The Toronto Maple Leafs had yet another disappointing finish to their NHL season. Despite all that, there’s still something to look forward to in the 2021 NHL Draft. What prospects are Leafs draft prototypes?
Toronto Maple Leafs Draft Prototypes: Forwards-Only Mock Draft
How To Determine Prototypes
If you’d like to learn about prototypes, take a look at my prototype pieces on who the Maple Leafs should draft. You’ll get a much better idea on what a draft prototype is based on the information within those pieces. For this piece, we will look at each individual Leafs pick, using Draft Prospects Hockey’s Draft simulator.
Maple Leafs Draft Prototypes: Draft Selections
56th Overall: Brett Harrison
With the Leafs first selection in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, I decided to go with Brett Harrison. Harrison recently played in Finland with KOOVEE in the U20 SM-Liiga/Sarja. Playing just seven games there, he recorded four goals and five assists for nine points. On top of that, the London, Ontario, Canada native played all seven U18 World Junior games with Canada and recorded two goals in a limited role.
The Leafs recently selected two Finnish players in 2020: Veeti Miettinen and Roni Hirvonen. Harrison, while not Finnish, played in the Finnish Liiga. Additionally, among the three CHL leagues, the Leafs have drafted most of their CHL forward selections through the OHL, where Harrison typically plays. He picked up 21 goals and 16 assists for 37 points in 58 games in his one and only season for the Oshawa Generals. His style of play makes him a perfect fit for the Maple Leafs.
152nd Overall: Daniil Lazutin
With the Leafs second selection being a long way from their first, a lot of the typical forwards they’d go for would likely already be selected. With their second choice at forward, the 152nd pick returns the Leafs to a familiar place for their forwards: Russia.
While he isn’t a positive fit as a Leafs draft prototype, he isn’t an overly negative fit either. Considering they also have drafted more players from Russia than any other league since 2015, there’s a strong belief they’ll take a chance here. Both Rodion Amirov and Dmitri Ovchinnikov were drafted in 2020, two players from the same league as Lazutin.
Lazutin scored 11 goals and one assist for 12 points in 40 MHL games — all of which posed a challenge. However, with a goal and three assists for four points in seven U18 World Junior games, Lazutin changed some minds. His hockey IQ allows him to play a two-way game. Lazutin’s offensive abilities show a high level of creativity. His defensive game features sound positioning and a good sense of positioning. However, like most Russian prospects, he lacks consistency. On top of that, he plays in the MHL, which is a very difficult league to project success. He is my 89th ranked prospect, and well worth the late flier.
184th Overall: Verner Miettinen
With later rounds, it’s best for teams to pick high-risk, high-reward players. With the 184th pick, the Leafs should choose another Lazutin-esque selection: Verner Miettinen. If Miettinen’s last name sounds familiar, it should: the Maple Leafs actually selected his brother, Veeti Miettinen last year in the 2020 NHL draft.
Playing in the U20 leagues in Finland, Miettinen recorded seven goals and three assists for 10 points in 19 total games with Kiekko-Espoo. The year prior, he scored 14 goals and 22 assists for 36 points in 49 U20 games. He also played six World Juniors games, scoring a single goal in the process. Being ranked by most outlets within the top-100, this appears like a huge steal. Miettinen has a lot of inconsistencies in his game, likely deterring would-be drafters. However, he’s shown a strong playmaking ability in flashes, strong skating, and a high motor. He’s almost always in the middle of board battles and scrums. Additionally he’s strong in the defensive end, but for his game to translate, he’ll need to bulk up quite a bit.
Maple Leafs Draft Prototypes: Mock Draft Conclusion
Focusing in on only forwards and positive fits, the Leafs came away with quite a solid haul. Based on my rankings, they grabbed Harrison 13 picks beyond his projected spot. They also selected Lazutin 63 spots after his ranking and Miettinen 127 spots after his respective spot.
Lazutin, meanwhile, is projected between my ranking of 89th and 120th via Peter Baracchini’s rankings at The Hockey Writers. With that said, I drafted him outside of that range, though FC Hockey has him at 247th. Finally, Miettinen has a range of 87th by Smaht Scouting and 204th by FC Hockey. Based on those ranges, along with my selections, these picks are well within the realm of possibilities and would be quite the haul for Toronto, despite the limited amount of selections at their disposal.
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