clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Leafs re-wrote the rules for the 2016 draft

New, comments

After the first overall pick where there was zero suspense, the Leafs made some confounding choices in the draft. What were they doing, exactly?

Lou Lamoriello, Mark Hunter and Bob Pulford
Lou Lamoriello, Mark Hunter and Bob Pulford
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

From the day the Leafs hired Mark Hunter, the jokes have written themselves. Watch the Leafs draft all of the London Knights. Now they know all the OHL secrets, watch them empty the league at the draft. They'll get Tkachuk somehow!

And the reality has turned out to be very, very different.

After the choice of Auston Matthews, the obvious first overall, and a man with one year of pro hockey under his suspenders, the Leafs stayed that course, picking two more European skaters with multiple years of pro hockey experience. They're both fairly big guys, but they aren't even Patrik Laine size, so they aren't just big.

Draft Position Name Position Age Team Years in Pro Hockey Height Weight
1 Auston Matthews C 18 ZSC Lions 1 6'2" 216
31 Yegor Korshkov RW 19 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 2 6'3" 179
57 Carl Grundström LW 18 MODO (signed to Frölunda 2016) 2 6'0" 194
62 Joseph Woll G 17 USNT (Boston College in 2016) 0 6'3" 196
72 James Greenway D 18 USNT (University of Wisconsin in 2016) 0 6'4" 205
92 Adam Brooks C 20 Regina Pats 0 5'10" 174
101 Keaton Middleton D 18 Saginaw Spirit 0 6'5" 234
122 Vladimir Bobylyov F 19 Victoria Royals 0 6'2" 205
152 Jack Walker LW 19 Victoria Royals 0 5'11" 179
179 Nicolas Mattinen D 18 London Knights 0 6'4" 220
182 Nikolai Chebykin F 18 HK MVD Balashikha 0 6'3" 209

After the top three out of Europe, the Leafs turned to the US National Team development program and took a goalie and a defenceman, both of whom will be heading into the NCAA.

From two players who could play for the Marlies next year if the Leafs wanted them to, although leaving Grundström in the capable hands of one of the best coaches in Sweden seems wise, they switched gears to pick players who can develop in college for many years.

It took until pick 92 for the Leafs to venture into the CHL for a prospect, and they chose Adam Brooks from the WHL who is already 20 years old.

By pick 101, the Leafs were getting into curiously strange territory with their first OHL pick, a genuinely really big defenceman who is not a goal scorer. He's a mystery man who was unranked by some scouting guides.

Things took a turn back to the overage, ready for the pros Europeans with the selection of the interesting looking Vladimir Bobylyov at 122. He scored well in the WHL, and is a biggish side of average sized player who could step into the AHL after one more year somewhere to develop and hit age 20.

Just to keep us on our toes, the Leafs yanked the wheel back into the small skilled and overaged with the choice of Jack Walker, a teammate of Bobylyov's, who has switched from forward to defence and back to forward and put up points at a nice clip this past year.

At pick 179, well into pick your brother-in-law's neighbour's kid territory, the Leafs finally took a Knight, snagging a big defensive prospect.

The last pick of the day was a Russian junior player who is joining Dynamo Moskva next year.

Trying to make sense of it all, it looks at first like the first two picks after Matthews are players who can play in the AHL right now and could be depth NHL players sooner rather than later. That's not a bad thing. The Leafs have a lot of depth right now that is over 30, and the goal is obviously to clear that out. The Marlies have a lot of depth that's been around for a few years, and the time may be now to move some of them out.

On the other hand, neither Korshkov or Grundström need to be brought over to the AHL now. They can be left on their good European teams to develop and that would mean four of the top five picks this year won't require SPC space this year.

Once you get below round three, you're just picking lottery tickets, so if this is where the Leafs want giant defencemen and tiny overage forwards from the CHL, no one is harmed by that.

The choice of four overage players is very surprising, and may be an indication that the Leafs feel their scouting is better, they know these guys are good, and that taking an older player is no detriment like some experts believe. It could also mean that they are looking to push prospects up the pipeline with some speed.

The larger question is if the most knowledgeable scout for the OHL found no one to pick from the OHL until the what the hell rounds, does that mean anything, or is it just chance?