Potential Toronto Maple Leafs First Round Picks

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by Russell Graham

With the NHL Entry Draft just under a month away, it is a good time to look forward to the potential picks in the draft. The Toronto Maple Leafs currently own the 17th overall pick. The draft is open ended, and a lot of the first round picks could go anywhere. I will be highlighting three players who may be available around the 17th pick that the Leafs should consider drafting.

Potential Toronto Maple Leafs First Round Picks

The Players

No one truly knows how the draft will shake out, especially with this being labelled as a not so deep draft class. For the most part, after the top five, players could go in any order for the first round. Should they keep the 17th pick, the three players they should focus on are Nick Suzuki, Nicolas Hague, and Callan Foote.

Nick Suzuki

Suzuki is a right shot center that plays for the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League. Suzuki was ranked as the 10th best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting in their final rankings. He is a reliable defensive player in his own end as well as boasting top end offensive talent. Suzuki showed this talent by registering 96 points in just 65 games with Owen Sound in the regular season, while adding another 23 points in 17 games in the playoffs. He is a little undersized at 5’11″ and 183 pounds, but that hasn’t stopped Leafs management before (see Mitch Marner and Jeremy Bracco).

While he plays center with Owen Sound, he would also be fully capable of playing the wing. The Leafs have a plethora of right wingers, but Suzuki could potentially be the most skilled player available at this pick, and the Leafs should not pass on him if available.

LWOH’s Ben Kerr has a full report here.

Nicolas Hague

The Leafs are clearly in need of help on the back end. So far this offseason they have signed Swedish defensemen Calle Rosén and Andreas Borgman to help with their depth, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep building. Hague currently plays for the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League. Hague is a big left shot defender standing at 6’5 and 216lbs. He racked up fairly good numbers for a defender recording 46 points in 65 games in the regular season as well as 12 points in 18 playoff games with the OHL finalist Steelheads. He has great puck moving skills that help him be the quarterback of the Steelheads power play.

Not only can he put up good offensive numbers, but he is no stranger to the physical side of the game either. This is something the Leafs may lack in the future on defence especially if they do not re-sign Roman Polak.

LWOH’s Ben Kerr has a full report here.

Callan Foote

Possibly the biggest need that the Leafs need to fill is the right side of their defence. Callan Foote could be that filler. Foote is the son of former NHLer Adam Foote and is a right shot defender currently playing for the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. He is another big body presence on the back end at 6’4 and 210lbs. Foote put up an impressive 57 points in 71 games in the WHL regular season as well as seven points in 14 games in the playoffs.

For a big man, he is a good mobile, puck moving blueliner that can make a good first pass out of the zone. According to Jeff Marek, Foote “Will be a 12-year NHLer. A really solid, safe pick”. The Leafs need someone who they can count on down the road. With Foote being a safe pick, as well as filling an organizational need, they should heavily consider taking him should he be available.

LWOH’s Ben Kerr has a full report here.

Review

Although they made the playoffs, the Leafs still have holes in their lineup they need to fill. These three players, if available, should be the main targets for the Leafs at the 17th pick. Will they go for a more skilled player in Suzuki, or fill a need on the back end with either Hague or Foote? Only Leafs management knows what they want to do. The rest of us will find out on June 23rd at the NHL Draft in Chicago.

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