Last year in my first piece with Leafs Hub, I did a top three on who the Leafs should consider drafting. While there were some significant names within their grasp when selecting fourth overall, I’ve decided to change it up this year.
Since the Hockey Gods were on our side (for once), the Leafs landed the first overall pick. Now, there have been extensive discussions and talk about who the Leafs should pick, either star winger Patrick Laine or franchise centre Auston Matthews. I have provided my opinion that they should take Matthews, without question.
It’s a no brainer that Matthews fits the description of what many teams in the NHL covet, a true elite level centreman.
While many are focused on the “Austrik” debate (credit to Disgruntled Hopeful for the combination of the top two picks names), the Leafs have 12 picks in the upcoming draft in June. Two of which happen to be in the second round. They’re our original pick at 31, and Washington’s pick at 56, which was graciously given to us in the Daniel Winnik trade that saw Brooks Laich and Connor Carrick come to Toronto in return.
While the first is bound to generate a lot of buzz with a lot of great talent, there are some intriguing names that everyone should be keeping an eye out for. Recently, Mark Seidel, Chief Scout for NA Central Scouting, provided his top 150 prospects list.
So with each pick, I will provide my top choices on who the Leafs should draft.
The 31st pick:
Jordan Kyrou, C/RW, Sarnia (OHL):
While there is a surplus of great forwards to pick from in the first round, they’re still some intriguing names that are available in the second round. One name that sticks out is Sarnia Sting forward, Jordan Kyrou.
At six feet, 180 pounds, Kyrou brings a strong two-way presence, with great play-making abilities to the ice. He is a smooth skater that can be effective in the offensive zone while using his size to his advantage. What stands out the most is his play away from the puck, being a reliable defensive player as well. He reads the play so well that he has the ability to break up plays and constantly battle for the puck.
In his second season with the Sting, Kyrou put up 17 goals and 34 assists in 65 games. Kyrou and the Sting saw an early exit in the Ontario Hockey League Playoffs. They lost in seven games to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds after finishing second in their conference with the likes of Travis Konecny and Jakob Chychrun on the team.
However, his season wasn’t over at that point, as he suited up for Canada at the Under-18 World Hockey Championship. Kyrou added five goals and eight points in seven games in a fourth place finish.
Kyrou would be useful as a second/ third liner and would give the Leafs another player to be used in any situation. Also, it would give them another option that could be used at centre or on the wing.
Ryan Lindgren, D, US-U18 (NTDP):
While many people have the Leafs drafting a defenseman with their second first round-pick, it wouldn’t hurt for them to take another defenseman at 31.
Ryan Lindgren fits the description of a strong, two-way defenseman who always has a defense first mentality. When it comes to Lindgren, there are two things that many people are talking about, his skating and his defensive play.
Lindgren is a great, smooth skater that makes it extremely difficult to keep up with him. At six feet, 196 pounds, he is extremely difficult to beat him in puck battles, board play and in front of the net due to his size and stature. He’s extremely calm in his own zone and doesn’t panic. His physical and defensive game is what will make him a top prospect on the blueline.
While he is known for his defensive play, he won’t hesitate to join in on the offense. In 61 games with the USDP, Lindgren had 19 assists and 25 points as captain. He then captained the U-18 team to a bronze medal at this year’s U18 World Championships, adding two goals and three assists in seven games.
Lindgren could be seen as a second/ third pairing defender with the option of using him on the power-play and the penalty-kill. He’s the type of player that you would want in any situation.
Here are some highlights of Lindgren at this year’s World U18 Championships.
Evan Fitzpatrick, G, Sherbrooke (QMJHL):
Going into the draft, one area of concern that the Leafs would like to address is goaltending. While they have great prospects in Antoine Bibeau and Garrett Sparks, it wouldn’t hurt to add some depth to that position through the draft.
NACS’s list has Evan Fitzpatrick as the top goalie in this year’s draft at 46th overall. While he’s a mid-round pick in the second round, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take him with the 31st overall pick, since another team can swoop in and pick him.
Fitzpatrick brings great size to the net at six foot four, 206 pounds. He’s extremely calm and composed in the crease and sees the puck very well. He has a great glove hand and is strong with lateral movements to make a quick save.
Fitzpatrick had an 18-26-8 record. He averaged 3.42 goals against while posting a 0.896 save percentage. While those aren’t great numbers, in his defense, the Sherbrooke Phoenix weren’t one of the strongest teams in the Quebec Major Junior League this year. Fitzpatrick faced the most shots of any other goalie in that league this year.
It’s most likely that Fitzpatrick’s play at the Top Prospects game and the U-18 tournament (despite poor play in the bronze medal game) helped secure the spot as the top goalie in this year’s draft. While that game wasn’t his greatest moment, he still managed to make great saves throughout the entire tournament.
The 56th pick:
Adam Mascherin, RW, Kitchener (OHL):
Ranked 60th on Mark Seidel’s list, the Leafs are in a perfect position to steal and draft a fierce competitor in Adam Mascherin.
A former second overall pick in the OHL draft in 2014, Mashcerin is a hard-working player with great speed and a lethal and accurate shot. While he’s listed at five foot nine, he weighs in at 199 pounds. Even though he’s not six feet, the Maple, Ontario native is able to hold his own and use his body to his advantage. With that, he is able to protect the puck effectively when in the offensive zone.
With the way he plays and scores on a consistent basis, size is not factor with Mashcerin. In his second season with the Kitchener Rangers, Mashcerin broke out offensively, putting up an impressive 35 goals and 81 points playing on a line with fellow Maple Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco, where they had great chemistry with each other.
If there is one thing that might convince the Leafs to draft the talented winger, it’s his work ethic and drive to get better, both offensively and defensively. Here is a profile on Mascherin on his ability to grow as a player.
Mascherin is the complete package and excels in so many areas. He’s a hard working player who is not afraid to fight for a puck battle in the corners. Add that to his knack of scoring goals and ability to play with an edge when needed, his presence will be felt on the ice. He has the tools to be an effective top-six forward and a need for the Leafs in a big scoring winger.
Should Mascherin move up in the draft rankings into the early part of the second round and he’s available, the Leafs shouldn’t hesitate to draft him. Maybe he’s already on their radar.
Kale Clague, D, Brandon (WHL):
If the Leafs are looking for another potential steal in the draft, Kale Clague will look to be that pick in the later part of the second round.
At six feet, 178 pounds, Clague is a highly skilled, puck moving defenseman with great offensive potential that any team would like to have.
A gifted playmaker, Clague put up 37 assists and 43 points in his second season with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Clague continued his offensive production into the post-season, where he helped the Wheat Kings clinch the Western Hockey League Championship, posting 14 points in 21 games. That is good for second overall among defenseman in playoff scoring.
His defensive game is just as strong as his offensive. He’s calm and he’s constantly aware of what’s going on in his own zone.
Clague’s skating is also a great attribute in his game. His speed, combined with his skill and vision, Clague will be a great asset to have on the power-play and even joining in on the rush at five-on-five when given the opportunity.
Ranked 59th on Mark Seidel’s top 150 prospects list, the Leafs are in perfect range to draft this gifted defenseman and add to their defense pool with the likes of Andrew Nielsen, Nikita Zaitsev, Travis Dermott and Connor Carrick.
There are many options for the Leafs with their two second round picks. There are a lot of talented young players that could be of use in the Leafs rebuilding process and could make a significant impact in the hopes of winning a Stanley Cup. The Leafs wanted to buff up their prospect pool last year, and they’ll do so again this year.