Toronto Maple Leafs Draft Rodion Amirov 15th Overall

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan of the Toronto Maple Leafs chat prior to the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan of the Toronto Maple Leafs chat prior to the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs decided to keep their 15th overall pick.

After acquiring the 15th overall pick in a trade which sent Kasperi Kapanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted the Russian left winger Rodion Amirov out of the KHL.

As the first ten picks were made, nothing seemed out of the ordinary (aside from the Buffalo Sabres probably selecting eighth overall pick Jack Quinn a little too early), and despite the belief that the Maple Leafs would trade their selection in search for a roster player, they cashed in on who they believed was the best available prospect on the board.

Some criticized  Toronto for not addressing their current needs on the defensive end, but there is a lot to like about his style of play. Additionally, drafting for need doesn’t make any sense when the team’s needs will be much different by the time anyone drafted today is likely to make the NHL.

Rodion Amirov

Height: 6’0″
Weight: 168 pounds
Teams Played For: Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL); Toros Neftekamsk (VHL); Tolpar Ufa (MHL)
Country: Russia
Position: Left Wing
Handedness: Left-handed

2019/20 Total Stats (KHL, VHL, MHL): 43GP /11G /16A /27PTS

2020/2021 Total Stats (KHL, VHL): 13GP /4G /3A / 7P

(Stats Courtesy of Elite Prospects)

Looking at his stats, Amirov’s draft year is definitely not as eye-popping as some of the other players in this draft, but his production has picked up significantly early on this season. In addition, one of the most common themes from a number of scouting reports on Amirov’s game is his tremendous commitment to playing defense.

Due to his defensive responsibility, Amirov has had the opportunity to play in a number of on-ice scenarios in his young career, including the penalty kill. His deceptively strong skating also allows him to be a force on the forecheck for any defensive group.

Amirov has shown instances of being an elite playmaker as well as a high-end shooter throughout his time in the KHL, VHL and MHL, but he is not nearly consistent enough to be considered an NHL-ready player for at least a couple of seasons. Lucky for him, he’s likely going to end up on the Toronto Marlies at some point, who are excellent at developing young talent with raw potential.

As for a criticism of Amirov’s game, there are definitely some times where he lacks creativity in generating offense. With his lack of a physical presence, sitting at 6’0 185 lbs, he’s going to have to take some significant steps in his game in order to be an impact player at the NHL level.

The Verdict

Overall, it’s not the prettiest pick that Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs could have made at 15th overall. It’s also a pick that does not help the Maple Leafs in anyway for at least the next couple years, and I think that it’s generally a decision Dubas is going to look back on as a missed opportunity to immediately improve their team, which he could have done through trade.

Next. Toronto Maple Leafs Recent Draft Mistakes. dark

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a number of late round picks in the 2020 NHL Draft, and they will need to make the most of those selections in order to consider this draft a success.