Diamonds in the Rough Draft Picks for Toronto Maple Leafs 2021 Draft

2021 Draft eligible Ryan Del Monte #34 of the Barrie Colts (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
2021 Draft eligible Ryan Del Monte #34 of the Barrie Colts (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded away most of their draft picks for this year’s draft, but there are some diamonds in the rough available even with the picks they have left.

Understandably, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in win-now mode. It’s why they were willing to trade away future assets in order to enhance their chances at capturing Lord Stanley’s Mug this season. The biggest casualty of the Leafs transaction has been their future draft picks. Their cupboard is almost bare, but they do still own three selections.

Toronto may already be happy that they have added Antti Suomela to their prospect pool via a late Trade Deadline Day deal but like the rest of the NHL clubs, they will try and get lucky by finding the right players in the draft. The best of the Leafs picks will come in the second round and they won’t select again (barring a trade between now and July 23-24 NHL draft dates) until the fifth round.

Toronto Maple Leafs 2021 Draft

If ever there was a year for Toronto to spend their draft choices to enhance the roster it’s this one. With many leagues playing modified schedules and the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) not even playing games this season, it’s incredibly difficult to scout and project the future of many draft-eligible players. That is why they have an opportunity to acquire the rights to a future dynamic player later in the draft than an NHL regular is usually found.

With the Leafs second-round selection they will be looking at some of the more heavily scouted players. They may have interest in a player like Alexander Kisakov, a 5’10” left-winger playing for MHK Dynamo Moscow this season. He has had an impressive campaign playing in the Molodyozhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga (MHL) in Russia. This season, Kisakov recorded 36 goals and 37 assists in 61 regular-season games. That’s a total of 73 points for the 18-year-old. In the playoffs, he remained effective, scoring 4 goals and 5 assists in 12 games.

The more intriguing players will be the ones Toronto scoops up with their fifth and sixth-round picks. They may want to look at players with giant potential who weren’t given a full opportunity in their only year playing major junior hockey in the OHL.

There are players like Sarnia Sting goaltender, Benjamin Gaudreau, who didn’t get to play this year because of the OHL shutdown who are likely to be selected lower than they may have otherwise. However, the athleticism they did display in their rookie season is enough to put them on the draft board. Gaudreau, for example, managed to maintain an 0.890 save percentage while playing for the last-place team in the Western Conference. He will likely be selected in the second or third round.

A player like Connor Lockhart has seen his stock plummet since he was selected third overall in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. Playing center for the Erie Otters, Lockhart is a gifted athlete with tight handles and explosive speed. Though he didn’t display it to the same degree in his only season playing junior hockey, Lockhart was an explosive goal scorer in minor hockey. Without being afforded the opportunity to show how he could adapt as a smaller player in a faster league, Lockhart didn’t even crack TSN’s mid-season top-100 rankings. He would be a fascinating player if given the opportunity to ply his trade.

Another player forgotten by TSN is Deni Goure. The center tallied 11 goals and 14 assists in his rookie season for the Owen Sound Attack. The Attack saw enough of him to know that this is a high potential talent just on the precipices of his development. Without a sophomore season, it’s difficult to know what strides Goure has taken but his potential alone may be worth consideration for the Maple Leafs.

The Leafs might want to also look at a longshot prospect with their final pick, Ryan Del Monte. He is a 5’11” center who was playing for the Barrie Colts. In his rookie season, Del Monte didn’t produce at the level at which he is capable. In 49 games, he had only three goals and three assists. Without being able to return to the ice for Barrie this season, Del Monte did what many others, including his Colts teammate Brandt Clarke, have done. He went overseas to play in Europe. While Clarke went to play in Slovakia, Del Monte went to Germany.

While the 18-year-old will need more years to develop, his vision and decision-making on the ice,  are already at a high level. He may never make the NHL but his high ceiling should have the Maple Leafs consider using their sixth-round pick on him.

From the Western Hockey League (WHL), one player the Leafs should be thinking about is Sean Tschigerl. The 6’0″, 181 lbs center plays for the Calgary Hitmen. This season, he’s played in all 14 of his team’s games where he’s recorded six goals and four assists. That’s good enough for the third-highest point total on his team.

Tschigerl is the type of player that Maple Leafs fans would love. His play can be described as tenacious as he never gives up on plays. On top of his high-end skill level, Tchigerl also appears to have an endless supply of energy. If he’s still available in the fifth round, the Leafs should think strongly about bringing Tschigerl to Toronto.

Next. Taking Inventory of the Leafs Upcoming Draft Picks. dark

With the OHL season officially canceled, there may be an opportunity for the Leafs to find a gem deep in the draft. They will do their due diligence sending scouts to all exhibition games the CHL hosts and speaking to players via virtual interviews. Hopefully, that diamond in the rough finds their way into Toronto’s system this summer.