The annual TSN mid-season rankings are out, and you should first go there and read what Bob McKenzie has to say about this draft and study the list. You don’t need to be told who is number one, but for fans of the draft, you might be interested in the top ten.
As Leaf fans, that’s an academic interest, though. We need to turn out attention to the bottom half, give or take, of the top 31 draft prospects. Somewhere in there is where the Leafs number one pick will fall. Last year at this time we looked at the rankings with the same sort of idea in mind, perhaps with an expectation that the Leafs might not make the playoffs.
There’s a mention in there of Timothy Liljegren. He was ranked at third at the time, so you never know how it will go with draft picks. People get hurt, play well, have terrible years, are stuck on bad teams or go lights out in their playoffs, and there will be a lot of movement between now and the draft.
This year’s themes as seen by McKenzie are a lack of Canadians and of centres in the top few spots. The first is irrelevant to us — Leafs come from every corner of the hockey-playing world. But the second is interesting because it’s centres the Leafs are shy of.
Let’s take a peek at the list from the first centre that is even remotely in the Leafs’ likely range and then look on down the list for names of players that might rise. This isn’t the cream of the crop. We don’t drink cream these days.
The milk of the crop!
|15||Joe Veleno||Drummondville (QMJHL)||C||6'1||195|
|16||Joel Farabee||USA NTDP (USHL)||LW||5'11||152|
|17||Ryan McLeod||Mississuaga (OHL)||C/LW||6'2||190|
|18||Jared McIsaac||Halifax (QMJHL)||D||6'1||195|
|19||Jesperi Kotkaniemi||Ässät (SM Liiga)||C||6'1 ½||188|
|20||Isac Lundestrom||Luleå (SHL)||C/LW||5'11 ¼||178|
|21||Grigori Denisenko||Yaroslavl (MHL)||LW||5'11||163|
|22||Serron Noel||Oshawa (OHL)||RW||6'4||200|
|23||Jacob Olofsson||Timra (SWE-Als)||C||6'2||185|
|24||Mattias Samuelsson||USA NTDP (USHL)||D||6'3 ¼||209|
|25||Dominik Bokk||Vaxjo (SuperElit)||LW/RW||6'1||179|
|26||Jack McBain||Toronto (OJHL)||C||6'3 ¼||196|
|27||Jett Woo||Moose Jaw (WHL)||D||5'11 ¾||205|
|28||Benoît-Olivier Groulx||Halifax (QMJHL)||C||6'0 ¾||192|
|29||Akil Thomas||Niagara (OHL)||RW||5'11||169|
|30||Martin Kaut||Pardubice (CZE Extra)||RW||6'1 ½||176|
|31||Alexander Alexeyev||Red Deer (WHL)||D||6'3 ½||184|
|32||Calen Addison||Lethbridge (WHL)||D||5'9 ¾||179|
|33||K'Andre Miller||USA NTDP (USHL)||D||6'3 ½||194|
|34||Rasmus Sandin||S.S. Marie (OHL)||D||5'10 ¾||183|
|35||Jakub Lauko||Chomutov (CZE Extra)||LW||6'0||169|
|36||Jesse Ylonen||Espoo (FIN)||RW||5'11 ¾||160|
|37||Kevin Bahl||Ottawa (OHL)||D||6'5 ¾||225|
|38||Jonathon Tychonick||Penticton (BCHL)||D||5'11 ¼||166|
|39||Vitali Kravtsov||Chelyabinsk (KHL)||RW||6'2||170|
|40||Adam Ginning||Linköping (SHL)||D||6'2 ¾||196|
|41||Ty Dellandrea||Flint (OHL)||C/RW||5'11 ¾||180|
|42||Sampo Ranta||Sioux City (UHSL)||RW||6'0 ¾||192|
|43||Jay O'Brien||Thayer (USHS)||C||6'0||175|
|44||Filip Johansson||Leksands (SWE J20)||D||6'0 ½||174|
There’s a lot of interesting prospects in here. I’m picking Jesperi Kotkaniemi, simply because every team needs a Kasperi and a Jesperi. For similar reasons, I’ve heard some Leafs fans are interested in Jett Woo. More defence would be nice.
Another interesting choice is Benoit-Olivier Groulx, son of the coach of the Syracuse Crunch, the Marlies darkest, deepest enemy. Drafting him would piss off the Lighting, and the Habs, because their desire for a French-Canadian centre is boundless.
Akil Thomas is who seldo wants, and I’ll let him tell you himself sometime why.
I was really impressed with Isac Lundestrom at the WJC, and wouldn’t say no to him. The other Rasmus, Rasmus Kupari might be a guy who will drop a little as the scouts find Canadians to haul up into the top of the list.
Who do you like? Who catches your eye? Who do you hope falls into the Leafs clutches this year?