Unlucky 13: Toronto Maple Leafs Miss Out on Possible Gem

The Toronto Maple Leafs have made the Carolina Hurricanes very happy by giving them a shot at a valuable player. We explore who that may become.

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost their shot at Lord Stanley’s Mug when they dropped Game Five to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Their early exit put Toronto in line for the potential first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. When the New York Rangers won the Draft Lottery, the Leafs found themselves left with the thirteenth position in the draft.

Unfortunately for Kyle Dubas, his scouting staff won’t get to use that spot to add a player because the organization dealt the pick away to the Carolina Hurricanes in order to unload the hefty contract of Patrick Marleau. This trade now looks even better for the Canes. We explore some of the potential players that the Leafs will miss out on in the upcoming draft.

Kaiden Guhle

Kaiden Guhle is the type of player who the Toronto Maple Leafs would have loved to draft. They might watch the Canes pick up this 6’3″ blue liner. The Albertan native played with the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL and is the younger brother of Anaheim Ducks defenseman, Brendan Guhle.

Guhle was a dependable player for his coach, Marc Habscheid, and he eventually became the team’s go-to defender. This is because Guhle is able to use his speed to his advantage. He combines this with physical play and isn’t afraid to go into the dirty areas of the rink.

This past season also saw Guhle improve his offensive game while highliting an excellent one-timer. He scored 11 goals and 29 assists after posting just 17 points in his rookie year.

Seth Jarvis

Seth Jarvis really helped his own stock rise since joining the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL. He lit the league on fire. The 5’10” right-winger and center had 39 points in 61 games in his rookie year. This season, he transformed into a game changing player. In a year where he was presented the Brad Hornung Trophy as the WHL’s most sportsmanlike player, he had 98 points from 42 goals and 56 assists through 58 games.

The team that drafts the crafty forward gets a player who can turn on a dime and make plays at full speed. And even though he is known for his offense, Jarvis can hold his own defensively. He sits as the 11th ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting after being listed at 19th in the midterm ranking.

Rodion Amirov

While most slate Rodion Amirov to be taken in the top 20, he is believed to be selected beyond the thirteenth pick. However, the 6’0″ left-winger from Salavat Russia, could very likely rise on the draft boards. He is the fifth ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting.

Amirov’s skillset is undeniable. He has a lot of impressive tools including being light on his feet with soft hands. He has a decent shot and has demonstrated himself to be a dependable back-checker.

The worry some might have for Amirov are how his game translates from junior to the pros. In the MHL last season, he picked up 22 points on 10 goals and 12 assists in just 17 games. When Amirov got called up to the KHL, he wasn’t as successful. In 21 games he managed to only record two points, both of which were assists. He also went from being a +13 player in junior to -6 with the big club.

Braden Schneider

Braden Schneider is an exciting defenseman who may not even be available by the time the Hurricanes go to the podium for their selection. The 6’2″ player for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL, never went unnoticed on the ice.

The only thing heavier than Schneider’s shot, are the body checks he lays on opponents. The defenseman is best known for playing a very physical game. He is never afraid to lay the body in any zone. Schneider has also demonstrated a strength for protecting the puck and avoiding high risk plays. He is an unfinished talent that still has a lot of room for growth.

Hendrix Lapierre

Hendrix Lapierre is a 6’0″ center who played for Chicoutimi in the QMJHL. He has the potential to be an offensive dynamo. In both his seasons in the league, he was nearly a point-a-game player. In his rookie season, he had 45 points in 48 games, which included 13 goals. He also recorded five points in four playoff games. It was good enough for Lapierre to be named the Michael Bergeron Trophy winner, making him the offensive rookie of the year. In this most recent shortened season, he played 19 games and tallied 17 points.

NHL Central Scouting has Lapierre ranked as the 13th top North American skater. He held this same position when midterm rankings were released. Teams will like Lapierre’s ability to turn on the jets and get down the ice quickly.

Other Players Taken 13th

Thirteenth overall is a good drafting postion. Carolina must be thrilled with the position the Maple Leafs gave them. History demonstrates that the Toronto Maple Leafs may have missed a stud.

The Hurricanes were able to pick at lucky number 13 as recently as 2016. They took defenseman Jake Bean who they still have hopes will develop into an NHL regular. There have, however, been far larger names that have come through the draft position.

In the 2019 draft, goaltender Spencer Knight was selected 13th overall by the Florida Panthers. He spent the year with Boston College where he posted a 1.97 goals-against-average and a .931 save percentage. The Panthers drafted Knight knowing that he was going to play college puck. The last player to be drafted in the 13th slot who has gotten to play in the NHL is Nick Suzuki.

Suzuki was drafted in 2017 by the Vegas Golden Knights. He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens with Tomas Tatar and a 2019 second round draft pick in a blockbuster deal for Max Pacioretty.

Over the past 15 years, there have been many notable players. The Winnipeg Jets took Josh Morrissey in 2013, the Dallas Stars got Radek Faksa in 2012, Zack Kassian went to the Buffalo Sabres in 2010, Lars Eller was chosen by the St. Louis Blues in 2007, and the Leafs took Jiri Tlusty in 2006.

Going back 20 years then adds three former NHL All-Stars. The Los Angeles Kings got Dustin Brown in 2003, Alexander Semin was selected by the Washington Capitals in 2002, and Ales Hemsky was picked by the Edmonton Oilers in 2001.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Mattias Ohlund, Philippe Boucher, Craig Janney, Ron Duguay, Darcy Rota, and Phil Russell were the rest of the players who were taken 13th and participated in an NHL All-Star Game. Despite there being many very good players, there has yet to be a Hockey Hall of Famer selected at the position.

Even though the Toronto Maple Leafs won’t get to add to the legacy of the first round pick this year, Toronto should be hopeful that they can make offseason moves that enhance their roster for next year.