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What Became of Leafs Traded Picks

Trading draft picks can be tricky. There is no name attached to the pick, just a number, so it could be anybody. Sometimes that player turns out to be a player you wish you had.


The first time the Toronto Maple Leafs traded a draft pick was in 1971. Toronto traded their spring pick to Philadelphia (#9 Pierre Plante) along with G Bruce Gamble and 20 goal scorer Mike Walton for G Bernie Parent and the Flyers 2nd round pick (#22 Rick Kehoe).


What I have compiled here is a list where the Leafs traded an unknown draft pick and what that pick turned out to be. Sometimes the pick had a year, a round and a number (50th overall for example) and sometimes it was just a year and a round with no idea what overall number the player would someday occupy, thus adding even more mystery to the future.



The List


  1. During the summer of 1979, the Leafs traded their 6th round pick to Edmonton for LW Reg Thomas. Thomas never played for the Leafs, in fact, he spent almost his entire pro career in the WHA. The Oilers used the Leafs pick to select D Steve Smith. Smith played over 800 NHL games and won 2 Cups with Edmonton.


  1. In the summer of 1981, Toronto moved D Bob Gladney and a 6th round pick to LA for C Don Luce. Luce scored over 20 goals 6 times during the 70s, but he only played 39 games for the Leafs. LA traded that original Toronto pick to Pittsburgh for forward Andres Hakkanson. That pick was the 106th overall choice in 1983 and it became LW Kevin Stevens. For a 4 year period there, Stevens was the ultimate power forward in the NHL. From 1990 to 1994 he averaged 48 goals and 102 points a year. Stevens was a 3 time All Star and won a pair of Cups with Pittsburgh.


  1. A week before Christmas in 1982 the Leafs got D Gaston Gingras from Montreal for a 2nd rounder. Gingras played parts of 3 seasons in Toronto and then went back to Montreal. The Canadiens used that Toronto pick to draft LW Benoit Brunet. Brunet spent 7 full seasons in the NHL and won a Cup with the Habs in 93.


  1. Towards the end of the 86-87 season, Toronto swung a deal with the Rangers to get LW Mark Osborne. So the Leafs traded LW Jeff Jackson and a 3rd round pick in 1989 to get the Toronto native. Osborne played over 400 games for the Leafs and helped them reach the Conference Finals in 93 and 94. With the Leafs 3rd round pick, New York chose LW Rob Zamuner. Although Zamuner didn’t turn into a star, he did play 12 years in the league, finished 7th in Selke voting in 1997 and he also made Team Canada’s roster for the 98 Winter Olympics.


  1. Just a couple of weeks into the 1989 season, Toronto decided they wanted Devils rearguard Tommy Kurvers. The big defenceman was coming off a great year where he scored 16 goals and 66 points. But the price the Leafs paid…oh boy. The draft pick for Kurvers became the 3rd overall selection in the 1991 entry draft and the Devils got future Mr. Win Everything, D Scott Niedermayer. Scott Niedermayer is the only hockey player in the world to win a Memorial Cup, a WJHC, a World Championship (2), a World Cup, Olympic gold (2) and a Stanley Cup (4). He also earned 4 All Star selections, a Norris and a Conn Smythe along the way to the HHOF. For the price of Scott Niedermayer, the Leafs got 89 games of Tom Kurvers.


  1. Mike Bullard had a good career. He scored over 20 goals 9 times, bouncing around anywhere from 22 goals to a career high of 51 in 1983-84. Bullard scored 27 goals for the Flyers in 89-90 then went to Switzerland. The Leafs acquired his rights in July of 1991 for a 3rd round pick in 1993, obviously hoping Bullard would come back and fill the net like he used to. He didn’t. Bullard scored just 14 goals as a Leaf in his final NHL season. Using Toronto’s pick, 71st overall, Philly went with C Vinny Prospal. He turned into a 5 x 20 goal scoring journeyman with over 1100 games to his name.


  1. Late June, 1992 the Leafs traded picks with both the Caps and Islanders. Toronto wound up with the 8th, 23rd, and 95th picks. They gave up the 5th overall pick to the Islanders who grabbed D Kasper the Friendly Ghost. Darius Kaspairitis was a hitting machine (sometimes dirty) for 14 years. Internationally, Kaspairitis represented Russia at the Olympics 4 times. Washington scored future Vezina winner, Jim Carey with the 32nd pick. Toronto chose C Brandon Convery, RW Grant Marshall and D Mark Raiter with their picks. Only Convery ever played for the Leafs and his career lasted just 72 games in the league. Marshall played 700 NHL games and won 2 Stanley Cups but not a single minute for the Buds. Raiter never made the NHL.


  1. The Leafs were good in 1993 and Cliff Fletcher must have wanted a 7th defenceman so in late February, he traded a 9th round pick to Ottawa for Brad Miller. Miller never suited up for Toronto. With that cast off draft pick, the newly reborn Senators chose forward Pavol Demitra 227th overall. Demitra didn’t do much in Ottawa, but he became one of the league’s more reliable goal scorers when he landed in St. Louis 5 years later. From 98-03, Demitra averaged 31 tallies a season.


  1. The leaves were still on the trees in the fall of 94 when Toronto and LA completed a 6 player deal. The Leafs got C Kelly Fairchild, C Guy Leveque, RW Shayne Toporowski and RW Dixon Ward. Those four players combined for 47 games as a Leaf. Ward was the only one to carve out an NHL career and he did it mostly in Buffalo. The Kings received LW Eric Lacroix, D Chris Snell and a 4th rounder from Toronto. While Lacroix had an NHL career, it’s the pick the Leafs missed the most. LA grabbed C Eric Belanger with that Toronto pick, 96th overall. Belanger turned into a good top 9 centre for 7 different teams over his 12 year career, hitting double digits in goals 8 times.


  1. Toronto wanted a boost for the 96 playoffs and to get it, they made a deal with the Islanders to get back fan favourite LW Wendel Clark. Along with Clark, Toronto received veteran defencemen Mathieu Schneider and defensive prospect DJ Smith. The Leafs parted with winger Sean Haggerty, C Darby Hendrickson, 21 year old defenceman Kenny Jonsson and the Leafs 1st rounder in 97. Toronto’s push for the 96 playoffs didn’t amount to much as they were bounced by the Blues after just 6 games. Following a poor 96-97 season, that pick the Leafs had turned into the 4th overall selection, which the Isles used to get goaltender Roberto Luongo. Bobby Lu rose up to become one of the greatest goaltenders in hockey history! Only Martin Brodeur has stopped more rubber than Roberto. For nearly 20 years, Luongo proved to be among the very best. He was runner up for the Hart Trophy in 2007 and amazingly he didn’t win the Vezina (try to explain that). He’s a two time All Star, an 8 x 30 game winner and he helped Canada to both a pair of gold medals at the World Championships and the Olympics. Luongo entered into the HHOF in 2022.


  1. To acquire more defensive depth in March of 2001, Toronto paid the steep price of 21 year old centre Adam Mair and a 2nd round pick to the Kings for D Aki Berg. Mair played over 600 games, most with Buffalo. Berg played 4 years as a Leaf as a middle pair defensive Dman. Too bad the Leafs pick was used by the Kings to select Toronto native, Mike Cammaleri. Cammaleri spread 7 x 20 goal seasons across his 15 year career, including a career high of 39 in 08-09. Toronto really could have used that kind of scoring during their dreadful 7 year playoff drought of the 2000s.


  1. Gearing up for the 2003 playoffs, Toronto handed San Jose a ransom for Sharks captain Owen Nolan. The former 1st overall pick had enjoyed a nice career to this point with 5 x 30 goal seasons and a mean bite to go with it. But to get him, the Leafs moved their top prospect in RW Brad Boyes, plugging C Alyn McCauley and a 1st round pick. Boyes went onto play 12 years in the NHL and had 4 x 20 goal seasons. McCauley scored a career best 20 goals during his first year in California. The 1st rounder became hard nosed defenceman Mark Stuart who went to play 12 years in the NHL. Nolan scored 7 goals in his first 14 games as a Leaf, but then went goalless in the playoffs as the Flyers dumped the Leafs in 7. Nolan did return for the following season and scored 19 times in 65 games but those short returns do not at all equal the career of Boyes, McCauley and Stuart.


  1. Desperately trying to scrape into the 07 playoffs, Toronto swapped 23 year old defenceman Brendan Bell, and a 2nd round pick in 2008 for C Yanic Perreault. This would be Perreault’s 3rd tour with the Maple Leafs, first having been drafted by them in 1991, then after 5 years in LA, he came back to Hogtown for a couple of years before leaving again. Perreault could score, he had 7 x 20 goal seasons to his name, but he also was a master faceoff artist. Perreault’s injection into the Toronto lineup didn’t quite do the job as the Leafs missed the playoffs by a single point. Fast forward to the 2008 draft and that Leafs pick now belongs to Nashville and the Preds used the 38th overall pick to draft D Roman Josi. One of the best defencemen in the league over the past decade, Josi has finished in the top 10 for Norris voting 6 times, winning it in 2020. In 2021-22, Josi scored a career high 96 points and although he had the most 1st placed Norris votes, he did not win the award. By the end of the 2022-23 season, Josi will pass David Legwand to become Nashville’s franchise leading scorer.


  1. Unhappy with his current goaltending, JFJ spent a 1st and a 2nd rounder in 2007 plus a 4th rounder in 09 for G Vesa Toskala and C Mark Bell. Toskala was the Sharks backup behind Evgeni Nabokov. Vesa’s numbers weren’t great despite playing behind a 51 win team. I’m sure Sharks GM Doug Wilson was more than happy to grab 3 picks for his backup and a former 20 goal scorer. Bell only scored 4 goals in 35 games as a Leaf and Toskala is almost certainly the worst #1 goalie the Leafs have had this century. He played 2.5 years in Toronto, only winning 62 of his 145 games with an ugly .894SP and rather bloated 3.08GAA. Two of those 3 Toronto picks didn’t turn into NHL players, but the one that did became Lars Eller. Eller is by no means a star, but he’s now playing in his 14th NHL season. He was a big contributor to Washington’s 2018 Stanley Cup championship.


  1. Cliff Fletcher really wanted Luke Schenn in the 2008 draft, so he gave the Islanders a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks to trade up and get his guy. After a good looking rookie season, where he made the All Rookie team, Luke was out the door 4 years later after failing to take strides. Now Luke Schenn has 2 Stanley Cup rings and is still playing in 2022-23, but he’s been a 5th, 6th, 7th defenceman for the last 11 years. The picks Fletcher gave up became D Shawn Lalonde, D Mat Clark and C Colin Wilson. The two Dmen only played a combined 10 NHL games, but Wilson had an 11 year career with Nashville and Colorado ranging between 11-20 goals most of the time.


  1. This next one is a doozy! In July 2008, the Leafs traded D Greg Pateryn and a 2010 2nd round pick to Montreal for C Mikhail Grabovski. 2 months later, Montreal dealt that 2nd rounder to Chicago for C Robert Lang. One year later and a month before the 09-10 season, the Hawks traded the 2010 2nd rounder back to the Leafs (was originally theirs) for a 2nd and 3rd round pick in 2011. Two weeks later, Toronto traded the same 2nd rounder for a 2nd time, this time to Boston as a part of the 3 picks the Leafs gave the Bruins for Phil Kessel. After belonging to 4 different teams, Boston used the 2010 2nd round pick, 32nd overall to draft winger Jared Knight. After all that, unfortunately, Jared never made the NHL.


P2) There is another twist to this trade tree. During the 2009 off season, Toronto just had to give up on young defenceman Anton Stralman, so they shipped the 22 year old along with winger Colin Stuart and a 7th rounder to Calgary. In return the Leafs acquired a 2011 2nd rounder and journeyman Wayne Primeau. The 2011 2nd rounder the Leafs acquired from the Flames was used about a month later when Toronto traded the 2011 pick to Chicago for a 2010 pick, the same 2010 2nd rounder Toronto originally traded to Montreal in 2008. The 2011 2nd rounder Toronto gave Chicago turned out to be Brandon Saad. Saad is now in his 11th year in the league, he’s a 6 x 20 goal scorer and 2 time Cup champ.


Breakdown:

Jared Knight/Brandon Saad Trade

Toronto’s original 2nd round, 2010 pick

July 3/08 Tor trades pick (Knight) to Mtl for Grabovski

Sept 12/08 Mtl trades pick (Knight) to Chi for Lang

July 27/09 Cgy trades pick (Saad) to Tor

Sept 5/09 Chi trades pick (Knight) to Tor for (Saad) pick

Sept 18/09 Tor trades pick (Knight) to Bos for Phil

Bos drafts Knight 32nd in 2010

Chi drafts Saad 43rd in 2011



  1. One of the worst trades in modern Leafs history happened on Nov 24/08 when Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher gave away two good young prospects (D Carlo Colaiacovo and C Alex Steen) to St. Louis for RW Lee Stempniak. Ever since that day, I have a mental image of Blues GM Larry Pleau doing multiple double takes on the offer just to make sure he wasn't misunderstanding something and he really was just ripping off the Leafs this badly. Despite getting every opportunity in Toronto, Stempniak only scored 25 goals as a Leaf in over a year and half! Brian Burke was able to dump Stempniak to Phoenix for D Matt Jones plus a 4th and 7th round draft picks in 2010. Less than 4 months later, Burkie traded the 4th round pick to Washington for a lower 2010 4th rounder with an additional 5th rounder too. The Caps used Toronto’s 4th round pick to select G Philipp Grubauer while Burke’s picks (Petter Granberg & Daniel Brodin) played a combined 45 NHL games. The German keeper would spend 6 years in Washington before getting moved to Colorado where he would win a career high 30 games and become a Vezina finalist in 2021.


  1. There was no doubt that the Maple Leafs were going to miss the 2011 playoffs, stretching their drought to 6 seasons. Brian Burke took his best trade chip and sent veteran defenceman Tomas Kaberle to Boston for prospect C Joe Colborne and Boston’s 1st rounder in 2011. Not the same pick the Leafs gifted the Bruins in the Phil Kessel deal, but the B’s original 2011 1st rounder. Because Boston won the 2011 Stanley Cup, that pick automatically became the 30th overall selection. But like birthday money burning a hole in a kid's pocket, Burkie traded the 30th overall pick, plus a bonus 2nd rounder, to Anaheim for the Ducks 22nd overall choice. Doesn’t make much sense, does it? To make matters worse, Burkie went with 6’, 215lb RW Tyler Biggs. The Ohio native had only produced 22 pts in 44 games over 2 years with the US Development team, but I suppose that’s awesome if you're the 2011 version of Brian Burke. Biggs never made the NHL and those two picks the Leafs gifted Anaheim…they turned in future 30 goal man RW Rickard Rakell and workhorse starting goaltender, John Gibson.


  1. The day after this horrible deal, Burkie was still itching to trade, so he called Anaheim again and this time it was a pretty forgettable swapping of 6th round picks. Toronto got the Ducks 6th rounder in 2012 and Anaheim got the Leafs 6th rounder in 2011. Toronto used their pick to grab G Antoine Bibeau, who despite great junior numbers, only played 4 NHL games. A year later, Anaheim used the Leafs 6th rounder to pick D Josh Manson. Manson developed into a top 4 Dman that anchored the Anaheim blue line for 6 seasons, before getting traded to Colorado and winning the 2022 Stanley Cup. So in two days, Brian Burke traded the picks that turned into Rickard Rakell, John Gibson and Josh Mason, who to this point have combined for nearly 1500 NHL games, for 4 games of Antione Bibeau. That’s the kind of thing that only happens to Charlie Brown and the Toronto Maple Leafs.


  1. Toronto ran into injury problems early in the 2013-14 season, thereby necessitating a trade. GM Dave Nonis called the Ducks and acquired 23 year old C Peter Holland along with RW Brad Staubitz for D Jesse Blacker, a 2014 3rd rounder and a 2014 7th rounder. Holland was given every opportunity to succeed in Toronto, but after trying for 2.5 years, and only 25 goals, he was dealt to Arizona and a year later, out of the league. Those two Toronto picks had value to Anaheim. The Ducks nabbed D Marcus Pettersson in the 3rd round and RW Ondrej Kase with the 7th rounder. Pettersson is still active and playing with the Pens and when healthy, Kase is a terrific top 9 forward. Unfortunately head injuries have greatly limited his availability. After 4 seasons in Anaheim and a cup of coffee in Boston, Toronto signed Kase as a FA in 2021 where he played 50 games and adding 27 points. He’s now in Carolina and sadly still battling concussion symptoms that are keeping him out of the Canes lineup.


  1. Trading stay at home Dmen is the kind of headline hockey fans dream about. Leafs Nation was a buzz when Dave Nonis traded Carl Gunnarsson to St. Louis for Roman Polak. Both were 28 year old defensive defencemen, but Polak had more sandpaper to his game so Nonis tossed in a 2014 4th rounder too. Polak played 4 years in Toronto, while Gunnarsson played for 7 years in St. Louis and won a Cup there in 2019. The day after the trade, St. Louis used the Leafs pick to draft G Ville Husso. It’s funny because Toronto needed a goalie after the 2021-2022 season ended and Husso was available, but he went to Detroit for a 3rd round pick. As of this moment, Husso has won 45 of his 79 career NHL games.



That’s 21 examples of the Leafs trading away blind picks that turned into good or even HOF players. The Kurvers trade that ended up costing the Leafs Scott Niedermayer is legendary. It’s also really dumb. Everyone knew the 1991 draft was going to be a good one. Eric Lindros was going to be drafted first overall. He was, "The Next One". Why anyone would trade away a pick from that year’s draft is both shortsighted and irresponsible. And that’s exactly what Leafs GM Floyd Smith was.


Missing out on Roberto Luongo hurts just as much. Toronto has drafted and developed so few goalies in franchise history. Felix Potvin and James Reimer are the only two in my lifetime! But to draft Luongo, keep and develop him in Toronto would have been all the Leafs needed for decades.


The missed Roman Josi pick is one that doesn’t get enough recognition. Here is a classic, #1 defenceman who can do it all. Every team wants and needs one and the pick was ours. Josi will likely join Niedermayer and Luongo as could have been Leafs in the HHOF.


And the two deals in two days with Burke and Anaheim is a case of Murphy’s Law. Toronto got basically nothing and the Ducks got a TON of talent, longevity, production and value.



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