The NHL amateur draft began in 1963. There have been 60 NHL amateur drafts. Over the years, Toronto management has decided to trade away their 1st round pick 12 times. Sometimes they've traded again to get a different 1st rounder, but other times the team club has had nothing to do while the top eligible amateur players get selected by other teams. I wanted to look at each time the Leafs did not have an opening round draft pick and see who the rival team chose in Toronto's place.
Toronto has not had a 1st round pick in:
Who are the players other teams drafted with that Toronto pick?
1965 - Toronto did not participate because the organization thought the talent pool was too poor. (Leafs were the only team not to make a pick and the NYR were the only team to select a player in all 3 rounds)
1967 - Again, Toronto chose not to participate because of the perceived lack of talent (the expansion Blues also did not participate). Toronto did trade the rights to C Red Kelly to LA for a 2nd rounder (LW Bob Kelly) because the Kings wanted Red to coach their expansion club, so that’s why the Leafs do have a selection in the 1967 draft.
1971 - Leafs traded G Bruce Gambell, C Mike Walton & their 9th overall pick to the Flyers who selected RW Pierre Plante.
What We Received: G Bernie Parent & 22nd overall pick (RW Rick Kehoe)
How’d That Go?: Parent only played 2 seasons in Toronto before having a HOF career in Philly. Kehoe only played 3 seasons in Toronto before averaging more than 30 goals a season over the next decade in Pittsburgh.
The Outcome: Plante only played 26 games in Philly. After that, he played 8 more seasons in the NHL and had a career high 34 goals with St. Louis in 74-75.
1975 - Leafs traded their 12th overall pick to the Canadiens who selected RW Peter Lee.
What We Received: G Wayne Thomas
How’d That Go?: Thomas played 2 seasons in Toronto, winning a career high 28 games with the Leafs in 1975-76.
The Outcome: Lee never played for Montreal and in fact spent his entire 6 year NHL career in Pittsburgh where he had 2 x 30 goal seasons.
1978 - Leafs traded their 1978 31st overall pick (G Al Jensen), 1980 11th overall pick (Mike Blaisdell), LW Errol Thompson and their 1978 12th overall pick to the Red Wings who selected C Brent Peterson.
What We Received: LW Dan Maloney & 1980 25th overall pick (D Craig Muni)
How’d That Go?: Maloney played the final 4 years of his 11 year career in Toronto, scoring 20 goals in 80-81. Muni played just 19 games over 4 seasons in Toronto before going onto win 3 Stanley Cups in Edmonton.
The Outcome: Peterson suited up for only 91 games in Detroit over his 11 year career. Jensen played one game as a Wing, and Thompson scored 76 goals in 2.5 years in Detroit.
1978 - Leafs traded their 1978 31st overall pick (G Al Jensen), LW Errol Thompson, 1978 12th overall pick (C Brent Peterson) & their 1980 11th overall pick to the Red Wings who selected RW Mike Blaisdell.
What We Received: Look Above
How’d That Go?: Look Above
The Outcome: Blaisdell scored 23 goals as a sophomore in Detroit Played for 4 teams over 9 years, including 27 games with the Leafs from 87-89.
1989 - Leafs traded their 1991 3rd overall pick to the Devils who selected D Scott Niedermeyer.
What We Received: D Tommy Kurvers
How’d That Go?: Kurvers played just over one season with the Leafs scoring 55 pts.
The Outcome: Niedermayer made the All Rookie Team in 93 and that was just the start. The former Kamloops Blazer played for 17 years, winning the 2004 Norris, the 2007 Conn Smythe and he was a 4 time All Star. Niedermayer won everything: a Memorial Cup, a World Junior Championship, a World Championship, the World Cup, 2 Olympic gold medals, 3 Stanley Cups in New Jersey and another one in Anaheim. Scott Niedermayer was elected to the HHOF in 2013 and he was named one of the top 100 players of all time in 2017.
1995 - Leafs traded their 1997 30th overall pick (G Jean-Marc Pelletier), 1996 84th overall pick (RW Mikael Simons) & 1996 15th overall pick to the Flyers who selected F Dainius Zubrus.
What We Received: D Dmitry Yushkevich & 1996 50th overall pick (C Francis Larivee)
How’d That Go: Larivee never made the NHL. Yushkevich spent 7 years in Toronto playing as a top 4 defensive defenceman.
The Outcome: Philadelphia was the first of 6 NHL teams Zubrus played for over his 19 year NHL career. Simons never made the NHL. Pelletier played a single game for the Flyers.
1996 - Leafs traded LW Sean Haggerty, C Darby Hendrickson, D Kenny Jonsson & their 1997 4th overall pick to the Islanders who selected G Roberto Luongo.
What We Received: LW Wendel Clark, D Mathieu Schiender & D D.J. Smith
How’d That Go?: This was Clark’s 2nd of 3 tours with the Leafs. This time around he racked up 50 goals in a season and a half. Schiender spent just 2 of his 21 NHL seasons with the Leafs and Smith played just 11 games in Toronto.
The Outcome: Haggerty only played 13 games for the Islanders. Hendrickson played just 16 games for them, while Jonsson was a top pair Dman for 8 seasons on Long Island. However, Bobby Lu is the big fish here. Luongo became one of the greatest goalies in NHL history. He won over 30 games 8 times. 9 times he finished in the top 10 in Vezina voting and although he never won the award, he was robbed of it in 2007. 3 times Luongo finished in the top 10 for the Hart trophy, including runner up in 2007. Twice an All Star, he made it all the way to the Cup finals in 2011. Internationally, Luongo won 2 gold medals at the World Championships, the 2004 World Cup, and 2 Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014. During his 19 year career, Lu made 24,409 saves, 2nd most in NHL history. Roberto was elected to the HHOF in 2022.
2003 - Leafs traded RW Brad Boyes, C Alyn McCauley & their 2003 21st overall pick to the Sharks. San Jose later traded the pick to the Bruins who then selected D Mark Stuart.
What We Received: RW Owen Nolan
How’d That Go?: Nolan was on fire when he came to Toronto scoring 7 goals in 14 games before being held to just 2 assists in 7 games as the Leafs fell to the Flyers in the opening round of the playoffs. Nolan returned for the 03-04 season and scored 19 times in just 65 games as a 31 year old.
The Outcome: Boyes had an 11 year career potting 43 goals as a member of the Blues in 07-08. McCauley scored a career best 20 goals in San Jose the year after leaving Leaf Land. Stuart was a bottom pair Dman for 3 teams during his 10 year NHL career.
2004 - Leafs traded C Jarrko Immonen, D Maxim Kondratiev, D Michael Sauer their 2004 24th overall pick to the Rangers. New York later traded the pick to the Flames who then selected RW Kris Chucko.
What We Received: D Brian Leetch & 2004 113th overall pick (F Roman Kukumberg)
How’d That Go?: The future HHOFer came in to help the Leafs in the playoffs and he did. Leetch collected 8 assists in 13 games before the Leafs bowed out in the 2nd round. Kukumberg never made the NHL.
The Outcome: Immonen only played 20 NHL games in New York, Kondratiev just 29 and Sauer 98. Chucko only played 2 NHL games.
2007 - Leafs traded their 2007 13th overall pick (C Lars Eller), 2007 44th overall pick (RW Aaron Palushajto) and 2019 98th overall pick (C Craig Smith) to the Sharks. San Jose kept the 2007 44th pick, but later traded both the 2007 13th overall pick (C Lars Eller) to St. Louis and the 2009 98th overall pick (C Craig Smith) to Nashville.
What We Received: C Mark Bell & G Vesa Toskala
How’d That Go?: Bell was once a 2 x 20 goal scorer with the Hawks, but those days were behind him and he only played 35 games in Toronto. Toskala was the backup on a very good Sharks team and even then he only had ok numbers. Why JFJ thought Vesa could be a number 1 in Toronto will always remain a mystery. Toskala fumbled big time in Toronto and is arguably the worst Leafs netminder of the 21st century. His 3.08 GAA and .894 SP in 2.5 years are actually flattering because those of us who watched him play had no confidence in his game.
The Outcome: Although Palushaj only played 68 NHL games, both Eller and Smith have had fine NHL careers and are currently still playing. Eller is playing in his 13th season and won a Cup with the Caps in 2018. Smith is in his 12th season and is a 5 x 20 goal scorer.
2009 - Leafs traded their 2010 2nd overall pick (C Tyler Seguin), 2010 32nd overall pick (C Jarden Knight) and 2011 9th overall pick (D Dougie Hamilton) to the Bruins.
What We Received: RW Phil Kessel
How’d That Go?: Kessel was the one dimensional goal scorer the Leafs knew they were getting. He scored over 30 goals in 4 of his 6 seasons in Toronto, including career highs of 37 in both 2011-12 and 2013-14. Toronto made the playoffs just once in those 6 seasons.
The Outcome: Seguin became a premier goal scorer with 5 x 30 goal seasons under his belt. Seguin is leading his draft class in both career goals and points. He won the Stanley Cup with Boston as a rookie and later finished 6th in Hart Trophy voting with Dallas in 2014. Knight never made the NHL. Hamilton is the big, physical, offensive defencemen every club dreams of. He’s scored 40+ points in a season 6 times, he’s also finished in the top 10 in Norris voting 3 times and he was an All Star in 2021.
2019 - Leafs traded RW Carl Grundstrom, D Sean Durzi their 2019 22nd overall pick to the Kings who selected D Tobias Bjornfot.
What We Received: D Jake Muzzin
How’d That Go?: Muzzin has battled injuries his entire time in Toronto. He’s now in his 4th full season in Toronto but he’s never played more than 53 games and due to his most recent injury, there is serious speculation/concern about his playing future. When he’s healthy and in the Leafs lineup, he’s a good top 4, defensive defenceman.
The Outcome: Bjornfot’s NHL career only lasted 106 games with LA over 3 seasons. However, Grundstrom is now in his 5th season as a King and Durzi is in his 2nd season and he looks to be a lock as a top 4 guy and maybe even a 2-3 defenceman in the future.
The draft is almost always a gamble. There have been only a handful of for-sure picks over the years. Given the 12 examples here where the Leafs traded their 1st round pick, it really only didn’t bite them once (2004 deal with the NYR). Every other time Toronto wound up losing out on an NHL player, some better than others, but always at least one player who had an NHL career.
Losing out on a pair of HHOFers hurts. It has been hurting for years and those memories will never go away. I wasn’t old enough to understand the Kurvers trade in 1989. However I was in high school and well aware of the Leafs-Islanders deal that brought back Clark in 1996. I was never a huge fan of Wendel. I think he’s WAY overrated. Decent player with great character and leadership who worked his balls off, but never a star and certainly not on the pedestal most Leaf fans place him on. So I knew giving up a good young Dman in Jonsson and a high pick was brutal then and time only made it worse when Luongo had the terrific HOF career he did.
As an adult though, the worst Leafs trade involving a 1st rounder is easily the Kessel deal. Brian Burke gave up a stupid amount of high draft picks for a very good complimentary player. But Phil was never going to be the guy to lead Toronto back to the great years of the late 90s and early 2000s. His game wasn’t and never has been well rounded enough to do that. Burke showed a real lack of understanding of his roster, prospects cupboard and absolutely no patience to wait and rebuild. Those two oversights put the Leafs back for years.