SHOULD THE LEAFS TRADE UP?
As the Stanley Cup finals rolls on through, the well of Leaf trade rumors continues to fill up. There has been rumors of the Leafs acquiring Joe Thornton, Paul Stastny, Matt Niskanen, and even the first overall selection in this years draft. That last trade rumor is the one I will be focusing on today.
I am sure most of you are familiar that Dave Tallon has mentioned the availability of the first overall selection in this year's draft. With such a high pick, there is a huge price tag that comes with it. The Leafs, who are currently being very aggressive on the trade market, have sparked keen interest in that pick, going as far as a potential blockbuster, including Kadri, Phanuef, the Leafs first round pick, and Ed Jovanoski. While this may be just a rumor, it is really hard not to think of who the Leafs could draft with that pick, if they manged to get it. At the moment, some big names have been mentioned, including:
One of the top prospects at the centre position, Bennett has already been compared to Johnathan Toews and Doug Gilmour. In his second season in the OHL, Bennett posted a convincing record of 36 goals and 55 assists, at a grand total of 91 points. If the Leafs select him, Bennett will be projected to be a number one centre and can play on both the power-play and the penalty kill. In terms of comparison to Toews, Bennett plays a similar type of game to the Blackhawks captain, although he won't be as good. Nonetheless, Bennett would be a great pick for the Leafs.
Bennett has already been compared to Toews, in
terms of how he plays his game.
The most exciting, and most important, aspect of this rumor is that the Leafs have publicly displayed interest in drafting the Holland Landing native, should the Leafs achieve the pick. As Bob McKenzie noted, "The scouts aren't saying he'll be as good as him but they compare Bennett's game to Toews. They are saying, when you have a player with those kinds of qualities that play the 200' game that have some edge to his game, but also has the ability to be offensive and make plays, that's an intriguing possibility. So, if you're the Leafs & you're always looking for that centre that can play in the league for 10-15 years this might be the guy." Bennett sounds good already, even though he can't do a single pull-up, this would be a great pick.
At 6 foot 4 in and 216 lb, Ekblad is considered to be the best prospect available in this years draft. He is a defenseman, which is an area that the Leafs desperately need help with, and can man the point very well. He is not afraid to throw his body around, and this past season, was the captain of the Barrie Colts. Not bad for a guy who was drafted first overall in the 2011 OHL draft at 15 years old. The one rumor aspect that caught my attention is the comparison to Bobby Orr. Now don't get me wrong, Ekblad will never be as good as Orr, but there are some similarities. Like Orr, Ekblad was drafted at a younger age than most, mammoths over the power play, and is not afraid to throw the body, like I mentioned earlier. Those are big shoes to fill, but Ekblad will be a star.
Ekblad won't be as good as Bobby Orr, but the two
have some noticeable similarities.
As mentioned earlier, the Leafs have been in a rumor of a potential blockbuster trade with the Florida Panthers. It involves Kadri, Phaneuf, and the Leafs 8th overall pick going to Florida, in exchange for Ed Jovanoski and the first overall pick. If this trade did go through, the pick would most likely be Aaron Ekblad. It makes perfect sense for a long term perspective, but may hamper the Leafs temporary. However, should all of the above occur, the future defense men paring would probably look something like this:
This seems like a good option, but again, this is just a rumor. However, only time will tell if this would go through.
The son of former defenceman Paul Reinhart, Sam is another top prospect at the centre position. Although there has not been any news about the Leafs sparking interest in the Vancouver native, Reinhart would be an ideal candidate for the the number one centre position. In his fourth season in the WHL, he posted 36 goals and 69 assists, for an eye popping 105 points. Like the two previous players mentioned in this list, Reinhart is NHL-ready and his presence would be very helpful to the lacking number of prospects in the centre position for the Leafs.
On a team lacking high quality centres, Reinhart
would be a welcome addition to the Leafs.
Having his style of play compared to the Rangers Brad Richards and the Red Wings Henrik Zetterberg, Reinhart has the potential to be a star centre for years to come. Sam's two older brothers, Max and Griffin, have both been drafted to the NHL already: the Flames drafted Max in the third round of the 2010 Entry draft, while Griffin was taken 4th overall in the 2012 Entry draft, one spot ahead of the Leafs Morgan Rielly. This makes Sam the third, and final, of the Reinhart brothers to be drafted into the NHL and helps establish his family further, from when his father entered. Anyway you look at it, Sam Reinhart would, without a doubt, fit the Leafs very well.
Honorable Mentions: Leon Draisitl, Michael Dal Colle, Kasperi Kapanen
The Leafs had a a strong start turn into an eight game losing streak that ultimately made the team miss the playoffs. From the moment Brendan Shanahan was brought in, fans knew that this offseason would be an eventful one. The fact that there are so many trade rumors involving the first overall selection already proves that change is one the way. It seems very convincing for the Leafs to make a move for that top pick to help move the Leafs on the right path. The only problem would be, assuming this actually happens, would be this: "Who should the Leafs pick?" I have already mentioned three big names from this years draft, but the possibilities are endless.
My verdict: The Leafs should trade up. It is almost impossible to say no to an offer such as this, especially with the high level talent available.
Hope to see you all on June 27!
P.S. I have been keeping an eye on the Blue Jays this season, and I am very impressed with what has happened so far. Hopefully they keep this up, because the playoffs are a possibility! Also, should I make a blog for the Jays? Let me know if you agree!