Leafs draft crop a diverse group

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:56 PM ET

From diverse addresses as St. Thomas, Saskatoon, Stouffville and even Oslo, a mixed bag of mid and late-round Maple Leaf draft picks was collected in Los Angeles on Saturday.

For a few hours at least fan curiousity replaced the grumbling about losing three high picks for Phil Kessel. Certainly Norwegian stringbean forward Sondre Olsen was the subject of lots of questions after being picked 79th.

“Yeah, he’s a mystery, like in (the hockey movie) Mystery, Alaska,” laughed Dave Morrison, the Leafs’ director of amateur scouting. “Our European scouts (Thommie Bergman and Peter Ihnacak) really liked him and Thommie kept bugging me to see him (with his Swedish club team MoDo). I had the chance late in the year at the world B junior championships and liked him, too.

“Norway isn’t a big hockey country, but he’s 17, a big kid (6-foot-3, 172 pounds) who has a way to go physically. He’s more of a projection, a risk-reward type, a higher risk at that, but we didn’t want to miss out on him.”

Ahead of Olsen, Toronto took six-foot centre Greg McKegg of St. Thomas, who currently plays for the Erie Otters and had 37 goals last season. He was taken with Toronto's the 62nd pick.

Having put off so many family vacations for the sake of hockey, the whole McKegg clan came out to California a week early, allowing Greg to tour movie stars’ homes and stroll down Rodeo Dr. But later this summer, he’s headed to Canada’s world junior orientation, and in September, he’ll be all business at Toronto’s rookie camp.

“I’ve met Joe Thornton a few times (Thornton’s brother is McKegg’s agent) and you watch him play as much as you can,” McKegg said. “I played on a line with two great guys in Erie (productive veterans Zack Torquato and Mike Cazzola) and that helped, but I know I have to get bigger next season.”

A sprained ACL hindered his start last year, but he jumped several places in Central Scouting’s book before winding up in the 60s.

“He’s got a good stick and that’s part of his development,” Morrison said. “He just has to get a little stronger.”

McKegg admitted to a Red Wings’ bias as a kid, but that won’t be a problem for Stouffville’s Sam Carrick, a Brampton Battalion prospect taken 144th.

“I grew up watching Mats Sundin, Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark,” he said. “My parents (John and Jane) would take me to a couple of games a year.

“I play a physical two-way game. I was a scorer, but they needed me to do other things in Brampton. Getting picked by Toronto felt surreal.”

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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