Kyle Dubas has a short record as the man ultimately in charge of the Maple Leafs drafting strategy, but we can still analyze his selections using modern scientific methods to enable us to guess who he’ll look at this year.
We subjected his prior draft record to rigorous analysis and came up with six possible picks in this year’s draft based on patterns shown in past drafts.
Semyon Chistyakov is a defender, albeit a lefty, but you have to have some of those too, who is making some waves in Russia. He’s good enough to be on the NHL Central Scouting for European Skaters list at number 16. Future Considerations has him at 104 on their consolidated list, and he is at number 81 on Bob McKenzie’s new list.
He’s a small guy at only 5’10” and 168 lbs, which makes him Semyon Der-Arguchintev sized, and he’s from Yekaterinburg, not exactly the heart of Russia. He could well have been overlooked by scouts who don’t like to go too far from Moscow and St. Petersburg.
He played this season on Tolpar UFA in the MHL, and he had 11 points in 32 games. He also appeared on Russia’s team at the U18 WJC where he scored two goals.
He has that certain something that should make the Leafs at least look at him.
Cole Mackay has everything that says Leafs prospect. He’s a right-shooting right wing that clocks in at 5’11” and 185 lb. He is ranked 99th by NHL Central Scouting for North American Skaters, and is at 127 on Future Consideration’s list.
He took a big step this year in his second OHL season, moving from 14 points in 42 games the prior year to 61 points in 65 games. With a June birthday, he’s not older, nor is he bigger than everyone else. He’s doing this on skill.
Mackay grew up playing for his hometown teams in Sault Ste. Marie, and he’s been able to stay at home through his OHL career on the Soo Greyhounds. He seems to be Leafs material.
Jacob LeGuerrier has everything it takes to catch the eye of the Maple Leafs. He’s a right-shooting defender, and while he’s a bit on the big side at 6’3”, he’s not oversized, and his skating is reported to be good. With a late birthday in November, he’ll be actually older than most of the other draft prospects, and might be ready to move up sooner. He’s basically the thinking man’s large adult son.
He is ranked 92nd by NHL Central Scouting for North American Skaters, and is not on Future Considerations top 200. He is at 156 on McKeen’s list. The Leafs should be able to find a pick for this experienced OHL defender who has now completed three years for the Soo Greyhounds.
Joe Carroll is number 101 on the NHL Central Scouting list for North American Skaters, while Future Considerations has him at number 171 in their consolidated ranking. The Leafs have picks 146 and 204, but the options are open for them to either acquire a sixth-round pick or to trade down from the fifth rounder to pick up a couple of lower ranked picks. Carroll should be easy to get if the Leafs want him, and why wouldn’t they want him?
He is listed at 6’3” on Elite Prospects, making him taller than Dubas himself, which is rare in one of his forward picks, but Carroll is a left wing, an area the Leafs are a little short in prospects. In two years in the OHL, he’s shown more ability to get assists than goals, but he’s getting a lot of playoff experience on the Soo Greyhounds. He was more of a goal scorer in his earlier playing career.
Cullen McLean is more of a long shot candidate, the kind of player you might take a flyer on with one of the seventh-round picks, the Leafs have. He’s only just starting out in the OHL at age 18, but he is a centre, shoots left, and is tallish at 6’2” and very small at 161 lbs. He’s got some growing to do. Finding late bloomers is what the seventh round is for. McLean didn’t make the NHL Central Scouting list, but he is good enough for the Soo Greyhounds, so that’s a point in his favour.
Another total dark horse is Semyon Astashevsky, a small, Leafs-sized forward who, with a late September birthday, should be seen to be a little ahead of his draft mates since he’s one of the oldest players in the draft. He plays in the east, in the Omsk system, and has been in the MHL for two years. This would be a pick on par with Semyon Kizimov last year. He is notching just under .5 points per game in junior hockey, which is not bad at all. He’s barely been on the Russian U18 radar, appearing in only two games and not at the WJC, but he has played on the U16 and U17 teams. Astashevsky isn’t on anyone’s ranking lists, but maybe he should be. Is late birthday bias and size bias keeping young Semyon out of the limelight? Could be.
Our analysis of past behaviour patterns says these players are some of the players the Maple Leafs will have looked at leading up to this draft. We’ll find out Saturday if we were right.
Tell us what you think, which guy from the Greyhounds or named Semyon is the pick Dubas should make?