Leafs take advantage of wonky draft

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:11 PM ET

As an interested if idle observer on the first night of the NHL entry draft, Brian Burke saw open ice and went for it.

With his contemporaries making a mockery of mock drafts with surprise picks, the Maple Leafs GM took advantage and barged his way into the second round Saturday.

The result was a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks for the No. 43 pick which the team used to select big, bruising forward Bradley Ross of the Portland Winter Hawks.

This is a player we had rated much higher, Burke told reporters in Los Angeles. Were happy there was some wonky picking in the first round.

(Other GMs) kind of went off the list a little bit and (Ross) was able to drop down to us. We put up a good prospect in (former Leafs draft pick) Jimmy Hayes, but this kid brings more bite.

The Leafs began the draft without a pick in the first and second rounds and not scheduled to be on the clock until No. 62 overall for their first of six picks.

Burke and his staff left L.A. with seven selections and not an American in the bunch. Four were Canadians and three more from Scandinavian countries. The most legitimate of the bunch would appear to be Ross, a feisty forward not afraid to mix it up.

We had Ross rated in the first round, so we feel very good there, said Leafs head scout, Dave Morrison. Every team has things they like and dont like about a prospect, but I can honestly say players like (Ross) dont grow on trees and thats why we love him.

The rest of the group of seven prospects are more of a reach, but when you are drafting 18-year-olds, much can change.

With the second pick of Round 3 (No. 62 overall), the Leafs selected Greg McKegg, a centre with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League who Burke believes has the potential to develop as a skill forward.

Next up was another forward, Sondre Olden of Norway, a country which has produced just four NHLers. But Olden, who was taken at No. 79, has played junior hockey in Sweden where he is likely to remain next season.

The Leafs used two of their next three picks on a pair of Swedes - defenceman Petter Granberg at 116 slot left winger Daniel Brodin at 146.

Two picks before Brodin, the Leafs took Markham native and Brampton Battalion centre Sam Carrick before finishing the day at 182 with right winger Josh Nichols, a big forward with Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League.

The Olden pick was acquired from the L.A. Kings for a third-rounder in 2012. And earlier in the draft, Burke gave up the No. 112 selection to Washington for 116 and 146 which resulted in Granberg and Brodin.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca


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