“Who Own Da Picks?”

It’s the All-Star break. It’s awful. Albeit John Scott, Brent Burns, and P.K. Subban did a lot to make it less awful, but not much is happening around the league and we’ve all had way too much time to spend considering claiming Raffi Torres on waivers.

With a month to go before the trade deadline, and the standings looked in for a few days, today seems like a reasonable time to take a look at who owns which draft pick heading into the trade deadline, and how that may make some teams better trade partners for the rebuilding Leafs.

Below is a quick and dirty simple table showing pick ownership based on the information on Pro Sports Transactions. They’ve got all the necessary detail of the conditions on each pick, but for the purpose of a quick table, we’ll just note there are conditions, and that means that pick is out of play.

For the purpose of convenience I’ve also left out any picks that will need to be given up as compensation for hiring a GM or Coach in the next three years. It’s safe to assume that in most cases teams will defer giving those up until the last possible moment.

The Leafs, of course are in this situation as they need to compensate both Detroit and New Jersey for the hirings of Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello with 3rd round picks by 2018. It seems unlikely that Toronto would be in any rush to do that, despite the near record setting volume of picks they already own.

You’ll also notice that next to the Penguins it shows the Leafs having the 1st and 2nd picks from Pittsburgh. It will be one or the other (presently the Leafs would get the first). Until the conditions have been determined, the picks are out of play in regards to trades.


First of all, it’s hard not to like where the Leafs are sitting in the pre-lottery draft order. The Auston Matthews spot would be better, but having a shot at one of the Finnish players or Jakob Chychrun isn’t a bad fallback. 

Secondly, it’s worth noting that the playoff-bound Coyotes presently own two first rounders, as do the potentially pushing for a playoff spot Hurricanes. Both of these teams are undergoing youth movements, but both teams also could use playoff ticket sales revenue even more.

Boston is also sitting on an extra first rounder, but I have my doubts that about whether the Leafs and Bruins can come together on something involving a 1st round pick again.

As far as high second round picks go, unfortunately most of them are also held by non-playoff teams, and Pittsburgh is presently the only playoff team with ownership of a high second that they could use to improve their playoff bound team.

The best bet, as it often is every year, is to attempt to find deals with bubble teams that are trying to make a run, but you don’t think they’ll quite get there. The Wild, Devils, Hurricanes, and Ducks are possibly the best bets currently on the outside, while teams like the Avalanche and Predators could slide in the standings and be decent options as well.

Unfortunately, the “big move” teams like the Rangers and Kings have already mortgaged their future, and don’t have 1sts to give up this year, but a number of the teams at the top of the standings have to be considering if this is their now or never run.

Compared to recent years there has been little movement in the top sixty at this point. Last year saw teams play very conservative with 1sts up until the trade deadline when panic set in, but 2nd round picks were moved freely without concern. We’re either seeing acknowledgement that this is probably a two round deep draft this year, or change in thinking where teams are beginning to attach higher value to 2nd round as well, which could be unfortunate for the Leafs with what they want to move this year.

Looking at the Leafs competition this year as sellers, I think they could benefit from the fact that teams like the Oilers, Blue Jackets, and Flames view themselves as further along in their rebuilding process and are less likely to blow up their rosters beyond some free agent moves (though the Flames do have some interesting free agents).

The Sabres are in the same boat as the Leafs, but most of their best selling plays were made last season. Mike Weber should be a decent asset for them, and Legwand is bound to find a new home, but they aren’t lined up to be a top to bottom wholesale like the Leafs.

  • magesticRAGE

    I hope they can continue the amassing of picks this year, and maybe package fringe prospects for legit ones. Maybe the two-headed monster (Hunter/Dubas) can leverage themselves to move up in first round draft position.

    This being said, and it also being a rebuild (retooling), 2017 picks should be added as well. I don’t pretend to know the caliber of next year’s draft, but setting ourselves up for surprises should be a side focus.

    • Benjamin

      That’s a good point re: amassing future picks too.

      This management group has the longest timeline/leash of any in the league. Good idea to leverage that by taking slightly better picks down the road rather than immediate ones.

      Last year it got them a 5th for Holzer and a 2nd for Winnik, even though they ended up dealing the 2nd back.

  • CMpuck

    Is there an issue of having too many picks? A situation that would force another Grabner type deal just to open up contract spots, or is it not an issue?

    If so, would we be better off to avoid that by trading up with Pitts 1st?

    • Benjamin

      I don’t think the Grabner trade was bad. But you’re right, with the 50 SPC limit, too many picks can start to become an issue. Just by having to move on from prospects quicker than you’d like.

      It’s an interesting one too because once you get out of the top 10, pick quantity is usually way better than pick quality. In a vacuum, you’d always rather have Dermott, Bracco and Dzierkals in your pool over just Konecny.

      I’d target future picks if anything. You get better value and when the Leafs stop being sellers, they’ll still have one more draft pick heavy year.

  • Gary Empey

    It is one thing to be a seller. You still need good product to sell, if you expect to find buyers. You also need to look at what the competition has on offer. Is their crap better than your crap?

  • Had Phaneuf of you

    The other thing to consider in regards to having too many picks and not enough spots…is their ECHL affiliate. Remember when Kyle Dubas had said they intend on using it similar to what a baseball team would use as a minor league system for development, as opposed to what many perceived as a waste of a league where players who can’t cut it, end up. Players can be moved around to make things work.

    With that said though, I anticipate a few trades involving a combination of our excess picks, an NHL FA, and maybe expiring AHL contracts to be moved for picks and prospects(acquired or drafted), NHL salary taken back, and possibly moving up in the draft, instead of down, employing the reverse strategy we did last draft.

    Haha I guess I covered all the possibilities there…but it’s cause Dubas/Hunter have so many options. They must be pumped from a GM stand point right now. But the tricky part will be all about the timing of when these things go down. That 5 for 1 deal we did for Grabner this summer shows how bold they can and will go to make it work.

  • Harte of a Lion

    i think the leafs will begin collecting 2017 picks since they already have 11 this year. they don’t need anymore this year. they’re still going to be rebuilding next year so they might as well stock up on future assets for the next draft.

  • Gary Empey

    Everyone here wants an extra first round pick. The bottom 14 will all be in the lottery for the top three picks. What we really don’t know for sure, is the fair pick value, of being in the lottery for the top three picks.

    It looks like the Leafs will have quite a few junior players heading for the Marlies later this year. This will force them to make decisions on who they will keep for more development and who they will try to move.

  • Had Phaneuf of you

    Yeah, Dubas/Hunter have many options and they better use this years first round pick better than last years pick of Mitch Marner. He hasn’t improved at all this year, had a weak World Juniors series, still weighs 165lbs, has stopped growing, still plays cutsie with the puck which cannot and will not work in the pros, and worst of all seems to have something of a prima donna attitude. So he seems years away from making it the bigs because he needs to change his game and his attitude, which will take time. Babcock really wanted Noah Hanifin, Hunter insisted on the little guy. Look at Hanifin now, a big, gifted D man playing full minutes for Carolina, with a great attitude. Attitude takes years to develop, exhibit A being Kadri who finally grew up after wasting 3 or 4 years.

    The jury is still out on Hunters ability to draft a good pro.