With so much attention and discussion around the Phil Kessel trade and the repercussions it may have on the future of the Maple Leafs, I thought it would be interesting to go back 10 years or so and see what impact the first round draft picks of the last decade have played in the team's overall success and with the benefit of hindsight, has the trading of picks helped to put the team in its current predicament.
2000-Picked Brad Boyes 24th overall
-Traded for Owen Nolan, along with our 1st in 2003.
-Not a star type of player, and his numbers have tailed off since a career high 43 goals with the Blues in 2007 but would probably help us in a top 6 role at the moment.
2001-Picked Carlo Colaiacovo 17th overall
-Traded to St.Louis along with Alex Steen for Lee Stempniak.
-Development was no doubt hindered by many injury problems early in career. Feel we got unlucky with this one, always thought he looked a good player, but never seemed a favourite of Ron Wilson for whatever reason. Not sure if he would really help the current team, but would definitely provide an element of skill that seems to be lacking.
2002-Picked Alex Steen 24th overall
-Traded to St.Louis along with Colaiacovo for Lee Stempniak.
-Hasn’t seem to ever live up to the early promise he showed, but still a decent two way forward. Interestingly, only 6 players taken in the first round of that draft have more career points than Steen. Trading both Steen and Colaiacovo seemed a ridiculous trade at the time and seems even worse now.
2003-Traded pick to San Jose, along with Boyes for Owen Nolan
-San Jose picked Steve Bernier 16th overall
-Trading Boyes and a first for Nolan didn’t seem so bad at the time, as we had a strong team and were trying to contend, but 2003 has proved to be one of the best drafts in a number of years. Even though our pick was a mid first rounder ,we missed out on a chance to draft the likes of Mike Richards, Zack Parise, Ryan Kesler or Zack Parise.
2004-Traded pick to NYR for Bran Leetch
-New York picked Lauri Korpikoski 19th overall
-Like the Nolan trade, we were a playoff team and trying very hard to contend. Even though Leetch didn’t last very long in Toronto, Korpikoski hasn’t really panned out for the Rangers at this stage either. This one probably did less damage than others.
2005-Drafted Tukka Rask 21st overall
-Traded Rask to Boston for Andrew Raycroft
-Not much to say about this one that hasn’t already. Nobody really had any issues picking up Raycroft, but the price we paid was way too high and has come back to haunt us. Unfortunately, Kessel deal is starting to look very similar.
2006-Drafted Jiri Tlusty 13th overall
-Not one of our better picks, but if I remember correctly we pretty much stayed on course with this one and chose him right around where he was rated. He still has some time to develop, but its starting to look like he won’t amount to much.
2007-Traded pick to San Jose for Vesa Toskala, along with our 2nd rounder
-San Jose traded our first and second, to move up to 9th and pick Logan Couture
-John Ferguson Jr took a big chace with this one and lost. I remember pre draft talk that we were very interested in Couture, and after some ups and downs, he has now developed into a very good 2 way centre. Would look real good on our team at the moment.
2008-Drafted Luke Schenn 5th overall
-Traded additional picks to move up, but looks like a very good move, even though we could have still got a good player had we stayed at original spot. After some second year struggles, has bounced back this year and has been our best player this season.
2009-Drafted Nazem Kadri 7th overall
-Remember being disappointed we didn’t move up to get Schenn’s brother, and was really surprised we didn’t take Pajaarvi or Cowen with this pick. Either way, I like the way Kadri has come along and think he’ll turn out a great player for us, provided we keep him.
2010-Traded pick to Boston for Phil Kessel
-Boston drafts Tyler Seguin 2nd overall
With ten 10 years of draft picks, we only have Kadri and Schenn to show for it, and I suppose Kessel if you count returns. Considering we haven’t made the playoffs since the 2004 season, that is a very poor rate of return and is it any wonder that Leaf fans are so frustrated by the Kessel trade. Looking through the past decade, its pretty clear that trading first round picks hasn’t just hurt this franchise, its come back to haunt us. Had the team just stood pat and took the picks, there is no doubt they would be a far more competitive team today, with a much brighter future.