Salt, meet wound. After an incredibly disappointing post season that saw the Leafs in their traditional role of watching the second round from their comfort of their own homes, we now need to address the fact that the Leafs are heading into the NHL Entry Draft with only 3 draft picks and most significantly, without a first round pick. Draft experts will provide some comforting knowledge that this isn’t a particularly high end draft. It’s not a draft that is overwhelmingly deep, and of course with COVID, there are entire leagues like the OHL that didn’t play and others that played shortened schedules in bizarre circumstances. Still the seven regular season games and four post season games of Nick Foligno that resulted in 5 assists and 0 parades probably is creating a nice bitter feeling at the moment.
Still, it’s foolish to completely dismiss any conversation of the entry draft because we don’t particularly like the way the Leafs are situated heading into it. Last year the Leafs also looked to be without a first round pick, and low and behold, the Kapanen trade brought a first back into the mix and Rodion Amirov into our lives. The year before the Leafs were without a first and waiting to second round to draft Nick Robertson who slide out of the first round and into our hearts. Having a good understanding of the draft also makes for a good way to kill the time while we wait for the Leafs to improve themselves. That’s why most of the draft content you’ll see on the site will come from our in house draft experts, rather than me, I take the Cliff Notes approach to the draft and will cram as much knowledge as I can into the next month while relying on people like Nick Richard, Earl Schwartz, and Tony Ferrari to tell me what to think.
Where are the Leafs presently sitting for draft picks?
|Round||Pick||Original Owner of Pick|
Based on the fact that the Canadiens, either the Islanders or Bruins, and the Lightning all finished behind the Leafs in the standings this year, Toronto saw it’s draft position mildly improve by the outcome of the playoffs. And while the league is up to 32 teams now, there is also the small matter of the Coyotes forfeited first round pick this year, and that moves Toronto up one spot as well. If the Leafs were selecting in the first round they’d be selecting 23rd overall. Not great, but decidedly better than having to wait until 55th overall.
Still, I want to offer some encouragement so here are a few of the players who have been selected 55th overall that might make you feel better:
- Brandon Montour (2014)
- Artturi Lehkonen (2013)
- Chris Tierney (2012)
- Dmitry Orlov (2009)
- Marco Scandella (2008)
So yeah, if you’re a fan of defensive defensemen or bottom six forwards, this could be the pick for you. Or you know, picks are what you make of them, and there have been plenty of worse picks made before 55 and plenty of better picks made after. It’s just not an ideal starting point, and only having three lottery tickets when you are allotted seven isn’t ideal either.
So who are the possible selections at 55th overall?
Well, we’ve got a few names to consider here:
|TSN/Bob McKenzie||Roman Schmidt- D|
|Dobber Prospects||Dmitri Katelevsky- F|
|Future Considerations||Olen Zellweger- D|
Personally, I was excited to see Olen Zellweger on this list because he’s exactly who I’d want the Leafs to take there, but we’ll go into that a bit later in this post.
There’s also a matter of what the Consolidated Draft Rankings point to as being the best option at 55th overall, and that player is Matvei Petrov (forward) and that’s not a bad option, especially for a team that has been doing well with Russian players of late.
The Consolidated Rankings
|20||Carson Lambos||Finland U20||D|
So using the Bob McKenzie rankings, as well as those of Dobber Prospects, Future Considerations, Elite Prospects, Hockeyprospect.com, and McKeen’s I’ve put together a score of the rankings and ranked them again. TSN, Future Considerations, and Dobber were using a list of their top 100 prospects, while only the first round was readily available for the others without jumping a paywall. This gives us our revised list. Not the first time this has been done, but that’s how I’ve done it here.
Right now a lot of players are just random names to you and I and that is honestly how we’re going to view most of them right up until they mysterious score their first ever playoff goal against the Leafs in the 7th game of the first round in 2026. That’s fine. The ones you might want to get to know, like the ones expected to be available around the 55th overall spot, I’ve created a very simple Tableau Dashboard to assist you with learning more about them.
On here you can find some stats from the 2021 season (2020 in the event the player didn’t play in a league in 2021), their draft rankings, including the consolidated ranking, and one last thing, their Hunter Score.
The Hunter Score, fondly named for Mark Hunter and his (extreme sarcasm alert) ability to identify top prospects that others miss. The Hunter Score is a simple combination of points and on ice goal differential, but it is weighted by the league they play in, their age, the position they play, whether this is their first year of draft eligibility, and height. By looking at the outputs associated with each of these different areas, the scores either improve or decline. Here are how some of the variables relate to each other:
Anyway, the approach is far from perfect, but does identify some players that stand out statistically that might not have been someone you would have otherwise focused on. For example, remember Olen Zelleweger who was ranked 55th overall by Future Considerations? He has the second best Hunter Score in the draft at 3.84. And if you go with an equal weighting of Hunter Score with the Consolidated draft rankings, which I used for the combined score, it puts Olen 9th in the draft (I acknowledge equal weighting might be a little steep at this point, but wanted a number that combines data with scouting.)
Using the Hunter approach, here are the 10 players that stand out in the draft:
|9||Carson Lambos||Finland U20||D|
In some cases it validates some top players, but it also introduces a few new names to consider. Either way, I’ve put it on the draft card to be referenced with the rankings and statistics. There are almost 2,500 players listed in the dashboard.
This is the first in what will probably be somewhat regular draft content that will become much more frequent as we near the big day. We’ll have plenty on what the Leafs needs are, whether or not they should acquire a first round pick and what that could cost them, and plenty of profiles on potential second round options like Olen Zelleweger or potential late round steals like Trevor Wong. If there is one thing Leafs Nation does well, it’s obsess, and the draft is just another avenue for that, even if this is one of the more underwhelming draft situations in recent memory.