June 12, 2012
Leafs well-positioned for draftBurke could go for scoring or size
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The Maple Leafs are slated to pick fifth on opening night of the June 22 draft — we say slated because Brian Burke is not averse to moving up or down the order.
Right now, Toronto looks like it might be out of luck for three foreign-born, OHL-trained forwards at the top of Central Scouting’s list: Nail Yakupov, Alex Galchenyuk and Mikhail Gregorenko. The top defenceman is Canadian Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips of the WHL. If those four go in order, without the Leafs or any other NHL team interceding, the Leafs could be looking at either Swede Filip Forsberg or two big defencemen, Matthew Dumba and Griffin Reinhart.
Forsberg is tall, not as beefy as the other forwards, but blessed with a scoring touch the Leafs need, perhaps more than another prospect on the blueline. Burke has leaned toward North Americans since arriving on Bay St. but insisted that’s not his modus operandi at the draft.
“I don’t have a bias,” the man who scooped the Sedin Twins told Leafs TV on the weekend. “We don’t tell our scouts to look at passports, we tell them to look for the best player.”
But Burke hinted he might revise that last bit when he gets to Pittsburgh, given the Leafs are in need of impact forwards.
“We have some positional needs,” Burke said. “Because the players are close in quality and close in terms of how we rank them, this might be one time we make a positional pick. I’ve never done that before, but I might.”
BIG JUMP FOR BIGGS?
Toronto hasn’t made its first-round pick yet for 2012, but will be closely grading one of last year’s first rounders at the club’s annual prospects camp.
If the Leafs can’t pull a veteran scorer out of a hat with the anticipated limited free-agent market, the Leafs will be looking in-house in a hurry. When this year’s picks get orientated during the July 1-5 event at the MasterCard Centre, they’ll be joined by Tyler Biggs, the top selection in 2011. The burly forward (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) surprised people by leaving Miami (Ohio) University after just one season following his selection at 22nd overall by the Leafs.
Biggs believed his development could be fast-tracked playing closer to Toronto, either with the farm team Marlies, the Oshawa General (the OHL team with his junior rights) or ultimately the Leafs. Biggs is not yet signed. After one season with the RedHawks he had 17 points in 37 games, but showed his aggressive side with 63 penalty minutes. Defenceman Stuart Percy, picked three places behind Biggs, spent the season with Mississauga and joined the Marlies for a few games at the end of the year.
Also expected at the camp is newly signed defenceman Petter Granberg, a member of Sweden’s world junior champions.
In addition to Matt Frattin’s knee surgery as a result of a rough Calder Cup playoff run, Nazem Kadri suffered a Grade 3 shoulder separation during the AHL playoffs.
“Normally it’s five-to-six weeks recovery, but I tried coming back in two and a half,” Kadri told reporters on Marlie locker clean-out day.
Kadri, the club’s No. 1 pick in 2009, said he will subject himself to “a vigorous summer of training”.
“I had a couple of good moments,” Kadri said of his combined Leaf/Marlie season. “I think I played well. I think we all did (with the Marlies), unfortunately we ran into the injury bug.”
With another potential labour disruption in the autumn, few are getting excited about the scheduling of exhibition games. The Leafs haven’t announced theirs, but one is confirmed for Oct. 3 at Yardmen Arena in Belleville against Columbus, which is the Kraft Hockeyville game ... At this point, the Leafs are undecided about participating in a four-team autumn rookie tournament ... Centre Mike Zigomanis, now a free agent, would like to return to the Leafs/Marlies in some capacity. “People in power make those decisions,” hometowner Zigomanis said. “Hopefully it works out where I can come back” ... Scott Arniel, once thought to be a candidate as Randy Carlyle’s assistant in Toronto before the decision to keep the entire staff, has his eye on the Chicago Wolves’ head coaching job after doing scouting work for the parent Vancouver Canucks late in the season.