Leafs scouts have blind spots

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

To figure out whom the Maple Leafs might draft first on Friday, it might be worth looking at who they have been avoiding the past 10 to 15 years:

That would be francophones, Americans (at least in the higher rounds) and Finns.

Dave Morrison has been director of amateur scouting for only a couple of years under Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr., but says there is no tunnel-vision in his department.

"I'm not sure why it happened, why we drafted that way or another team, but it can depend on where a team is positioned and who its head scout is," Morrison said. "I know that John stepped up a couple of years ago and hired more scouts from all over. We ended up picking seven players of seven different nationalities last year (Czech, Russian, Canadian, German, Swedish, American and Estonian), though we didn't realize it until the end.

"We take the best player we can. I know Anaheim just won the Cup with a lot of Canadians. But before that, Detroit was pretty good at doing it with Europeans."

Here is a look at geographical areas where he Leafs have not been active:

QUEBEC

From 1990-94, the Leafs took a Quebec-born player in Round 1 (Eric Fichaud), Round 2 (Felix Potvin) and Round 3 (Yanic Perreault).

But interest waned to the point where only two have been chosen since 2001 -- scrapper Dominic D'Amour from Hull and Nicolas Corbiel of Sherbrooke. Both were picked 88th overall. D'Amour is still with the Marlies.

In 2000, two QMJHLers were taken: Goalie J.F. Racine -- who is with the Marlies, but has not yet gone higher than fourth on the Leafs' depth chart -- and defenceman Jean-Philippe Cote, 265th overall.

Highest pick: Vince Damphousse, sixth in 1986.

UNITED STATES

Other than second-rounders John Doherty in '03 and Jeff Farkas in '97 (both 57th in years Toronto didn't have a first-rounder), the Leafs haven't looked south of the border the past decade for anything in the top 100, other than Kris Vernarsky (51st in 2000).

They tend to fill the tank with Yanks in the latter rounds, taking at least one in each of the past four years, including Tyler Ruegsegger at No. 166 last year.

Highest pick: Al Iafrate, fourth in 1984

FINLAND

The Leafs picked goalie Tuukka Rask two years ago, but kept him just one season before trading him for Andrew Raycroft.

Before that was Jarkko Immonen, at 254th in 2002 (since traded to the Rangers for Brian Leetch), and Markus Seikola, 209th in 2000, last seen playing in Sweden.

Highest pick: Rask, 21st in 2005


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