After drafting 15th overall last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs had the 44th overall pick today.
Instead of choosing a player, the Toronto Maple Leafs decided to trade the 44th overall pick to the Ottawa Senators for the 59th and 64th overall selections in 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
The Leafs decided to bulk up on draft picks by making a trade with the Senators today, giving them a total of 12 for this draft.
In my opinion, this is always the best option and GM Kyle Dubas deserves a ton of credit for this. When you’re selecting future NHL players, you have to trust your scouting department and if they say you can get two players that will be just as good with 59 and 64, you make the trade.
Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Down
With the 44th overall selection, that the Leafs originally owned, the Senators decided to draft Tyler Kleven. He may or may not turn out, but drafting is more about playing the odds, and two slightly lower picks give you better odds of finding a gem than one pick does.
EliteProspects.com described Kleven’s game as the following:
“He’s a strong single-variable defender, stopping 1-on-1 rushes and guiding the puck carrier up the boards. He’s able to find teammates moving up the middle. Kleven’s has a booming one-timer, but the Saylyugem bear has more confirmed sightings. He’s rarely ready to shoot, but occasionally hits a teammate with a crafty shot-pass or activates down low.”
Although most scouting mock drafts listed Kleven well past the 44th selection, it’s not surprising that the Senators moved up to grab him. It’s not everyday that you can find a defenseman listed at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds (and growing) who can skate up the ice with ease and fire a bullet on net.
Toronto Drafts Roni Hirvonen
With the 59th overall selection, the Leafs picked up centre Roni Hirvonen. Unfortunately people will make way too big a deal about the fact that he is 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, instead of looking at the solid value the Leafs scored her by taking a player who should probably have gone higher.
EliteProspects.com said the following about Hirvonen’s game:
Hirvonen is dutiful in the defensive zone, maintaining an elevated work rate and putting on a clinic in body-leverage going into puck retrievals. He does a fantastic job of anticipating plays, closing passing & shooting lanes, and making defensive switches on the cycle. He moves the puck with pace and regularly finds teammates with high-danger passes.”
Future Considerations had Hirvonen as their 22nd ranked prospect, so getting him at the 59th spot could mean the Leafs are getting a steal.
Leafs Go With Defenseman For 64th Overall Selection
After picking two forwards with their first and second picks, the Leafs decided to go with defenseman Topi Niemela at the 64th selection. Ranked 38th overall by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Leafs could be getting another steal here.
TSN’s Craig Button described Niemela’s game like this:
“His game seems to be weighted towards being an offensive-type player. Good deception along with puck skills allows him to make plays that create offensive opportunities.”
If you’re going strictly off pre-draft rankings and mock-drafts, it feels like the Leafs have been able to select players better than where they were supposed to go. So far, I’d say the team is 3/3, but we’ll see what happens with the rest of the draft.
Until then, Go Leafs Go!