Almost as exciting as the draft itself is the release of Bob McKenzie’s final draft rankings. While the list is far from the definitive ranking of talent, it is unquestionably the best insight into how NHL teams view the players in the draft class. Bob’s track record for being able to identify the top 30 is the best in the biz, and gives us a more definitive group to debate.
The 4th Overall Pick
Shockingly, this is the same group that we’ve been looking at since the Leafs 18 wheeler went off the cliff. Hanifin, Marner, and Strome are the names we’ve all come to know so well, and in this instance, it’s Mitch Marner who has the 4th spot behind Noah Hanifin.
Here’s the writeup on Marner from TSN:
PROJECTION: ELITE SCORING WINGER
Exceptional creativity with poise and passing skills that allow him to create offence quickly. He’s elusive and very hard to keep in check because he is constantly in motion. He plays the game in the moment and is quickly responding to opportunity. The best winger in the draft.
NHL COMPARABLE: PATRICK KANE, CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Yeah, so that all sounds pretty good. I’d hate to think he’d have a low compete level.
The 24th Overall Pick
Here’s where things start to change up a little. When Justin Fisher looked that THN list and Corey Pronman’s list he produced a list of Colin White, Mitchell Stephens, Jansen Harkins, Jakub Zboril, Thomas Chabot, and Travis Konecny as potential picks between those two services. Looking at McKenzie’s list we now add Brandon Carlo, Joel Eriksson Ek, and Oliver Kylington to that list.
While personally I’m less than excited about Carlo, Shawn Reis thinks highly enough of him for all of us here at TLN, and you can find his writeup here.
Oliver Kylington was once touted as a top ten pick this year, but has slowly been sliding down the rankings. He’d still be an absolute dream for the Leafs as TSN projects his a 3/4 defenseman who plays a Keith Yandle style and scored a 5 out of 5 for skating.
The 65th Overall Pick
If there was variance at 24 it should go without saying that it’s difficult to predict who is going to be available at 65th without capturing a much wider range. For the sake of amusement and excitement over the quality that is still available in the early third, let’s look at some of the names available.
Mitchell Vande Sompel is a nice name to see here as it isn’t rare to see his name in the top 30 on other lists, and he’s coming off an excellent post season for the Oshawa Generals. Many of his scores on TSN are similar to those of Kylington, and adding another strong skater to a blueline featuring Rielly and Gardiner would be a dream.
Austin Wagner is a bit more of what you expect to find in the beginning of the third round. He’s a solid winger who has been able to chip in offence, but there are questions about whether he can do that going forward. You happily draft him, but only if someone like Vande Sompel isn’t sliding to the third.
Finally Adam Musil, who like Nicholas Roy, has the reputation as one of the better defensive minded forwards in the draft. Like Wagner I’m not disappointed if I can find a solid player in the third, but Musil lacks that high end swing for the fences potential of some of the names behind him in the rankings, for example…
Blake Speers. Speers is worth noting because of his connection to Kyle Dubas, and his frequency to appear higher in draft rankings. Where he may be similar in a sense to Musil and Wagner, there is certainly a bias towards him because of his familiarity with the style of hockey the Leafs are hoping to implement.
At the very least the Callahan comparable is more exciting than the Dwight King comparable for Wagner, and the Andrew Desjardins comparable for Musil.