In 1967 the NHL established the amateur draft, and this tradition continues each year despite the league occasionally cancelling a season or two. The Maple Leafs have drafted at least one player each year, from a wide range of leagues.
Not surprisingly, the Maple Leafs favour the Canadian Hockey League for most of their drafting, with the Ontario League being a particular favourite. Out of the 491 players the Maple Leafs have drafted, 267 have come from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League - 54% of all players drafted.
The three leagues break down in a very uneven way: The QMJHL has 50 players drafted to the Maple Leafs, the WHL has 65, and the OHL has 152 total players. These numbers will also include players from teams that were members of preceding leagues, the OHA to the OHL for example.
A couple notes: The Cornwall Royals were members of both the OHL and QMJHL, and their drafted players were split up accordingly, franchise moves were treated as separate teams (Guelph Platers and Owen Sound Platers aren’t counted together), and teams that share names but were different franchises are also considered different (The Edmonton Oil Kings, for example).
Ontario Hockey League
Favourite team: Toronto Marlboroughs - 18 Players drafted
The Toronto Marlboroughs were founded in 1903 and played in Toronto until moving to Hamilton in 1989, becoming the Dukes of Hamilton before finding their current home as the Guelph Storm in 1991.
Of the 18 players drafted from the original Marlies, nine would play at least one NHL game, with the most notable player being John Anderson in 1977, selected 11th overall, played 534 games, and he scored 393 points for the blue & white. Other famous draftees from the Marlboroughs are Mike Palmateer, Bruce Boudreau, George Ferguson, and Stewart Gavin.
Favourite active team: Peterborough Petes - 14 Players
With the Marlboroughs no more, the active team with the most drafted players is the Peterborough Petes - home to current Leafs prospects Semyon Der-Arguchintsev and Nick Robertson. Aside from those two, things haven’t gone so well taking players from cottage country.
Only five Petes have played regular season games in the NHL for Toronto (Robertson should make it six in the next season), and only three of those players played over 100 NHL games: Bob Neey (261 Leafs games), Luke Richardson (299), and the fan favourite Tie Domi (777). Domi was drafted in 1988 but wouldn’t play a game for the Leafs until 1995 when he would be re-acquired from the Winnipeg Jets.
There is one active team that the Maple Leafs have avoided at all costs. While they have drafted from two recently relocated and renamed teams (Hamilton Bulldogs/Belleville Bulls, Mississauga St. Michaels Majors/Mississauga Steelheads) they have never drafted a player from the Barrie Colts in the franchise’s 26 year history.
Other popular OHL teams: London Knights (12 players, 1,661 Leafs games played), Kitchener Rangers (10 players, 13 games), and the Windsor Spitfires (10 players, 894 games).
Western Hockey League
Favourite team: Saskatoon Blades - 7 Players
With the least amount of drafted players, there isn’t really a favourite team. The WHL has also been a trendy league for the Leafs, with only seven players taken in the 1990’s, compared to the 23 players drafted in the 80’s.
The Saskatoon Blades edged out the Victoria Cougars, Swift Current Broncos, and Brandon Wheat Kings who each had five players taken.
Despite having seven players drafted from Saskatoon, only one ever played for the Maple Leafs - the fan favourite, always popular Wendel Clark. Over three tours with the Leafs, Clark would play 608 NHL games, score 441 points, and be traded for fellow Leafs Legend Mats Sundin.
The Leafs haven’t touched as many active WHL teams, having only drafted 19 players from the Dub this century. The following active teams are still looking for their first Maple Leaf: Kamloops Blazers, Vancouver Giants, Edmonton Oil Kings, Winnipeg Ice, and the Everett Silvertips.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Favourite team: Trois-Rivieres Draveurs - 5 Players
The Q has the fewest amount of drafted players from the Canadian major junior system, and have only seen 13 players get a Leafs sweater onstage at the draft since 2000. The Draveurs just edged out a few teams who had four players picked, but only one made the Maple Leafs - and did so multiple times: Yanic Perreault. The face-off specialist played 176 games for the Leafs. After moving to Sherbrooke and becoming the Castors, the Leafs picked three more players from this franchise, but none donned the Blue & White. The Draveurs are back in Sherbrooke once again as the Phoenix.
Favourite active team: Chicoutimi Saguenéens / Québec Remparts - 4 Players
The only QMJHL arena I’ve been to was the former home of the Remparts, the Colisée in Québec City, but it wasn’t for a hockey game. Great building though. The Leafs have taken four players from the Remparts and two have played Leafs game: Goalie Vincent Tremblay (54GP) and the recently waived Dmytro Timashov (39GP).
The Saguenéens however, probably had the more successful Leafs draft. Only one of the four players taken played for the Leafs, but he’s one of the most famous Leaffs goalies: Felix Potvin. Fellow Chicoutimi draftee goalie Zachary Bouthillier hasn’t fared as well as Felix.
And what about that league straddling team, the Cornwall Royals? Well between the OHL and QMJHL they saw five players be drafted by the Leafs, but only one played some games: Fred Boimistruck, who won the Memorial Cup with the Royals before being drafted to the Leafs. The Royals did the Leafs good however, with one of their most famous alumni captaining the Leafs in the mid-90’s: Doug Gilmour.
And of course, I can’t talk about the Leafs and drafting from the CHL without doing some self promotion by bringing up the 1984 NHL draft, where the Leafs took three Belleville players in round one:
The CHL has been very good to the Leafs. Next time we’ll take a look at how good the American leagues (USHL, NCAA) have fared with Maple Leafs drafting.