If the Leafs draft strategy wasn’t clear in the early rounds, Kyle Dubas made sure everyone understood what he was up to in the final rounds of the draft. He was out to draft high skill players that have a league to play in this year. Not a bad strategy, but for a team that is based in Ontario and used to relying heavily on the Ontario Hockey League for its prospects, it was certainly a change. The fact that in the middle of the draft word came down that it is going to be difficult to have hockey in Ontario this season should serve as some validation for Dubas’ strategy.
Loading up on players this year is also smart. Next year who knows how much many of the prospects will have played. Those who are playing might have been further down the depth chart than they’d usually be in, and getting around to see players play will be a challenge for scouts. Using 12 picks and using them on active players makes sense.
As for who those players are from the 6th and 7th rounds, here they are:
Miettinen is a 5’9 right winger from Finland, and a player many scouting services had targeted as a possible second or third rounder. Arguably a bit of a steal, but size as it often does, causes players to slide in the draft.
While Miettinen is committed to St. Cloud University and the NCAA isn’t guaranteed to start any time soon, going with a player who can return to Europe or will at least have four years to of development instead of two is a smart call.
He had 42 goals in 52 games in the Finnish junior league last season and shows promising speed.
The unprecedent run on Finns continued with Axel Rindell, an overager with 2 points in 2 games this season in the Finnish Liiga. The right side defenseman is 6’0 tall and is primarily an offensive defenseman. He’s a decent power play quarterback, and 22 points in 47 games last season.
It was a big year for selecting Chicago Steel players, but Miller still hasn’t played for them in the USHL. He was a star of Minnesota High School hockey and will play a year of USHL before attending the University of Minnesota. That gives the Leafs a five year development window on him. At 5’9 he’s definitely another skill player, which is fine, because you can always sign grit on the cheap, as we’ll learn on Friday.
Fusco is the first of the three 7th rounders. A defenseman bound for Harvard, Fusco is Mass. High School prep high school player that will have four years to develop.
A defensively minded center from Waterloo of the USHL, Wyatt Schingoethe is not only an interesting name but a player that could potentially develop as a strong bottom six forward for the Leafs. He’ll be in Waterloo again this season before joining the University of Denver next year.
The Leafs managed to select one local product for their fans that put a lot of value on players having the same area code as them. Tverberg is another Harvard commit, and will be heading there in the 2021-22 season. For now he’ll remain with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens of the OJHL, hoping to improve on his 26 goals in 47 game season.
All and all a busy day for Kyle Dubas. We’ll have a lot more on these players in the coming days, and a final grade on how the Leafs did in the draft this year.