(or alternatively to the title, 5 Players that it would be great to see at the 44th overall pick)
Given what we’ve seen in the past from Kyle Dubas, where he turned a pick that would be Travis Konecny into Travis Dermott and Jeremy Bracco, and much more appealingly where he opted to trade down to select Rasmus Sandin, we probably can’t rule out the notion that Kyle Dubas may be looking to trade down at the draft if the opportunity arises.
This draft seems to have a tier of players that a notch above the rest, and that group seems to cap out around pick 12 (of course), and after that the draft becomes much more wide open throughout the rest of the first round. Assuming Kyle Dubas views the draft in tiers and not by a rigid 1-217 draft list, the Leafs might have some flexibility in who they wish to select and that will open Toronto up to picking up some additional assets along the way. That’s all well and good for those of us who aren’t overly committed to certain players in the draft and could be happy with almost any good player.
On the other hand, missing out on Travis Konecny really hurt.
Anyways, we’ll forget about Konecny for now and look at some late first round targets who might be interesting for the Leafs. Using the TLN Consensus Draft Rankings, here’s a list of 5 players ranked below 15th overall that could be interesting options for the Leafs.
Hendrix Lapierre- C (19th in Consensus Ranking)
Craig Button on TSN690 says Hendrix Lapierre is a top 5 pick if healthy.
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) September 24, 2020
I mean, that’s a loaded tweet right there, but Lapierre’s injury this season create a bit of a mystery box scenario. He’s more of a playmaker than a lot of the true top 10 guys, but perhaps when Button is saying he’s a top 5 pick, he means he’s a top 5 pick in an average year because anytime before the Leafs select seems like quite a stretch.
The Leafs could use a solid center and centers are generally the best players available in the early rounds, so if Toronto doesn’t perceive a significant difference between players like Holloway, Jarvis, Mercer, and Lapierre, trading down and grabbing Lapierre a little later might be to their advantage.
Tyson Foerster- F (31st in Consensus Ranking)
Sometimes listed as a RW, but often listed as a center, Foerster is another down the middle option for the Leafs. He brings a bit more on his recent resume than Lapierre, but is definitely a player that involves much more of a commitment of trading down, as it really only was (you guessed it) Craig Button that saw him as a top 15 talent in the draft.
The name of the game is scoring and Foerster does that, but when skating is one of his stand out issues, it’s questionable whether he’ll be able to keep that going at the pro level. Thankfully the Leafs have a pretty great skating coach which can make up for that issue.
Foerster is a swing for the fences pick, which isn’t a bad way to go for the Leafs and has paid off for them a lot more than their attempts to play it safe. The Leafs would also have a prospect developing in their own backyard which is always a plus during limited travel times as well. So he’s someone to consider
Ridly Greig- C (34th in Consensus Ranking)
Okay, so you might be suffering through this option solely because I’m a Brandon Wheat Kings fan and that biases me towards selecting either Greig or Braden Schneider.
Talking to @RidlyGreig on …
* Hoping dad’s team (@NHLFlyers) doesn’t pick him
* Feisty play & Kadri comparison
* Rise up Central Scouting rankings 📈
* Schneider’s D-zone domination
* Hitting a hole-in-one ⛳️
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) September 24, 2020
So Kadri comparisons are another reason I’m biased towards Greig as an option, even though there’s a strong chance he’ll be available when the Leafs select in the 2nd round. He was above a point per game in the WHL last season, he’s got a mean/pesty streak, and plays all out on every shift. When it comes to the cliched gaps on the Leafs, Greig addresses all of those, and it’s just going to be a matter of getting him to apply some discipline and pick his spots.
If the Leafs are trading down, there’s a good chance that the Leafs pick up an additional pick in the high second round as part of the transaction, and rather than spending the better pick on Greig, he could be the reward for trading down. Considering the Leafs missed out on Konecny by trading down a few years ago, here’s their chance to go after his Western Canadian clone.
A couple of weeks back Earl Schwartz took a look at some of the teams that might be willing to trade up to where the Leafs pick and there are some appealing options available.
Perhaps the Leafs are still better off with just picking when they are scheduled to pick, but in a deep draft with plenty of good options through the top three rounds, I find myself warming up to the idea of moving down if someone doesn’t magically fall out of the Top 10 and down to the 15th overall pick.