Now that all of the profiles I've written are published, and since Bob McKenzie published his final rankings earlier in the week, I can look at each player I wrote about that I guessed may be available when Toronto's first round pick comes up at 23rd. As I've mentioned before, since I started writing them back in March, I had to do some guessing based on McKenzie's January rankings and how each player seemed to improve or decline in terms of draft hype to end the season.

I picked them from what I knew about them as players, and how well they seemed to meet the criteria for what Toronto's scouting team seems to look for in players. Things like being smart, hard working, having later development paths, all those sayings that come up in their sound bytes all the time.

So let's see what's changed.

First Round Forwards

In total, there were 13 forwards I looked at as potential first round picks for Toronto, based on their rankings (as of a couple of months ago):

Tij Iginla

  • January 22nd rank: 16th
  • June 25th rank: 10th

Even at the time, I figured Iginla would be a pie in the sky dream to fall to the late first round. Suffice to say, he did not. He's a borderline top 10 guy now, so barring some huge trade by Toronto where they gave a top 10 pick but also don't trade it away for some reason, they aren't getting Iggy.

Liam Greentree

  • January 22nd rank: 17th
  • June 25th rank: 18th

Greentree was right on the edge of being considered a "late first" guy, and he's pretty much stayed there. That's pretty close to being where Toronto picks at 23, but he's pretty much right at the end of a pretty clear tier of guys. So while I won't say it's impossible, unlike Iginla, it's still not likely.

Michael Brandsegg-Nygard

  • January 22nd rank: 20th
  • June 25th rank: 17th

Of all the "reaches" that I hoped would fall to Toronto, Brandsegg-Nygard seemed the most realistic option. I'm actually surprised that he only rose by three spots, considering how much hype he has going into the draft from basically every public scouting outlet – including the more 'traditional hockey men' outlets. I would not be surprised if he goes a bit earlier than that. Even if he doesn't, he's in the same situation as Greentree so don't hold your breath.

Igor Chernysov

  • January 22nd rank: 18th
  • June 25th rank: 21st

Now we're talking! I've come to see Chernysov as a Michael Brandsegg-Nygard consolation prize. They're similar kinds of players, in terms of being two-way power forwards. 21st is right before Toronto's pick, and from what I can tell is one of the first guys in that next tier, so it would not be a reach to think he could realistically be available at 23rd.

Michael Hage

  • January 22nd rank: 36th
  • June 25th rank: 24th

A pretty big late riser thanks to his incredible hot streak to end the season, he's right around where Toronto picks. If you really want Toronto to take a legit center that has the potential to be a second line guy (though that's a bit of a long shot for him), then Hage is your guy. Local boy, overcome a lot of adversity and may have some more development in him given how much time he missed last year.

Sacha Boisvert

  • January 22nd rank: 22nd
  • June 25th rank: 22nd

Boisvert has been consistently ranked in the final third of the first round almost all season. He seems like a Fraser Minten type, in terms of his size and potential as a two-way pure center who has a good shot. He's not my first or ideal choice for Toronto to get, but is a very realistic one and I'd be happy with him at 23.

Andrew Basha

  • January 22nd rank: 24th
  • June 25th rank: 30th

Basha falling in Bob's ranking is likely just due to other guys who are the biggest helium risers that leap frogged him – Stian Solberg, Jett Luchanko, and so on. He's still in the same tier as the 23rd pick, and of all the players listed he's one that feels the second most "Easton Cowan" like. Smallish, but not very small. Again, not my preferred choice but I like him.

Lucas Pettersson

  • January 22nd rank: 31st
  • June 25th rank: 40th

Basically like Basha. Pettersson has the potential to be a center than a pure winger, and he also didn't really do anything to "deserve" his rankings slipping the little bit that they did. It's really more about other guys who finished the season much stronger, where Pettersson was more consistently good all year.

Teddy Stiga

  • January 22nd rank: 68th
  • June 25th rank: 43rd

One of the biggest risers on Bob's rankings from January to now, and the guy that feels like the most "Easton Cowan" like to me. He has the late season surge like Cowan and Minten have, he is a similar kind of player to Cowan in terms of being incredibly smart, hard working, with underrated/still developing skill that's come a long way. I love love love Stiga, and if Toronto takes him he'd even be a "reach" considering his final rankings by Bob! I don't think he actually would be, though.

Luke Misa

  • January 22nd rank: 67th
  • June 25th rank: 72nd

Dropping five spots when you're in the third round isn't really dropping at all, and I'm not surprised he didn't rise at all. If you or Toronto or anyone really likes Misa and thinks that's way too low, you can be patient to snag him with a late second or even trade down to get him and someone else you like later on.

John Mustard

  • January 22nd rank: 64th
  • June 25th rank: 58th

Again, not really a "riser" considering where the range of those rankings fall, but Mustard as a late second round guy makes sense. He'd be a reach for Toronto with their first round pick, but... I can still see it? Still more of an ideal trade down target.

Yegor Surin

  • January 22nd rank: 43rd
  • June 25th rank: 34th

Surin put himself solidly in the range to be a straight up first round choice. 34th is still in the range where he could be taken 23rd and it wouldn't be a huge reach, if one at all, it's still in the same tier/range. I like him, but I wouldn't do it. I'd like him more as a trade down guy, where he's the guy you get with the first pick you traded down for, and then you nab a Mustard/Misa with the other.

Clarke Caswell

  • January 22nd rank: Not ranked
  • June 25th rank: Not ranked

I thought he might make Bob's final list, but didn't make his top 90 or one of his honourable mentions. So rather than being a 'reach' for a first rounder, or even a trade down target, you can bump him down into the late round targets for forwards.

First Round Defensemen

Adam Jiricek

  • January 22nd rank: 14th
  • June 25th rank: 16th

The guy I hoped would have his rankings slip right into Toronto's lap, after a pretty tragic season full of bad luck and a serious knee injury. Only dropping to 16th by now does surprise me a bit, but not too much since I never thought he should. There is a chance he is someone that slips on draft day, as teams don't want to gamble on him with their first picks given his injury and missed draft year. But there are teams who have second picks in the first round before Toronto has their first, and they seem more likely to take that gamble. So not getting my hopes up anymore.

Alfons Freij

  • January 22nd rank: 50th
  • June 25th rank: 41st

A bit of a late riser, Freij is the one defensemen I profiled who has a much stronger offensive element of his game and projection. He is less of a two-way defenseman, though I do think he could have some potential there. Toronto is in pretty desperate need of defensemen, both on their NHL roster and in their pipeline, and Freij would fill an immediate and long term need in that regard. If you're of the opinion that there's no point in drafting defensive defensemen because you can get those for cheap in free agency, then you may as well bet big on the offensive guys like him. He'd be a bit of a reach by Bob's final ranking, but I could still see why a team would take him that early.

Stian Solberg

  • January 22nd rank: 45th
  • June 25th rank: 20th

Solberg, with Stiga, is one of the biggest late risers this year. He had a magical playoff run in Denmark, and capped his season playing almost 30 minutes a game at the World Hockey Championship against mostly NHLers and top prospects, and not looking out of place at all considering how young he is. That rocketed him up everyone's draft boards, and at 20 there is a bit of a chance he could fall to Toronto but I think he'll actually be taken earlier. If he does fall to 23rd and the Leafs take him I'd love it.

Dominik Badinka

  • January 22nd rank: 42nd
  • June 25th rank: 29th

Not as sexy in his playstyle or as much of a late riser as Solberg, but could wind up being the better player, Badinka at 29th is right in Toronto's range and would make for a perfect choice as a guy with true two-way potential. Solberg may have the edge in vibes, but Badinka I'd say is already further along in his development and has better projection.

EJ Emery

  • January 22nd rank: 39th
  • June 25th rank: 27th

I do think it's funny that every defensemen I profiled as straight up first round choices for Toronto at 23 wound up being pretty big risers – except Jiricek, anyway. Emery is much more defensively focused, but showed at the World U18s he can move the puck and get some points to help the offense along. I like him quite a bit. He's not going to save Toronto's defense, not for a few years at least, but he's just the kind of defender you'd want and have to overspend in a trade or free agency.

Harrison Brunicke

  • January 22nd rank: Not ranked
  • June 25th rank: 61st

I love Brunicke's game and think he's still underrated at 61st, but it honestly could just be that the scouts McKenzie polled are more conservative in their rankings and didn't want to have him go from unranked completely to borderline first round guy. If that does reflect the range he'll go on draft day, however, then he'd make for a great trade down target. But I think I'd honestly be willing to reach on him straight up at 23rd, though that's only if a bunch of other guys are already off the board.

Tory Pitner

  • January 22nd rank: Not ranked
  • June 25th rank: Not ranked

Not that surprising that Pitner remained unranked. His points dried up in the second half of the season, and while his defense remained great and he's a fascinating player to talk hockey with, he doesn't have the same physical tools as other defense-first defensemen who did get ranked.

Daniil Ustinkov

  • January 22nd rank: Honourable mention
  • June 25th rank: Not ranked

I am a bit surprised that Ustinkov "slipped" from being an honourable mention in January, just outside of Bob's top 80 ranked players at that point, to not being ranked in his top 90 today or even making another honourable mention. It's one of those things where he didn't do anything to really "deserve" it, but at that range it also doesn't really matter. You can bump him into the potential late round defensemen group, which to me could make him a future steal considering how young he is.

Late Round Forwards

For the late round forwards I mentioned as possible targets for the fourth round onwards, whether they're re-entries or first time eligible, there were six of them that made McKenzie's list:

  • Jacob Battaglia - 57th
  • Anthony Romani - 90th
  • AJ Spellacy - honourable mention
  • Heikki Ruohonen - honourable mention
  • Herman Traff - honourable mention
  • Ondrej Becher - honourable mention

Battaglia and Romani are out of the picture for Toronto's picks, realistically. The honourable mentions are probably just outside the range of being a fourth round pick, which is 120th. Since McKenzie's rankings end at 90, that means honourable mentions are about a round too early. However, in that range 'rankings' really break down and it's just chaos of what long shots particular teams still like. So some of them may still slip that much.

On the other hand, if you liked any of the other forwards I mentioned then you'll be happy to know they do have good chances of being available in the 4th round or later! That means Fyodor Avramov, Topias Hynninen, and Oskar Vuollet among my personal favourites.

Late Round Defensemen

Of the defensemen I mentioned as later round options, whether they're re-entries or first time eligible this year, four had spots in McKenzie's final rankings. The highest is Jessu Pulkkinen, a re-entry from Finland. I'm not surprised he's that high, since he was ranked even higher in January (33rd). He's a late 2004 birthday, and honestly I would not touch him with Toronto's pick. I don't think he'd be one of the players I'd want as a trade down candidate either, depending on who else is still available.

The others are Tarin Smith at 81, Colin Ralph at 63, and Timur Kol as an honourable mention. That would put all three just outside of potential fourth or fifth round pick range, so you can pretty safely write them off as candidates for that. Toronto could realistically get them if they wound up getting a late second/early third round pick through trade somehow, but that's it.

For the guys I also mentioned in the late round defensemen list that did not get any callout on McKenzie's final rankings, the best options (to me) would be Noel Fransén, Viggo Gustafsson, or Luke Osburn.

Thanks for reading!

I put a lot of work into my prospect articles here, both for the draft and Toronto's prospects. I do it as a fun hobby for me, and I'd probably do it in some capacity even if PPP completely ceased to exist. But if you like reading my work, some support would go a long way! I pay for a few streaming services (CHL, NCAA, USHL, the occasional TSN options for international tournaments that are broadcast) to be able to reliably watch these prospects in good quality streams. I also pay for some prospect-specific resources, such as tracking data and scouting reports from outlets like Elite Prospects, Future Considerations, McKeen's Hockey, The Athletic, and more.

Being able to get paid for this helps me dedicate more time and resources to it, rather than to second/third jobs. And whatever money I make here, a lot of I reinvest back into my prospect work through in those streaming and scouting services. Like I said, I'd be doing whatever I can afford for this anyway, so any financial help I get through this is greatly appreciated!

PPP Leafs Runs on Your Subscriptions

Consider making a commitment today.

Support PPP