With the 2020 NHL draft beginning tomorrow, we’re going to take some time this morning to look through the Toronto Maple Leafs draft history in the top half of the first round. The Leafs (as of writing time) have the 15th overall pick in this year’s draft thanks to the Pittsburgh Penguins wanting Kasperi Kapanen back. Before we look at the high picks, you can look through the lower end first rounders the Leafs have taken:

Pre-draft filler content: Examining the back half of the first round.

#15 - Two picks - 1973, 1995

1973 - Ian Turnbull - D - Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 628GP - 123G - 317A - 440Pts - 736PM
Leafs Career: 580GP - 112G - 302A - 414Pts - 651PM

Ian Turnbull was named #42 on the centennial Top 100 Maple Leafs list. Aside from two seasons split between the Los Angeles Kings, Penguins, and their AHL affiliates, Turnbull spent the majority of his decade long career in Toronto. Sadly, this was with the Maple Leafs of the late 70’s and early 80’s, so not much came to him team success wise. He is the only player to score five goals on his only five shots in a game, which occurred on February 2nd, 1977 against the Red Wings.

1995 - Jeff Ware - D - Oshawa Generals (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 21GP - 0G - 1A - 1Pt - 12PM
Leafs Career: 15GP - 0G - 0A - 0Pts - 6PM

Ware would win gold with Canada at the 1997 World Junior Championships before turning pro with 13 Maple Leafs games later that year. He got two more the next season, but would be traded to the Florida Panthers for David Nemirovsky mid-way through the 1998-99 season.

#13 - Two picks - 1974, 2006

1974 - Jack Valiquette - C - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 350GP - 84G - 134A - 218Pts - 79PM
Leafs Career: 172GP - 33G - 66A - 99Pts - 52PM

Valiquette played just one year in the OHL before being drafted, but was named League MVP, was the points leader, and named Rookie of the Year before being drafted by the Maple Leafs. He only had one full season with the Leafs (splitting the rest with the CHL Oklahoma City Blazers & Tulsa Oilers), At the start of the 1978/79 season he would be traded to the Colorado Rockies for a second round pick. He would play three more seasons before retiring.

2006 - Jiri Tlustly - C - Kladno (Czech)
NHL Career Stats: 446GP - 89G - 88A - 177Pts - 126PM
Leafs Career: 74GP - 10G - 10A - 20Pts - 14PM

Tlustly came to North America after being drafted and spent his post-draft year with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. There were big expectations for Tlustly in his first pro season heading into 2007-08, but he wouldn’t get past a handful of Leafs games each season; playing mostly with the Toronto Marlies. He would be traded top the Carolina Hurricanes in December 20098 for the rights to Philippe Paradis.

#12 - Three picks - 1977, 1989, 1993

1977 - Trevor Johansen - D - Toronto Marlboroughs (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 286GP - 11G - 46A - 57Pts - 282PM
Leafs Career: 132GP - 4G - 21A - 25Pts - 134PM

Not exactly a finesse player, but the type of player people wanted in the 70’s and 80’s. He would jump right from the OHL to the NHL after the draft, spending the full season with the Maple Leafs, but would be traded the next year to the Colorado Rockies.

1989 - Rob Pearson - RW - Belleville Bulls (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 269GP - 56G - 54A - 110Pts - 645PM
Leafs Career: 192GP - 49G - 42A - 91Pts - 458PM

Another first rounder from the Belleville Bulls in the 1989 draft, Pearson 2.5 NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs before being traded to the Washington Capitals at the 1994 draft. After one season with the Capitals, he would flip between the pros and the minors before ending his career in Germany in 2002. He would get into coaching later on and spent last season as head coach of the Jr A. Pickering Panthers.

1993 - Kenny Jonsson - D - Rogle (SHL)
NHL Career Stats: 686GP - 63G - 204A - 267Pts - 298PM
Leafs Career: 89GP - 6G - 29A - 35Pts - 38PM

Jonsson was a great NHL defender, just not for the Leafs. He would play just over one season with the Leafs before being traded to the New York Islanders, in the trade that saw the Leafs send the pick that became Roberto Luongo leave town as well. Jonsson would become captain of the Islanders (until he was demoted in favour of Alexei Yashin). He would head back to Sweden in the cancelled season and stay for the rest of his career. He would become a coach in Sweden after retirement, but ended that career path in 2017.

#11 - Two picks - 1972, 1977

1972 - George Ferguson - C - Toronto Marlboroughs (OHL)
NHL Career Stats:  797GP - 160G - 238A - 398Pts - 431PM
Leafs Career: 359GP - 57G - 110A - 167Pts - 236PM

Drafted from one of the Leafs favourite teams to draft from, Ferguson carved out a place for himself as the enforcer of the team, while also scoring a fair number of points a season. After six years with the Leafs he would be traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins along with Randy Carlyle. After six more NHL seasons he would retire.

1977 - John Anderson - LW - Toronto Marlboroughs (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 814GP - 282G - 349A - 631Pts - 261PM
Leafs Career: 534GP - 189G - 204A - 393Pts - 166PM

Anderson won awards at all the lower levels of play, but being with the Leafs (then Whalers) in the 80’s meant he wouldn’t get much chance for NHL success. He was a good scorer, quality depth for any team that could have used him. In 1985 he was traded to the Quebec Nordiques for Brad Maxwell, and after retirement he would get into coaching, being a head coach with the Quad City Mallards, Chicago Wolves, Atlanta Thrashers, Arizona Coyotes, and most recently was an assistant with the Minnesota Wild in 2018.

#10 - Four Picks - 1968, 1973, 1990, 1998

1968 - Brad Selwood - D - Niagara Falls Flyers (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 162GP  - 7G - 40A - 153PM
Leafs Career: 99GP - 6G - 27A - 33Pts - 71PM

After one season with the Leafs, Selwood would jump to the WHA and play seven years with the New England Whalers. Post-merger he would play join the Los Angeles Kings for his final NHL season. He would jump right into the LA Kings coaching staff before starting a long career in junior hockey, which would end after being released as VP of Hockey Operations, GM, and Head Coach of the Oshawa Generals in 2008.

1973 - Bob Neely - D - Peterborough Petes (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 283GP - 39G - 59A - 98Pts - 266PM
Leafs Career: 261GP - 36G - 53A - 89Pts - 264PM

Neely wouldn’t have a long career, but most of it would be spent with the Leafs. In January 1978 he would be traded to the Colorado Rockies for cash, then brought back from Colorado in May that same year. A true rental, if you will.

1990 - Drake Berehowsky - D - Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 549GP - 37G - 112A - 149Pts - 848PM
Leafs Career: 133GP - 7G - 28A - 35Pts - 181PM

After being drafted Berehowsky would be named CHL and OHL defender of the year in 1992 but would bounce up and down between Toronto and St. John’s until he was traded to the Penguins in 1995 for Grant Jennings. He wouldn’t stick in the NHL until a few seasons with the brand new Nashville Predators and would return to Toronto for nine games after the 2004 trade deadline. After playing he would coach in the AHL, OHL, and is currently the GM/Head Coach of the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears.

1998 - Nik Antropov - C - Torpedo UST-Kamengorsk (Russia)
NHL Career Stats: 788GP - 193G - 272A - 465Pts - 627PM
Leafs Career: 509GP - 125G - 166A - 291Pts - 477PM

Antropv was front and centre Leaf during the frustrating post-lockout years, and playing behind Mats Sundin, so he would become a scapegoat for team troubles. With an expiring contract, he would be traded to the New York Rangers at the 2009 deadline, then sign with the Atlanta Thrashers before their move to Winnipeg. He currently works as a Skills Development Consultant with the Toronto Marlies.

#9 - 1969, 1979

1969 - Ernie Moser - RW - Estevan Bruins (SJHL)
NHL Career Stats: N/A
Leafs Career: N/A

Moser wouldn’t play an NHL game after being drafted, but played seven years in the minors.

1979 - Laurie Boschman - LW - Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
NHL Career Stats: 1009GP - 229G - 348A - 577Pts - 2263PM
Leafs Career: 187GP - 39G - 70A - 109Pts - 406PM

Boschman had two and a half seasons in the NHL with the Leafs, learning to be a pro, before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers. He would spend the majority of his career with the Winnipeg Jets, racking up over 1300 penalty minutes. In his final NHL season he would be the inaugural captain of the Ottawa Senators. Such an Ottawa thing to name a Leaf as captain.

#8 - Three Picks - 1970, 1992, 2014

1970 - Darryl Sittler - C - London Knights (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 1096GP - 484G - 637A - 1121Pts - 948PM
Leafs Career: 844GP - 389G - 527A - 916Pts - 763PM

#4 on the Maple Leafs top 100 list, a statue on Legends Row, a Hall of Fame inductee, and a record breaking ten point game. Not every top ten pick makes such a mark on one franchise, but Sittler is one of the Maple Leafs’ all time best players, and like many it was a shame to see him play under Harrold Ballard. Sittler never got along with him or GM Punch Imlach, and after publicly protesting Lanny McDonald’s trade and walking out on Ballard for not trading him, Sittler would go to the Philadelphia Flyers for two and a half seasons, before ending his career with one year on the Red Wings.

1992 - Brandon Convery - C - Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 72GP - 9G - 19A - 28Pts - 36PM
Leafs Career: 50GP - 7G - 10A - 17Pts - 24PM

Not everyone can be Darryl Sittler. Convery spent three seasons with St. John’s and got a few Leafs games in. He wouldd be traded to the Canucks for Lonny Bohonos in 1998, and would end up in Switzerland at the turn of the century. He coached a couple teams in the Los Angeles Kings kids and high school systems.

2014 - William Nylander - C - MODO (SHL)
NHL Career Stats: 307GP - 86G - 135A - 221Pts - 74PM
Leafs Career: Too many games if you ask TSN.

Too often used as trade bait by some and compared to the best players in the league by others, Nylander is a polarizing player on the Leafs for some reason. He has a great contract, has worked harder than many other Leafs all season, and was one of the few to show up to practice after the David Ayres game. If you’re unhappy he’s on the team, just remember we all expected Dave Nonis to take Nick Ritchie with that pick.

#7 - Three Picks - 1983, 1987, 2009

1983 - Russ Courtnall - RW - Victoria Cougars (WHL)
NHL Career Stats: 1029GP - 297G - 447A - 744Pts - 557PM
Leafs Career: 309GP - 90G - 128A - 218Pts - 243PM

Russ Courtnall missed out on a few Stanley Cups thanks to trades, but not with the Leafs. An NHL career of over 1,000 games began with the Leafs, but would go to the Montreal Canadiens in the terrible Courtnall for Kordic trade just after their 1986 cup win, lose in the final in 1989, and be traded out of town before the 1993 win.

1987 - Luke Richardson - D - Peterborough Petes (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 1417GP - 35G - 166A - 201Pts - 2055PM
Leafs Career: 299GP - 11G - 39A - 50Pts - 597PM

A long time penalty minute collector, Richardson warmed up his long career over four seasons in Toronto before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers. After six seasons in Edmonton, he would play five in Philly, and two and a half in Columbus, as captain, before coming back to Toronto for the remainder of the 05-06 season after the deadline. He would take up coaching, including a Calder Trophy winning season for the baby Sens and is currently working on the Montreal Canadiens staff.

2009 - Nazem Kadri - C - London Knights (OHL)
NHL Career: 612GP - 180G - 213A - 393Pts - 484PM
Leafs Career: 561GP - 161G - 196A - 357Pts - 387PM

Kadri just played his first season away from the Maple Leafs, and while he had his lowest points total in the regular season, he had his best playoffs since the Bruins weren’t there to goad him into a suspension. Picked as a result of a Lee Stempniak hat trick that dropped the Leafs down the standings away from Brayden Schenn, Kadri has become this year’s favourite Leaf that got away™.

#6 - Five Picks - 1963, 1975, 1981, 1986, 1988

1963 - Walt McKechnie - C - London Nationals (Ontario JrB)
NHL Career Stats: 955GP - 214G - 392A - 606Pts - 469PM
Leafs Career: 133GP - 32G - 72A - 104Pts - 22PM

The Maple Leafs first ever draft pick in the NHL amature draft was also the Leafs first Brad Boyes - a first round pick who wouldn’t play for the Leafs until the end of his career. It’s a long story, and this post is already long, so you can read it here:

The first draft pick: Walt McKechnie

1975 - Don Ashby - C - Calgary Centennials (WHL)
NHL Career Stats: 188GP - 40G - 56A - 96Pts - 40PM
Leafs Career: 141GP - 26G - 40A - 66Pts - 34PM

Ashby bounced between the bigs and the minors all his career but he got the most games in with the Leafs. He would play one last season in the CHL with the Wichita Wind - and six Edmonton Oiler games — before ding in a car accident in the off-season.

1981 - Jim Benning - D - Portland Winter Hawks (WHL)
NHL Career Stats: 605GP - 52G - 191A - 243Pts - 461PM
Leafs Career: 364GP - 37G - 136A - 173Pts - 289PM

Everyone’s favourite GM started his NHL career as a defender for the Maple Leafs, jumping straight out of junior and into the pros. He wouldn’t play an AHL game until his sixth season that saw him play ten games for the Newmarket Saints before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks, where he’s been the General Manager for the past six seasons.

1986 - Vincent Damphousse - C - Laval Titan (QMJHL)
NHL Career Stats: 1378GP - 432G - 773A - 1205Pts - 188PM
Leafs Career: 394GP - 118G - 211A - 329Pts - 260PM

A Stanley Cup winner and former captain for the Canadiens and Sharks, he began his career with the Maple Leafs. He scored 155 points in the Q in his draft year, and had a high of 94 with the Leafs in 1990. He would be traded to the Oilers with 1987 first rounder Luke Richardson.

1988 - Scott Pearson - LW - Kingston Canadiens (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 292GP - 56G - 42A - 98Pts - 615PM
Leafs Career: 63GP - 5G - 11A - 16Pts - 114PM

Pearson would bounce between the NHL and AHL for years. He never played a full season before being traded to the Quebec Nordiques early in the 1990/91 season. He returned in 1996/97, but spent most of the season injured - playing only one NHL game and 14 AHL games.

#5 - Three Picks - 1964, 2008, 2012

1964 - Tom Martin - RW - Toronto Marlborough Midgets (Ontario Midget)
NHL Career Stats: 3GP - 1G - 0A - 1Pt - 0PM
Leafs Career: Same

While he only played three games in the NHL, he did get a goal. He was a career minor leaguer, and spent the final four seasons of his career in Sweden. He would coach the OHL Toronto Marlboroughs for two seasons in the 80’s.

2008 - Luke Schenn - D - Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
NHL Career Stats: 759GP - 31G - 117A - 148Pts - 568PM
Leafs Career: 310GP - 14G - 61A - 75Pts - 217PM

Once known as “Our Luke and Saviour” for jumping right to the NHL, some people say he was rushed and had his development stunted. After four years with the Leafs, the young Schenn would be traded to the Philadelphia Flyers straight up for James van Riemsdyk. After the Flyers, Schenn would play for the Kings, Coyotes, Ducks, Canucks, and most recently the Lightning - where he won the Stanley Cup.

2012 - Morgan Rielly - D - Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
NHL Career Stats: 517GP - 54G - 216A - 270Pts - 127PM
Leaf Career: He’s all ours! Don’t touch him!

Drafted by the Leafs in 2012, he would get sent back to the WHL for one season after only playing 12 games in his draft year. Rielly got the “A” on his sweater in 2016, and has been a leader on and off the ice for the team his entire time here. Also, his dad was very happy he was drafted to Toronto.

#4 - Four Picks - 1966, 1973, 1984, 2015

1966 - John Wright -C - West Clair Gaels (Ontario JrB)
NHL Career Stats: 127GP - 16G - 36A - 52Pts - 67PM
Leafs Career: None

Wright would attend and play for the University of Toronto for five seasons after being drafted, and skipped playing for the Leafs. He got a couple seasons in with the Canucks, Blues, and Kansas City Scouts.

1973 - Lanny McDonald - RW - Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
NHL Career Stats: 1111GP - 500G - 506A - 1006Pts - 899PM
Leafs Career: 477GP - 219G - 240A - 459Pts - 372PM

Lanny McDonald could have been a career Maple Leaf, and an legend in town. He was an almost point per game player for the Leafs before being traded to the Colorado Rockies for no reason other than being friends with Darryl Sittler, and Punch Imlach being a lunatic. McDonald would captain the Rockies, and then the Calgary Flames for six seasons before leading the Flames to their only Stanley Cup.

1984 - Al Iafrate - D - Belleville Bulls (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 799GP - 152G - 311A - 463Pts - 1301PM
Leafs Career: 472GP - 81G - 169A - 250Pts - 546PM

Iafrate played only ten games in the OHL in his draft year, but played 55 games for Team USA internationally, including six Olympic games. After that it was straight to the NHL, and six and a half seasons in Toronto. Iafrate would request a trade after growing tired of playing in Toronto, and GM Floyd Smith made a trade he knew he wouldn’t get fair value back. Speaking of....

2015 - Mitch Marner - C/W - London Knights (OHL)
NHL Career Stats: 300GP - 83G - 208A - 291Pts - 102PM
Leafs Career: 300GP - 83G - 208A - 291Pts - 102PM and counting...

Marner went back to the OHL and won all the awards, but somehow all footage of the OHL Championship appearance disappeared. After stepping into the NHL he is just barely under a point per game scoring pace, and feels all kinds of respect and admiration towards the Leafs.

#3 - Two picks - 1982, 1989

1982 - Gary Nylund - D - Portland Winter  Hawks (WHL)
NHL Career: 608GP - 32G - 139A - 171Pts - 1235PM
Leafs Career: 218GP - 7G - 50A - 57Pts - 398PM

Nylund was an unremarkable penalty getter, who made one big move in the NHL: Being the first player to change teams via free agency in 1986. He left the Leafs for the Chicago Blackhawks, where he would play for two and a half seasons before being traded to the  New York Islanders. He retired after ten seasons and became a firefighter in Delta, BC.

1989 - Scott Thornton - C - Belleville Bulls (OHL)
NHL Career: 941GP - 144G - 141A - 285Pts - 1459PM
Leafs Career: 33GP - 1G - 3A - 4Pts - 30PM

Thornton only played 33 Leafs games before being shipped off to the Oilers along with Richardson and Damphousse in the big first rounder trade of 1991. The Leafs did get back Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson, and Craig Berube in that deal. He would go on the play for the Canadiens, Stars, Sharks, and Kings before retiring. He has an amazing house in Colingwood, ON which I once saw on an episode of MTV Canada’s Cribs.

#1 - Two picks - 1985, 2016

1985 - Wendel Clark - LW - Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
NHL Career Stats: 793GP - 330G - 234A - 564Pts - 1690PM
Leafs Career: 608GP - 260G - 181A - 441Pts - 1535PM

The Maple Leafs first ever first overall pick has become one of the m sot popular Leafs of all time. He’s had his number 17 retired, a statue on Legends Row, and was named #15 on the All Time Leafs list. He long troubled with injuries, he had three stints with the Leafs, including his final NHL games in 2000.

2016 - Auston Matthews - C - Zurich Lions (NLA)
NHL Career Stats: 282GP - 158G - 127A - 285Pts - 46PM
Leafs Career: Until he signs with the Coyotes! LOLOLOLOL Laffs 1967

The final piece of the Maple Leafs rebuild, his drafting was the bottom of curve in the roller coaster of tanking, and now the Leafs are rolling upwards to the peak.

Also, he’s a pretty good hockey player.

Those are all the Leafs players that were drafted with picks 15-1, and I don’t know why I was so surprised there were so many. The Leafs have been bad for a long time.

On Wednesday we could be adding one more player to that list. Will he be boom or bust?