Stamkos a Leaf?

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:53 AM ET

The dream of Steve Stamkos one day wearing the blue and white of his beloved Maple Leafs seemed to die when the unpredictable Toronto team put together a modest winning streak through the first three weeks of March.

Or did it?

While the Leafs will have exactly zero chance of landing the top pick in the June 20 NHL draft in tonight's lottery draw, consider the response of interim general manager Cliff Fletcher when asked yesterday if he would examine trading up for the No. 1 selection and the chance to land the extremely skilled Stamkos.

"My history in this league has shown I'm usually active at both the trade deadline and the draft," Fletcher said. "There is nothing I would not consider doing."

While it might seem like a long shot to swap for the chance to land the Sarnia Sting superstar, who will be part of TSN's live draft lottery show at 8 p.m., Fletcher also understands the importance of bringing in such a young building block to this struggling franchise.

Of course, there are many questions that come up in such speculation. For one, Stamkos and the rest of the hockey world will not know which team has that coveted first pick until the lottery this evening. And who is to say the team that nets that top selection would ever want to trade it?

This much is certain: The Leafs are guaranteed to pick in the top 10 for the first time since plucking Brandon Convery in 1992.

The Leafs hold the seventh spot entering the draw, having moved up one position in the order last night, thanks to the single point gained by the Phoenix Coyotes in their 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks. The Coyotes and Leafs both finished the regular season with 83 points, but Phoenix ends up higher in the overall standings because of more wins (38-36).

Since teams can move up only four spots by winning the lottery, the best Toronto potentially could do is pick third. But the odds are against them. The seventh-place team has only a 4.7% moving up those four rungs.

The Leafs also can pick no worse than eighth. That would occur if a team behind them wins the lottery and leapfrogs them, dropping the Leafs the maximum one spot.

Fletcher said he has never won a lottery of any kind before.

"But I did finish runner-up in the Florida lottery once," he said with a chuckle. "I got five of six numbers. So I would take third in the draft if it played out that way."

For the record, there is good talent to be snapped up in the No. 7 slot. Players taken with the seventh overall pick in the past include defenceman Mike Komisarek and forwards Jason Arnott, Joffrey Lupul and Shane Doan.


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