TLN Player Power Rankings: Draft Lottery Edition

In case you missed it, the Leafs will not be drafting first
overall thanks to the rigidly held tradition that the Oilers must pick first
overall. While there was a 9.5% chance at happiness, there was an even greater
chance at sadness (depending on your allegiances as high as 90.5%). We can take
comfort in the fact that Connor McDavid will not be a Bruin, a King, or a
Flyer, and to me that’s worth celebrating. The fact that he’s playing out of
conference is also a nice little plus. And there’s the small matter of the
Leafs being able to select an incredibly talented player with the 4th
overall pick. Hanifin, Strome, Marner, you can’t go wrong (famous last words)
and personally I don’t care which one is selected since at some point of the
past season I’ve made a case for anyone of them being a Leaf.

Like the draft results or not, the draft lottery has set off
a series of events around the league that will shift the way the off season is
approached, and given that there aren’t any Leafs games to base power rankings
on this week. We will instead rank the top ten Leafs who could be impacted by
the draft lottery results.

1. James van Riemsdyk

Now that the Devils haven’t won the lottery we can revisit the speculation that
they would like to add a top six winger to club and aren’t opposed to dealing
their 6th overall pick. New Jersey native and 30(ish) goal scorer
van Riemsdyk would seem to be an obvious candidate since his production and
contract fit in with what you’d want if you are giving up a top ten pick in a
deep draft. The downside for the Leafs is of course you’re giving up van
Riemsdyk in hopes that the player you draft might someday turn into James van

2. Jonathan Bernier

Now that the Oilers will be drafting their way out of next year’s lottery they
may actually start building a team beyond their top six forward group. Looking
at addressing their poor goaltending might be a good place to start and there
will be few young goaltenders with as much experience as Bernier available.
Given the past trade market for goaltenders it may seem unreasonable to think
about the Oilers dealing Pittsburgh’s first round pick for him, but Edmonton’s
33rd overall pick would be a nice way of catching a potential star
falling out of the first round.

Bernier will be easily recognizable in Edmonton as he will be the only person not wearing jorts.

3. Jake Gardiner

So a lot of these players are going to be attached to whether or not they can
be a fit in Edmonton. Jake Gardiner is certainly one of them, as the Oilers
need to fix their blueline, Gardiner is young enough to fit in with their core
and has a history with noted punchline Justin Schultz. While I wouldn’t want to
move Gardiner unless the names Yakupov or Draisaitl are involved, it has stated
by Craig MacTavish in the past that draft picks are currency and the Pittsburgh
pick is very much in play. While I wouldn’t want to see a good young defenceman
moved for a mid first, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs and Oilers talk
about Gardiner in the next few months.

4. Dion Phaneuf

As mentioned with Gardiner, the Oilers need defence. From a Leafs perspective
the idea of moving Phaneuf has to be a lot more appealing than moving Gardiner,
but from the Oilers perspective it’s likely they would be offering less, and it
would also involve the Leafs eating either Nikita Nikitin’s or Teddy Purcell’s
contract. While I’d still make this move in a heartbeat there is the small
issue of Phaneuf’s no movement clause, and even though Phaneuf is from Edmonton
it’s far from guaranteed he’d accept a trade. Understandable. I’m from
Winnipeg, ask me if I’d be excited to move back.

5. Tyler Bozak

As our fearless managing editor, Justin Fisher, pointed out to me this morning,
not winning the McDavid lottery means that Bozak is still the Leafs number one
center. Young Bozak has not immediately been forced out of the Leafs top six
and where there would have been a near 100% chance of Bozak departing with
McDavid arriving, that number certainly drops and we now have to rely on the
Leafs front office getting rid of him for the other major reason which is that
he’s not very good.


6. Phil Kessel

If Bozak has a better chance of staying, than Kessel would too, right? Probably
not. A generational player like McDavid would have sped up the Leafs rebuild
enough that keeping Kessel would have looked like a good idea, and for the
first time since Sundin-Mogilny, there would have been an elite winger paired
with an elite center in Toronto. The Leafs being forced to take the long road
to success is probably a good thing, and it makes for a much more interesting
summer if we hold our breath waiting for a blockbuster trade. Next season, a
little less exciting however.


7. Peter Holland

With McDavid out of the picture and there still a strong possibility that Bozak
could get moved, it’s entirely possible that Peter Holland could be the Leafs
second line center next season by default. Half of you reading this have just thrown up in
your mouth, the other half of you know the Leafs won’t be great next year and
are excited to see what Holland can do when he has more ice time and improved
linemates. In this scenario Nazem Kadri would be the Leafs number one center so
that’s also very appealing.


8. Connor Brown

This will be the last so and so to the Oilers player mentioned on here, I
swear, but Connor Brown is interesting in that he is a solid piece that could
help balance out a larger trade between the Leafs and the Oilers, and he’s a
former teammate of Connor McDavid. While they weren’t always linemates, Brown
may also be ready for a look in the NHL, based off of a strong year in Erie,
followed by a great first pro year with the Marlies. While this may be reaching
a lot, remember that we’re at number eight on this list.

9. William Nylander

Looks like it’s still the WIllenium in Toronto for a few more months until we
start debating if Strome/Marner/Hanifin is the savior of the franchise instead
of Nylander. What’s worth noting about that debate is how awesome it will be to
have at least two amazing players under 20 years old in the organization.

10. Frederik Gauthier

Unless the Leafs draft Dylan Strome he’s still the top center prospect in the
organization. Frederik Gauthier is the top center prospect in the organization.
Frederik Gauthier is a top prospect in the organization. Frederik Gauthier top
prospect. I wonder why so many scouts were fired?


So what does all of this mean?

  • The Leafs aren’t going into an accelerated rebuild and selling off key assets is still the best approach.
  • The Oilers are likely going to attempt to make a big trade as a competitive team is within sight for them.
  • Teams like the Devils, Blue Jackets, Sharks, and others may be looking to win sooner than later and have nice picks that the Leafs could acquire if willing to part with top talent.
  • The Leafs have an improving prospect pool, but have to do better than Freddy Gauthier as the top center prospect. Either the 4th or the Preds pick should be able to address that.
  • You don’t need to set aside money for playoff tickets yet.

  • STAN

    how many goddamn lucky breaks does bozak get holy sh*t. if it were up to me, i’d trade phaneuf, bernier, lupul and bozak. those are the top priorities. i would want franson back to replace phaneuf and maybe pick up matthias from free agency if he’s not resigned. cheap, solid bottom 6 centre. kessel/jvr shouldn’t be moved unless you get a huge asset in return (draisaitl/nj 6th pick)

    • silentbob

      Moving Kessel and JVR is just as much a priority as moving phaneuf, bernier, lupul and bozak is.

      The Leafs have a long road a head of them and they are not players you need along for that ride, nor have they shown themselves to be the kind of veteran players you want around young, developing, impressionable players.

  • silentbob

    The Oilers need defense and goal tending. The Leafs need top prospects in every position, if Draisaitl is available now that McDavid is Edmonton bound I HOPE that the Leafs brain trust are making that a priority.

    Draisaitl turns 20 this October, which means he is eligible to play in the AHL next year (right?), an intelligent, play making center with size would look fantastic next to Nylander on the Marlies next year.

    I’m not going to pretend I know what the package would have to be, but I imagine that SOME combination of Bernier, Phaneuf, Gardiner, Brown….. would address the Oilers needs enough to get Draisaitl to the Leafs.

    • STAN

      Perhaps Phaneuf, Bernier, Nashville’s first and Brown for Draitsaitl, Nikitin and Edmonton’s 2nd rounder.

      a tough pill to swallow for us Leaf’s fans, but something tells me if we didn’t include the low end 1st AND a prospect on top of Phaneuf / Bernier and also take a salary dump back… that Edmonton would have enough other suitors for a young 1C that we couldn’t get the deal done.

      Funny how when we re-signed Dion to 7 years at 7M I thought it was a good deal. Oh how wrong I was

    • silentbob

      The oilers aren’t moving Nurse, their biggest weakness is their blue line

      The reason Draitsaitl’s name is out there is because they suddenly have depth at center and can move their least developed young center, still have a good 1-2 punch in McDavid – Hopkins and address their weaknesses. They aren’t moving their top Defense prospect. He is as untouchable to the Oilers and Rielly is to us.

  • silentbob

    Don’t even think about giving up Brown unless the return is too sweet to pass up. This kid has succeeded and will succeed at any level he has played or will play, in spite of what anybody says. He’s just one of those guys.

  • silentbob

    Actually Jon it isn’t a nice little plus that McDavid is playing in the west. Rogers and their gazillion dollar t.v. contract is bleeding big time. Surprise, surprise guess who owns the leafs along with Bell, yep you got it. Approximately 55 games next season the next Crosby will be taking the opening face off at 10:00 p.m. for all those eastern folks. Sureeee they will stay up till midnight to watch them.

    Jon what you obviously have to learn is that Rogers is already tightening the belt. The former G.M. of the year Masai Ujiri for the Raptors made ZERO deals at the trade dead line. Obviously Rogers told him not one more cent to spend. The Jays refused to spend any money at the trade dead line last year and this year wouldn’t spend a nickle on helping the bull pen. Thus six rookies in the line up.

    Trust me Rogers will be pushing Shanahan to get Nylander and their number one pick this season into the line up as soon as possible. Look all intelligent leaf fans realize that this is a four to five year rebuild that has just started. But the for ever greedy Rogers empire will not wait as they are indeed losing millions in their whole sports empire. Leaf fans will suffer the consequences as the bean counters squeeze even more blood out of every nickle. So as I said before IT ISN’T A NICE LITTLE PLUS THAT MCDAVID IS PLAYING IN THE WEST. Every plug nickle Rogers loses with this guy not playing in prime time in eastern Canada will be absorbed by the leafs in nickle and diming.

    Don’t think so Jon, ask any body who deals with Rogers.

      • Okay, Okay Jon I obviously have to simplify it for you. Now you see Jon, Rogers has their sticky fingers in all three of the big so called major league sports in the big smoke. So with the start of the baseball season to try to help increase interest and ticket sales the Jays ownership insisted to A.A. that a young Canadian kid Dalton Pompey start in center field even though the year before he started at single A.

        The kid is not ready at the plate or the outfield as has been proven and will likely be sent back to the minors. My point Jon and obviously I got to repeat it you it is indeed not a nice little plus that McDavid is out of the conference, ESPECIALLY TO ROGERS AND THEIR HUGE MULTI BILLION DOLLAR T.V. CONTRACT.

        Now where I do agree with you is that MCDavid moving west will have a profound effect on next season, especially with the leafs as the head honchos of the board room will insist to Shanahan that the young kids just have to get up their with the big team. So instead of Nylander having another year of hockey with the Marlies or the leafs high draft pick this year getting a chance to stay in junior, expect him to likely be put on the big club. Yep a la the Jays with 4 rookie pitchers being rushed. Rogers lost a lot of revenue last year and even though the myth of ownership going along with the tanking is perpetuated, expect the opposite as Rogers will desperately try to create as much interest to regain the fans they richly deserved to lose after the team quit at the beginning of the year. So similar to the Jays expect to see some of the youngsters not ready for prime time being rushed into the leaf circus next season. After all it is in the old leaf blue print. Yep check out Jon do a little research it won’t hurt you. Check out the names of Jim Benning, Bob McGill and Freddy Boimstruck who Harold Ballard got the bright idea of using as three rookie defenceman for the leafs one season to help create a buzz and excitement. Surprise, surprise, all three failed miserably.

        That is my point Jon, you might not like it but heh you look pretty cool, trendy and oh so clever so yeah thanks for the your tube suggestion. Have a good day Jon.

        • Don’t leave, I want to hear more of your scatter brained argument. The Jays rushed pitchers and Jim Benning played the season after he was drafted so McDavid in the West means Rogers won’t spend money on the Leafs. There are absolutely no holes in this argument. Certainly letting Nonis and Carlyle go with years on the contract supports that Rogers won’t spend money on MLSE. Or was that Bell’s money?
          Also,I look cool because I am cool.

          • Jon glad to know you are humbly cool. But seriously the Rogers empire with all ten squid arms works together. Now I get it that you probably are mainly a hockey fan. I keep trying to edify to you that Rogers is indeed counting every nickel. Do you really, really think the former G.M. of the year Masai Ujiri didn’t want to add a couple of pieces to his roster for the playoff run??? It made no sense that he didn’t unless he was simply told sorry no money available for you.

            It is a well known fact that the Jays players were told at the beginning of last season that there would be money available at the trade dead line. It never materialized as the Jays desperately tried to keep up with other teams to get a wild card entry into the playoffs. In fact several of the Jays stars were willing to make changes to their contracts to enable the Jays to go after a proven veteran starter last year. Most of the other contenders spent money and made deals. The Jays hired as the C.E.O. a notorious bean counter Guy Lawrence where every paper clip is counted.

            My point Jon is that the leafs will indeed be under the scrutiny when it comes to spending. You are absolutely right in that there are a heck of a lot of buy out contracts, 22 scouts, Nonis, Carlyle, the assistants, other management people.

            Rogers is losing money on their huge t.v. contract and despite the money tree that the leafs are they lost revenue after the team quit and a lot of fans quit on them. So yes one will see how much the bleeding of dollars will play in decisions made on the ice product next season and for the next few. As far as McDavid goes, yes it will be a big loss of revenue for the league when a vast majority of the hockey market won’t be staying up till 10:00 p.m. to watch the next projected Crosby. When it comes to understanding the motives of Rogers and Bell and good old Larry, you have to include the big three teams and the soccer club as to where the money will indeed be dished out.
            Jon you seem like a decent guy so I will at my end keep it at a civilized level. Again I wish you a good day.

          • Yes, I only think sprots. Newz and economics soooo confuse. If your stance is far more evolved than one “sky is falling” first quarter report from Rogers, and factors in all the elements that have impacted Canadian business at large over the past six months. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the Jays are in the top third of their league for spending and I’m sure you realize that businesses grow by expanding their markets. If you’ve got a highly watched Leafs game at 7pm and you can now get more people to watch a budding superstar at 10pm that grows your business. Now of course not every 7pm game is the Leafs, but since this is strictly an addition of another drawing factor and not taking away from the draw of the other 7pm teams it’s not going to have any significant impact other than they will grow their business at a less ideal time.

            Now let’s consider the salary cap that exists in the NHL which no matter how bad Rogers and Bell have done compared to projections is easily afforded by MLSE without even having to touch the parent companies money. Why would any of what you are saying impact the Leafs?

            Instead let’s look at what is true, Connor McDavid is a good hockey player who the Leafs will only have to face twice. That’s a good thing.

            This doesn’t seem like two complicated a premise, but if the Canadian telecommunications monopoly crumbles into bankruptcy in the next couple of years I owe you a Coke.

          • Jon I would prefer a fine glass of an Okanagan pinot noir. But in all seriousness I’ve enjoyed our discussion. You are right M.L.S.E. and the corporate giants ain’t going broke any day soon. I hoping along with some others in here that we actually implement the Burkie building model of going from the goalie out. Hanafin on the blue line would indeed be a nice edition to compliment Reilly in the top four.

            Have a good day.