Top 10 Toronto Maple Leafs Draft Misses: 1980s Edition

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 16: Jon Casey #30 of the St. Louis Blues skates against Doug Gilmour #93 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the quarter finals of the1995-1996 NHL Playoffs at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 16: Jon Casey #30 of the St. Louis Blues skates against Doug Gilmour #93 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the quarter finals of the1995-1996 NHL Playoffs at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
5 of 6
Next
WASHINGTON – JANUARY 21: Joe Nieuwendyk #25 of the Toronto Maple Leafs . (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON – JANUARY 21: Joe Nieuwendyk #25 of the Toronto Maple Leafs . (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

#4. Cam Neely (1983 NHL Entry Draft, 1st Round, 9th Overall)

Toronto’s Draft Pick: 1st Round, 7th Overall (Russ Courtnall)

He won’t go down as one of the greatest Leafs to ever play, but Russ Courtnall had a great NHL career finishing with 744 points in 1029 games.

In terms of draft picks, he’s sixth in all-time points during his draft class, so the Leafs made a great selection with this pick. Despite it being a good pick, Courtnall is no Cam Neely.

Injuries may have shortened Neely’s career, but he still made enough of an impact to be inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 2005. Neely was a rare talent that used his skill, fists and body in order to become one of the best power-forwards of all-time.

Neely had three seasons of 50 or more goals and had 1241 penalty minutes in only 726 games played. Also, even though his career was HHOF worthy, he may never have had the injury problems that occurred in Boston, if he were drafted to Toronto

Not only that, but Neely would have been a fan-favourite and icon in Toronto if the Leafs ended up picking him instead of Courtnall in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft.

#3. Joe Nieuwendyk (1985 NHL Entry Draft, 2nd Round, 27th Overall)

Toronto’s Draft Pick: 2nd Round, 22nd Overall (Ken Spangler)

Despite missing out on him in 1985, Nieuwendyk played 64 total NHL games for the Leafs during the 2003-04 season.

Nieuwendyk was a huge miss and another player during the 1980s that could have been detrimental in bringing a Stanley Cup to Toronto.

During his first four full seasons in the NHL, Nieuwendyk goal totals went as follows: 51, 51, 45 and 45 goals. He won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 1988 and was on a fast track to the Hall-of-Fame after winning a Stanley Cup in Calgary in 1989.

Success followed Nieuwendyk no matter what team he played on, as he won three Stanley Cups with three different teams. Included with those Stanley Cup victories is a Conn Smythe Trophy he won in 1999 when he had 21 points in 23 games for the Dallas Stars.

Although he would eventually become a Maple Leaf, it happened at the tail-end of his career, so Leafs fans weren’t able to see the dominant center that he was during the late 80s and 90s.

If the Toronto Maple Leafs had drafted him, Nieuwendyk and Gilmour could have ended up being the best 1-2 center punch in the NHL, and who knows what could have happened.

Speaking of Gilmour…