For months now someone will bring up the idea of whichever team gets 1st overall, they'll trade it to Arizona for Matthews because he's local and that will save the franchise. Now that the Leafs have #1 it's more specific; the Leafs should be the Coyotes franchise saviour and give them the right to draft local boy Auston Matthews, because if there's one thing that will save a struggling team is someone born in the same city.
Which, frankly, is the dumbest thing ever, and anyone who has followed the Leafs should know better.
Leafs fans have been beaten over the head with the idea of "good ol' Ontariah boy" coming in and saving the team. In the 2013 season the Leafs opened each game with a list of roster players and how far they were born from the Air Canada Centre.
Who were the two players that grew up the closest? David Clarkson and Dave Bolland. Not exactly the type of players you'd call "franchise saviours". They were, however, two of the heavily hyped players coming into that season. Bolland was thrown his own Stanley Cup parade in the Mimico neighbourhood of Toronto. David Clarkson was treated as the second coming of fan favourite (and prairie boy) Wendel Clark and a hometown hero.
The media jumped on board as well:
How did those players work out for the Maple Leafs?
David Clarkson - 118 games played, 15 goals, 11 assists.
David Bolland - 23 games played, 8 goals, 4 assists.
Let's kill one thing right now. The best players for the Maple Leafs in the past 30 years have not been from Toronto. Doug Gilmour - Kingston. Rick Vaive - Ottawa. Dave Keon - Quebec. Mats Sundin - Sweden. Phil Kessel - Wisconsin. Borje Salming - Sweden. Darryl Sittler - Kitchener.
Geography is a great thing, we should have as much of it as we can if it means being the best team possible.
Let's get back to the topic at hand. The Arizona Coyotes would be setting their march to the future back a few years. Give up Oliver Ekman-Larsson? Five For Howling can tell you why trading a top defensive prospect is a bad idea. Give up Anthony Duclair? When you fleece a team in a trade, like the 'Yotes did the Rangers, you don't undo that. Max Domi? Christian Dvorak? Dylan Strome? Why give up three top forward prospects for one?
Put yourself in the Coyotes shoes. Would you give up key pieces of a strong future team just to get a kid because he's born a stones throw from your rink? Yes, he's clearly a very talented player, but hey, Leafs fans. You should know how frustrating it is to have a #1 centre and no wingers for them.
The biggest thing that can grow hockey in Arizona is a strong, successful team nearby to cheer for, regardless of where the players are born. If you want to promote the success of a kid from Arizona as a hockey player, isn't it better to have him in one of, if not the, largest media markets in the NHL?
Yes, the idea of having a basket full of kids from the Coyotes is great, but wouldn't it be better to finally have that unicorn we've always wanted?