Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NHL Draft: Who Should The Toronto Maple Leafs Select Eighth Overall? 

For the fourth time in seven years, the Toronto Maple Leafs will pick in the top 10 of the NHL Draft. Those three players were Luke Schenn (fifth in ’08), Nazem Kadri (seventh in ’09) and Morgan Rielly (fifth in ’12). With the exception of Schenn (who was traded for James van Riemsdyk), these players have turned into key contributors for the Leafs. With the eighth overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft this Friday, the Leafs will have an opportunity to add another vital piece for the future.

As a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, you’ve probably deliberated on whom the Leafs might select in the first round. Maybe you’re really hardcore and even have players penciled in as potential steals in the later rounds. This is what’s so fun about the draft: You really have no idea how it’s all going to play out, but darnit, we’re gonna try to predict it anyway.

Since we all have an opinion on which player the Leafs should select, we’ve decided to provide a forum for you to share that opinion here. The Editor In Leaf staff will each provide their choice as well as a short explanation as to why they think it’s a good choice. At the bottom of the post, we’ve added a poll for you to have your voice be heard. We’ll announce the pick the Editor In Leaf community officially endorses on Friday before the festivities get underway in Philadelphia.

Without further ado, here are our picks:

Jeff Langridge

Jake Virtanen, RW/C, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

Virtanen has the right amount skill and grittiness, so he can satiate the Leafs management types that still believe in the word truculence and get a considerable amount of skill at the same time.

James Gleason

Nick Ritchie, RW/LW, Peterborough Petes (OHL)

I personally would like the Leafs to move up and pick Aaron Ekblad but that would mean giving up some key assets. If the Leafs stay pat at eight I would not mind seeing either Ritchie or even Sam Bennett if he drops that far. If Nazem Kadri is getting traded like the rumours say, at least the Leafs could replace him with a younger and maybe even better talent. The Leafs’ centre depth is struggling and you can tell when Tyler Bozak is the number-one centre on that team. They would be really lucky if Bennett does fall that deep into the draft so if he does the Leafs should take advantage.

Tim Bayer

William Nylander, C/RW, MODO (SHL)

The Leafs need young, high-end skill to infuse into their forward group, and Nylander fits the bill. He fills the massive void the Leafs have at centre, and if the team decides he’s better suited to the wing, he has experience playing there as well. If Nylander doesn’t drop this far, my backup pick is Nikolaj Ehlers.

Ben Kingston

Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Finishing his first season in the QMJHL season with 104 points in just 63 games, Ehlers would be a great offensive addition to the Leafs’ group of predominately defensive prospects. He’s described by scouts as fast and elusive, making him a good fit to one day join Toronto’s speedy roster. Coming in at 10 on Bob McKenzie’s final draft ranking, it is reasonable to think that Ehlers could still be around when the Leafs pick at eight.


Who Should The Leafs Select Eighth Overall?

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Tags: Jake Virtanen Nick Ritchie Nikolaj Ehlers Toronto Maple Leafs William Nylander

18 Comments on 2014 NHL Draft: Who Should The Toronto Maple Leafs Select Eighth Overall? 

  1. Stan Smith says:

    You state “with the exception of Schenn” I think being able to use Schenn to get JVR means that he was also a key contributor for the Leafs.

    • Andrew says:

      Took the words out of my mouth! Schenn himself is doing very well in Philly as well. Good on him. I think he was better here than he was given credit for. Too many people wanted immediate results without realizing how difficult the transition is for a young defenseman.

    • Tim Bayer says:

      I meant key contributor on the Leafs roster. But your point is valid.

  2. Andrew says:

    Ehlers could easily be the biggest bust in this draft. He’s very fragile. 105 points is impressive, but the QMJHL is basically pond hockey so I don’t think it is the same feat as accomplishing that in the O or the W. Virtanen could be the steal of the draft if he slips to 8. Not sure why Gleason thinks Bennett could drop to 8, that seams VERY unlikely – my guess would be that the odds on that are about 1/1000.

    • Tim Bayer says:

      I’m not sure where you’re getting these reports of him being “fragile”. Everything I’ve read suggests he’s incredibly skilled but doesn’t shy away from contact. In fact, Craig Button says he “plays big”.

      • Andrew says:

        He’s like 160 – 170 llbs. (I’ve seen a lot of fluctuation in weight and from my experience, unless your Byfuglien tipping the scale close to three, weight is generally overestimated). That is my definition of fragile and looking at him, he does not have a big frame. It’s easy to play big in Junior hockey, in particular the Q.

        • Smitty1991 says:

          In my opinion I think that Ehlers could be one of the biggest steals in the draft and one of the most skilled players to be drafted this year. I’ve seen him play and this kid has so much skill, speed, vision and heart out there on the ice. I will tell you that the QMJHL is not the OHL but the Q is definitely not pond hockey haha Nathan MacKinnon had 75PTS in 44 games in his draft year and Nik Ehlers had 104PTS in 63 games…Look at how big an impact MacKinnon had on Colorado in his first year. Also, how can you call Ehlers ‘fragile’? He is nearly the same weight and height as Mackinnon and there are many kids who are that size if not smaller coming into the draft… I’m not saying that Ehlers is going to be like MacKinnon in any way but my point is that this player is not going to be a bust. If whoever drafts Ehlers gives him a year or two to develop and pack on 10-15 pounds of muscle all I can say is wow this kid is going to be elite in years to come. If Toronto doesn’t trade up and holds onto the 8th pick I would be very ecstatic to pick up a player of Ehlers caliber.

          • Andrew says:

            Depending on where you find the players weight, Mackinnon has anywhere from 12 – 25 lbs. on Ehlers. If Toronto picks Ehlers at 8, I’ll flip my lid. He’s not a good fit. Look at how small the front 6 already are – Kessel, Bozak, Kadri, Lupul are all small (Lupul’s not really small, but he’s not big). You throw Ehlers into that group and you have a team that’s in trouble. JVR is the only skilled forward on Toronto with size.

            You don’t know that Ehlers won’t be a bust, every player in the draft has potential to bust (even Ekblad, though the probability that he goes bust is extremely low), and Ehlers would have to be considered one of the riskier picks who could go top 10. For every Patrik Kane (similar stature), there’s a Nikita Filatov or Brian Lawton. It’s a big man’s game – look at the LA Kings and most strong teams from the west for that matter, what do they have in common? A big strong front 6!

        • Tim Bayer says:

          Eliteprospects has him at 176 pounds, which isn’t small for an 18-year-old. He’s got some filling out to do, but I’m not worried about that. In my opinion, take the skilled guy that puts up a ton of points.

          • Andrew says:

            There’s no way he’s 176! I’ll call inflation on that all day! Was that based on a weight in or did he just tell them that? And weight ins aren’t very reliable – it’s too easy to influence your weight for a short period of time. He easily could take creatine for a week add 8 pounds of water and consume a ton more water before his weigh-in. I’ve seen a lot of variability on his weight and none as high as 176.

            And why take the undersized skilled guy when you might be able to get a skilled guy with size in Virtanen?

            The Leafs are already too small in their front 6, Ehlers will not help. Yeah, sure you could trade him if you think he’s the best available but isn’t necessarily the best fit for your team, but there’s no guarantee that you get fair return on your investment.

            Hopefully Burke has his heart set on Ritchie (if he’s not a Burke pick, I don’t know who is) and is willing to get something done with the Leafs that will allow them to move up to 4 and get a C. If he does want Ritchie, it wouldn’t make sense to draft him at 4 and not receive something, because it’s unlikely he’d go before 7 or 8. Maybe Reimer and rights to Bolland could get the job done?

          • Tim Bayer says:

            Not sure where they got that number, as most other sites have him at 163. That’s light, but again, I’m not that worried about it. He’s got time to fill out. I like Virtanen, but there are issues with his shoulder injury, his defensive game and his lack of points. A point per game isn’t very impressive in the CHL.

          • Andrew says:

            A point per game is not that impressive in the CHL, but 45 goals is. 45 goals from a guy with over 100 pims is even more impressive. I think he is still a little bit raw as is evidenced by perhaps not the best vision and not the best play when he’s away from the puck, but he’s also one of the youngest players in the draft – he doesn’t turn 18 until August. Age cannot be overlooked with 17/18 year olds. I’m not worried about the shoulder injury – he’s not going to be competing for a spot next year anyway and considering long term development, a few months of missed time isn’t going to hurt him. I think worry about potential injury is the only reason he might slide past Vancouver and Carolina (assuming the top 5 are based on the consensus top 5 prospects – you never know if Burke might pull there trigger on Ritchie at 4).

          • Tim Bayer says:

            I don’t know why people think 100 PIMs is some great milestone to hit. That just tells me he spends a lot of time in the penalty box and not enough time on the ice.

          • Andrew says:

            Timbo, don’t be so superficial. It’s evidence of a mean streak and a high compete level. I guess you have a red flag for Bennett too then? That’s the type of guy I want to go to war with. I’m assuming these weren’t all retaliation after the whistle penalties. There’s probably some hits to the head, elbows, charges, and boarding penalties. And, I imagine a fight or two also. I like a little “truculence” in my skilled forwards.

          • danatuw says:

            45 goals in the dub isn’t impressive? If you constantly drafted the highest points total I guarantee you’d have an awful draft selection. Plus Ehlers played with Drouin; I could score 30 goals without a stick playing with Drouin.

          • Tim Bayer says:

            Ehlers and Drouin played on different lines.

  3. Stobbs says:

    In what world is Sam Bennet dropping to 8th? Even pondering that is a quick way to lose credibility with anyone reading… of course if Bennet is available at 8th obviously take him. Not trying to rag on you guys but come on you can’t just write articles like you’re playing NHL 15 here. Real life boys wakey wakey…

  4. wileyvet says:

    We have scorers people! We have no DEFENSE! Haydn Fluery’s upside is another Jay Boumeester. I’ll take that in a heartbeat. Score all you want in the regular season but come playoff time…you got to have the D!!!

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