Leafs stick on 21

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:40 PM ET

The lottery ball just didn't roll the Maple Leafs' way.

"It certainly wasn't the number we were looking for," conceded Leafs general manager John Ferguson after the Leafs ended up 21st in yesterday's highly anticipated draft lottery, squelching all hopes -- albeit faint ones -- of landing Sidney Crosby.

At 21, it will be difficult to find a difference-maker.

"A player of impact is a tall order," Ferguson said, "but certainly there have been players of impact who've been picked in the first round and many rounds beyond."

With the Leafs having just one ball among the 48 occupying the lottery barrel, top spot always was a long shot.

"It was obviously disappointing we didn't move up higher," said Leafs director of amateur scouting Barry Trapp, who watched the lottery at his Saskatchewan home. "But hey, it could have been worse. We could be picking 29th or 30th."

You can't blame Trapp for seeing the glass half full instead of half empty.

For starters, the Leafs do have a pick in the first round for a change. That's the first time they can make that claim since 2002 when Alexander Steen was selected 24th overall.

And, Trapp added, the Leafs likely would have picked 25th during a normal season because of their lofty point total compiled in 2003-04.

"At least we moved up four spots to 21" Trapp said. "There's no doubt we'll get a good player at 21 but I don't think we'll get a guy that can step right in. We'll have to leave it up to (Marlies coach) Paul Maurice to develop him for a couple of years.

Trapp said the Leafs will go for the "best available player," rather than concentrate on a specific position.

So who might be possible candidates?

The 21st-ranked North American skater according to Central Scouting is Seattle's Scott Jackson, a hulking 6-foot-3 defenceman. Lewiston forward Alex Bourrett, the 17th ranked N.A. skater, is four inches shorter, but his 86 points in the QMJHL make him an attractive commodity. One spot behind Bourrett is defenceman Jakub Kindl, who played junior just down the 401 in Kitchener.

"It's a deep draft, so you just don't know who will still be around,"Trapp said.

The draft will be held July 30 in Ottawa.


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