I’ve picked 14 players in this mockery of a mock draft, and now the hard part is here: I have to figure out what Kyle Dubas will do.

The story so far:

Top 25 Draft Prospects of 2020
Top 25 Draft Prospects of 2020: Picks 8 & 9
Top 25 Draft Prospects of 2020: Picks 10 & 11
Top 25 NHL Draft Prospects: Picks 12 - 14

Dubas has surprised in the last three years, one way or another. No one was shocked that two defenders were selected, however no one really saw Nick Robertson coming last year. The trade down to take Sandin, a Soo player, made perfect sense in hindsight, and that’s really why draft lists, even ones like McKenzie’s that adhere fairly closely to the reality of who is picked at each position, are like battle plans that don’t survive the first engagement.

Bob McKenzie's Final Ranking: Lafreniere the surest thing in most uncertain draft year - TSN.ca

Marc Bergevin is going to pick a player right after Dubas. And who he is going to pick might well depend on who Dubas leaves him. The same is true for Dubas who has Carolina two ahead of him ready to break his heart.

Dubas also has a reputation for drafting “Dubas-type players”, which has become shorthand for short. I’ve made up the term “zippy little winger” for the classic 5-10, 175 lb winger who is agile, a good passer, and sometimes has a shot as well. If you list off the ZLWs who have passed through the Marlies since Dubas has been with the Leafs, it’s a long one, and runs the gamut from William Nylander to that guy you’ve never heard of who got cut to the ECHL.

Dubas has been seen to branch out into the defenceman version of this player phenotype. Travis Dermott is the archetype, and after him came Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin, Mac Hollowell, etc. etc.

The Marlies have often seemed like a collection of players who were required to be shorter than the goalies by at least six inches, but I think size is missing the point on what a Dubas player is. If you listen to him talk about drafting players, he says the word smart so often, it starts to sound like a word he made up. The size of players is more about physical maturity, in that he has come right out and said he will draft players who need more physical development, as long as they’re smart. He’s assuming the Leafs can get them caught up in other areas — Nick Abruzzese is the prototype of this kind of player. This leads Dubas to do things that seem like reaches, particularly in later rounds.

Dubas also likes Americans and Russians as well as he likes Swedes, Finns and Canadians. There is some evidence that American USHL players and Russians in the MHL are more likely to be overlooked by scouts and underrated when they are scouted. Dubas’s late-round picks are full of American and Russian juniors, and none of his more recent picks in the CHL were Canadians.

For all of that history, I think the key word is the word he says more than process: Smart. So who among these remaining choices in the 13 to 20-something range on McKenzie’s list makes old school hockey men nervous because the kid’s too clever?

Dawson Mercer (W):  is lauded for his deceptive agility, and his playmaking as well as his own flashy offence, but is not considered very fast. He’s not cracking the top 10 because his decision making gets questioned, even as his defensive zone play gets some plaudits. The rankings for Mercer from most sources have him in a tight band outside the top 10, but right around 13 to 15. This level of agreement is fairly unusual, so he’s a low risk pick. Sometimes they’re low reward.  Sometimes not.

Hendrix Lapierre (C):  Mercer and Lapierre had 18 and 17 points in 16 and 19 games for Chicoutimi this year. The trouble is, that’s all Lapierre played, while Mercer had a whole other season on another team prior to a trade. Lapierre was knocked out of his pre-draft season by his second concussion in November, and that might make him a steal if he falls below his ranking of 15th. He definitely gets talked up for his on-ice thinking, but the “can he stay healthy” label has already been firmly attached to him (as if that’s a thing you choose or an innate part of your being).

Dylan Holloway (C/LW): Deep down, I want Holloway and Hollowell on the same team to confound the commentators. But that’s not a good reason to draft him. He is not American,  but is an NCAA player hoping to play his second season this year after playing in the AJHL like Cale Makar before him. He drenched the net in points on the Okotoks Oilers, but last season in the NCAA was a big reality check on a team that was struggling. Playing NCAA hockey that young isn’t common, and like Ryan Poehling before him, can disguise how good a young player is.  He’s described as a physically capable power forward, offensively-focused with good play away from the puck, and with speed and a lot of smarts. A versatile player likely to turn pro sooner rather than later is an interesting choice in the middle of the round given who the teams are that draft there.

Braden Schneider (D): I covered him last time, but I’ll just mention that the terms “hockey sense” or “hockey IQ” show up a lot in his scouting reports.

Rodion Amirov (LW): Amirov is a very light-weight player for someone claiming six feet in height, but his listing from NHL Central Scouting has him 10 lbs heavier. He split last year between the KHL, where he wasn’t very good, and junior hockey in the MHL, where he was. He also played a few games in the VHL, where he might spend most of this season. His club boasted Nikita Soshnikov as their star forward in the KHL if you want a reality check on how this guy ended up in the KHL so young. He sure looks underdeveloped, but is he smart? He’s described as having aggressive offence, good speed and transitional skills, but not a lot of playmaking or team-work skills. His defence is lauded, but mostly for his own positioning.  I think he’s about 34 of a classic Dubas pick, and the rest is a question of interpretation of his play in the KHL. Some observers confidently predicted he belonged there last season and would grab a roster spot this year, but he’s been cut to the VHL after three games. By the time the draft actually happens, he will have played about seven more games to impress or not. He seems like a project pick only with greater rewards down the line than you usually get from one of those when you draft them in the third round.

Lukas Reichel (LW): With Tim Stutzle at number two on McKenzie’s list, the presence of two other DEL players in the top 25 makes me suspicious. Suddenly scouts were watching the DEL, but did they fall in love with the idea that German hockey is on the rise, like they did with Finland a few years ago? Reichel, also 6’ tall and very light for that height, has men’s team points as uninspiring as Amirov in a much easier league to get them. His teammate Landon Ferraro had a nearly identical stat line. A lot of other draft lists have him well down in the second round, and I don’t see anything that says they’re wrong. That makes McKenzie’s ranking at 20 seemingly weird or from knowledge only the professional scouts have. None of his public scouting reports have him as much other than a good junior player with a famous uncle.

Jacob Perreault (RW): Perreault, listed as a centre in most other places, is a goal-scoring phenom on a bad OHL team. So are there always just one too many Canadians, and that’s why he never makes Team Canada? Or is his pre-draft jump in goals that jumped him up the rankings just what you get from a player who has a shot and not much else? He also has the famous father, and that usually doesn’t mean much, but Yannic Perreault has a post-hockey career in player development and coaching, so his sons have grown up with the kind of advice you usually have to pay for. Jacob Perreault increased his OHL points from not very good to at least interesting last season almost entirely on the strength of a higher number of shots on the power play. So more time begat more opportunity, and more goals followed. That doesn’t mean you should discount him, but he seems very unlike a Dubas player, given how dubious many scouting reports are of his play away from the puck.

Mavrik Bourque (C): I’m jumping four players on McKenzie’s list to draw in one whose name I keep seeing mentioned as an example of a creative player. Like Perreault, his points ticked up last year, but in his case it came from an overall increase in shots on goal, and he’s better than he seems from raw points because his power play shooting % died off. He’s the sort of exciting player who tantalizes you with his potential, and he absolutely has rankings much higher than the low 20s from exactly the sort of ranking outfits who put every player like him higher than the pro scouts do. Sometimes the pros are really wrong, sometimes a little wrong, but Bourque is exactly the type of player that Dubas might reach for if his scouts think he’s smart as well as skilled.

So who am I picking? I’m glad you asked me that. You know that thing people do when you ask a hard question, and they turn it around on you, and say, so who do you think the Leafs will pick? Yeah, I’m doing that right now.

Below is the mock draft so far, and you can use whatever draft resources you like to decide from for the next player to be picked, but I’m going to poll you about the rest of the Top 25 on McKenzie’s list.

The PPP mock mock draft list

  1. New York Rangers - Alexis Lafreniere
  2. Los Angeles Kings - Tim Stutzle
  3. Ottawa Senators - Quinton Byfield
  4. Detroit Red Wings - Cole Perfetti
  5. Ottawa Senators - Jamie Drysdale
  6. Anaheim Ducks - Lucas Raymond
  7. New Jersey Devils - Yaroslav Askarov
  8. Buffalo Sabres - Jake Sanderson
  9. Minnesota Wild - Anton Lundell
  10. Winnipeg Jets - Jack Quinn
  11. Nashville Predators - Alexander Holtz
  12. Florida Panthers - Kaiden Guhle
  13. Carolina Hurricanes - Marco Rossi
  14. Edmonton Oilers - Seth Jarvis
  15. Toronto Maple Leafs - You tell me!
  16. Montréal Canadiens
  17. Chicago Blackhawks
  18. New Jersey Devils
  19. Calgary Flames
  20. New Jersey Devils
  21. Columbus Blue Jackets
  22. New York Rangers
  23. Philadelphia Flyers
  24. Colorado Avalanche
  25. Washington Capitals

Your job here is to pick, not your boo, but the player you think Kyle Dubas would pick given the situation facing him.

Who should the Leafs take in the PPP Mock Mock Draft?

Dawson Mercer74
Hendrix Lapierre90
Dylan Holloway81
Braden Schneider478
Rodion Amirov66
Lukas Reichel10
Jacob Perreault20
Connor Zary34
John-Jason Peterka7
Ridly Grieg5
Justin Barron16
Someone else who I will name in comments if I know what’s good for me!34