Dave Morrison’s Fishing Holes


Photo: LeafsTV

Director of Amateur Scouting Dave Morrison’s has been with the Toronto Maple Leafs since 2004 and in his current role since 2006. Because the Leafs have quite clearly not been exactly the NHL’s most talented team in that timeframe, it’s natural to wonder exactly what’s going on in their scouting department. 

Prior to the 2013 draft, our own Justin Fisher wrote a piece examining the history of Dave Morrison’s draft tendencies, looking at the leagues where Morrison often decided to cast his scouting rod

Some highlights from that article include: 

“The Leafs have selected 24 Canadians and 12 Americans in the past seven drafts. 

That’s 36 North Americans, plus six Swedes, two Germans, and a handful of other players all from different European nations.

It’s worth noting that Sweden appears to be the Leafs’ European nation of choice, likely thanks to the presence of the much-respected Thommie Bergman on their European scouting staff.”

(Bergman has stayed on with the Leafs, surviving a series of cuts in the Amateur Scouting department.)

22 of their 50 selections during Morrison’s tenure came out of the CHL (OHL, WHL or QMJHL), while another four came from either the BCHL or AJHL. Beyond that, five players have come from the USHL and the USA Hockey National Development Program. Another five came from US High Schools.

The OHL came as the Leafs’ fishing hole of choice, with 28% of their selections from 2006-2012 being from Ontario’s top junior league.

In the two drafts since, the Leafs have taken a total of eleven players (nine forwards, a defenceman and a goalie), none of which have played an NHL game. The breakdown of this eleven is a little more interesting, with three Swedish players (William Nylander, Andreas Johnson and Pierre Engvall), two players from the USHL (JJ Piccinich and Dakota Joshua), one player from the USPHL (Nolan Vesey), one player from Switzerland (Fabrice Herzog), and four players from the Canadian Hockey League, (Frederik Gauthier and Antoine Bibeau, QMJHL, Carter Verhaeghe, OHL,  and Rinat Valiev, WHL, who hails from Russia).   

It should be noted that Morrison himself was born in Toronto, grew up in Kingston, and played three years of junior hockey in the OHL. Whether that bias seeps into his scouting is unknown, but it wouldn’t be the most irrational suggestion to think that he might have an inherent favouring of players close to home if available. 

At the end of the day, it’s impossible to know exactly which version of Dave Morrison and friends will show up on Draft Weekend, with a chance that the new look, OHL-heavy front office of the Leafs will be replicated by their draft choices.

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  • MatsSundin#13

    I know it is biased but I want to the Leafs to go CHL heavy this year – maybe a couple guys from USHL/SWE, but I am feeling like they are going to just mine the heck out of the O and Q especially.

  • SEER

    Well… This whole “who’s from where” debate is kind of irrelevant to me… I want the Leafs to draft the best player(s) available to them.. and whether they come from the CHL, USHL, Europe or even the planet Mars.. doesn’t really matter to me… (although I would hope for a few extra vaccinations, for any aliens.. LOL!)

    This year, we have a heck of a lot of top talent coming out of the CHL Leagues though, so I would expect they see it the same way…

    The problems in the recent past (in my opinion) was that these scouts you are mentioning had very little say in final draft decisions… and that Burke & Nonis were the ones calling the shots… (based more on hype, than facts)…

    I think most of us would agree, that Shanahan isn’t following in any of the previously mentioned foot-steps.. and is making more of a positive impact already, than the last ten seasons showed…

    I follow the prospects as close as I follow the Leafs & Marlies… In my opinion.., the prospects you listed above will turn into solid players…. I have done videos for most of them (SEER VIDEO) so I see a lot of footage, as well as following them during each season…

    My doubts lie more with some of our veteran players, than our prospects.. I think we will see some more big changes with this though, before the next season begins.. and this Friday-Saturday might be one of the stronger moving days for us..

    By the way… This one of the strongest drafts I have seen in my lifetime.. and I’ve been watching closely since 1960… There are even picks in the later rounds that I am excited about…

    To top it off, I have a LOT of faith in Hunter & Dubas to make the best decisions we have seen here in many, many seasons..

    • MatsSundin#13

      SEER I have to agree with your point even though it contradicts mine, you are right on that they have to get the best available talent, I just hope the best talent comes out of Canada but I am biased. By the way, I love your montages (like the return of Komarov this past season)that you do thank you so much!!

      • SEER

        I think that this year, we have most of the top draftees here… If there are two players of equal ability.. and one is Canadian, I will always go for our own…, but as I said earlier.., I want the best, no matter where they come from… Thanks, Mats..