The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Ben Danford in the first round of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft with pick number 31.

Danford is a right-shooting defender and listed on Elite Prospects at 6'1" and 190lbs. He was ranked everywhere from 30th by EP themselves to the mid fifties by the scouting outlets they list.

He is from Madoc in Ontario, and has been playing with the Oshawa Generals in his first year in the OHL. If you like points, you won't like Ben, as he has one goal and 32 assists in 64 games.

He played in 21 playoff games and had 10 points there – Oshawa went deep this year and played a round against Easton Cowan's London Knights.

Ben Danford thinks the game in a more advanced way than most. He knows how to defend in-zone and how to move the puck up the ice, but he couldn't always execute his ideas in the early parts of the season. The puck would spring off his stick in the middle of a manoeuvre and he would trip attempting to pivot and close in on an opponent. But as his technical ability and offensive touch improved, his success rate went up.

"Wow, who was the guy who showed up to play this game and what has he done with the version of Ben Danford from earlier in the season?" wrote Elite Prospects OHL scout Lauren Kelly in a December game report. "Definitely the most impressive drafteligible on the ice. The gap control was pretty seamless. Several impressive activations in the offensive zone, including one where he blew down the wall before passing to a teammate in the slot." Danford started showing more and more abilities to retrieve and move pucks under pressure. He won more of his 1-on-1 engagement, playing the body and knocking pucks away. And his passing game expanded. He deceived forecheckers and defenders, linked
plays with give-and-goes, and continuously jumped in gaps in the attack.

More smooth than explosive, Danford continued to have some technical hiccups even in the late months of the season, but the high-level, creative plays and the timely stops started to significantly outnumbered the errors. He became a pillar of the contending Oshawa Generals.


It looks like they picked someone who defends first.