. There is an even larger geographic areas within Europe where the Leafs, historically, will not draft. For 25 years, the Leafs have almost completely avoided picking Russian players from the hockey heartland of that nation - Moscow and the surrounding, core Russian territory. On the face of it, this sounds bizarre, but the "hole" has simply been hidden behind hockey media’s sloppy habit of referring to any pick from the former USSR as being from "Russia."

For example, Toronto has made 25 picks over the years from what we now call "Russia." But in fact, 5 were from the Ukraine. 3 from Kazakhstan. And 2 from the Belarus. These nations not only have very different hockey development systems, but very different political systems surrounding the players.

Are these 10 picks unusual? Well, yes, in fact. Because while the Leafs form just 3% of the NHL, they have drafted 20% of all the Ukrainian picks, over 15% of all the Kazakhstan picks and 10% of all the Belarussians. At that point, with 3 regions in a row, questions begin to arise.

And then, the pattern begins to extend. Two more Leaf picks come from the more distant world of the "Stans," such as Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. These regions are officially part of the Russian system, but are not so tightly wound into it culturally and politically as is Moscow.

Now, it's important to note that these odd distinctions can make good sense for a team, because:

a) Players can be much easier to pull out of some regions than others; and,

b) Pulling players out of different regions means dealing with (and often, angering) very different hockey organizations, or wealthy owners.

That is, dealings with teams in the other regions carry a different set of risks/rewards than dealing head on with the power structure in Moscow, and with its big clubs.

And the pattern continues. The Leafs have picked liberally from the regions far to the East of the Urals, and from the extreme North. Plus 4 players off the "rebel" Togliatti team [ a team which led a very public campaign against Moscow’s dominance over Russian hockey.]

And most critically, we only dared pull our 5 top players off Moscow teams (Borschevsky, Berezin, Mironov, Markov and Kudashov) during the 1991-95 window after the Soviet Union crumbled. And at that time, every NHL team was raiding these ex-Soviet teams, even the strongest ones. That was the only such time the Leafs have taken these teams on, head on. And even then, the Leafs raided after the other clubs, and for much lesser players.

This pattern of avoidance is so strong that over 25 years, the Leafs have only drafted one (1) Russian player from Moscow and the Russian heartland [outside of the USSR-collapse years.] [A goalie named Kulikov, in the 7th round of 1999, drafted off a 2nd-tier team in Moscow.] So. 1 Russian from the entire Moscow + surrounding region. Out of all the hockey talent from that area.

In sum, no matter the round, since the Russians have recovered power and control over their game in the mid-1990’s, the Leafs have simply not wanted to confront the central Russian hockey apparatus head-on. [Which is, in is own way, an absolutely mind-blowing story, and one which needs its own further development.] Numerous reasons for this can be suggested, but I’ll leave that discussion for another time.

#3. Age. Another screen we have seen repeatedly is the preference the Leafs have for drafting European over-agers. While Ihnacak was Draft+7 after defecting, even high picks such as Freddie Modin were Draft+1 in 1994, Nik Kulemin was actually Draft+2 in 2006, and just last year, Valiev was a year over-age. So - combined with the dozens of similar over-age Leaf picks in later rounds - there is a definite preference for over-agers.

Picking players when they are older is essentially a risk-avoidance mechanism. You are more sure of the kind of player you are going to get - in size, attitude, etc. However, you also greatly reduce your chance at any high-end reward, as high-talent players are more likely to have been identified and drafted earlier [especially given 29 competing teams.]

#4A. CanadianContent: Played Here. Another screen is the Leafs preference for Europeans who have played in Canada. Valiev was a recent example, an unlikely pick if he stayed with the Bars Kazan Jr. team in the Russian MHL. The obvious reasons for a European kid to come to the CHL [or similar league] is to show their willingness to come over and play in the NHL, and to enable more direct scouting by Canadian and North American-based scouts.

#4B. CanadianContent: Family History. For William Nylander and Alex Steen there was an additional, X-factor. If they had simply been regular Swedish kids, with their usual size and stats - but no Canadian links - it is almost impossible to imagine them drafted in the 1st Round by the Leafs. But having famous NHL and Canadian roots - and being seen by North American scouts since they were kids - clearly enhanced their chances of being drafted in a Top round.

There are, of course, other influences and preferences, but most of the ones I attempted to break out were too weak to use as solid screens for these purposes.

BE A LEAF DRAFT PICK!

We will now set our 4 major screens - for Size, Age, Region and Canadian Content - at a level loose enough to allow each of our 17 existing Top 3 round picks through, over the full 40 year window, but no looser.

Now, rather than simply making the weights into a boring +1 or -1 system or using a 1-10 scale, I’ve tried to convert some to more easily understood equivalents. As follows.

To be drafted in the Top 3 rounds by the Toronto Maple Leafs:

1. You must be at least 6’ 3" tall or weigh 205 pounds to have access.

2A. If you are from Finland, you are barred from the 1st three rounds.

2B. From Sweden? You may enter, but your official height shrinks by 1 inch, and you have just lost 10 lbs.

2C. From Moscow or the surrounding Russian region? Barred from the 1st three rounds.

2C1. From the remainder of the former-USSR? The height bar was just raised by 1 inch.

3. Now, if you stay in Europe and re-enter the draft a year later, you will be assumed to fill out and add 10 lbs.

4A. If you attempt to access by playing in the CHL or other North American league, congratulations! You have just received an all-access NHL pass with all geographic restrictions erased. Plus... using our new scales, you will be assumed to have gained 10 lbs.

4B. Son of a former European who became an NHL star? Welcome! You have just been fast-tracked past ALL obstacles - size, geographic or other - and will receive full consideration for 1st round consideration.

And there needs to be a Barry White clause. Cause you know you'd draft him. If he asked.

Now, as I say, every European the Leafs have drafted in the 1st three rounds over 40 years has passed this test.

But does it knock a lot of European kids out? I'll say. As in, 75% of this year's class. Before they've even set foot on the ice.

Here's a quick test. Applied to last year's 1st round picks, the Leafs would ONLY have considered Draisaitl (who barely sneaks in with his size plus having played in the CHL) plus Nylander (for family reasons only.) But the list of players that would not have made it through the Leafs' screens included Pastrnak, Ehlers, Fiala, Vrana and in fact, every other 1st round European pick.

And in 2013? We wouldn’t have seen Barkov or Ristolainen (Finnish), Burakowsky, Lindholm, Wennberg or Dano. Our potential pool would only have included 3 players - Nichushkin, Zadorov or Muller.

That’s a staggering array of talent rejected by the Leafs system. As I said before,

"Say what you want about the tenets of the Leafs European drafting system... but at least it's an ethos."

Such is the power of a very few screens, either set to high standards (such as for size), or with rather significant geographic blind spots. However. As Shanny said, "I never promised you a goddamn rose garden, now did I?"

HERE THEY ARE... YOUR CONTENDERS!

Ok, here are 50 names of our 160 - including most all the top ones - with the key information on their size, nationality, where they played, and their age.

Items highlighted in red reduce a player’s chances of being selected by the Leafs, while those in green help them gain strength.

As you can see, whereas the 1st column lists 50 names only 16 make it through for possible consideration by the Leafs.

After doing this to more than 160 players in fact, I ended up with only 39 making it through. And I would note, I have been extremely liberal in how I have approached this. That list of 160 includes almost every European skater I could find across numerous well-known Draft Rankings, plus then searching for and finding other kids who, while un-ranked, stood at least a far-distant chance of being selected. In the end, at least 20 of the kids who made it were completely unranked add-ons I pursued through the various sites, and - in reality - most of them stand little chance of actually being selected.

A more restricted search for potential picks, and application of the Leafs screens, would likely have seen just 20 out of the Top 100 names make it.

3.0.png

What we can see from the chart above - just at an immediate glance - is just how severe the Leaf SIZE restrictions are, if you wish to be considered for a shot at the first 3 rounds. More than 2/3 of the potential picks are barred at this stage.

In addition, however, we then have the 3 countries with their various levels of geographic bar. Our geographic "blind spots" over parts of Europe either block or hamstring 38 kids, with only 12 managing to escape by moving to play in North America.

Need Riddim before the finals.

AND NOW... OUR FINALISTS!

Now, the 3-colour chart below lists the 39 kids - less than 25% of those we started with - who made it through to be considered. What I have done is to group these 39 according to Scott’s average draft ranking list, for the top names, with the ranking given in the left column. The other names are ranked roughly on by the scores and discussions given by individuals such as Pronman, Bob McKenzie, et al.

Not perfect, but a workable rough grouping method.

1.0.png

Now, what do we see?

In the 1st round, only 4 potential names make it though - out of the 9 Europeans ranked in Scott’s list.

Of those remaining, I would have the say that traditional Leaf drafting would likely prefer Zacha - for his Size, the fact that he plays Center and because of the absence of any entanglements with Russian politics. But I'm not sure there would be all that much of a "wow" factor there for Leaf scouts using their old-time screens and their old-time culture.

Of the 2nd-3rd-4th round potential names listed, only 14 remain. Of those, while the Swedish names technically made it though the screens, I would be amazed if the Leafs drafted any, given their reluctance to draft Swedes before #100. If one did step forward, it would be big-bodied Filip Ahl. Of the Russians, the Leafs would likely only be interested in the very large Dergachyov. But really, I think their eye - if they drafted as they traditionally have - would most easily fall on 3 big Slovaks.

Erik Cernak is a highly-rated D-man playing in the top Slovakian league since he was 16.

His cousin, and a year older, is Christian Jaros and played against men as well in the SHL this past year.

And Radovan Bondra, all 6’ 5" and 218 pounds of him, is a power forward who can apparently play with skill.

So, using the old screens, the Leafs would likely have the short-list above. But when they then combined it with a look at their actual stats, and a match of how they play versus "Leaf culture" - my money would be that we might not see ANY European at all this year. But if we did, it could well be one of the big Slovaks.

As for the later rounds, the screens we used are only really applicable for use across the 1st three rounds - because the Leafs have used somewhat different criteria in later rounds. But I've dropped on some more names, just because they had those special qualities that traditionally appeal to the Leafs. Such as.... BIG.

BUNCHA LOSERS. BOO THESE PEOPLE.

Now... Who have we lost along the way? Screened out? Here's some biggies.

2.0.png

Stunning to see that such a small number of screens could take out not only some of the most highly-skilled names, but even some of the bigger players available, like Rantanen.

BUT... BUT... THE LEAFS HAVE CHANGED!

Now, some of you will be arguing that the Leafs have changed in the last year or two. To which I would respond that, in terms of facts on the ground, the system above fits with every single one of the Leafs top European draft picks, including the last two years.

Nonetheless, I agree, there ARE signs of change - very hopeful ones.

1. For example, Rinat Valiev’s pick in the 3rd round last year was surprising, him being a Russian and all. However, on the other hand, he had already come over to the WHL... was a year over-age... and is actually a big-bodied player, 6’ 2" and 207 pounds. All traditional Leafy things.

2. A bigger sign might be the recent signing of Nikita Soshnikov, and from of a Moscow-based club. In addition, Soshnikov is not that big (5-11 and 183) and is high-skill, offensively-minded. Which could be a real sign of change. However, again note that: a) the Moscow-based club was in financial failure; b) Soshnikov is 21; and, c) We didn’t use a draft pick on him. Still, hopeful.

3. The BEST sign of Leaf change had to be the recent positive discussions with Nikita Zaitsev. Zaitsev is a 1st team KHL All-Star, on the Red Army team, just 23, a top talent and on the rise. For the Leafs to directly target him, and have such visible, high-level talks, is a huge change. No, he's not a direct draft pick, and no, he’s not 18. But to take an All-Star 23-year-old from the Red Army is something the Leafs have never done.

4. & 5. As for Sweden, the great news was that the Leafs picked two offensively-minded, and extremely slight 18 year old Swedish forwards in the last two years. This simply hasn’t been done before either. [However, they do fit our system of screens, since Johnson was only a 7th round pick, and Nylander the son of a famous NHL’er.]

Nonetheless. Deeper change often starts like this - by finding exceptions and ways to crack the doors open. And then as those changes begin to work, the wedge can be driven in further. So some real signs of hope here. [And on the Finnish front, well... at least we re-signed Leo, and fired the guy we had scouting there. And we still have time to get people in to see Puljujarvi before next year.]

MY BEST GUESS.

Ok. If I were to hazard a guess on which Europeans the Leafs would like this year, who would be on their short-list? And I'm going to assume here that the old drafting culture, with the screens outlined above, is unlikely to have been completely swept away.

Because.... systems that last through 12 GMs straight tend to have some staying power.

But if we imagined a hybrid system - where change has begun to take hold, but the new systems aren't fully in place yet - it would seem to me to potentially play out as follows.

The Finns - Rantanen, Aho, Hintz, Vainio and the rest - are all still VERY unlikely to get picked. Tough to imagine firing your only Finnish scout, a guy who's drafting advice you've never taken, and then using a 1-2-3 round pick on one of his guys. Or, that you ask a 67 year old Thommie Bergman to dump his Swedish kids and go scout Finns all day. So, much as I'd love a late pick on an Aho, I'm not seeing it.

The Swedes. I don’t actually see as doing better this year either. In part, because this year they just don’t seem to bring much that’s new or exciting to the dance this year. With two exceptions:

The positive one being the explosive young forward, Dymtro Timashov. Born in the Ukraine (a region Toronto has long-standing positive ties to), then playing for years in Sweden, and now in the Q, Timashov - not entirely unlike Nylander and Johnson - would be an appealing add. And he's been heavily scouted here in Canada. He's not tiny, at 187 pounds, but still, maybe a bit under our long-time size requirements.

Less likely, I suspect, is OIiver Kylington. A fantastic skater, but whose play this year was widely regarded as uneven, or even, unstable. With Jake Gardiner already in hand, I see no way a serious group suc as Shanahan, Babcock and co. - with their emphasis on getting men of character - risk the addition of a Swedish Jake.

The Russians. Where I’m really hopeful for change is with the Russians, and for very particular reasons.

It’s critical to remember that both Shanahan and Babcock’s career successes were heavily shaped by the strong roles played by high-skill Russians on their teams. Shanahan, in particular, not only played with 6 great Russians on Detroit, he broke into the league with the New Jersey teams of Fetisov and Kasatonov. [And ended his career in NY, with another aging great, by the name of Michael Nylander.]

Think about this. SHANAHAN AND BABCOCK'S NHL SUCCESSES WERE BUILT AROUND THIS KIND OF PLAYER, AND THIS SORT OF STYLE. Why would be not want to carry that success over? And Detroit certainly has, continuing to target European after European. And Shanahan? Even at the NHL, he worked to cut down on the nonsense violence in the game, which - once removed - would lead to more speed, more skill and... more Europeans.

So there's a pull in that direction. [And by the way, why are reporters not talking about this? How Shanahan's extremely long NHL hockey career might have shaped his views on these kinds of questions?]

Here, reporters. Another golden question. Why not ask what, precisely, Shanahan was doing in so directly pursuing Zaitsev... the young All-Star defenceman... and in particular, raiding the Red Army team.... when his old team-mate Fedorov... is the GM of today’s Red Army ... and another old team-mate, across two teams actually... name of Fetisov... was not only the former young All-/Star Captain of that same Red Army team... and very proud of it... but was also Minister of Sport... and founder of the KHL.... and head of the Red Army club... and a man who talks of keeping Russians at home.

Now, as always with Russia, there are games within games, and enigmas within dolls within, I donno, something chocolate, probably. But I cannot imagine Shanahan - who must be at least somewhat skilled in networking, given his time with the NHL’s Head Office - starting an unnecessary fight with the KHL and Red Army, or risking one he might lose.

It would seem more likely to me that the Zaitsev storyline has been sorted beforehand, will be choreographed, and provide some win/win all-around.

But in sum, on Russia, my guess is that Shanny’s going to return to Russia to get some good ones over in the coming months/years. Who knows... maybe he'll have some new tricks up his sleeve come 2016. [And that he’s likely agreed to some sort of useful support, financial or otherwise, for wider KHL/Red Army to NHL/Leafs dealings in the future.]

And when I say he'll target "good" Russian players, I mean the sort he and Babcock saw on the ice in Detroit, not the traditional overly-large project type the Leafs traditionally draft.

In 2015 draft terms and the Russian kids available, I would say it is very likely they are looking hard - and positively - at Ivan Provorov, as an early pick. And Svechnikov perhaps later - albeit he isn't a prototypical high-skill, lightning-fast Russian forward. These choices would be made even more doable by the fact that both are playing in Canada, and available to our domestic scouts. But in behind, the Shanny-Babcock experience may well have pre-disposed them to look positively at these Russian kids.

In later rounds, I think the bigger-bodied by less-skilled Russians like Dergachyov are now on the outside, and would feel more like an old-style Leaf pick, a la Antropov.

Whereas the high-skill, rocket-fuelled, high-ceiling of a Denis Guryanov has to appeal.

And if the moment came around late, a skilled young D-man like Vladislav Gavrikov was the Captain of the Russian Under-20 team this year at the WJC, and looks to have some talent.

But Guryanov or Gavrikov would likely only be drafted if the Leafs felt they had some truly strong new scouting information, from inside Russia. Which could already be in place, because, after all, we’ve gone hard after Soshnikov and Zaitsev, but - if it’s not 100% solid at present - might have to wait till later.

And from the other countries? Well, again we have the problem that we just fired our scout from Slovakia and the Czech - after largely ignoring him since 2006. And with the OHL calling so strongly, I simply cannot see us taking any major risks with Czechs or Slovaks (or the Swiss) who have played overseas. As for Zacha, while he appeals, I’m not sure the array of the OHL voices would prefer him to a half-dozen other, slightly more local OHL players.

So if I had to name a half-dozen players I’d HOPE to see, from a Leaf scouting system that is still obviously in the early stages of transition, I’d list:

  • Provorov in particular.
  • Svechnikov in behind as another 1st rounders.
  • And Guryanov, Timashov and Gavrikov if they came up in the right place.
  • With Cernak as a long-shot.

And thus endeth this little series on Europe and drafting.

I'll let myself out to the sweet strains of something... seasonal.

PensionPlanPuppets.com is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of PensionPlanPuppets.com.