2010 NHL Draft: Toronto Maple Leafs fail to improve after flurry of trades

By Ed Dermit
Petter Granberg has not finished with a negative plus/minus rating at the AHL or NHL level since arriving in Toronto two years ago.

Photo: Petter Granberg has not finished with a negative plus/minus rating at the AHL or NHL level since arriving in Toronto two years ago. (Courtesy of  Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

 

 

The second NHL Draft for the Toronto Maple Leafs under President and General Manager Brian Burke saw the team make seven selections in the draft, however only two of the picks were originally theirs. In a whirlwind of activity, Burke traded five of their original picks and re-acquired five in a series of player trades and transactions to move the Leafs up or down in the draft.

The flurry of trades affecting the Leafs’ 2010 draft can be traced back to September 18, 2009, when Burke traded their first and second round picks in 2010 (and their first round pick in 2011), to the Bruins for 21 year old Phil Kessel . The Leafs were right about Kessel being an elite NHL point producer. However, they grossly miscalculated the state of the franchise because the Leafs finished 29th in league standings in 2009-10. It meant the Bruins were going to receive the second overall pick in the 2010 draft, one they used to select center Tyler Seguin.

Of their seven draft picks in 2010, only Greg McKegg, Petter Granberg and Sam Carrick remain in the organization. Their impact at the NHL level to date has been marginal, as they have only played 28 games combined for the Leafs. On the positive side, they are on the cusp of cracking the Leafs roster in 2015-16, though none of the three project as impact players.

Brad Ross, LW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL), 2nd round, 43rd overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

The Leafs traded the rights to their 2nd round pick in 2009, Jimmy Hayes, to Chicago for their 2nd round pick in 2010. The Leafs used it to select Brad Ross, a super-pest with over 200 penalty minute who also averaged almost a point per game with the Portland Winterhawks in his draft year. At 6’0, 185 pounds, Ross was not big, but played with a chip on his shoulder, effectively agitating opponents in the mold of former Maple Leaf Darcy Tucker.

Ross spent the next two seasons with a powerhouse Winterhawks team that went 99-38 and played in consecutive WHL championship finals. Over those two seasons, Ross improved significantly, scoring a combined 73 goals and 151 points in 135 games to go along with 334 penalty minutes.

In 2012-13 Ross joined the Marlies, where he played in a third and fourth line capacity. He appeared in only 40 games, scoring eight goals and 11 assists. His 29 penalty minutes were a sharp decrease from his years in the WHL. Ross also appeared in five games with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads, scoring one goal and three points. The next season saw Ross return to his trademark pesky style with 104 penalty minutes, but his offense decreased to six goals and 10 points despite playing 13 more games than the previous season. He also had another six game stint in the ECHL.

The 2014-15 season represented a personal low point in Ross’ professional career. He was assigned to Orlando of the ECHL to open the season where he got off to a strong start. Recalled by the Marlies in November, Ross was hit with a 20-game suspension in January 2015 for use of performance enhancing substances. He was eventually re-assigned to the ECHL after only 33 AHL games, scoring four goals and eight points –all personal single season lows. Ross’ three year entry level contract expires this summer, but with a bad growth trajectory and a performance-enhancing suspension on his record, it would not be a surprise for the Leafs to pass on re-signing him.

Greg McKegg, C, Erie Otters (OHL), 3rd round, 62nd overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 4

The Leafs used their next pick on Greg McKegg, a 6’0 185 pound center . In 2010-11, he improved on his draft year totals with 49 goals and 92 points in 66 games. McKegg returned to a dismal Otters team the following season for a third year and regressed statistically, but was subsequently traded to the powerhouse London Knights at the OHL trade deadline. His point totals were much stronger with the Knights, where he finished with 41 points in 30 games.

In 2012-13, McKegg graduated to the AHL Marlies, where he had to work his way into the lineup and played much of the season on the bottom two lines. He finished with a modest eight goals and 23 points in 61 games. Over the last two seasons however, McKegg has played a central offensive role as injuries and callups to the Leafs saw him handle first and second line center duties. While McKegg’s 19 and 22 goal contributions over the last two campaigns are respectable, they don’t accurately reflect his importance to the Marlies over that span.

His pursuit of the puck and versatility in adapting to all top three center roles was rewarded with a three game cameo appearance in the NHL in 2014-15. McKegg no longer profiles as a top two NHL centre, however he is on the radar for consideration in a more limited NHL role given his accomplishments in the AHL.

Sondre Olden, LW, MODO (J20 SuperElit) , 3rd round, 79th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

The Leafs made another deal to obtain an additional third round pick by trading their third round draft choice in 2012 to the LA Kings for the 79th overall selection. Norwegian-born winger Sondre Olden put up impressive offensive numbers in Swedish junior leagues. He was equally impressive representing Norway at the World Junior U18 and U20 Championships during his draft year. Olden grew to 6’4” by the time he was 18, and although he only weighed 175 pounds, he possessed a combination of size and skill that was intriguing.

Unfortunately, he followed up his draft year with a mediocre sophomore season in Swedish junior and then came over to the OHL in 2011-12, where he scored 11 goals in 48 games. The Leafs did not sign him to a professional contract. Olden has spent the last few seasons playing in Norway and Sweden.   

Petter Granberg, D, Skelleftea (SHL), 4th round, 116th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 8

The Leafs traded down four spots in the fourth round for Washington’s 116th pick overall, which they used to select 6’3, 200 pound Swedish defenseman, Petter Granberg. Granberg’s big body, strong skating ability and stellar defensive play saw him move quickly through Skelleftea’s junior ranks. He represented Sweden at the U18 World Championships and even suited up for one game in the SHL men’s league as a 17 year old.

Over the next three seasons after being drafted, Granberg represented Sweden twice at the World Junior Championships, and then again at the World Championships in 2012-13 as a 20 year old. This impressive resume was earned on the back of his ‘stay-at-home’ defensive style of play, given that he never exceeded 13 points in any one of those three seasons in Sweden.

In 2013-14, Granberg made his debut with the Toronto Marlies and quickly earned praise for the strong defensive zone play that had become his calling card. He played a career high 73 games and finished with a plus-19 rating despite scoring only seven points all season. In 2014-15 Granberg made his NHL debut, playing in seven games. His 15 points in 53 games with the Marlies were single season career highs, and he capped off the year by representing Sweden at the World Hockey Championships.

With the Leafs needing to shore up their defensive zone play, Granberg seems to have a legitimate chance of earning a full-time NHL role.

Sam Carrick, C, Brampton Battalion (OHL) – 5th round, 144th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 16

Carrick was targeted by the Leafs as a solid two way player, a strong team leader and an excellent work ethic. Carrick served as assistant captain and posted mediocre offensive numbers in 2010-11, and then served as captain of the OHL Battalion in his final year of junior. He finished that season with a solid 37 goal campaign in 67 games. He also had over 100 penalty minutes, and later added eight points in eight playoff games.

In 2012-13, the Leafs assigned Carrick to Idaho of the ECHL to begin his pro career. After 50 games, 16 goals and 37 points, he was recalled to the AHL Marlies where he totaled four points in 19 games. In 2013-14, Carrick began to display the character traits he showed in junior. Although he scored a modest 14 goals in 62 games, Carrick finished with a plus-17 rating. In 2014-15, Carrick carried over his solid two-way play and strong work ethic which ultimately culminated in a 16 game call-up to the Leafs. The Leafs recently re-signed Carrick to a one year contract extension with an opportunity to earn a NHL roster spot as a bottom-six forward next season.

Daniel Brodin, RW, Djurgarden (J20 SuperElit), 5th round, 146th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

The Leafs used the second pick they acquired from the Capitals when they traded down in the fourth round to select Brodin, a high intensity player with speed from Sweden. Brodin had been a star player for Djurgarden’s junior program, but was passed over in the draft as an 18 year old.  Known more for his all-round play and max-out effort than his offensive production, the Leafs drafted Brodin as a 19-year-old after he stood out at the World Junior Championships. Brodin went on to play two seasons with Djurgarden in the SHL, scoring six goals in 97 games over that span. The Leafs did not sign him to a professional contract.

Josh Nicholls, Saskatoon Blades, C, (WHL), 7th round, 182nd overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Nichols appeared to be a solid selection for a 7th round pick. Possessing size and a scoring touch, Nicholls went on to average better than a point per game over the next three season with Saskatoon, scoring more than 30 goals in each of them.  That included a 47 goal season in 2012-13, when Nicholls played as an overage junior.

Despite a very productive junior career, Nicholls play was inconsistent, and lacked the intensity and physicality of someone with a 6’2 frame. When the Leafs did not sign him to a professional contract after junior, Nicholls signed on as a free agent with the New York Rangers. In the two years since he turned pro, Nicholls has had two 20-goal seasons playing in the ECHL. He has failed to register a goal in 11 AHL games with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate over the last two years.

Notable Playoff Performances

The Rimouski Oceanic defeated the Quebec Remparts to win the QMJHL Championship in a dramatic double-overtime Game 7 victory. Maple Leafs prospect Frederik Gauthier played a pivotal role in the Oceanic’s success in a shutdown center role, winning over 54-percent of his faceoffs. He also contributed offensively with 16 points in 20 playoff games, 14 of which were assists. The Oceanic didn’t fare as well in the Memorial Cup, though Gauthier scored four points in four games.

Carter Verhaeghe of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs also enjoyed a strong playoff performance, with six goals and 14 points in 11 playoff games. Despite his performance, the IceDogs were knocked out of the playoffs by the eventual Memorial Cup Champion Oshawa Generals.

Player of the Month: Dakota Joshua, C, Sioux Falls Stampede

dakota_joshua_sioux_falls_1Toronto’s 5th round selection (128th overall) in the 2014 NHL draft played a major offensive role in the Stampede winning the USHL Championship. Over 11 playoff games, Joshua scored four goals, 13 points, and had 38 penalty minutes. The 6’2, 185 pound center is headed to Ohio State University next season.