Buds weighing draft options

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Amateur scouting director Dave Morrison will run the Maple Leafs' draft table this weekend, but his actions depend largely on teams such as Los Angeles, Atlanta and St. Louis.

In a nutshell, if any of the five clubs picking between No. 1 Tampa Bay and the No. 7 Toronto takes top-ranked European forward Nikita Filatov, then the Leafs would get one of five highly rated North American defencemen, projected to go behind top choice Steve Stamkos (Tampa Bay).

"From all reports, Filatov is coming over, so we're excited at picking so high," Morrison said yesterday. "The closer we get to Friday, the better idea we'll have what other teams are doing. We're looking at any and all information we can find out (through the media, from general manager Cliff Fletcher or league gossip), but we'll be ready for anything."

Fletcher went on a Western Canadian scouting trip in March to see defenceman Luke Schenn and forward Kyle Beach and also has personally scouted defencemen Alex Pietrangelo and Zach Bogosian in the OHL.

The other two defencemen of note are Drew Doughty (Guelph, OHL) and Tyler Myers (Kelowna, WHL). A persistent rumour is the Leafs want Schenn, a 6-foot-2, 216 pounder from Kelowna, but if he's a potential Dion Phaneuf as some suggest, it's hard to see him still there at seventh.

Fletcher is leaving the last word on Toronto's highest pick in 16 years to Morrison.

"A GM sees 10 junior games a year, a scout sees a thousand," Fletcher said. "The first seven picks could play out a hundred different ways, but we'll end up with a good player."

Morrison and his staff, including George Armstrong, Mike Palmateer, Garth Malarchuk, Clint McConnachie, Allan Power and John Lilley, all received a vote of confidence from Fletcher last week. Fletcher said the constant trading of high picks -- leaving no first rounders in three of the past five drafts, no first or seconds in two of the past four -- made it hard on the staff to prove themselves.

"It's all we can ask for, but now we have to get to work," Morrison said.

"As of today, we have 10 picks in seven rounds (four choices in the first three, at seventh, 60th, 68th and 70th). I'll also be relying on Cliff's expertise at the table and (former player personnel director) Mike Penny, who has been in the game 40 years."


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