Top 10 Toronto Maple Leafs Draft Misses: 2000s Edition

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 13: Justin Williams #14 of the Washington Capitals scores a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first period in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 13: Justin Williams #14 of the Washington Capitals scores a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first period in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – MARCH 02: Ryan Ellis #4 of the Nashville Predators . (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – MARCH 02: Ryan Ellis #4 of the Nashville Predators . (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

#8. Ryan Ellis (2009 NHL Entry Draft, 1st Round, 11th Overall)

Toronto’s Actual Pick: 1st Round, 7th Overall (Nazem Kadri)

Nazem Kadri worked out pretty well for the Toronto Maple Leafs with their first round selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, but as we’ve seen over the last decade, they could always use more defensemen.

Ryan Ellis is a small defenseman by NHL standards, but what he lacks in height, he makes up for it in skill. The 5-foot-10, 180 pound defenseman has been a top-four player on Nashville’s blue-line for roughly the past decade.

Before arriving in the NHL, Ellis was one of the best junior hockey defenseman of our generation.

There wasn’t an award he didn’t win. Whether it was the CHL Player of the Year, World Junior Championship Gold Medal, World Junior Championship Best Defenseman or back-to-back CHL Memorial Cups, Ellis won everywhere he went in junior.

Despite being so skilled, many thought that his size wouldn’t transition well at the NHL-level. That hasn’t been the case at all, as Ellis has found himself in a great spot in Nashville and has continued to be a contributor offensively.

Although Kadri was a great Maple Leaf, Ellis would have been a nice compliment to Toronto’s blue-line instead.

#7. Niklas Kronwall (2000 NHL Entry Draft, 1st Round, 29th Overall)

Toronto’s Actual Pick: 1st Round, 24th Overall (Brad Boyes)

Toronto’s real draft pick here was Brad Boyes, and although he was selected by the Leafs in 2000, it took until 2015 for him to ever wear a Maple Leafs jersey.

Yes you read that right.

Before he would ever suit up for the Leafs, Boyes was traded to the San Jose Sharks in a deal that sent Owen Nolan to Toronto.

Although Boyes was a valuable draft piece in the acquisition of Nolan, in a ‘what-if’ world it would have been great to see Niklas Kronwall as a Leaf.

Kronwall is the type of defenseman that the Toronto Maple Leafs would kill for. They attempted to acquire someone like Kronwall by trading for Dion Phaneuf, but that didn’t work out. Kronwall can not only contribute offensively, but it’s his bone-crushing hits and defensive play that make him so valuable.

It’s no surprise that Detroit never wanted to see him leave, as he spent his entire career of 953 games with the Red Wings. Throughout his career he was not only a big part of the team’s 2008 Stanley Cup victory, but he was part of Team Sweden’s 2006 Gold Medal winning Olympic team.