I hope you had lots of fun yesterday because we’re about to do it all again.
The Leafs entered the first round of the draft with two first round picks – one at 4 and one at 24. They used their first pick to select London winger Mitch Marner, but elected to trade down from 24 a couple of times to acquire some extra draft picks.
The Leafs now have 9 picks on Day 2, lead by the 34th overall selection very early in the second round. Let’s take a look at a few players who might be a fit for the Leafs there:
He’s fallen long and hard all season, right out of the first round of the draft. That said, despite questions about his hockey sense, Kylington is an incredibly smooth-skating blueliner coming out of Sweden that has plenty of experience playing against men (he’s already played 50 games in the SHL). Kylington’s play can be erratic at times, but given how good of a skater he is and as well how sound he is as a puck-handler, Kylington would certainly seem to fit the “speed and skill” mantra that the Leafs are looking for. The team took a forward yesterday and could be well-suited adding to their group of defense prospects today. If he’s available at 34, he could be a real fit for Toronto.
Another player that really fits the “speed and skill” mantra for Toronto. Sprong is among the most talented in this draft. In fact, he’s probably one of the ten most purely talented players in it, holding up well against the likes of newly-minted Maple Leaf Mitch Marner (that feels so good to say). Sprong is a smooth skater and dynamic puck-handler. He has a great wrist shot and likes to make the high-risk passes. His 200-foot game needs some work and there are rumblings about character issues, but Sprong is immensely talented and could be a strong fit for Toronto at 34.
Another speed and skill player. Roy is a very well-rounded player that skates well, defends well, moves the puck well, and handles the puck well. He reminds me of a player like Kevin Shattenkirk. He’s not as much of a burner as Kylington or Sprong, but he certainly possesses enough of a mix of speed and skill that I think he’d be a strong fit for the team. I’m a little surprised he fell out of the first round, and this is someone I’d be quite pleased with the Leafs taking.
He could be Paul Stastny if he pans out. Harkins is a player with a decent blend of skating and size (he’s 6″1′), and lead the Prince George Cougars this season with 79 points. He’s a solid playmaker and pass-first type of center. He’s also good in his own end. Really, he’s your protoypical center in a lot of ways. He’s a good well-rounded player but also not dynamic or productive enough to the extent that he should be considered a shocker after falling out of the first round. He’s a good B+ level prospect and would provide solid value at 34.
More productive than visibly dynamic, Bracco broke all sorts of scoring records with the United States National Team Development Program this past season. At 5″9′, many have attributed his lower draft rankings only to his size. But there’s more to it than that – Bracco isn’t a very good skater, isn’t overly dynamic, and generally plays a tedious offensive game. By the eye test he’s not someone I’d be overly excited about. But his numbers are fantastic, and that alone means he belongs in the discussion as a higher draft pick this Saturday. I’d suggest he’s a lot more likely to be taken at 61, 65, or 68 by Toronto. That may sound a little crazy to some, but he may very well be sitting there when the third round rolls along.
I’m a real fan of Andersson. He’s not as tall as Cody Franson (Andersson is just 6″0′), but he plays a similar game. What I mean is that he plays a slower paced game but in a way that can still be effective at the next level. He’s got some great numbers (64 points in 67 games this season for the Barrie Colts) and has a good mix of offensive and defensive zone tools to the point that he could end up being a real steal for somebody. Again, Andersson is someone who may be a little more realistic for the Leafs to take even later in this draft, but I wouldn’t shake my head at the team taking him at 34.
Kylington, Sprong, Roy, Harkins, Bracco, and Andersson were all ranked in TLN’s Top 30, which you can check out here.
Dunn too fits the speed and skill mantra. He’s got a powerful burst of speed when he gets going, is a confident puck-handler, and possesses a powerful shot. Dunn is a fairly well-rounded player and I expect he’ll go somewhere between 31 and 45 today, which is right about where he deserves to be drafted given his talent. He reminds me of another Leafs prospect in Matt Finn, only Dunn is more explosive than Finn has ever been. Some, including me, consider him a bonafide first-round talent.
Reminds me a little of Mike Green, but obviously less well-rounded at this point in his development. Meloche has good mobility and defensive smarts, but he really shines on the offensive side of the puck. In particular, Meloche gets his booming shot off perhaps better than any other defenseman in this draft. I’m a real fan of his and think he’s a good player to take a flyer on in the 2nd round in the sense that there is some real upside there. He could fit well with what the Leafs are looking to do moving forward.
Mark Hunter has an obvious connection to Mitch Marner, and Mitchell Stephens has a connection of his own to the Leafs organization. Jim Paliafito was hired as the Leafs’ Director of Player Evaluation earlier this off-season and previously worked as the GM of the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. Stephens emerged in the second half of this season in Saginaw and possesses a good blend of skating, puck-handling, shooting, and two-way ability. He perhaps projects best as a middle-six forward in the NHL, but he’s got enough there that I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Leafs take him. I wouldn’t bank on it either, but what I’m telling you is there’s a chance.
It should be another fun day. Enjoy the madness everybody, and let us know who you want in the comments below!