The Toronto Maple Leafs Best Strategy For NHL Draft Day

Toronto Maple Leafs - Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan at the draft (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan at the draft (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are limited to just three draft picks this year. They need to be able to maximize their draft day for the future of the club.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were not in the best position going into Day 1 of the draft. That’s because , barring a last minute trade, they were on the outside looking in after trading away all but three of the team’s picks. They are only left to select in rounds two, five, and six.

Fear not. Just because the franchise has a narrow net this year doesn’t mean that they still can’t make a good catch. Kyle Dubas just has to be strategic.

This year’s draft will be unlike any other, which actually could play into Toronto’s favor. Since the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) didn’t operate this past season due to COVID-19, there were many players who didn’t get the opportunity to demonstrate their hockey progression. These players only showed their capabilities as rookies, where their role and ice time could have been limited. For the Maple Leafs, it means that there were players who were not fully scouted.

Toronto Maple Leafs and the 2021 NHL Entry Draft

With a lack of scouting, it puts question marks next to a prospect’s name. While that player may become someone the team covets, it could be a gamble to use a pick on them. Those diamonds in the rough that we have highlighted in the past are the sort of players that Dubas needs to look for with his late-round picks.

With his second-round, Dubas has to be conservative. That means not drafting by position or straying from his scouts’ suggestions. The Leafs need to take the best player on the board. Whether that athlete eventually plays for Toronto may not matter because he could also be used as trade bait down the road.

The other thing that the Leafs must do is to look for an undrafted free agent who can add energy to the organization. With Zach Hyman leaving to join the Edmonton Oilers, it leaves that role open. Even if Toronto can’t find a player with that level of hustle for the NHL, then they can get one for the Toronto Marlies.

A perfect fit would be Brett Neumann. He is a player with ties to the Maple Leafs who has been an invitee to their NHL camp in the past. Neumann embodies energy on the ice with a battery that never runs out. He also has some pop in his stick. In his over-age year in the OHL with the Oshawa Generals Neumann played 62 games where he scored 45 goals and added 38 helpers for a total of 83 points.

Last season, Neumann split time between the ECHL and the American Hockey League (AHL). While he only managed to suit up for four AHL games, he did get to compete in 25 ECHL games. Playing with the Allen Americans, Neumann recorded eight goals and eight assists. In the playoffs, he was spectacular. He scored four goals in seven games.

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While there may not be a lot of buzz surrounding the Maple Leafs about the 2021 NHL Entry Draft (for good reason), hope should still be high.