This draft weekend was pretty much the only positive that Leaf fans could take away from the '07-'08 campaign. A disastrous season swept in the winds of change, and miracle of miracles: a high draft position. I will provide some thoughts and scouting reports, along with a "perfect-world projection".
Let's take a look the picks made, and some thoughts on each player:
Round 1 - 5th overall - D Luke Schenn
- The Leafs targeted their man, and traded up to get him, in a fantasically bold move.
- Schenn is a large-bodied, seek-and-destroy shutdown defender in the mold of Scott Stevens
- Mckeen's Prospect Rankings editor called Schenn the "best defensive defenseman to come from the draft in maybe two decade"
- Schenn also possesses very underrated offensive abilities, as most people are inclined to think of him simply as a stay-at-home defender
- One scout noted "Schenn moves the puck with the kind of robotic composure most junior forwards won't see until they reach the pro ranks"
- He's drawn comparisons to Nashville's Shea Weber offensively
In a perfect world, he becomes: An elite shutdown defender capable of contributing 30-35 points and perennial all-star
Round 2 - 60th overall - F Jimmy Hayes
- Big-time boom or bust pick right here
- Huge frame, and very strong physically
- Power forward potential, with a mean streak and soft hands
- Was once heralded as a top 10 pick, before suffering through a very inconsistent and disappointing season. Scouts even said that he was already better than Philly prospect James Van Riemsdyk
- Despite his size and skillset, he appeared invisible at times last season, leading some scouts to believe he was simply a man playing amongst boys and that he would struggle at higher levels
In a perfect world, he becomes: A brusing power forward, capable of potting 30+ goals, though he could just as likely never make it past the NCAA
Round 4 - 98th overall - F Mikhail Stefanovich
- An absolute steal at this point in the draft
- A top 15 talent in the draft, but fell due to concerns regarding work ethic and coachability
- A dynamic scoring winger, with a great shot, smooth skating, and large frame
- Can be lazy, and disinterested in the defensive side of the game
- Has drawn comparisons to Columbus' Nikolai Zherdev or Nashville's Alexander Radulov
- Yet another high risk-reward pick for the Leafs
In a perfect world, he comes: A dynamic 1st line forward and PPG sniper, though only if someone can successfully light a fire under him.