The Leafs made their second pick in the 2022 NHL draft in the third round at 95th overall.  The pick was originally Vegas’s, and was just acquired in trade for the 79th overall.

After a surprising and somewhat “off the board” pick at 38th overall, the second pick used went for a player from new AGM Ryan Hardy’s old team.

Nicholas Moldenhauer is a 5’11” right-shooting winger and centre who is listed at 170 lbs, making him the classic “zippy little winger”.  He is originally from Port Credit, Ontario, and played in the GTHL for three years. He then moved to the USHL system and the famed Chicago Steel team that has produced a lot of Toronto’s prospects. It’s the Soo south.

Moldenhauer was ranked in the 70s by most outlets, with Elite Prospects being very high on him.

Note: you wont get charts of “microstats” or player comparables from me, because I don’t think the information is meaningful, but feel free to put them in the comments.

In the USHL, Moldenhauer is 23rd in points per game for players with at least 20 games played. Joe Miller, Toronto’s pick at 180th overall two years ago in is at 21st. Moldenhauer, is two years younger, of course. In his age group, he’s eighth. The USHL is often overlooked by scouts who want to see American players in the NCAA already. Recent news reports list him as not committed to a college program.

His injury and a prior illness delayed his season start, which depressed his counting stats a little. This feels like a bit of a steal of a pick and put this together with Fraser Minten and I’m getting déjà vu. This is Matt Knies and Ty Voit all over again. If these two turn out like those two... we’ll know in a few years, but the Leafs definitely have confidence in their drafting.

Freak injury behind him, Chicago Steel’s Nick Moldenhauer riding explosive spring into NHL Draft

The inch-deep cut stretched along his entire right-side jawline, from just below his ear to his chin, and scratched his carotid artery. Moldenhauer had a four-hour emergency surgery that involved 175 stitches and a blood transfusion.

The surgery was a success. The worst pain afterward came from eating. And Moldenhauer remarkably was cleared to return to play within a month, although he was out of shape and well behind the curve of other draft-eligible prospects.

It turned out that didn’t really matter. Moldenhauer, a 5-10 forward from the Toronto suburbs, exploded in the second half of the season.

‘‘The first few games or so, I was playing a little bit timid,’’ he said. ‘‘Then that got out of my system, and my main thing was just trying to get back into shape. . . . When that happened, the game started to slow down for me, [and] I started to get more and more confidence as things moved forward. It definitely took me a little bit to get going. But once I got going, I felt really, really good.’’