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Weekend FTB: What will the Leafs’ strategy be at the draft?

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Trade down? Trade players? Why not both!

2019 NHL Draft - Round 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

For the second year in a row, the Leafs will be without a first round pick. They’re also without a third round pick. But from the fourth round to the seventh round, the Leafs pick NINE times. They will hopefully be able to turn those into some future depth players or hidden gems like Andreas Johnsson or Pierre Engvall.

It kind of sucks though, because this seems like a pretty strong draft for the first two rounds. I know people say that every year, and I might think that way this year because it’s the first time I’ve ever really researched prospects outside of the first round in any real depth.

But, suffice to say the Leafs do have the power to get more picks — including in the first two or three rounds. Having more picks, generally, is a good thing.

There are two ways they can do it: they can trade down with their current picks to get more of them, or they can trade players or prospects for picks.

The former seems possible. If they can trade down to later in the second round to get a third, for example, and if there are still some good choices on the board for them... well Dubas has shown he’s willing to do this plenty of times already. Now let’s also say that the NHL decides to have the draft before the season actually ends, which seemed more possible a week ago but less so now. That would make other draft picks the only thing that could really be traded on draft day. You could see a smart team like the Leafs really trading on the increased trade value of picks to get more of them.

But if the draft winds up happening in the short period between seasons as is now being discussed, the Leafs and other teams will be able to make the same sort of player trades that normally happen. And with the potential for some cap troubles coming the Leafs’ way, there are a few players who fans are already dealing away: Johnsson, Kapanen, Kerfoot, Dermott, Holl, Hyman... pretty much any player who’s not part of their “core” and makes more than $1 million.

On the one hand, the fantasy trades for them usually wind up bringing us back that right shot defenseman we’ve long been pining for. On the other hand, if the Leafs making these trades to clear cap space then they might not be able to really bring back another big contract in return... but they COULD trade them for picks! I mean, they could do both really.

Look at Detroit and Ottawa. Ottawa has four picks in the 2nd round and two picks in the 3rd round, while Detroit has three picks in the 2nd round and also have two in the 3rd round. Between them, they have 15 picks in the first three rounds. As a rebuilding team, they might want to really stock up on draft picks. But they might also use a pick or two to get a good and young player right now from teams that can’t afford them due to the cap crunch. Those young NHL players could help insulate whoever winds up with Lafrenierre or Byfield or any of the other draft picks who jump right into the NHL.

Basically I want the Leafs to wind up with like four picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds so they can wind up picking from the likes of Tristen Robins, William Villeneuve, Roby Jarventie, Zayde Wisdom, Yevgeni Oksentyuk, Marat Khusnutdinov, Joni Jurmo, Anton Johannesson, Joel Blomqvist, Yan Kuznetsov, Pavel Novak, etc.

Take your favourite sleeper picks that fall to the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Now imagine the Leafs get four of them instead of one.

But then I remember the Leafs are in the mode of needing NHL capable players now, and I realize that this dream would be forced on them more than it would be their most desirable plan of action... [sighs]

ONTO THE LINKS

Nick Robertson is a Toronto Maple Leaf.

Pawston Matthews and Frederuff Andersen are Toronto Maple Leafs.

Kyle Dubas is a Toronto Maple Leaf.

Rasmus Sandin is a Toronto Maple Leaf.

AROUND THE HOCKEY WORLD

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The CHL lawsuit for player wages was settled out of court, with CHL paying out around $30 million.

The NHWL cancelled the Isobel Cup final.