Florida Panthers Win the Draft Lottery, Leafs to Pick Eighth Overall

As expected, the Toronto Maple Leafs will pick 8th in the upcoming 2014 NHL Entry Draft, set to take place on June 27th and 28th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Florida Panthers will pick first overall, winning the lottery with an 18.8%. Sorry Buffalo.

Picking 8th, it’s pretty certain that the Leafs won’t have a shot the likes of Kootenay’s Sam Reinhart, Kingston’s Sam Bennett, or Barrie’s Aaron Ekblad. Realistically, they’re probably too far back to get one of Oshawa’s Michael Dal Colle or Prince Albert’s Leon Draisaitl as well.

That being said, this isn’t a half-bad draft. While there isn’t a Nathan MacKinnon, John Tavares, or Steven Stamkos available this time around, there’s about a half-a-round of solid prospects. The Leafs should be able to draft one of them, assuming they don’t go off the board.

Some of the players who might be available? The Leafs will probably end up picking one of Brendan Perlini, Haydn Fleury, Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Kasperi Kapanen, Nicholas Ritchie, Nikolaj Ehlers, or William Nylander. 

There you go – eight possibilities for the eighth overall pick.

  • Brendan Perlini, a winger with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, is probably the player the Leafs’ scouting department has seen the most of. They did, after all, closely scout Carter verhaeghe last season, and have surely kept tabs this year as well. Perlini was slotted 8th amongst N.A. skaters in NHL Central Scouting Services’ final ranking, and 7th in ISS Hockey’s April Top 30.
  • Haydn Fleury, who plays for Red Deer in the WHL, is a balanced defender that does a little bit of everything. He’s the highest ranked blueliner in the draft behind Ekblad. NHL CSS ranks Fleury 9th amongst N.A. skaters, while ISS ranks him 12th.
  • Jake Virtanen is an offensively talented point-per-game winger for the Calgary Hitmen, and a former 1st overall pick in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft. He sits 6th amongst NHL CSS’s N.A skaters, while ISS has him at 10th.
  • Jared McCann is a two-way centre with size, currently playing for the Soo Greyhounds. He is ranked 10th by NHL CSS amongst N.A. skaters, and 15th by ISS, so selecting McCann might be seen by some as another “safe pick” by the Leafs.
  • Kasperi Kapanen is considered the top European Skater by NHL CSS, but ranks 13th on ISS’s Top 30 list. The offensively-gifted right winger is the son of former NHLer Sami Kapanen.
  • Nicholas Ritchie is a certified man-child at 6’2″ and 226lbs, and he produced some big numbers on a Peterborough team that didn’t produce much in the way of offence. Lots of people call him “the next Lucic”, and while I hate that tired narrative, they might be right.
  • Nikolaj Ehlers is an undersized Danish winger who put up 104 points in 63 games with the Halifax Moosehead in the QMJHL. He’s a wild card, in that he could go anywhere from 5 to 30. He’s ranked 13th amongst N.A skaters by the NHL CSS, and 11th by ISS. 
  • Lastly, and like the aforementioned Kapanen, William Nylander is also a European skater (ranked 2nd by NHL CSS and 5th by ISS), also the son of a former NHLer (Michael Nylander), and also offensively gift. That being said, he’s a centre.

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  • Dan

    From all of the Draft Rankings I’ve seen, Ritchie and Nylander look like the two guys the Leafs should go after. Nylander would definitely give us an uber-skilled guy up the middle (potential #1C) and Ritchie, like you said, is a monster…also NHL ready. As long as management doesn’t reach, whoever we choose will be a beauty.

  • CashGameND


    The points speak for themself. I’ve watched about 20 of his home games this year, he has great talent. Awesome stickhandling ability, and great hockey sense (ability to make a great play/pass). This is his FIRST YEAR IN THE QMJHL, he is a rookie, and he is 3rd in the league in points. He has GREAT raw talent, look how much he has grown in 1 season in the Q, give him another 1 or 2 to actually put so muscle on his body, he could be great. He plays very much the same style as Drouin, who could’ve(SHOULD’VE) been the 2nd overall pick last year(he may actually be better then mackinnon). Ehlers ceiling is so high, he has improved a ton over the course of the year.

  • Dan


    From everything ive seen Ritchie looks fantastic to me. Reminds me of JVR but with a physicality aspect to his game which I love, he also reminds me of Owen Nolan.

    (I always said my favorite players are ones who can whoop your ass in a fight a then can score the game winning goal after coming out of the box and that’s the kind of game I can see this kid playing)

    Saying that someone said to me on twitter today they believed he would be a lock for top 5 in the draft if it wasn’t for a shoulder injury, I was just wondering if someone out there knows anything about his injury history and if his shoulder is something we should be worried about if the Leafs are looking to draft him? Anyone know?

    @Watson_Brent on Twitter

  • Dan

    as long as the Leafs draft the most skilled player with the highest ceiling available than I’ll be happy.
    Drafting for need like size/physicality/position is the worst and dumbest thing you can do, especially in the top half of the 1st

  • Millerrr

    I’m a bit skeptical of Ehlers, as I’m not really sure how much offense he could produce without Drouin being his center. Not saying he can’t, but it’s a legitimate concern. I’d really like to see Nylander get picked because he provides something that the Leafs currently don’t have anywhere in their system: a speedy, skilled centre with a first line ceiling.

  • TGT23

    I sort of hope they draft Nylander. I know they have Kadri, Bozak, and Holland at the C position but I feel like Nylander has a higher ceiling than Holland and could be the kind of Center to finally push Bozak down to the 3rd Line role he’s more suited for.

    Save a bit of cap space, don’t resign Bolland, bring in the kid, and run with Bozak, Kadri, and Holland for a season if Nylander isn’t NHL ready out of camp. But, when he is, he’ll be a 1st or 2nd line C, and that can only help the team who hasn’t had great depth at C since the early 2000’s.

  • TGT23

    i really like the look of jake virtanen (there’s a highlight video floating around on youtube, check it out), otherwise ritchie looks good. i know some people are wary of him because he’s already so big playing against boys, but if he’s putting up big numbers basically on his own, hopefully it translates.

    a lot of perlini’s points are on the PP, so i’m a little uncertain of him.

    unless mccann can be a #1 centre, i’m not too interested. from the sounds of it he looks like a 2nd. hopefully i’m wrong; i’ve never seen him play.