Bob McKenzie has released his midseason rankings for this summer’s 2023 NHL Draft. Without hesitation, he made sure it was clear that it’s Connor Bedard’s draft and no one behind him is close. The race to the bottom is going to be fierce.

'It's Bedard at No. 1 and a wide chasm to everyone else' -

The other thing, more pertinent to the Leafs, that Bob mentioned was that this year is very light on defenseman, but strong in forwards and goalies in the first round. This tells me that once the top forward talent gets picked in the top half of the first round, we’re going to see teams reach for defenders a lot earlier than they should be, as well as possibly goalies, leading to lots of talent slipping through to the later rounds. GMs just can’t help but draft defensemen

There should be very little reason for the Leafs to keep their first round pick this season. They’ve shown the ability to find talent beyond the first round (Minten, Knies, and Robertson are the three latest examples), and they’re supposed to be winning a damn Cup this year, so they should be going out and getting the biggest catch they can find. ROR, for example.

Should the Leafs trade their first round pick at the Trade Deadline?

Trade the 1st290
Don’t trade the 1st122
Keep the 1st and trade it at the Draft38

Various Leafs and Branches

William Nylander and John Tavares combined for four goals in the second period in a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders. Auston Matthews also scored in the third.

Goal Recap: Leafs beat the Islanders | by: Katya

Game in 10: John Tavares and William Nylander light up the Islanders with dominant second-period outburst | by: MLHS

Sheldon Keefe Post Game, Leafs 5 vs. Islanders 2: “The second period was the best period John Tavares has played all season… All of the things he does at an elite level came together at that time” | by: MLHS

The reunification of Tavares-Nylander came after a first period where Matthews-Nylander went 0-10 in shots and have slowed down offensively in the last week. Switching the RWs shook both lines up worked wonders. Stuff like that is fun to do when the two top wingers are functionally identical.

Dryden Hunt cleared waivers and is going to the Marlies, beaten out of a job by Holmberg and McMann. Hunt last played in the AHL in 2019-20 in Springfield.

Expect TJ Brodie to stay out of the lineup until the All-Star break, which begins after February 1st for the Leafs after a home game against the Bruins.

The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired David Savard in 2021 for a 1st, 3rd (retention 1), and 4th (retention 2) round pick. His cap hit at before retention was $4.25 million. The Leafs, theoretically, would only have to retain Gavrikov’s $2.8 million cap hit once.

I don’t have the ability to cover Gavrikov as a player, but I did find it funny that Frank Seravalli’s “buyer beware” section on him basically described all the things we love about Timothy Liljegren, namely containing offense and forcing opponents to shoot from worse spots, physical when he needs to be but not overtly, predictable.

I wouldn’t say he’s an obvious choice, but he’s worth looking into if the Leafs strike out on using their first on a top forward. If they the forward they get can’t easily supplant Järnkrok, then they should get a defenseman, and I believe it should be Gavrikov out of the options available.

Speaking of predictability, the Vancouver Canucks.

The Panthers, who were down 5-1 midway through the third, scored once with the extra skater, but eventually got scored on in a 6-2 loss.