The Maple Leafs swung a deal early in day two of the NHL entry draft getting the Chicago Blackhawks pick (43rd overall) which the team used to select tough guy forward Brad Ross.
The deal, which was made on the draft floor with Leafs GM Brian Burke and his Chicago counterpart, Stan Bowman, will see a former Leafs draft pick sent to the Hawks.
That pick was unnamed at the time of the deal because he has yet to be signed with the Leafs and it is believed Burke wants to inform the player of the swap before it is announced.
Ross, meanwhile, is the type of forward Burke covets. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder is described as a player who makes life miserable for his opponents and is a strong skater. With 203 penalty minutes this past season, thereís little doubt about the style he employs.
Ross was projected to be a possible late first-round pick but fell early into the second round. Ross was clearly pleased at the team that took him, given that his style of play is a perfect fit with his new general manager.
ďI canít describe my feeling right now. Itís a pretty big honour,Ē said Ross, who grew up in Lethbridge, Alberta.† ďA Canadian team, good organization, Burke, itís going to be a dream come true.ďI met with them once at the combine and two days ago I met them. I really didnít have any idea where I would go.Ē Ross said he wasnít expecting to be taken in the first round so was pleased at going so high in the second.
ďNext year would be nice but two years hopefully I can step right in,Ē Ross said of his prospects of playing for the Leafs
ďItís their first pick and thatís amazing.ĒIn 71 games with the Wingerhawks last season, Ross had 27 goals and 41 assists.
With their second pick (No. 62 overall and the second selection in the third round), the Leafs selected another forward, left winger Greg McKegg from the Erie Otters of the OHL. The 6-foot, 190 pounder just turned 18 a week ago so he is one of the younger players in the draft and played just two seasons with the Otters.This past season he showed he might be something special, however, scoring 37 goals and 85 points in 67 games.
It may be a busy day yet for the Leafs. Burke was spotted off the draft floor talking to San Jose Sharks general manager Dean Lombardi.
"The Leafs do have a lot of openings, it would be great to go there," McKegg said. "To go to an organization like this is awesome. I'm really excited."
And with their second pick in the third round (79th overall), the Leafs went across the ocean to select winger Sondre Olsen of Norway. The 6-foot-3, 172-pounder played his junior hockey in Sweden for Modo.
- with files from Bruce Garrioch in Los Angeles