Leafs Passion

It’s been a couple of days now since the 2013 Draft and the GM’s of all NHL teams have packed their bags and returned home, some with more then what they came with (New Jersey, Toronto)  while others with less (Chicago) and others much less (Vancouver).

We have read all the sports pages and blog posts over the last 48 hours explaining who got what and who went where, which is all find and dandy but what I wanted to look at is a bit different.  It’s what our beloved Maple Leafs and their GM did over the last few days and was it worth it?

At first glance you would think the Leafs did exactly what they should of done, got deeper in the centre ice position and filled up their prospect cupboard for future players down the road, Great right? But GM Nonis did even more then that in my humble but meaningless opinion. What Nonis did was create a even stronger winning attitude and also opened the door for a couple of more players to add to the team chemistry (See my up coming article of UFA players available).

Jonathan Bernier

Let’s start with over a week ago in Leaf Land shall we. Picking up goal tender Jonathan Bernier from the LA Kings was a must. I really can’t understand folks who felt the need was a veteran backup was needed. You have now two established ‘Protectors of the Twine’ , yes they both being young but what they bring you in attitude and completeness will have a lot of people forgetting their age. You also bring in a champion in Bernier, though he did play very little behind Quick in LA he absorbed the atmosphere and learned how to win. And please don’t feel sorry for James Reimer ok, this guy is a competitor. He will fight for his position and will do it with class.

Dave Bolland

Next point that should be mentioned is what GM Nonis did at the draft this past weekend. I will get to the picks in a second but with is potential second pick Nonis turns around and trades 2 picks in this years draft ( 51st and 117th ) and a 4th round pick in 2014. And this again for a player who will immediately give the Leafs a winning attitude plus a presence of a ‘Do or Die’ win at all cost. Acquiring Dave Bolland from Chicago Blackhawks was one of the smartest moves that took place on the weekend. You are correct on saying Bolland won’t score a lot but that isn’t what the Leafs needed. They needed a player who brings the Championship attitude into the room (just look at his past in Jr and minor) and will play the role of a shut down guy against the other top centermen plus will get you that opportunity in playoff hockey that seems to follow him around.

Now I hope you see where I’m going with this…do you? GM Nonis has brought in champions and not old ones either and he isn’t finished yet. As I explained earlier, that in my up coming article on the available UFA’s, I will mention who I feel that GM Nonis will look at and you will be surprised in some way.

Back to the Draft 2013-

Leafs 2013 pick-Gauthier

In my last article All Quiet in Leaf Land I had given my opinion on who might be available for the Leafs to pick up. Though I wasn’t on with my pick as Kerby Rychel went in the 19th spot to Columbus, and all the other suggestions went lower in the draft except Michael McCarron who went in the 25th spot and was over looked by the Leafs and I can see why. Nothing against McCarron but who the Leafs did pick up could be the ‘Diamond in the Rough’ for the future with the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the 21st pick the Leafs chose Frederik Gauthier of the Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL. Never really on the ‘radar’ for most teams except the Leafs but as we dig deeper I can understand why the Leafs were hoping this kid would still be around at the 21st spot.

Gauthier coming in at 6′ 5″ and 210lbs and at only 18 years old plus coming off his first full season in Junior hockey (played Midget hockey the year before) has the potential for one day to be a very good 2nd or 3rd line centre. You have to remember this kid won’t be seen by Leaf Nation for another 3-4 years but he will be seen. He was rated number 8 in NHL Central Scouting and given some big encouraging words to boot from Chris Bordeleau NHL Central Scouting, “He has great hockey sense, he helps down low plays the full 200 feet already and shows great maturity.” This pick can be a true gem for the Leafs future for sure.

With keeping to the theme of building up the prospect cupboard and filling the centre spot, the Leafs used their 82nd pick and took from Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL, centre man Carter Venhaeghe who is going to be a threat soon in the O. Has great hands and is still growing. A play maker as well who isn’t afraid of mixing it up.

And with the their last 3 picks (142, 172, 202) the Leafs were able to come away from this draft with a RW  (Fabrice Herzog-Switzewrland Jr), G (Antonie Bibeau-PEI-QMJHL) and then a LW (Andras Johnson-Sweden Jr). This players all will groomed and developed over the next 3-5 years into NHL players in the Leafs system.

So there you have it, after the weekend of some smart moves by the GM of the Leafs and his crew. They drafted smart (for the future) but they also traded smart for the present, what more could any Leaf fan ask for…well maybe a trip the Stanley Cup Finals but what the heck it’s the journey to it, is what will be the joy of it all right!?!

Until next time.

See you after the game,

Coach Nye