What excitement! At least from my perspective, this was a successful draft day for the Leafs. Not because of the picks, but because no stupid moves were made in order to "upgrade" the team.
Being able to hear Burke actually draft Morgan Reilly
was a relief. I was worried the pick may be traded before hand, as Burke likes to make bold and drastic moves like that. I was also happy (for the most part) that Burke didn't trade up. From the sounds of it, moving up to 3rd/2nd/1st would have costed way too much, and would have more than likely hurt the team. With the 5th pick, Burke took Morgan Reilly, the defenseman from The Moose Jaw Warriors. Burke said that he was his #1 pick regardless of draft position, which is nothing but a lie. While he does pose to be a good NHL defensemen in a couple of years and compares to Kris Letang, he wouldn't have been Burkes #1 pick. It's easy to tell why he said this; to make the kid feel better, and it seemed to work. Reilly only played 18 games because of a torn ACL, but when he did play he showed signs of brilliance, scoring at a PPG rate. During the combine he posted some of the best results, scoring #1 in Right Hand Grip Strength, #3 in Left Hand Grip Strength and #4 in Bench-press. However, the problem here is that the tests had to all do with his upper body
, which begs the question: is his ACL healed properly? Burke and co. seem to think so, so I'll believe (this one last time) that it's all well. When Reilly's name was called, I honestly believe his dad was more excited than he was, and that made me smile.
With their second pick (35th overall) the Leafs took another defensemen, Guelph Storms Matt Finn
. Many had picked Finn to go Mid first round, so when he was still available Burke did what he said he would, and take the best available player, regardless of position. Finn, cousin of ex-Leaf Carlo Colaiacovo, lead the Storm in scoring for defensemen and was 6th in defensemen scoring in the OHL. His game is comparable to Reilly's funny enough, in the way that he's a smooth and speedy skater with good passing ability and a high hockey IQ. He also seems like a good leader, an admirable asset in any player. He is a HUGE fan of the Leafs, and growing up was a big fan of McCabe (ew).
The Leafs didn't have a 3rd or 4th round pick, but with their 5th round pick they chose Dom Toninato
, a center from Duluth East High School in Minnesota. Toninato was second in East scoring with 33 goals and 40 assists for 73 points in 31 games. He will play College hockey for Fargo (N.D.) in the United States Hockey League in 2012-13 and go to University of Minnesota Duluth in 2013-14 or 2014-15. He seems like an interesting pick and will develop playing college hockey.
In the 6th round, they had two picks back to back, choosing Connor Brown
from the Erie Otters and Ryan Rupert
from the London Knights. Brown, a right-wing, had a eye-poppingly bad -72 +/- rating, but this was a horrible Otter team that only won 10 games, so you have to take that into consideration. In 68 games, he scored 25 goals and registered 28 assists. The main knock on his game is his defensive ability, so he will have to work on that in the coming years. Rupert, a centerman, scored 17 goals and registered 31 assists for 48 points, and had 120 penalty minutes. He's infamous for his two-handed slash to Nick Cousins stomach (http://www.youtube.com/wa...mbedded&v=0cbsiHPxZfY
). He's not known for his scoring, but 15 playoff games registered 15 points, so he could have a bit of offensive potential.
The Leafs final pick was Viktor Loov
, a defensemen coming from the Swedish Elite League. Elite Prospects describes him as "a two-way defenseman with good size and a great attitude. Team player and a pretty consistent player. Has some pretty good offensive skills to go with his defense. Very good passer". I don't know very much about him, but he could become an everyday NHL defenseman. While he only scored 6 points in 50 games, he was playing in the second highest-level Swedish hockey league. He is being compared to Jonathan Ericsson of the Red Wings, less offensive more defensive.
To go along with the draft picks, there were two trades: a minor and major one. The minor one was Gustavsson to Winnipeg for a conditional 7th round pick, conditional being if he signs with Winnipeg. Gustavsson was more than likely going to be let go anyways, so it was good to see Burke get something for him, even if it was little. The major one was a huge surprise that had been speculated on these boards forever (mostly by FlyFreaky), which had Luke Schenn going to be united with his Brother in Philly for James van Riemsdyk. I can't tell you how much I L O V E this trade. I loved Schenn when he was on his game, but since his rookie campaign he's regressed. Riemsdyk can score with the best of them, and looks like he could be a constant 30+ goal scorer playing top 6 minutes on a Leaf team. Injuries have derailed him over the past couple of seasons and hopefully they won't be a factor this coming year. This trade really helped both teams; Philly needed a defenseman who could log big minutes, and Toronto needed to get bigger up front. Both players could use a change of scenery, and both could very well succeed. I wish the best of luck to Gustavsson and Schenn in the future.
Draft day seemed like a huge success in many peoples eyes. Hopefully Burke doesn't do anything stupid in the coming days, and Free Agency is nice to the Leafs (Parise please? I've seen that picture of him in a leafs cap everywhere). Till then, adios!
Edit: Per Sportsnet, "Rupert’s twin brother, Matt, has also accepted an invitation to attend the Leafs rookie camp. Burke got just a tad excited talking about Ryan and his brother.
"This kid is a junkyard dog," Burke said. "They don’t let their size (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) hold them back from anywhere they have played. They only have one gear and it’s high. They only have one attitude and it’s surly. I like players like that."
After the draft Burke suggested he was close to making a trade, but would not offer specifics. He did say that there was no way young defenceman Jake Gardiner would be moved by the Leafs."
"He’s not going anywhere," Burke said."