TORONTO - The Maple Leafs now own picks 25, 30 and 39 at this weekend’s draft and could either be choosing twice in Friday’s opening round, once at a higher spot if they trade picks or not at all if general manager Brian Burke swaps picks for a live body.
If they do hold on to the present package, here are five players who could be trying on a Toronto sweater:
LW Matt Puempel, 6-0, 198 pounds
Ranked 28th in North America by Central Scouting Bureau (CSB). You can say he’s got a connection to Mario Lemieux, but it’s because they’ve shared the same hip surgeon. The Peterbough Pete was the youngest in team history to score 33. A season-ending injury scared off some scouts, but he should be fine. Has some international experience. Lists the Leafs as his favourite team.
RW Tyler Biggs, 6-2, 210 pounds
Ranked 21st in North America by CSB. He’s big, bold and American-trained, which are all welcome credentials on this Leaf team. The son of former Oshawa General and Philadelphia Flyer Don Biggs is currently slated to attend Miami of Ohio. Would have to slip a few places to get in Toronto’s grasp. Also lists the Leafs as his boyhood team.
C Ryan Strome, 6-0, 183 pounds
Ranked eighth in North America by CSB. Leafs don’t get him unless they trade way up, but he’s a scoring centre who is sitting just outside the recognized top five. Strome had 106 points for Niagara of the OHL. Playing lacrosse toughened him up, and wait for it, he’s a Leaf fan, too.
C Rocco, Grimaldim, 5-6, 163 pounds
Ranked 32nd by CSB. Diminutive Californian has some supporters on Toronto’s scouting staff. He’s an interesting story with his ability to produce among bigger men, and because his Dad’s a black belt who competed in the Police Olympics. Has post-career interest in becoming a pastor. If nothing else, he’d be exciting to watch, though he wants to play at North Dakota next year.
C Boone Jenner, 6-1, 194 pounds
Ranked 18th in North America by CSB. Not an electrifying scorer, but he could be landing anywhere around where the Leafs make their first two picks. He’s responsible in all areas of the ice, good on the draw, but would the Leafs want to use a pick on a player that could be dime a dozen at his position at the NHL level?