It was an eventful NHL Entry Draft in Sunrise, Florida. There were a number of deals that surprised the hockey world. The Boston Bruins traded Dougie Hamilton, who was supposed to succeed Zdeno Chara, and traded Milan Lucic in the process. The Buffalo Sabres continued their rebuild by adding Ryan O’Reilly.
But the main focus was on a deep draft class with two generational talents and other great players finding new homes in the NHL.
Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel went one, two as expected to Edmonton and Buffalo, and the Arizona Coyotes added depth to their centre position by drafting Dylan Strome.
But this a site dedicated to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Leafs were busy trying to rebuild their team by adding youth, skill and an ability to give 110 per cent, night in and night out. It all started at the fourth selection where the Leafs went down the London Knights route and selected Mitch Marner.
Welcome To The Family
Round One, 4th Overall:
Mitch Marner, C/W, London Knights (OHL)
A lot of talented players have come from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Corey Perry and Patrick Kane are just a couple examples. Eventually you will be able to add Mitch Marner to that list of talent that came through the Knights system.
Marner finished second in scoring with 126 points (44 goals and 82 assists) in 63 games, averaging two points per game. In 127 OHL games, Marner has tallied 185 points, good for a 1.46 points per game average.
Marner is an extremely dynamic player with high-end speed and skill. In addition to his great shot, he has great puck handling and play making abilities. Marner is all over the ice in the offensive zone making him hard to contain.
While he may need to add some weight (160 pounds), size isn’t really an issue for him. At 5-foot-11, he isn’t afraid to go into the corners and battle along the boards. His speed, creativity and decision-making allows him to elude opposing players.
Director of Player Personnel, Mark Hunter commented on Marner after the first round:
“His compete level is next to none. I’ve watched him, I know what he’s all about and also his character. But then when you see his skill and his skating ability and his passing ability and his hockey sense, to me it’s exceptional.”
Marner’s play making abilities along with his creativity will make him a top line player. His ability to anticipate plays and create turnovers leading to quality-scoring chances will make him a threat at both ends of the ice.
With William Nylander already in the system and already making an impact in his first season in North America (32 points in 37 games), the Leafs have two quality top line wingers with great offensive awareness and exceptional play making abilities. Add a top line centre in between Nylander and Marner and the Leafs have a top offensive line for the future.
If you’d like to see the skill of Marner, here is a video created by TheHockeyVidz:
Round One, 24th Overall
The Leafs didn’t make a selection with the 24th pick. Assistant general manager Kyle Dubas made a series of deals that gave the Leafs more picks in the mid-round part of the draft.
The Leafs traded the 24th pick to the Philadelphia Flyers, who ended up taking Travis Konecny, for picks 29 and 61. The Leafs then dealt the 29th pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who drafted Gabriel Carlsson, for the 34th and 68th pick in the draft. It’s interesting to note that the 34th pick originally belonged to the Maple Leafs. The Blue Jackets acquired that pick in the Marian Gaborik deal with the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings acquired that pick from the Leafs in the Jonathan Bernier deal.
These moves really benefit the Leafs, especially in a draft where there is depth throughout the board. The Leafs wanted to add more picks in the draft and they got the job done, especially adding two key second-round picks (you’ll see why).
Round Two, 34th Overall:
Travis Dermott, D, Erie Otters (OHL)
The Erie Otters heavily relied on Dermott as they made an impeccable run during the playoffs, only to lose to the eventual OHL and Memorial Cup winners, the Oshawa Generals.
The Newmarket, Ontario native tallied 37 assists and 45 points in 61 regular season games in his second season with the Otters and added 17 points in 20 games during the postseason. Dermott was also tied for 12th overall in scoring among OHL defenseman this year. He also saw a lot of ice time as the Otters go-to defenseman, seeing power-play time on the first unit with first overall pick Connor McDavid and third overall pick Dylan Strome.
While he isn’t as flashy as some defensemen, Dermott is still a steady, strong two-way guy who is able to make a strong first breakout pass and easy simple plays, while being relied on in any defensive situation as well. He’s smart, always in position and will get the job done every night. While he’s listed at 5-foot-11, he will grow. On the plus side, he already has a good size to him at 197 pounds. The Leafs wanted someone who can make a difference at both ends of the ice. They will get just that with Travis Dermott who has the makings of being a great NHL defenseman.
Round Two, 61st Overall:
Jeremy Bracco, RW, USA U-18
The first potential “steal” of the draft for the Leafs came here.
At 5-foot-9, Bracco proves that size really doesn’t matter. Like Marner, Bracco is incredibly talented with great offensive awareness. He loves to have the puck on his stick and is creative in generating scoring chances. His vision is impeccable as he’s able to complete passes through difficult areas and makes everyone on the ice better
The Manhasset, New York native had great offensive numbers with the National Development Team. This includes:
- 64 assists in 65 games in 2014/15 with U-18 NTDP.
- Tallied 46 goals and 122 assists for 168 points in 119 games overall (1.41 points per game). His 122 assists are the most by any player in the program. Broke Patrick Kane’s record of 88 assists. Bracco notched 34 more than Kane.
- Third all time in points, behind Kane (172) and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel (180)
Source and Link to stats: here
The way Bracco plays reminds me of Tampa Bay forward Tyler Johnson. A small forward but has great potential to be a great playmaker and an offensive powerhouse.
Round Three, 65th Overall:
Andrew Nielsen, D, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL):
The Leafs decided to go with a different approach here. The Leafs drafted players who have offensive upside in Marner and Bracco, as well as Dermott who can man the powerplay.
At 6-foot-3, 207 pounds Nielsen is a stay at home defender with the ability of making life difficult for players while he’s on the ice. In an article by Kelly Friesen of Buzzing the Net on Yahoo, Nielsen says that he wants to be that guy who can be relied on in any defensive/ shutdown situation.
Full article here
While he has some offensive abilities (seven goals and 17 assists in 59 games played this year), it is his impact in the defensive zone that he will have in a game and being physical on opposing players.
Round Three, 68th Overall:
Martins Dzierkals, LW, Riga- 2 (Russia Jr.)
I don’t know much about Dzierkals, but according to the scouting report, the 5-foot-11, 169 pound Latvian is a quick and skilled player with great offensive abilities. He has been a main offensive contributor for Latvia at U-18 and U-20 tournaments.
Scout Mark Seidel says this about Dzierkals: “Plays extremely hard… Not big but plays way bigger than his size… Potential 3rd line guy down the road.”
Round Four, 95th Overall:
Jesper Lindgren, D, Modo (SHL)
At close to six feet, Lindgren is known for having the puck on his stick and being a quality passer. The Umea Sweden native, recorded six goals and 27 assists with Modo Jr. and averaged 0.85 points per game as a puck moving defenseman.
His puck moving skills are what makes him a strong player and will be a great addition on the power play. Add these impressive offensive abilities with his skating and this will help him thrive to be an NHL defender.
Round Four, 107th Overall:
The Leafs traded the 107th overall pick and Brad Ross to the Edmonton Oilers for Martin Marincin.
This a great move for Toronto. They got rid of a player who hasn’t really made strides in his development to reach the NHL level and was suspended for PED use. Meanwhile Marincin has already gained some ice time with the Oilers and has an opportunity to continue that trend with the Leafs.
The Leafs added another great young defenseman to their blue- line, which was an area that needed to be addressed coming into the draft. With the addition of Griffin Reinhart on Friday night, Marincin looked to be on the outside looking in for a roster spot with the Oilers.
Marincin has great size and is strong defensively and can probably serve well in a third pairing role with the Leafs.
Round Five, 125th Overall:
Dmytro Timashov, LW, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
The second potential steal for the Leafs; the QMJHL Rookie of the year was born in Ukraine and played with Modo Jr. last season recording 29 assists and 41 points in 40 games played before making the move to North America to play with the Remparts. Timashov was a stand out as one of the Remparts key players during the Memorial Cup.
A very creative player and great skater, Timashov has tremendous offensive abilities and is a great pick this far down in the draft. He has great speed and has a pass first mentality, as he tallied 71 assists and 90 points in 66 games in his first season in the Quebec Major Junior League.
He isn’t the biggest guy on the Remparts (5-foot-9,), but he is very crafty and elusive. When he is on the ice, he is always making something happen in the offensive zone.
Round Six, 155th Overall:
Stephen Desrocher, D, Oshawa Genreals (OHL)
Like the London Knights connection with Mitch Marner and Mark Hunter, the Leafs tapped into D.J. Smith’s Memorial Cup Championship roster and drafted the big, stay at home defender in Desrocher, a key contributor to the Generals this year.
At 6-foot-4, 198 pounds, he’s not known for making an impact on the score sheet, but he’s looking to improve his offensive game and using his powerful shot more. He scored an important goal during the Memorial Cup by scoring the game-winning goal in OT against Timashov and the Remparts.
Like Andrew Nielsen, he’s smart in the defensive zone. He’s a mobile skater and is not afraid to get physical. He has the ability to be a solid defensive presence for the Leafs in the future.
Round Seven, 185th Overall:
Nikita Korostelev, RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Possibly the third and final steal of the day for Mark Hunter and company, Korostelev is a big forward (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) with an NHL caliber shot and great stick handling abilities. In his second season with the Sarnia Sting, Korostelev tallied 24 goals and 53 points. In two seasons, he notched 91 points in 115 games (0.79 points per game).
When given the opportunity, Korostelev will make high-end plays and fool defenders easily with his hands. He also has the great passing abilities, finding players in wide-open spaces. He needs to improve defensively, but it’s hard not to pass up the potential that he has.
It was an eventful weekend for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Compared to past drafts, it’s evident that the Leafs changed their drafting philosophy, drafting highly skilled offensive players along with the ability to compete at both ends. They made use of the picks in the later rounds by picking guys who were over-looked due to their size, but valued their offensive prowess and skill.
They added a lot of skill of up front in Marner, Bracco and Timashov and also added some depth on the blue-line with Dermott, Nielsen, Lindgren, Desrocher as well as the addition of Marincin.
In The Hockey News, Future Watch, the Leafs were given a C- grade and ranked 27th overall in terms of their prospect pool. With the additions today, the Leafs have addressed issues both up front and on defense so that this team is built for the future.
With the draft in the books, it’ll be interesting to see what the Leafs do now with core players like Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul. The next day to mark you calendar, is July 1st when the Free Agent Frenzy begins.
There is no doubt that the Toronto Maple Leafs came out on top as winners in this year’s draft.