Top five players Leafs could take with 35th pick

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:37 AM ET

TORONTO - Dave Morrison, the Leafs’ director of amateur scouting, said recently that for he and his staff, the second round of the entry draft will have a similar feel to the first round.

On Saturday morning in Pittsburgh, the Leafs will have the 35th pick overall in the second round — if it’s not used in a trade by GM Brian Burke. “It’s almost like a first-round pick,” Morrison said. “You have a new list and you are picking fifth again ... I’m fired up about that pick.”

There is plenty that could happen before the Leafs get to that pick, and there will be some prior picks that take other clubs off-guard. Based on scouting reports, here are five players who could be available to the Leafs when it comes time to make the 35th pick:

1) Oscar Dansk, G, Brynas, Sweden

It’s probable that goalies Malcolm Subban and Andrei Vasilevski will be gone by the time the Leafs get to their second-rounder, but Dansk would not be a bad option. Of course, the Leafs’ recent experience with another Swedish netminder, Jonas Gustavsson, was not great, but Dansk wouldn’t be coming across the ocean with no North American experience as he tutored at Shattuck St. Mary’s before returning home. The 6-foot-3 Dansk is focused and cool in net, boasting strong lateral movement and keen anticipation

of the play. Goalies can be the most difficult players to project, which means Dansk could one day be ahead of Subban and Vasilevski.

2) Mike Winther, C, Prince Albert, WHL

He’s just a shade under six feet and comes in at 170 pounds, so Winther has some filling out to do, something that does not differentiate him from the majority of other prospects. There is a lot to like about his competitive streak, but some scouts are concerned that he gets knocked off the puck a little too easily. His 32 goals in 71 games in the WHL this past season demonstrate he has a knack for the net. Speed and quickness are among his assets and help make him a fairly good defensive performer. Like so many others who will be drafted, Winther will have a lot of work to do make it to the NHL.

3) Jordan Schmaltz, D, Green Bay, USHL

After tearing up the USHL for the past two seasons, Schmaltz is headed for North Dakota in 2012-13 even though Windsor holds his junior hockey rights. At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Schmaltz is not just about offence, though he led the USHL in scoring by defenceman as a rookie in 2010-11. Defensively, Schmaltz is responsible as well, and was plus-10 in 12 playoff games. He is not overly physical, but his smarts help get him out of jams. Accumulated 41 points in 55 games this past season and didn’t have a problem quarterbacking the power play. Scouts are curious to see how his skating develops during the next couple of years.

4) Dalton Thrower, D, Saskatoon, WHL

Chances are good that Thrower will be gone when the Leafs announce their pick, but he would provide an excellent option if he remains available. Thrower averaged nearly a point a game last season, piling up 54 points (18 goals and 36 assists) in 66 games for the Blades. But there is plenty more to his game than producing points, as Thrower loves to, uh, throw around his body. A total of 103 penalty minutes speaks to his willingness to play a tough game and drop the gloves. When it comes to skating, he has to get better with his foot speed and his agility. Otherwise, there is a lot to like.

5) Jarrod Maidens, F, Owen Sound, OHL

A suspected concussion ended Maidens’ season in November, and by then he had registered 23 points in 28 games for the Attack. Maidens thrust himself into the spotlight in May 2011 when he scored the winning goal in overtime of Game 7 of the OHL final against Mississauga. He’s a smart all-round player who probably would have been selected late in the first round had he not been hurt. His hockey sense certainly is not lacking, but he will have to prove to the team that selects him that his injury issues are in the past. Once Maidens returns to full health, he could prove to be a steal.


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