Well, after watching TSN’s annual mock draft special, I can’t say I’m surprised. At least when it comes to his belief of who the Toronto Maple Leafs should take.
Craig Button’s mock draft started out the way many mocks this year are starting. Aaron Ekblad went to the Florida Panthers, Sam Bennett to the Buffalo Sabres, Leon Draisaitl to the Edmonton Oilers, Sam Reinhart to the Calgary Flames and Michael Dal Colle went to the New York Islanders.
According to the mock, Vancouver then would take Jake Virtanen, the player who I have the Leafs taking in Editor in Leaf’s mock final mock draft. Two picks later, the Leafs would then take Nick Ritchie. How shocking!
Now, I’m not surprised that Button has the Leafs picking Ritchie. He’s the prototypical Leafs draft pick. He’s big, tough, and can hit real well. So what’s the problem? He’s the prototypical Leaf pick.
The Leafs are known for taking big, tough and, dare I say it, truculent. Where has it gotten them? Not too far. The Leafs need to take skill players. Look what happened the last time the Leafs drafted for skill? It was Morgan Rielly in 2012. That’s worked out pretty well so far.
Let’s just say the first seven picks go exactly as Button predicts (with Haydn Fleury going to the Carolina Hurricanes) and Nikolaj Ehlers is still available, if I were the Leafs, I would be taking him. He offers lots of skill and has been playing with Jonathan Drouin.
Now, I don’t have any problem with Ritchie. I would just prefer the Leafs take someone else. If they do, he better be as NHL-ready as some are saying because I hope he’s playing for the Leafs next season and prove he’s worthy of that pick. That would leave no time for him to be doubt from Leaf fans that he was just another bad pick.
Will the Leafs pick Ritchie, or will they go with someone else? We’ll see on Friday.