The Toronto Maple Leafs seem to covet Dylan Strome. Whether they want to admit to their level of want is a different story entirely, but the interest is definitely there.
Strome plays for the Erie Otters of the OHL, which means he plays with Connor McDavid. McDavid is the runaway No. 1 pick and will be drafted first by the Edmonton Oilers when the draft starts in Sunrise, Florida on June 26th.
The Maple Leafs currently hold the fourth pick and have a bevy of holes to fill. Unfortunately, they will not be able to fill them all at once, but they believe Strome is an elite player. There is some debate about that, but it is clear that he is pretty high on their draft board.
There is just one tiny problem.
Toronto Meet Arizona
The Arizona Coyotes hold the third pick in the draft and though some think they might take Noah Hanifin, the two-way defenseman, there are many scouts and experts who think they are looking hard st Strome and understandably so. Keep in mind had the lottery held form, Arizona would be likely picking Jack Eichel but the ping pong balls wound up giving Edmonton the number one pick which dropped Buffalo and Arizona down a peg. Therefore, priorities and needs changed much to the chagrin of Toronto.
Edmonton probably would not have taken Strome anyway and that may be what adds to the ultimate frustration. There is one wrinkle to consider and that is Arizona might consider drafting Mitchell Marner, but that seems a long shot at best.
The one certain thing is the draft really does not start until the third pick. Toronto realizes this and knows that Arizona already has six picks in the first three rounds, including three picks in the first 32. They are already rich with selections.
Don Maloney has Arizona in position for a franchise-altering draft. Toronto needs a star player and one from Ontario really is a bonus. Since Steven Stamkos is not walking through that door anytime soon, then they want the best forward available after McDavid and Eichel. The majority believes that choice is Strome. It is the logical choice given the deficiencies that Toronto has. There are some that believe Hanifin might fall to the fifth or sixth spot even.
What Would Arizona Want?
The exchange of draft picks in the first round should not cost the Maple Leafs an arm and a leg. After all, this is the difference between the third and fourth pick and not the second and third or first and fourth, just as hypothetical situations. The drop between second and third is significant. The drop between third and fourth is not as great.
Would you throw in a player to sweeten the deal? It probably would not be a big name player and maybe a later round pick. That would be one way to go. It could shed a little bit of salary for the Maple Leafs and the Coyotes could acquire another pick and a NHL ready player.
The more likely scenario is the third pick might cost Toronto the fourth pick obviously, then maybe a second or third rounder now, and perhaps a mid-round 2016 draft pick as well. That may seem costly, but the Maple Leafs are no stranger to making bold moves just to get the player they want.
Maybe Toronto Does Not Have To Do A Thing
This is not as likely but hey you never know. The tea leaves and Arizona may just decide not to draft Strome after all. Who knows, maybe they find something that scares them off. That is the one scenario with the least chance of happening but it has to be acknowledged.
It would be the one that gives Maple Leafs fans a reason to smile after an awful second half of the season and a lottery that saw them fall just short of landing McDavid.
No matter what happens, it will all be about that third pick one way or the other. Does Toronto wait and hope or do they try to go up and grab it? This will be one to keep an eye on as the draft draws closer.