NHL Prospects

Maple Leafs Might Covet Third-Overall Draft Pick

Maple Leafs Might Covet Third-Overall Draft Pick
Chris Wassel

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 Marnerbut 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.

  • Andrew

    The Coyotes will take Strome, because Leafs fans never get a break….like, literally, never!

    • http://www.todaysslapshot.com Franklin Steele

      If I’m the Coyotes I think long and hard about drafting Hanifin. Passing on a cornerstone D like that just because you “already have one” is strange logic to me.

  • Steve Ives

    Another terrific Wassel column! Don’t overlook the possibility that the Leafs are blowing smoke — I believe their biggest desire is that Hanifin falls to them at #4 and immediately becomes their most talented defense prospect since Toe Blake. To accomplish this they talk Strome, Strome, Strome when they really want the Coyotes to pass on Hanifin. This type of “draft gamesmanship” is employed all the time.

  • FlareKnight

    Honestly I don’t think the Leafs should do a thing other than wait for Arizona to make their pick.

    There are a ridiculous number of great picks in this top 10. No matter what only one of these guys will not be on the board when the Leafs pick: Strome, Marner, Hanifin, Provorov, Barzal, etc. Yeah, there is a chance that Arizona takes the third guy on the Leafs list of the top 3 players in the draft. But whether they do or don’t the Leafs will get one of the best picks they’ve had in a while and won’t need to make a move to do it.

    I think the more important thing is to continue focusing on moving core guys and getting additional picks. Leafs need quality and quantity here.

  • jason spencer

    The Leafs will be fine no matter who the Coyotes pick. If they pick Strome then you go with Hanifin and vice versa. The Leafs are just starting the rebuild and need all the picks and prospects they can get. Unless you’re trading for a McDavid, it would be foolish to continue the same old pattern. Pick the best available at your spot and stockpile for the next 4-5 years.

  • raysidebalfour .

    Strome is a terrific player. He did get exposed in the Soo series for his lack of skating ability. I would draft Marner or Hanifin no doubt.

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NHL Prospects
Chris Wassel

Never stop learning! That has always been my philosophy in life. It applies to hockey writing so well as new challenges are something to strive for. I have been a fantasy hockey writer way back when it wasn’t quite so cool, covered the Devils for a variety of places and still do, have a small hockey site of my own, and even write about all things NHL, AHL, ECHL, KHL, etc. Usually I am first asked who I don’t write for. For Today’s Slapshot, I will be covering the Atlantic Division.

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