The annual TSN mid-season rankings are out, and you should first go there and read what Bob McKenzie has to say about this draft and study the list. You don’t need to be told who is number one, but for fans of the draft, you might be interested in the top ten.

As Leaf fans, that’s an academic interest, though.  We need to turn out attention to the bottom half, give or take, of the top 31 draft prospects. Somewhere in there is where the Leafs number one pick will fall. Last year at this time we looked at the rankings with the same sort of idea in mind, perhaps with an expectation that the Leafs might not make the playoffs.

TSN mid-season draft rankings show a lot of choices in the Leafs’ range

There’s a mention in there of Timothy Liljegren. He was ranked at third at the time, so you never know how it will go with draft picks. People get hurt, play well, have terrible years, are stuck on bad teams or go lights out in their playoffs, and there will be a lot of movement between now and the draft.

This year’s themes as seen by McKenzie are a lack of Canadians and of centres in the top few spots. The first is irrelevant to us — Leafs come from every corner of the hockey-playing world. But the second is interesting because it’s centres the Leafs are shy of.

Let’s take a peek at the list from the first centre that is even remotely in the Leafs’ likely range and then look on down the list for names of players that might rise. This isn’t the cream of the crop. We don’t drink cream these days.

The milk of the crop!

15Joe VelenoDrummondville (QMJHL)C6'1195
16Joel FarabeeUSA NTDP (USHL)LW5'11152
17Ryan McLeodMississuaga (OHL)C/LW6'2190
18Jared McIsaacHalifax (QMJHL)D6'1195
19Jesperi KotkaniemiÄssät (SM Liiga)C6'1 ½188
20Isac LundestromLuleå (SHL)C/LW5'11 ¼178
21Grigori DenisenkoYaroslavl (MHL)LW5'11163
22Serron NoelOshawa (OHL)RW6'4200
23Jacob OlofssonTimra (SWE-Als)C6'2185
24Mattias SamuelssonUSA NTDP (USHL)D6'3 ¼209
25Dominik BokkVaxjo (SuperElit)LW/RW6'1179
26Jack McBainToronto (OJHL)C6'3 ¼196
27Jett WooMoose Jaw (WHL)D5'11 ¾205
28Benoît-Olivier GroulxHalifax (QMJHL)C6'0 ¾192
29Akil ThomasNiagara (OHL)RW5'11169
30Martin KautPardubice (CZE Extra)RW6'1 ½176
31Alexander AlexeyevRed Deer (WHL)D6'3 ½184
32Calen AddisonLethbridge (WHL)D5'9 ¾179
33K'Andre MillerUSA NTDP (USHL)D6'3 ½194
34Rasmus SandinS.S. Marie (OHL)D5'10 ¾183
35Jakub LaukoChomutov (CZE Extra)LW6'0169
36Jesse YlonenEspoo (FIN)RW5'11 ¾160
37Kevin BahlOttawa (OHL)D6'5 ¾225
38Jonathon TychonickPenticton (BCHL)D5'11 ¼166
39Vitali KravtsovChelyabinsk (KHL)RW6'2170
40Adam GinningLinköping (SHL)D6'2 ¾196
41Ty DellandreaFlint (OHL)C/RW5'11 ¾180
42Sampo RantaSioux City (UHSL)RW6'0 ¾192
43Jay O'BrienThayer (USHS)C6'0175
44Filip JohanssonLeksands (SWE J20)D6'0 ½174

There’s a lot of interesting prospects in here. I’m picking Jesperi Kotkaniemi, simply because every team needs a Kasperi and a Jesperi. For similar reasons, I’ve heard some Leafs fans are interested in Jett Woo. More defence would be nice.

Another interesting choice is Benoit-Olivier Groulx, son of the coach of the Syracuse Crunch, the Marlies darkest, deepest enemy. Drafting him would piss off the Lighting, and the Habs, because their desire for a French-Canadian centre is boundless.

Akil Thomas is who seldo wants, and I’ll let him tell you himself sometime why.

I was really impressed with Isac Lundestrom at the WJC, and wouldn’t say no to him.  The other Rasmus, Rasmus Kupari might be a guy who will drop a little as the scouts find Canadians to haul up into the top of the list.

Who do you like? Who catches your eye? Who do you hope falls into the Leafs clutches this year?