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Maple Leafs 2017 draft class is shaping up to be an unusual one

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The Leafs began with a defender who is small and mobile and then they flipped that script in all but position. This might be the biggest draft class ever.

2017 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

When the best player available also fits one of your organizational weaknesses, you’ve started the draft off right. That’s exactly what the Leafs got with Timothy Liljegren.

Pick #17

More qualitatively, his skillset seems to fit in beautifully in the modern NHL. He can skate, he can pass, and he can carry the puck. He also has the confidence to use these skills, sometimes to his own detriment. All told, he has the talent that scouts drool over. There are questions about his defensive ability, but that’s par for the course with prospects like this. I don’t doubt that there’s validity to those questions, but I’m always a fan of betting on puck skills, skating, and playmaking. Liljegren has all three, and that’s a rare package outside the top 15.

Pick #59

Eemeli Räsänen was the surprise second round choice. He’s a giant defenceman, and next to him Liljegren is just an ordinary man. This seems like an off the board pick, and the sort of thing that scared Leafs fans last year. But he’s got some good points beyond his height.

In drafting Eemeli Rasanen at 59th overall, the Leafs take another European right-handed defenseman, though one with notably less skill than Liljegren. The most obvious thing about Rasanen is his size. At 6’7”, he is a large 18 year old. He’s not a coke machine either, as he put up 39 points in 66 games for the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. He evidently has some skill, which is nice to see, though his skating appears to be panned across the board.

Pick #110

Goaltender Ian Scott is the first pick in the fourth round, and he’s a bit of a surprise. But if you’re going for a goalie, a mid round is likely a good place to do it.

Pick #124

Vladislav Kara is not a man we know anything about, and this is also a pick very much like the surprise overagers of last year. He’s 19, plays in the Kazan club system in Russia, which is where Rinat Valiev is from, and where the Leafs were scouting Vladimir Tkachyov all season.

He’s been playing in the junior league, and that’s about all we know. This will be a voyage of discovery for all of us.

Pick #141

Fedor Gordeev is a good Toronto boy who was just drafted by his hometown team. He’s currently playing in the less than stable Flint Firebirds organization. He’s also another great big defender. I see a trend developing here. This is a lot of size, a lot of Europeans, and at least one totally off the board overager so far.

Pick #172

Ryan McGregor flips our script entirely. He’s a centre/winger of average size. He is an OHL player out of the Sarnia Sting, a team likely to be known well by the Leafs’ scouting staff. This is the prototype we thought the Leafs would be drafting when Mark Hunter took over, and yet, it’s not exactly what they picked most of the time.

Pick #203

Ryan O’Connell was the last man taken. He’s a defender, but he’s shaped like Liljegren, not the big giants that were taken later. He is a Canadian playing NCAA hockey.

2017 Toronto Maple Leafs Draft

Pick Name Birth Date Position Shoots Height Weight 16-17 Team League
Pick Name Birth Date Position Shoots Height Weight 16-17 Team League
17 Timothy Liljegren May 30, 1999 D R 6'0" 192 Rögle SHL
59 Eemeli Räsänen April 6, 1999 D R 6'7" 209 Kingston Frontenacs OHL
110 Ian Scott January 11, 1999 G L 6'3" 174 Prince Albert Raiders WHL
124 Vladislav Kara April 20, 1998 C L 6'1" 187 Irbis Kazan MHL
141 Fedor Gordeev January 27, 1999 D L 6'6" 209 Flint Firebirds OHL
172 Ryan McGregor January 29, 1999 C/LW L 6'0" 159 Sarnia Sting OHL
203 Ryan O'Connell April 25, 1999 D L 6'0" 150 Boston University NCAA

And that’s a wrap on this year’s draft class. The Leafs made zero trades, they took four defenders, one goalie and two forwards. One of the forwards was an overager, and no one is under six feet tall.

What do you think of this towering draft class? A good idea or a second-rate basketball team?