A brief history of the Leafs’ current draft positions

Last night we found out that, with the elimination of the Capitals, the Leafs will own the 24th pick (from Nashville) in the upcoming draft – which will go along nicely with their big selection in the four spot.

But what are the chances of them hauling out two impact players in the first thirty picks? We can only speculate on who they might pick, but we can also go back and see how other teams have fared in these slots over the last few years.

Here’s a quick glance at who’s been selected fourth overall since 2000. In that time, the Leafs have had four top ten picks, which they’ve used to take Schenn (5th), Kadri (7th), Rielly (5th), and Nylander (8th), but fifth has been the line, despite a decade in the dumpster. This will be the highest pick the Leafs have held on to since 1989. 


Some major players here – perhaps even future Hall of Famers – but a few journeymen as well. Dubas mentioned last week the Leafs need to get a great player at four, not just a good one – that’s basically the difference between a Backstrom and a Pouliot. That the Leafs need to get this pick absolutely right can’t be overstated, and as you can see, it’s not mistake-proof.

Seven defencemen in that slot in fifteen years seems heavy, but there’s a realistic chance the Leafs could add to that total if Hanifin is kicking around.

On to 24th, where there’s some more work involved in getting it right.


This stings; two of the top four producers taken in this slot since 2000 are Leafs picks they failed to hold on to. We don’t need a reminder of how they were dealt.

To be honest, it was a little surprising to me how many decent NHLers were taken here. Only two real “busts” in Chucko and Persson – though Tedenby isn’t exactly much to hang your hat on. Puempel should be a regular for the Senators soon, while Shinkaruk and McCann are works-in-progress for the Canucks so it’s too early to look at them critically.

Of note, only two defencemen taken here in the last 15 years, neither of which impressed at the NHL level. We also have one goaltender selection in Subban. 

I don’t believe the Leafs will stray from the trend of taking a forward in this slot, focusing on some of the names we’ve talked about like Konecny, Harkins or Kylington. The question after that becomes how they turn out on the scale of Kris Chucko to T.J. Oshie.

Numbers retrieved from HockeyDB or Justin Fisher’s super draft spreadsheet

  • Jeremy Ian

    Damn. Seeing Brad Boyes highlighted there brings back bad memories. He, McCauley (whom Sundin called the smartest player he ever skated with), and a 2003 1st (so missing Perry, Mike Richards, Ryan Kessler) for a downwardly mobile Owen Nolan.

    Classic Ferguson era.

    I know you didn’t want a reminder… But hey, the lesson is pretty clear that those picks are the key to success.

  • silentbob

    That #4 chart is scaring looking.

    Of the 15 players I’d only consider 1 great (the center piece of a contending team) Pieterangelo. Backstrom & Kane are good but more #2 pieces then #1, and everyone else would slot in behind them. I’d say the jury is still out fro 2010-2014, though Larsson isn’t looking to hot yet.

    • Jeremy Ian

      Certainly proof that banking your franchise on teenagers is a very fallible business. But that’s the way the structure of the league’s boxed teams in (or, rather, the way Bettman and his backers have contorted things).