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Toronto Maple Leafs & the NHL Draft: Who fell to 17 in the past?

Someone is bound to fall to #17 at draft day, but who will it be?

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs
Jake Gardiner was selected 17th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, and he is now playing a big role on the Maple Leafs

Predicting what will happen at the NHL draft is no easy task. We watched the Columbus Blue Jackets take Pierre-Luc Dubois over Jesse Puljujarvi last year, and Jakob Chychrun fell all the way to #16. As a result, who will fall to #17 is a major question for Leafs fans ahead of this year’s draft.

At #17, I imagine that most teams are hoping to land the tenth to twelfth best player on their draft board. It is rare to pick your 17th ranked player with the 17th pick, as at least one team ahead of you is bound to take a player that you are not as high on.

This post will look at draft rankings in recent years to examine who the best players available were at #17. Mark Hunter and the Maple Leafs could definitely go off the board with their pick, but it is worth considering who could potentially fall to the team. I chose Future Considerations for the draft rankings, as I generally prefer their lists over most other outlets. You can see this year’s rankings here.

2016 NHL Draft

#13 Dante Fabbro Falls To #17

2016 NHL Draft- Rankings vs. Draft Position

Player FC Rank Draft Position
Player FC Rank Draft Position
Matthews 1 1
Laine 2 2
Puljujarvi 3 4
Dubois 4 3
Tkachuk 5 6
Chychrun 6 16
Keller 7 7
Nylander 8 8
Sergachev 9 9
Jost 10 10
Juolevi 11 5
Brown 12 11
Fabbro 13 17*
McAvoy 14 14
McLeod 15 12

If your draft rankings were the same as Future Considerations, last year was not the best year to pick at #17. Fourteen of their top fifteen players were not available at #17, and Dante Fabbro was not ranked in the top 12.

The big faller was Jakob Chychrun, but the Arizona Coyotes traded up at #16 to select the 6th ranked player. This will be worth keeping an eye on as we go through previous drafts: if the Leafs want to take the faller, will they need to trade up a few spots?

2015 NHL Draft

#11 Travis Konecny, #12 Kyle Connor, #13 Jeremy Roy Available at #17

2015 NHL Draft: Rankings vs. Draft Position

Player FC Rank Draft Position
Player FC Rank Draft Position
McDavid 1 1
Eichel 2 2
Hanifin 3 5
Strome 4 3
Marner 5 4
Provorov 6 7
Werenski 7 8
Rantanen 8 10
Barzal 9 16
Crouse 10 11
Konecny 11 24*
Connor 12 17*
Roy 13 31*
Meier 14 9
Zacha 15 6

If your scouting staff was Future Considerations, 2015 was a great year to select at #17. Only 12 of their top 15 were off the board at #17, and Mathew Barzal went just one spot earlier. The Philadelphia Flyers traded up to land Konecny after he fell all the way to #24, while the Winnipeg Jets took Kyle Connor right away at #17.

The Boston Bruins were largely responsible for this, as they held three consecutive picks between #13-15, and went off the board each time. It seems rather unlikely that the Leafs will be that fortunate this year.

2014 NHL Draft (May Rankings Were Used)

#12 Jared McCann and #15 Robby Fabbri Available At #17

2014 NHL Draft- Rankings vs. Draft Position

Player FC Rank Draft Position
Player FC Rank Draft Position
Ekblad 1 1
Reinhart 2 2
Bennett 3 4
Nylander 4 8
Dal Colle 5 5
Draisaitl 6 3
Ritchie 7 10
Ehlers 8 9
Perlini 9 12
Fleury 10 7
Virtanen 11 6
McCann 12 24*
Fiala 13 11
Larkin 14 15
Fabbri 15 21*

Robby Fabbri would have looked like a terrific #17 selection right about now, but he was not the highest ranked player available. The 12th ranked Jared McCann was available this year, and he even fell all the way to #24. Once again, no player in the top 10 was available, and no one came particularly close to falling this time around.

2013 NHL Draft

9th Ranked Hunter Shinkaruk Available at #17

2013 NHL Draft: Rankings vs. Draft Position

Player FC Rank Draft Position
Player FC Rank Draft Position
Jones 1 4
Mackinnon 2 1
Drouin 3 3
Barkov 4 2
Nichushkin 5 10
Lindholm 6 5
Nurse 7 7
Monahan 8 6
Shinkaruk 9 24*
Domi 10 12
Zadorov 11 16
Ristolainen 12 8
Wennberg 13 14
Pulock 14 15
Morrissey 15 13

Shinkaruk’s development is not going as planned, but you would have been sprinting up to the podium to take him at #17 if this were your draft rankings. He was the only player in the top 15 who was available, and he continued to fall all the way to #24.

After Shinkaruk, the #16th ranked Frederik Gauthier was the next best player available, followed by the #17th ranked Curtis Lazar. Defenceman Nikita Zadorov (ranked #11) was taken one spot earlier at #17.

2012 NHL Draft

#8 Teuvo Teravainen and #12 Sebastian Collberg Available at #17

2012 NHL Draft: Rankings vs. Draft Position

Player FC Rank Draft Position
Player FC Rank Draft Position
Yakupov 1 1
Galchenyuk 2 3
Murray 3 2
Grigorenko 4 12
Forsberg 5 11
Trouba 6 9
Reinhart 7 4
Teravainen 8 18*
Rielly 9 5
Dumba 10 7
Ceci 11 15
Collberg 12 33
Faksa 13 13
Pouliot 14 8
Lindholm 15 6

Teravainen fell one pick later at #18, while Collberg was not selected until the early second round. At #8, Teravainen is the highest ranked player to be available at #17 over the past five drafts.

The Big Picture: Looking Ahead To The 2017 NHL Entry Draft

You can find the 2017 rankings here. Not a single top 10 prospect was available at #17 over the past three years, and this would rule out talented forwards such as Elias Pettersson, Cody Glass, and Martin Necas. In terms of quantity, the best you can hope for is having 3 of the top 15 prospects still on the board.

On average, the best player available on the rankings over the past three drafts sits 12th on the rankings. Juuso Valimaki occupies that spot this year, and many Leafs fans would be happy with adding depth to the blueline. For more information on Valimaki, we profiled him here. Lias Andersson (#13) and Klim Kostin (#14) are the next best bets to be their best player available.

However, there appears to be a wider range of opinions this year compared to in the past. In particular, Nick Suzuki (#19) and Timothy Liljegren (#22) were ranked fairly low on their list, and I would be excited to land either player at #17. All in all, after taking a look at previous drafts, my hope that is one of Eeli Tolvanen (#11), Valimaki (#12), Suzuki (#19), or Liljegren (#22) are available. Any of these would be a great addition to Toronto’s system.