Toronto Maple Leafs Must Lose In Order To Stay Fourth-Last in NHL


With one game remaining, the Toronto Maple Leafs must lose to stay where they are.

It’s fairly obvious the prospect most Leafs would want them to pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. In a fantasy world, it’s Connor McDavid. However, in reality, the player the Leafs want is McDavid’s teammate Dylan Strome.

It’s all but a sure bet that Strome will be available when the fourth pick is on the clock.

If the Buffalo Sabres or Arizona Coyotes win the lottery, McDavid will go to the winner and Jack Eichel will go to the other. The Edmonton Oilers would then be proved crazy if they don’t select defenseman Noah Hanifin. The next two top prospects are Strome and Mitch Marner, of the London Knights.

Now back to the Leafs, they currently sit 27th in the NHL standings. That would give them the fourth overall pick, presuming they don’t win the lottery. However, they could still slide down to the fifth overall pick.

Two things would have to occur for that that to happen. First, the Leafs would have to win in the season finale against Montreal on Saturday. Secondly, the Carolina Hurricanes would have to lose both their remaining two games, against the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings. If the Leafs beat the Habs, the Canes would have to win at least one of those games for the Leafs to keep the fourth pick.

Now, ending up with Marner would not be the worst thing in the world. He even has connections with Mark Hunter, the Leafs Director of Player Personnel, who used to be with the Knights before he came to the Leafs. Marner even finished second in OHL scoring, when Strome past him in the last game of the season. The problem is that Marner doesn’t have the size that Strome has.

If the Leafs stay fourth overall, they would be able to take the player they want, presumably Strome. If they slide down, the choice between Strome or Marner will not be theirs to make.

There is one other variable that could take the choice away from the Leafs. Even if the standings stay the same, if a team above the Leafs in the standings were to win the lottery, they would knock the Leafs back to fifth overall. That would most likely change the way the first five picks went.

The winning team would select McDavid. The Sabres would then be left to select Eichel. Now this where things change. The Coyotes seem to be pretty set on defense and need to improve their offense. That means they would more than likely not pick Hanifin, taking one of Strome or Marner. The Oilers would then still be free to take Hanifin.

In either case, if Strome is off the board, I could see the Leafs take 6’3″ left winger Lawson Crouse. He was only other undrafted player at the 2015 World Juniors for Canada besides McDavid. He scored 49 points in 54 games with the Kingston Frontenacs. What might scare the Leafs off from Crouse is the fact that he’s a power forward. The last one they took has yet to make his NHL debut (Tyler Biggs).

The Leafs can’t control the lottery, but they can control where they finish. It would be best for the Leafs to lose against the Canadiens, finish 27th and then see how the lottery turns out.

Who knows? Maybe the Leafs will win it and get McDavid after all.

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