Drafting Skill: Toronto Maple Leafs

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

Toronto Maple Leafs


2011 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Tyler Biggs (RW) 22nd overall – Well, starting off with one of the worst picks in Leafs history. This one is entirely on Brian Burke. His ‘tenacity, grit, trucluence’ era. Biggs has never played an NHL game, and likely never will. He’s now playing in the ECHL, after being traded in the Phil Kessel trade. The worst part of this pick, is that the Leafs gave up 2 picks to MOVE UP and draft Biggs. Those two picks? Rickard Rakell and John Gibson. Biggs is one of two players to have never played an NHL game from the 1st round of the 2011 draft. Awul, awful pick.

Round 1 – Stuart Percy (D) 25th overall – Another swing and miss by the Leafs in this draft. Percy has played all of 12 NHL games since being drafted. He was let go by the Leafs after the 2015-2016 season, and signed by the Penguins. He’s played all of this year in the AHL, and doesn’t look like he’ll crack the Penguins roster. This was another miss for the Leafs, in a year where there were plenty of NHLers drafted after them.

Round 2 – This pick was traded to Anaheim, who used it to take current starting goaltender John Gibson. These types of trades are why the Leafs are just finally turning the corner.

Round 3 – Josh Leivo (LW)  86th overall – This pick is still up in the air for Leafs fans. Leivo has played a handful of games this year, and looked like a real NHLer when he’s cracked the lineup. The problem? He hasn’t played enough. He has a big league shot, and has played well enough defensively, but the Leafs boasts plenty of forward prospects, which make it hard to tell if he’ll ever find full time work in Toronto.

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Morgan Rielly (D) 5th overall – Hard to argue with the Leafs pick here. The team was in desperate need for help defensively (still is), and Rielly was the best option available. He’s become the team’s #1 defender, and while some question if he truly is a #1 defender in the NHL, he has improved in each season. There were plenty of defensemen taken in the 1st round in 2012, and Rielly ranks 1st in games played, 4th in goals, and 1st in points. This pick has panned out great for the Leafs, and not many would change it for any other player.

Round 2 – Matt Finn (D) – 35th overall – Another Leafs draft pick who looks like a bust. He’s currently playing in the ECHL, after being dealt in 2015 as a package that brought in Michael Grabner. It’s tough to predict 2nd rounders as having success at the NHL level, but it doesn’t even appear that Finn can make an impact at the AHL level. With plenty of picks after Finn having played over 100 games in the NHL, it’s hard not to be frustrated with this pick.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to LA for Sondre Olden (originally picked in 2010). This pick was used to select Jimmy Vesey, who was a free agent that the Leafs took a big run at this past summer. Plenty of missed opportunities for the Leafs in recent drafts.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Frederik Gauthier (C) 21st overall – It would seem as though the Leafs again went after size here, rather than skill. Most believe Gauthier is still too slow to play in the NHL. He made an appearance in 21 games for the Leafs this year, and while he was a large upgrade over Ben Smith on the 4th line, the Leafs still felt they needed to upgrade him to Brian Boyle. If Gauthier couldn’t crack the lineup this year, will he ever? The Leafs are poised to only get better, so unless Gauthier makes strides in the offseason, he may miss his chance in Leaf-land.

Round 2 – Pick was traded to Chicago with a couple others to bring in Dave Bolland. He only played 23 games before being injured, and then signed with Florida the following offseason. Hard to accept this trade, knowing how little impact he had on the team, and giving up 3 picks to get him.

Round 3 – Carter Verhaeghe (C) 82nd overall – Verhaeghe was traded to the Islanders in 2015 after only playing 2 games for the Marlies. He was part of the package for Grabner, and since he’s still currently bouncing between the AHL and ECHL, it appears the trade was good for the Leafs. The draft selection? Not so much.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – William Nylander (C) 8th overall – I don’t know many Leafs fans who aren’t ecstatic about this pick. Nylander is part of the big 3 rookies changing the entire Leafs landscape. He’s been on fire since early 2017, and is one of the driving forces of the future in Toronto. His defensive game has come a long way, and he’s got a very high potential. For the Leafs to have gotten him at 8th, it’s a steal.

Round 2 – Traded to Anaheim in the Peter Holland package. Holland would play the better parts of 2 seasons for the Leafs, in a limited role most times. He was traded to Arizona this season, after being a healthy scratch for most of the year. The Leafs needed a player like Holland when the trade was made, so in my opinion it was a worthy trade.

Round 3 – Rinat Valiev (D) 68th overall – Valiev is a player many people are unsure of. He’s shown flashes that he could develop into an NHL defensemen, but also has shown signs that he won’t. I’m on the team that he won’t. He’s still young, but I don’t believe we’ll see him in a Maple Leafs uniform.

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Mitch Marner (RW) 4th overall – Another pick by the Leafs that fans LOVE. Marner reminds many of Patrick Kane, with his high-end skill set and smaller frame. Marner dominated in junior, and has had many jaw-dropping moments in his first NHL season. He’s definitely the real deal. He’s part of that big movement in Toronto, along with Nylander and Auston Matthews, that will be driving the Leafs forward. He’s on the verge of breaking a Leafs rookie record for assists, and appears to not have a ceiling on his potential.

Round 2 – Travis Dermott (D) 34th overall – Dermott is one of the few bright spots the Leafs currently have in terms of defensive prospects. Dermott is playing his first full year pro in the AHL, and has been great. He’s currently at 23 points in 50 games, and plays a well-rounded game. Depending what happens this off-season, we could see Dermott as early as next season as far as some NHL games go. He’s a smooth skater, which will transition well into the NHL. (This pick was acquired in the Jonathan Bernier trade from LA)

Round 2 – Jeremy Bracco (RW) 61st overall – Bracco is a small framed forward, with high end playmaking ability. He’s torching the OHL, with 147 points (101 assists) in 106 games. He’s likely to play a year in the AHL before making the jump to the NHL, especially with the depth the Leafs have at forward prospects. He impressed this year at the World Juniors, playing for team USA. He’s got the skillset to be a dominant NHL forward, but he may need to add size before making the jump. (Pick was acquired from Philadelphia in a combination of picks trade).

Round 3 – Andrew Nielsen (D) 65th overall – Nielsen is another bright spot on the back-end. He’s currently at 36 points in 63 games in his first full year as a pro. He’s a big body at 6’3”, 207 pounds but still possesses a great skating ability. He projects as a future NHL player, making the jump in the next couple of seasons. The Leafs need help on the back-end, and they’re hoping Nielsen can help fill a void in the next few years.

Round 3 – Martins Dzierkals (RW) 68th overall – Dzierkals is currently in his second year in the QMJHL, where he finished with 49 points in 47 games. These aren’t great numbers for a young player in junior, but it’s still early for Dzierkals. He’s likely a long-shot to make the jump to the NHL, and will likely play junior again next season before trying to crack the AHL roster. That being said, it doesn’t hurt your organization to have players like Dzierkals waiting in the wings.


All-in-all, the Leafs are a hard team to really grade as far as recent draft performance. They’ve had some AWFUL picks and trades, but it appears they’ve turned a corner back in 2014 starting with Nylander. Rielly was a great pick as well, but they followed that up with Gauthier the year after. Since 2014, they’ve made plenty of great picks, enough to stock the cupboard – which was once completely bare – for the future. They seem to finally have figured out how to hire a smart front-office.


Info: hockeydb.com; http://www.prosportstransactions.com/hockey/DraftTrades/Years


Drafting Skills: Vancouver Canucks

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

Vancouver Canucks

 2011 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Nicklas Jensen (RW) 29th overall – It’s been 6 season since Jensen was drafted, and he as suited up for a grand total of 31 NHL games. That’s not exactly great. He posted ‘OK’ numbers in the OHL before making the jump the AHL, however he has never found his scoring touch. He was traded from Vancouver in 2016 as part of the trade that brought in Emerson Etem.

Round 2 – Pick was traded to Minnesota for a 3rd and 4th round pick in this draft.

Round 3 – David Honzik (G) 71st overall – This looks like another miss for Vancouver. After finishing up his QMJHL career, Honzik is now playing in the Czech league. How are his numbers this year you may ask? 26 GP 6-20-0, GAA 3.01, SV% 0.899. Yikes. Big miss here.

Round 3 – Alexandre Grenier (RW) 90th overall – Grenier looks to be their best selection out of the first few rounds. He’s currently taking the long road, playing in his 4th full season in the AHL, but has put up 40 points in 54 games so far this year. Time is running out for him to make the jump, the 25 year old needs to impress next season or that could be it for him. He’s not getting any younger, especially in a league that is trending younger.

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Brendan Gaunce (LW) 26th overall – Gaunce has yet to solidify himself as an everyday NHLer. He’s seeing time this season, but mostly due to injuries the Canucks have suffered. He managed quite a bit of offense while in junior, and continued that early in his AHL career. The Canucks are hoping he can translate that into the NHL, as they’re a team that will be changing quite a bit over the next few years. There are hopes he can be part of the new group of players that they will need to emerge over the next couple of seasons.

Round 2 – Alexandre Mallet (C) 57th overall – Another pick by the Canucks that is no longer playing in North America. Mallet is over in the Czech league, and is disappointing on all accounts. He had one good year in junior as a 20 year old, before being mediocre in the ECHL. I can’t imagine Mallet every making the jump to the NHL. Tough for the Canucks, as there were many players taken after him that have made an impact in the NHL today.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to Anaheim in the trade that brought in Maxim Lapierre. The pick that Anaheim got from this trade resulted in goalie Frederik Andersen. The Canucks would be much better off today having kept that pick and taking Mr. Andersen.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Bo Horvat (C) 9th overall – Horvat took an extra year to develop than some of the others that were drafted around him, however this season he is coming into his own. He’s hit the 20 goal mark for the first time in his career, and should end up with close to 60 points. He’s the future for the Canucks, and one they need to embrace desperately. His speed and playmaking ability set him apart from others at his position. Horvat should continue getting better over the next couple of seasons. Keep in mind though, the Canucks traded Cory Schneider away for this pick… puts a slight cloud over Horvat.

Round 1 – Hunter Shinkaruk (LW) 24th overall – Shinkaruk was traded in 2016 to Calgary for Markus Granlund. This appears to be a steal (so far) for Vancouver. Shinkaruk is still in the AHL, and Grandlund has 17 goals and 29 points in 66 games this season so far for the Canucks. Shinkaruk is a year younger, but it appears this one will go in the Canucks favour for the foreseeable future.

Round 2 – Pick was traded for Derek Roy. He played decent enough for the Canucks, with 6 points in 12 games to finish the season.

Round 3 – Cole Cassels (C) 85th overall –  This selection was part of the trade that brought in David Booth and Steve Reinprecht, for Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm. He’s currently playing for Vancouver’s AHL affiliate in Utica, and has less than impressive numbers. 10 points through 52 games, with 29 PIM and a +2 rating. Can’t imagine Cassels making an impact in any shape at the NHL level, which is unfortunate as Sven Andrighetto was taken with the next pick and has already suited up in 87 NHL games.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Jake Virtanen (RW) 6th overall – There are many who believe Virtanen was rushed into the NHL and that hurt his current development, as this year he has been anything but impressive at the AHL level. He played in 10 games with Vancouver before being shipped to Utica, where he currently has 14 points in 50 games. Not. Great. At. All. Now, he’s only 20 years old. There is PLENTY of time for him to find his game. The tough part for Canucks fans to swallow, is 2 picks after him the Leafs took William Nylander (48 points in 66 games this year), followed by the Jets taking Nikolaj Ehlers (54 points in 69 games this year). Either of those picks would be a massive upgrade for the Canucks.

Round  1 – Jared McCann (C) 24th overall – Another 24th overall selection for the Canucks, another swing and a miss. The pick was acquired in the Ryan Kesler trade, and McCann played 69 career games for the Canucks putting up only 18 points. McCann has show promise that he will be a full-time NHL player someday, however this past summer was traded to Florida in the exchange that brought in Erik Gudbranson (which is another story altogether).

Round 2 – Thatcher Demko (G) 36th overall – Demko is viewed as an elite goalie prospect, and the goalie of the future for the Canucks. He may get his chance sooner than later, with Ryan Miller on the final year of his deal. He’s currently playing in the AHL for the first time, and has OK numbers for a rookie (GAA of 2.57, SV% 0.909 in 33 games). He’s a big guy, and plays the game well. This is a great selection for the Canucks in the 2nd round.

Round 3 – Nikita Tryamkin (D) 66th overall – Tryamkin played in 13 games in the season after being drafted, and has played in the majority of Canucks games this year. He hasn’t looked out of place, especially on a weak Canucks team. He controls play decently well, and while he doesn’t put up big numbers, he also doesn’t allow the most chances against from the Canucks back-end. He has a bright future ahead.

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Brock Boeser (RW) 23rd overall – Boeser is the real deal. He will be a future, everyday player in the NHL. The Canucks can expect Boeser to make an impact on a daily basis as early as next year, as he’s currently finishing up his second season at the University of North Dakota (33 pts in 31 games). He’s a big kid for 20 years old, and will help boost the offence for the Canucks that has dipped in the past couple of seasons. They’ll need all the help they can to turn the franchise around after the Sedins make their exit in the next couple of years.

Round 2 – Pick was traded to Calgary for Sven Baertschi. This trade has panned out decently for the Canucks, as Baertschi has turned into an effective player this year. He’s producing an over 0.5 pts per game for Vancouver. Meanwhile, the player the Flames drafted (Rasmus Andersson) is producing at a 0.44 point per game pace in the AHL.

Round 3 – Guillaume Brisebois (D) 66th overall – Brisebois has looked great this year in the QMJHL for Charlottetown. He’s put up 10 goals in back to back years now, along with 37 assists to finish the year with 47 points. He’s improved his defensive game as well, going from a -13 rating in 2015-2016 to +35 this year. He likely is a couple years away from the big leagues, but he’ll get his first taste of pro hockey next season when he debuts in the AHL.


All-in-all, the Canucks have not done great in recent drafts. They’ve traded a lot of picks away, being a contender for a few years. However, even when they were picking early in the first round, they’ve missed repeatedly. Their goaltending prospects are amongst the tops in the NHL, so we’ll give them that, but other than that, and a few rare finds, they’ve lacked what so many others teams have in recent years.


Info: hockeydb.com; http://www.prosportstransactions.com/hockey/DraftTrades/Years

Monday Pickups – March 13th

Let’s recap on the players I suggested for pickups 2 weeks ago, didn’t have time to post a new article last week so I’ll play this like I had the same pickups for 2 weeks in a row:

  1. Travis Zajac (NJD) – 6 GP – 1 Goal/ 1 Assist/ -2/ 5 SOG
  2. Frank Vatrano – 6 GP – 0 Goals/ 1 Assist / +1/ 9 SOG
  3. Sebastian Aho (CAR) – 7 GP – 3 Goals/ 2 Assists/ +1/ 21 SOG
  4. Nick Schmaltz (CHI) – 4 GP – 0 Goals/ 2 Assists/ EVEN/ 7 SOG
  5. Mathieu Perreault (WPG) – 6 GP – 1 Goal/ 4 Assists/ +2/ 9 SOG

The bye-week is over for this year, with quite a few teams have 4 games this week. Carolina is playing 5 games in 7 nights.

Waiver-Wire Pickups (Percentages owned are via Fantrax.com)

1) Sebastian Aho (Forward – 71%) – Aho has been playing quite well lately for the Canes, and with 5 games in 7 nights he’ll be seeing plenty of action. He’s near the top of owned-percentage but if he’s available in your league, pick him up. He could be the difference late in your fantasy season.

Matchups this week: NY Islanders (x2), Minnesota, Nashville, Philadelphia

2) James Reimer (Goalie – 55%) – Reimer has been the man in Florida for a couple weeks now, with Luongo on the shelf with an injury. Reimer has been known in his career as a streaky goalie, and coming off 3 losses he should be due for an upswing. With Florida still hanging on to playoff hopes, they’ll need big games out of Reimer.

Matchups this week: Toronto, Columbus, NY Rangers, Pittsburgh

3) Antti Raanta (Goalie – 61%) – King Hank was just diagnosed with an injury that will keep him out of the lineup for the next 2-3 weeks. During that time, Raanta will be the man in New York. He’s played very well all season, and has taken on heavy workloads in the past. Snatch him up if he’s out there.

Matchups this week: Tampa Bay, Florida, Minnesota

4) Gustav Nyquist (Forward – 61%) – Since coming back from his suspension (which was FAR too little), he’s been playing better hockey. In those 5 games, he has 6 points. Not outstanding numbers, but he’s been having a terrible year. The Red Wings in general have been having an awful year, but with Vanek traded out at the deadline, Nyquist is seeing increased time. He’s worth a gamble in most leagues. The Wings have an outstanding schedule this week as well.

Matchups this week:  Colorado (x2), Arizona

5) Andrew Ladd (Forward – 49%) – Ladd is having a terrible year, especially after signing the big deal this summer with the Islanders. He’s been a different player lately though, with points in 3 straight games. He’s been playing his best hockey at a time of year when the Islanders need it the most. If they’re going to make the playoffs they’ll need even more out of him.

Matchups this week: Carolina (x2), Winnipeg, Columbus

*Percentages per Fantrax.com*

Drafting Skills: Washington Capitals

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

Washington Capitals

 2011 NHL Entry Draft

No picks in the first 3 rounds.

Round 1 – Their first round pick was traded to Chicago in the Troy Brouwer deal. Brouwer would play 4 full seasons for the Capitals, however never surpassed 43 points per season. This deal is questionable, as there were players picked after this pick that have had more impact than Brouwer.

Round 2 – Their second round pick was traded to Carolina (onto Calgary eventually) in the deal for Joe Corvo. Corvo was traded in hopes of shaping up the Capitals playoff run. This didn’t go as well as they would have hoped. They gave up quite a bit to get Corvo, mind you nothing that has turned into anything magical.

Round 3 – Their third round pick was traded to Florida in the Dennis Wideman trade. He was also traded to Washington for that playoff run, but played a full season in Washington before moving on. This deal turned out well for Washington, as he put up 46 points the following season.

 2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Filip Forsberg (C) 11th overall – Forsberg was a great pick by the Capitals in 2011 at 11th overall. He’s quickly becoming a dangerous offensive threat in today’s NHL, however not for the Washington Capitals. He was traded before every playing a game for Washington for Michael Latta and Martin Erat. This trade would prove to be horrendous for the Capitals, as Forsberg is the second highest scoring player from the 2012 draft.

Round 1 – Tom Wilson (RW) 16th overall – Wilson plays a gritty game, and isn’t viewed as a liability when on the ice like a lot of players in his category. He’s put up over 500 PIMs in his first 275 games, while remaining a plus player. His play is questionable at times, and for someone with his skill set, being selected in the 1st round seems like a stretch. There were plenty of better options on the table for the Capitals at this point in the draft, including Tomas Hertl who was taken with the next pick.  Wilson is a player you hope to get in later rounds, not take a gamble on in round 1.

Round 2 – Pick was traded for Jason Arnott. Washington was shaping up for a playoff run and felt Arnott would help. They didn’t end up past the second round this year, but Arnott chipped in with 6 points in 9 playoff games.

Round 3 – Chandler Stephenson (C) 77th overall – Stephenson is currently in his 3rd full season in the AHL, and is performing decently for a 3rd round pick. He’s not scoring at a high enough rate to be considered an NHL player at this point, especially with the powerhouse offense currently on the Caps roster. He may never develop into an everyday NHL player at this point. Next year’s training camp will be big for Stephenson if he ever hopes to crack the NHL roster.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Andre Burakovsky (LW) 23rd overall – Burakovsky possesses the skillset to be a very effective NHL player. He has grown every season into what the Caps hoped he would be when they drafted him 23rd overall back in 2013. He has yet to unlock the full potential he has shown in flashes offensively, but the hope is that he will sooner rather than later. After being drafted, he put up 41 goals in 57 games in the OHL, but has yet to hit the 20 goal mark (or more than 38 points) in an NHL season. He’s got the talent, he just needs to unlock it.

Round 2 – Madison Bowey (D) 53rd overall – Bowey has shown great improvement in his second full season in the AHL. He has missed time with injuries this year, but hasn’t looked out of a place for a young defenseman in his second professional season. The Caps are taking a slow approach with Bowey, but he should be ready for full-time NHL duty as early as next season. He plays a very solid two-way game, and big, right-shot defensemen are hard to come by. Bowey could develop into a top two pairing defender in the near future.

Round 2 – Zach Sanford (LW) 61st overall – The Caps just traded Sanford in the deal that brought Kevin Shattenkirk to town.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to the Jets along with their 4th and 5th round picks from 2013 to move up  and draft Sanford in the 2nd round.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Jakub Vrana (C) 13th overall – Vrana made his NHL debut this season after nearly a point per game pace in the AHL in 2015-2016 (34 points in 36 games). As he continues to get acclimated the North American game, his offense should continue to pick up. The problem he’ll face is having two key centres ahead of him on the depth chart for the Caps. He can transition and play the wing in hopes of moving up the lineup, however right now he’s seeing most of his minutes on the Caps third line. It’s still early, and Vrana should see a larger role with the Caps in the future.

Round 2 – Vitek Vanecek (G) 39th overall – Goalies are the hardest to predict, and Vanecek is no different. He had a good year in the ECHL in 2015-2016 posting 18 wins in 32 games, with a GAA of 2.03 and a SV% of 0.917. He’s playing in the AHL this season, which is always a great sign for a young goalie only 2 short years after being drafted. He’ll need some seasoning, and with Braden Holtby in the big leagues, there’s no rush for Vanecek.

Round 3 – Nathan Walker (LW) 89th overall – Walker is a smaller player who was drafted originally by the Rangers, was traded to the Capitals for a couple picks – one which turned out to be goalie Igor Shesterkin, who is currently tearing up the KHL as a 21 year old. This looks bad for the Capitals, even though they have great depth at the goalie position, it never hurts to have an extra top prospect in that category.

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Ilya Samsonov (G) 22nd overall – Samsonov is widely regarded as a top 5 goalie prospect playing outside of the NHL. He’s currently playing in the KHL, where his save percentage seems to only be increasing year over year. In 2015-2016, he posted a SV% of 0.925 in 19 games. In this season, he posted a 0.936 SV% in 27 games. In his first two playoff games he posted a 0.949 SV%. He’s the real deal. The Caps don’t need to rush Samsonov, as he’s still only 20 years old, and they have Holtby in the crease for them now, but he is most definitely the goalie of the future – if not for Washington, for another NHL team.

Round 2 – Jonas Siegenthaler (D) 57th overall – A rock-solid, stay at home defensemen, Jonas is currently playing in his home country of Switzerland. Eventually, the Caps will want him in North America at the AHL level, but for the 19 year old, he’s not expected to make an impact for a few more years. The hope is that he will continue to round out his game, and work on his inefficiencies. He’s still only 19, so it’s early to tell how this pick will play out for the Caps. They aren’t in need of any further offensive talent, so picking up a defender was a smart play.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to the Calgary Flames for Curtis Glencross, who managed 7 points in 18 regular season games, before a disappointing playoff run of 1 point in 10 games.


All-in-all, the Capitals have done decently well for themselves, despite trading a lot of picks to load up for playoff runs – and coming up empty on that end. They boast a couple good young goaltending prospects, as well as some future offensive help. It’s tough to look back on the trades as successes, as they didn’t manage to win a Cup, however they were necessary to at least attempt to push themselves above others.