Leafs NHL draft preview

Toronto is picking fifth overall in Thursday's NHL draft, leading into Brian Burke's fifth year as...

Toronto is picking fifth overall in Thursday's NHL draft, leading into Brian Burke's fifth year as general manager. (QMI Agency)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

The number 5 has great significance for the Maple Leafs this summer and not for another Bill Barilko anniversary.

Toronto is picking fifth overall in Friday's NHL draft, leading into Brian Burke's fifth year as general manager. This will be Burkeís highest pick as a GM since he engineered the selection of the Sedin Twins second and third in 1999 with the Canucks and only the second time the Leafs have been in the top five since 1989.

It's not likely they'll get a player who breaks into the lineup right away, but with Burke's playoff failures a concern, and new ownership taking stock in the coming season, he could use a break at the table.

Ideally for Burke, the Leafs will not be in the bottom 14 again this time next year and he'll survive to see the young man who puts on a Leafs cap and sweater in Pittsburgh play for him and not a successor.

The Top 5 players the Maple Leafs could pick in the draft:

1. Mikhail Grigorenko

Centre, Quebec Remparts QMJHL

If there is one kid who could fall from the four names kept atop most draft lists all year itís this 6-foot-3 enigma. The Leafs would have to decide between upgrading at forward, specifically centre, where they obviously need help, or adding another defencemen, which they have in abundance in their system. Grigorenko is Russian-born and plays in the QMJHL, both draft paths the Leafs rarely pursue. Some have put the floater tag on Grigorenko, but he's a pet project of coach Patrick Roy and had 85 points in 59 games.

2. Filip Forsberg

Right wing, Leksand SEL

No relation to Peter Forsberg and says heís not likely ready contractually or mentally for North America until 2013-14. But he might be the right fit, one spot higher than his famous namesake in 1991. Forsberg can score and he's schooled in defensive basics. If heís not going to break in right away, thereís no better place than his homeland to grow another year, well out of the Toronto spotlight. The 6-foot-2 right-hand shooting winger is the top European prospect on Central Scouting's list.

3. Matthew Dumba

Defenceman, Red Deer Rebels, WHL

Yes, the Leafs are thick in defencemen, including another former Red Deer rearguard in Dion Phaneuf. That doesn't mean they canít pick another, hang on to him, then make a trade for a goalie or forward to maximize assets.

Dumba can hit hard for a six-footer under 200 pounds and he has an offensive upside.

4. Jacob Trouba

Defenceman, US Development Team

Trouba has come up the rankings, despite a relatively quiet world junior tournament for the U.S. But he's another defender who likes the heavy going, despite his still-developing body. He's committed to the University of Michigan, but the Kitchener Rangers own his OHL rights. He might one day be face-to-face with another Leafs first-rounder who changed his mind on college, Tyler Biggs, who is Oshawa Generals' property.

5. Radek Faksa

Centre, Kitchener Rangers

If defencemen aren't in the Leafs plan, Torontoís search for an impact forward might lead to Faksa. He had 67 points in 62 games with Kitchener last year. He is a centre and does have some jam, especially as a checker.

Kitchener is developing a great track record with first-rounders. It would be the first time the Leafs chase a Czech-born player this high.

The five No. 5-overall picks who became Leafs:

1. Phil Kessel

Right wing, Boston, 2006

Going on three years since The Trade, debate continues on the merits of giving up picks that became Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. No arguing, though, that if Kessel gets another 100 goals in that span, he should be top 10 in club history before turning 30.

2. Rick Vaive

Right wing, Vancouver, 1979

Vaive had some turbulent years in Toronto, including a stint as captain. But it was still framed around three 50-goal seasons, which made a dismal decade for the fans more tolerable.

3. Tim Connolly

Centre, Buffalo, 1999

After one year, no one yet knows what to make of him, except that he didnít justify the big bucks or the hype as the long-sought No. 1 centre. It might be he settles in nicely to a support role.

4. Ric Jackman

Defence, Dallas, 1996

He was the third of 13 defencemen taken in the first round and played 71 games for the Leafs in the last two years they made the playoffs. In a bizarre coincidence he was then traded for another Toronto-born defenceman, Drake Berehowsky, who had been a first-rounder of the Leafs in 1990.

5. Darren Veitch

Defence, Washington, 1980

By the time he came to the Leafs in 1988, a lot of water was under the bridge. Enduring the jibes about being selected just before Paul Coffey, Veitch survived a career-threatening injury when he slipped on a kid's toy and put his arm through a glass table. He'd also gone through Detroit, sworn enemy of the Leafs in the Chuck Norris Division days. He played parts of two years with the Leafs and their farm team.

The Top 5 NHLers picked at No. 5 in the draft:

1. Jaromir Jagr

Pittsburgh, 1990, RW

No one doubted 1990ís top five would all be great forwards, but some people actually felt bad for the Penguins, whoíd have to settle for whomever four teams passed on. Jagr wasnít even the highest Czech picked, with draft host Vancouver, run by Pat Quinn, opting for Petr Nedved after Quebec led off with Owen Nolan. After Keith Primeau went to Detroit and Mike Ricci to the Flyers, Pittsburgh took the man who would be nicknamed Mario Jr. Jagr is still going at age 40 and is eighth in career NHL points.

2. Scott Stevens

Washington, 1982, D

Stevens scored on his first shot as a Capital, but it was the trail of destruction from body checks as a New Jersey Devil that marked his Hall of Fame career. In a time before players who delivered clean hits were themselves targeted, many of those who met the left shoulder of Stevens head-on likened it to being run over by a truck.

3. Tom Barrasso

Buffalo, 1983, G

Some day Barrasso might yield this spot to Carey Price, taken fifth by Montreal in 2005. But the high-schooler from Massachusetts, chosen right behind Steve Yzerman, won a Calder Trophy with Buffalo and two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh. His 369 victories put him 15th in NHL history.

4. Bill Guerin

New Jersey, 1989, RW

One of the most well-travelled of the fifth overalls, Guerin saw time with eight different teams after the Devils picked him. Guerin, Mats Sundin and Bobby Holik would become the best forwards to emerge from the first round in Ď89. Guerin won a Stanley Cup near the start of his career in Jersey and a second near the end with Pittsburgh. In between, he had 429 goals, the first player to notch 20 with seven different teams.

5. Rick Vaive

Vancouver, 1979, RW

All 21 players in the seasonís first-round class made the NHL, but only Vaive, Brian Propp and Michel Goulet reached 50 goals. Vaive did it three times as a Leaf after a brief stay with the Canucks. While in Chicago, he had 43 goals one year and 441 overall. Four of the top five picks in '79 eventually became Leafs, Rob Ramage, Mike Foligno, Mike Gartner and Vaive.

The five biggest busts selected at the No. 5 position in NHL draft history:

1. G Ray Martyniuk

Montreal, 1970

Not only did the Canadiens miss the playoffs in 1970, they struck out with their first pick, both rarities. Martyniuk had a decent junior season with the Flin Flon Bombers, but would not play an NHL game. He kicked around the minors for almost a decade, but the Habs were able to cover up their error by bringing in Ken Dryden, who saw them through six Cups while Martyniuk beat the bushes. With their first pick a year later, the Habs were back to hitting home runs, getting Guy Lafleur first overall.

2. RW Daniel Dore

Quebec, 1988

Dore fulfilled his dream of being a scoring star in his home province, but with a Montreal roller hockey team, long after he washed out. Dore had 23 goals for the Drummondville juniors his draft year, 33 the next, but instead of augmenting the young stable of talent with the Nordiques, he played just 16 games and was a minus-8. Jeremy Roenick, Rod Brind'Amour and Teemu Selanne were all taken in the next five picks. But the 1988 first round still had a silver lining for Quebec, which took workhorse blueliner Curtis Leschyshyn third overall.

3. D Shawn Anderson

Buffalo, 1986

A decent year with the Canadian national team convinced the Sabres this promising puck-handler was hot stuff. Perhaps they confused him with Team Canada mate Zarley Zalapski, who went fourth overall to Pittsburgh. But both those teams whiffed on the best first-round defenceman in that draft, Brian Leetch. To his credit, Anderson made it into 255 NHL games and played pro until 2005.

4. LW Stanislav Chistov

Anaheim, 2001

There were four Russians selected in the first round of the 2001 draft after Ilya Kovalchuk and none really worked out. Chistov's NHL career was hampered by military obligations at home and then a refusal to stay in the minors where Anaheim sent him during his sophomore year. His rights were moved to Boston where he played one year, but his heart was in the KHL where he remains to this day.

5. D Bjorn Johansson

California, 1976

He had the same initials as Borje Salming and wore Mats Sundinís No. 13, but was far from emulating either Swedish star. Though no countryman was taken higher in the draft until Sundin -- 13 years later -- Johansson had about as much impact on Bay Area hockey as the rest of the Golden Seals. A rushing defenceman, he only played 15 NHL games, all with the re-located Seals in Cleveland. With the next pick, the Rangers took Calder Trophy runner-up Don Murdoch.


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