This year’s Toronto Maple Leafs draft wasn’t as exciting as previous years. Their first-round pick was slotted for 25th before dropping even further to 29th after a trade. A stark difference from 2016 when the Maple Leafs drafted first overall. It’s exactly what the team and its fans are hoping for, less excitement at the draft, and more excitement in the post-season. Here’s an early look at who the Maple Leafs picked up in this year’s draft.
Recapping the Toronto Maple Leafs Draft
Pick #29 Rasmus Sandin – Defense
The Maple Leafs traded pick #25 to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for picks number #29 and #76. Craig Button called this selection, not the trade, but he had Rasmus Sandin going to the Maple Leafs at 25th. The Maple Leafs clearly believed no one between #25 and #29 would take Sandin, so they found a way to get an extra asset, a third-round pick.
Sandin played for the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds last year, the very team Kyle Dubas made his name with. Sandin wasn’t a Dubas pick for the Greyhounds, but you can be sure the Maple Leafs GM is keeping a closer eye on his former OHL team than most others and has a penchant for current and former Greyhounds.
There’s a little more to drafting Sandin than just Greyhound connections. Sandin is a smaller player that can move the puck well. He fits a Maple Leafs team that wants to be quick in both the offensive and defensive zones. He’s another left-handed shot, of which the Maple Leafs have plenty, but it may be three or four years before he plays a meaningful game for the Maple Leafs. The trend towards smart, quick players will be a common theme during the Dubas regime. That doesn’t bode well for Roman Polak.
Sandin had 45 points in 51 regular season games for the Greyhounds. He added another 13 points in 24 playoff games. Sandin has expressed interest in going back to Sweden to play for Rogle next season, but the Leafs will encourage him to stay in Sault Ste. Marie.
Pick #52 Sean Durzi – Defense
Sean Durzi is another defenseman on the small side, for an NHL defenseman, at 6’0″. Durzi is an over-age player that was looked over in last year’s draft. Most scouts had him going at some point in this year’s draft. Pick #52 seems about right. Last Word On Hockey’s own Ben Kerr had him at #53.
There is a sentiment that Durzi is one of the most improved players in this year’s draft class.
DT: I know that Sean Durzi (21) has already been through a Draft but this kid made the biggest strides this year of ANY player in the Draft. His skill and offensive ability will fit in perfect in the new NHL & although he won’t go until Saturday, he is a blue chip prospect.
— NA Central Scouting (@MarkSeidel) June 18, 2018
Durzi isn’t an unknown for the Maple Leafs. He attended the Maple Leafs Development Camp last season, impressing Dubas with his maturation and work ethic. He played the last three seasons with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack, steadily improving each season. Last season he had 49 points in 40 regular season games and added another 16 points in 11 playoff games.
Expect Durzi to compete for a spot on the Toronto Marlies next year.
Pick #76 Semyon Der-Arguchintsev – Center
The Maple Leafs used their freshly acquired third-round pick to select Semyon Der-Arguchintsev. Aside from looking forward to announcers saying this name 25 times a night, Der-Arguchintsev is a playmaker that should be fun to watch. He needs to get bigger and learn to play more physical. But at only 17 years old, he has room to grow. Considering the Maple Leafs gave up nothing to get this pick, it’s worthwhile taking a risk on a player with a lot of potential upside.
Der-Arguchintsev has played the past two seasons for the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. He had 51 points in 68 games last season.
Pick #83 Riley Stotts – Center
Riley Stott‘s production took a drastic shift for the better after a mid-season trade from the Swift Current Broncos to the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. Stotts had only three points in 22 games for the Broncos and then 41 points in 47 games for the Hitmen. Stotts saw more ice time after moving to Calgary. The Broncos, who are the WHL Champions, are deep and couldn’t get Stotts the playing time.
Pick #118 Mac Hollowell – Defense
Mac Hollowell is another small defenseman from the Greyhounds. He had 56 points in 63 regular season games last season and another 16 in 24 playoff games. He’s 19 years old, so he’s probably not going to grow much more. This pick may have been made with the Marlies in mind. The Maple Leafs want the Marlies to play the same style as them. Drafting for AHL depth is a good way to ensure the players with NHL aspirations are ready to play the Maple Leafs style of play as soon as they are promoted.
Pick #149 Filip Kral – Defense
See above for comments on Filip Kral, although Kral is bigger than Hollowell. Kral played for the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs last season scoring 35 points in 54 games. He also played in five playoff games but was held off the scoresheet. He’ll continue to grow in the WHL next season.
Pick #156 Pontus Holmberg – Left Wing
The Maple Leafs traded their 2019 sixth-round pick to the Buffalo Sabers for the chance to draft Pontus Holmberg. He played in Sweden last year, appearing in only two games in the SHL for Vaxjo. Dubas must have seen something in Holmberg, but it will be a few years before we know what. Or if he was right. The risk is minimal this late in the draft. The Maple Leafs are probably trying to hit a home run without the fear of striking out. Tough to argue against that philosophy with late-round draft picks.
Pick #209 Zachary Bouthillier – Goaltender
Zachary Bouthillier played for the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens last season. He played in 38 regular season games posting a 3.42 GAA and a .894 save percentage. He also played in all six of Chicoutimi’s playoff games posting a GAA of 2.76 and a .931 save percentage. A better playoff performance, but they lost in six. You have to draft a goalie somewhere, right?
Pick #211 Semyon Kizimov – Right Wing
Semyon Kizimov played in Russia’s junior system last season, the MHL. He had 11 points in 17 games in international under-18 games. Kizimov is another swing for the fences that will take time to play out. Don’t forget that Jack A. Butterfield Trophy winner and Calder Cup Champion Andreas Johnsson was also a seventh-round pick.
Summing It Up
The Maple Leafs drafted small, crafty and quick, which is what much of the team is now. The trend is clear. They were also maximizing their chances by adding picks where they could again. This is exactly the sort of draft you can expect from Dubas as the Maple Leafs move forward. Drafting late is something the team wants to get used to.
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