Toronto Maple Leafs: 25 Years of Draft Disasters

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Jun 18, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Brad Richards (91) celebrates during the 2015 Stanley Cup championship parade and rally at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

7. Drake Berehowsky- Defence
Kingston Frontenacs- Ontario Hockey League
First Round- 10th Overall- 1990

They passed on- Martin Brodeur, Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight, Geoff Sanderson, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Alexei Zhamnov, Sergei Zubov

The Leafs were on a high, coming off their first .500 season in 10 years and making the second round of the playoffs. Even so, they still managed to qualify for the 10th Overall pick in the 1990 draft. Electing to look for help on the blue line, general manager Floyd Smith selected hometown boy Drake Berehowsky from the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs.

As most young draft picks do, Berehowsky returned to the OHL in the fall and spent the next two seasons between the Frontenacs and the North Bay Centennials, who had traded for his rights. The 1991/92 season in particular, gave the Leafs something to get excited about as Berehowsky managed 19 goals and 82 points in just 62 games with the Frontenacs. He also showed some toughness recording 147 penalty minutes.

Expectations were high but Berehowsky was unable to win a regular spot on the Leaf defence in three straight seasons. On April 7, 1995, the organization’s patience officially ran out when they traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins for journeyman rearguard Grant Jennings. He would return for a forgettable second stop with the Leafs in 2004 but never fulfilled the promise that was expected 14 years earlier. So who was still available when the Leafs made this pick? Arguably the greatest goalie ever… Martin Brodeur!

6. Marek Posmyk- Defence
Dukla Jihlava (Czech. Republic)
Second Round- 36th Overall- 1996

They passed on- Zdeno Chara, Jan Bulis, Mathieu Garon, Colin White, Tom Poti, Michal Rozsival, Pavel Kubina, Sami Salo

After trading their first round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers (Dainius Zubrus) in the trade that brought Dimitry Yushkevich to Toronto, the Leafs first pick in the 1996 draft was at number 36. They used it to take hulking defenceman Marek Posmyk. At 6’5, 228 pounds, Posmyk was an intimidating presence on the blue line.

After returning to the Czech Republic the following season, the Leafs convinced Posmyk to come to North America in his final year of junior eligibility to play for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, who owned his rights. The following season, Posmyk failed to crack the Toronto lineup and was sent to the St. John’s Maple Leafs in the AHL. On February 9, 2000, the Leafs sent him to Tampa Bay in the trade that sent Mike Johnson to the Lightning in exchange for Darcy Tucker. Wouldn’t Zdeno Chara have looked good in the blue and white?

5. Petr Svoboda- Defence
BK Havlickuv Brod (Czech. Republic)
Second Round- 35th Overall- 1998

They passed on- Pavel Datsyuk, Mike Fisher, Mike Ribeiro, Brad Richards, Erik Cole, Brian Gionta, Shawn Horcoff, Chris Neil, Andre Markov

After selecting Nikolai Antropov in the first round, the Leafs went for another European with their second rounder taking the 6’3, 200 pound defenceman from the Czech. Republic. After seeing him represent his country in two straight World Junior Championships, the Leafs were very high on Svoboda’s potential to be an NHL star.

Svoboda should not be confused with the other defenseman with the same name who played over 1000 games with the Canadiens, Sabres, Flyers, and Lightning from 1984-2001. No, this Petr Svoboda played in 18 games for the Leafs in the 2000-01 season and 115 games over three seasons for the Leafs AHL affiliate in St. Johns before heading home. A quick look at who the Leafs passed on makes this pick a bust.

Next: Draft Diasters 2-4