Looking for tendencies in the Leafs’ drafting approach is obviously still difficult for a few reasons. For one, we’ve only been through one draft with Mark Hunter calling the shots (no doubt with help from Dubas and a myriad of scouts). And secondly, even in this short time they haven’t really established any favourites whatsoever when it comes to where they’ve taken players from.
Toronto went all over the place collecting prospects in the 2015 draft. They had players from the OHL, WHL, QMJHL, USNDP, Sweden U-20 league, and even a Latvian team from the MHL. No two players came from the same team, and overall their picks represented six nationalities. So admittedly it’s hard to sit here and draw up any predictions about what “fishing holes” the Leafs might go to on Friday and Saturday.
However, we have to note the Leafs’ most important pick of the 2015 draft was Mitch Marner, a Knight, with major connections to Hunter and Lindsay Hofford in Toronto’s front office. And given Zachary Senyshyn out of the Soo was an off-the-board pick by the Bruins in the middle of the first round, it’s tough to say whether or not the Leafs may have been eyeing him down the line as well.
Either way, since we want to be as prepared as possible for draft weekend, we should probably take a look at a few Greyhounds and Knights in this class in case the guys in the front office decide to go to some of the places they know best at any point in the draft. And there are plenty of options.
I’ve included the rankings from three of what I would consider the best draft authorities in Future Considerations, HockeyProspect.com, and ESPN to give an idea of the range of where these guys could fall. And I’ve outlined where the Leafs hold picks in those areas.
Olli Juolevi could be considered here, but given he’ll likely be off the board in the top ten, there won’t be an opportunity for the Leafs to grab him without a major blockbuster deal. That leaves us with one realistic option, another Knights rearguard in Victor Mete, who should be right there when the Leafs get into their 31st pick, and perhaps beyond.
Victor Mete (London, OHL) – 68GP 8G 30A
Where the Leafs could get him: There’s an absolutely huge range here for Mete among these rankings, but it’s doubtful he gets beyond where the Leafs pick at 57th or 62nd. He’s known for his skating and offensive tools, but is considered undersized at 5’10. Probably explains that wide range of opinion.
Toronto (or any team) will have a good number of forwards from these two clubs to choose from this weekend, and that’s outside Matthew Tkachuk who will likely hear his name called in the first five selections.
Max Jones (London, OHL) – 63GP 28G 24A
Where the Leafs could get him: Toronto would have to package some combination of their 31st overall and Washington’s pick at 57 or their own at 61 in order to move up into range for Jones. And that would still require him falling as well to close the gap. Pronman is relatively low on him, but it’s unlikely he actually would slip that far. This would be a major long shot for sure, but it’s still possible.
Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) – 63GP 24G 27A
Where the Leafs could get him: 31st overall. It’s highly doubtful Katchouk falls to the Washington pick (57) or further.
As Eyes on the Prize noted in their profile of Katchouk: “His 41 points scored at five-on-five were just five short of Alex Nylander’s 46, and comparable to Michael McLeod, Will Bitten, and Max Jones. Nineteen of Katchouk’s 27 assists were primary.”
Cliff Pu (London, OHL) – 63GP 12G 19A
Where the Leafs could get him: 57th, 62nd, or 72nd. I’d have a hard time seeing the Leafs use their 31st overall on Pu, but someone might take him not too long after that. He’s a fantastic skater and has an important year ahead of him as he moves up the lineup with a couple top-flight Knights likely set to go pro.
Tim Gettinger (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) – 60GP 17G 22A
Where the Leafs could get him: Like Pu, Gettinger will likely be kicking around at the Leafs’ picks at 57th, 62nd, and 72nd, or if things fall the way Future Considerations has their rankings, the Leafs actually hold 92nd overall. Convenient.
Size is obviously one of the big draws with Gettinger, as he’s listed at 6’5 and over 200 pounds.
Jack Kopacka (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) – 67GP 20G 23A
Where the Leafs could get him: 72nd, 92nd, 101st, or 122nd. Some folks are predicting Kopacka could blow the doors off a bit offensively in his draft-plus-one in the Soo, so he’s someone to keep an eye on.
Tyler Parsons (London, OHL) – 49GP .921Sv%
Where the Leafs could get him: Who knows? It seems like Parsons can basically go anywhere in the draft. By most accounts it seems there are a lot of questions about this goalie class, and as such, it’s incredibly difficult to predict where the dominoes start to fall.
Joseph Raaymakers (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) – 28GP .891Sv%
Where the Leafs could get him: We’re in “potentially going undrafted” territory here, so it’s tough to envision Toronto using anything but a very late pick on a guy like Raaymakers. They do have three picks beyond 150th overall [152, 179, 182] if they want to make something like that happen.