On Sunday afternoon the Toronto Maple Leafs traded their 2021 first round pick and two fourth round picks to acquire Nick Foligno from the Columbus Blue Jackets (with the help of the San Jose Sharks).
Kyle Dubas has never been afraid to trade away a first round pick - he did so in 2019 to acquire Jake Muzzin and again in 2020 to shed Patrick Marleau’s contract; but he got a first round pick for the 2020 draft from the Penguins only two spots below the Leafs’ original position. All is not lost when it comes to drafting in round one, but if the Leafs don’t get another late first back this year, what did they lose?
That is the question I’m going to look into today. Spoilers: Not much.
So, right now the Leafs are second overall in the NHL by points, third by points percentage, and in my completely unbiased mind are the favourites to win the Stanley Cup. However, the best they may do is a first round exit, which would be burn the arena down disappointing. What range we’ll be working on with this pick is an assumption they win the North Division (not a bad one) and the highest draft number this pick could be is 24th overall, and the lowest it could be is 31st.
No, I’m not forgetting the Seattle Kraken will be joining this draft, but if you thought of this and wanted to correct me about there being 32 first round picks, you forgot the Arizona Coyotes forfeited their first round pick in this years draft because of John Chayka’s fitness testing shenanigans.
So, between picks 24 and 31, what have the Maple Leafs been able to grab? Let’s count down.
2018 - Rasmus Sandin - D - 29th overall
Maple Leafs stats: 29GP - 1G - 8A - 9Pts
The Maple Leafs got this pick by trading down with the St. Louis Blues, moving from 25th to 29th. Sandin has jumped over 2017 pick Timothy Liljegren to become the top prospect in the organization, and people are just waiting for the moment he cracks the NHL roster which could be any moment now.
2016 - Yegor Korshkov - W - 31st overall
Maple Leafs stats: 1GP - 1G - 0A - 1Pt
Korshkov was a reach by the Maple Leafs this low in the draft, and he only got one Maple Leafs game under his belt before he would be traded to the Carolina Hurricanes along with David Warsofsky for Alex Galchenyuk earlier this season. Korshkov did score a goal for the Maple Leafs in that game, so career highlight achieved.
2011 - Tyler Biggs - W - 22nd overall
Maple Leafs Stats: No games played
A very controversial draft pick, Brian Burke traded the 30th and 39th picks in the 2011 draft to the Anaheim Ducks to move up and take Biggs. Anaheim drafted long time Ducks Rickard Rakell and John Gibson with those picks, while Biggs never played a game with the Leafs and was a thrown in on the Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh trade. He last played in the 2018/19 season splitting time in the EIHL (Britain) and ECHL.
2011 - Stuart Percy - D - 25th overall
Maple Leafs Stats: 12GP - 0G - 3A - 3Pts
Percy played for the closest OHL team to Toronto, the Mississauga Majors/Steelheads where he was captain, so he got a lot of hype as a prospect. Over his entry level contract he played twelve games with the Leafs but wouldn’t be re-signed. After four more AHL seasons he moved to Liiga this year.
2002 - Alexander Steen - W - 24th overall
Maple Leafs Stats: 253GP - 50G - 76A - 126Pts
Alex Steen played two seasons in the SHL before coming to the Maple Leafs, skipping the AHL entirely. He would play three seasons with the Maple Leafs before being traded to the St. Louis Blues early in the 2008-09 season along with Carlo Colaiacovo for Lee Stempniak, where he would win the Stanley Cup in 2019. He’s LTIRetired with the Blues right now.
2000 - Brad Boyes - RW - 24th overall
Maple Leafs stats: 60GP - 8G - 16A - 24Pts
Brad Boyes was GTA kid who grew up a Maple Leafs fan, and achieved his dream when he was a first round pick for the Leafs. He would also get to play for the Maple Leafs, just 16 years later. Boyes was traded during his first season with the AHL St. John’s Maple Leafs when he was included in a package to the San Jose Sharks for Owen Nolan. Boyes would play 762 NHL games with the Sharks, Bruins, Blues, Sabres, Islanders, and Panthers before signing with the Maple Leafs for the 2015-16 season and retiring after one season with the Maple Leafs.
1999 - Luca Cereda - C - 24th overall
Maple Leafs Stats: No Games Played
Cereda worked through his entry level contract in St. John’s with the Leafs AHL affiliate, but never made the NHL. He would have a successful career in Switzerland where he continued his career as a coach and is the head coach of HC Ambrì-Piotta in the NLA.
Going back 25 years, the Maple Leafs made seven picks in the 24-31 range and got a total of 355 NHL games played, averaging 46 games per pick. Not great for the first round, especially considering 253 of those games were Alex Steen, but there’s still time for Rasmus Sandin to become a Leafs regular and break that number.
Looking at recent history the Leafs didn’t give up much with this pick, and with the odd scouting year or two we’ve had, it’s definitely much more of a guessing game than we’ve ever seen. In my opinion it’s best to use these picks to win now than develop with.