Toronto Maple Leafs: 25 Years of Draft Disasters

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Jun 13, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a save against Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) in the first period game five of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

10. Landon Wilson- Right Wing
Dubuque Fighting Saints- United States Hockey League
First Round- 19th Overall- 1993

They passed on- Saku Koivu, Todd Bertuzzi, Jamie Langenbrunner, Bryan McCabe, Vaclav Prospal, Eric Daze, Miroslav Satan, Pavol Demitra

This pick was the Leafs second in the first round of the 1993 draft. They had already selected Swedish defenceman Kenny Jonsson with the #12 pick they had acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in the trade that brought Dave Andreychuk and Darren Puppa to Toronto in exchange for Grant Fuhr. With their own pick, Cliff Fletcher selected Landon Wilson, a big American forward with offensive upside and a mean streak.

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Wilson was coming off an impressive season of 29 goals and 36 assists for 65 points in just 43 games for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL, a league that also featured future NHLers Jason Blake, Aaron Broten, Mike Peluso, and current Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill.

The following year, ironically enough on draft day once again, the Leafs sent him to the Quebec Nordiques in a multi-player deal involving Wendel Clark and Mats Sundin. Wilson went on to play 375 NHL games with the Avalanche, Bruins, Coyotes, Penguins, and Stars but was out of the NHL by 2004. It’s hard to evaluate players who never ended up playing for the teams that actually drafted them but the Leafs clearly had better options available to them.

9. Eric Fichaud- Goaltender
Chicoutimi Sagueneens- Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
First Round- 16th Overall- 1994

They passed on- Patrik Elias, Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Drury, Jose Theodore, Mathieu Dandenault, Sheldon Souray, Milan Hedjuk

The Toronto Maple Leafs were originally supposed to pick at 22 but were busy on this day making two draft day deals. Early in the draft, they rocked the hockey world by acquiring Mats Sundin from the Quebec Nordiques in exchange for Wendel Clark, flipping first round picks in the process.

This pick originally belonged to the St. Louis Blues but was acquired by the Leafs from the Washington Capitals in a deal that also brought forward Mike Ridley to Toronto. Forward Rob Pearson and Quebec’s first round pick went the other way.

In the end, they picked at 16 and used it to draft goaltender Eric Fichaud from Chicoutimi in the QMJHL. Less than a year later, with 24-year old Felix Potvin firmly entrenched as their number one goalie and 26-year old Damian Rhodes ready to take on a backup role, Toronto traded young Fichaud to the New York Islanders for veteran forward Benoit Hogue and a 5th round draft pick. Hogue played all of 56 games with the Leafs before being shipped off to the Dallas Stars.

The 5th round pick was used to take Ryan Pepperall who played three seasons with the AHL affiliate in St. John’s but never played a single NHL game. It may make you sick to your stomach to picture Daniel Alfredsson in a Maple Leaf uniform, but it could have happened.

8. Tyler Biggs- Right Wing
U.S National Development Team
First Round- 22nd Overall- 2011

They passed on- Riccard Rakell, Tomas Jurco, Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad, Nikita Kucherov

The Leafs had already traded their first-round pick in the 2011 draft to the Boston Bruins in the Phil Kessel deal. They did, however, acquire Philadelphia’s first-rounder (25th overall) in a deal for Kris Versteeg. As we all know, Brian Burke loved “belligerent and truculent” players and had his eye on 6’0, 200 pound winger Tyler Biggs from the U.S National Development Team.

Worried that Biggs would not be on the board at 25, Burke shipped Toronto’s second round pick (39th overall) and Boston’s first-round pick (30th overall acquired in the Tomas Kaberle trade) to Anaheim for their first-rounder (22nd overall) to select Biggs. It may be too early to call him a “bust” but he has yet to appear in an NHL game. Just seeing players like Saad and Kucherov, both taken in the second round, playing significant roles for their teams in the playoffs, makes you wonder what Burke and his scouts were thinking.

Biggs has played 108 games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies scoring 10 goals and 5 assists for 15 points. The Leafs’ full rebuild may buy him some time but the organization’s patience may be wearing thin. This pick has the potential to move up on this list if Biggs finds his way out of the organization at some point in the near future.

Next: Draft Disasters 5-7