Under The Rock

By Steve Gandour

Past Leaf Decisions Helping Isles: An Entry Draft Saga

The 2002 NHL Entry Draft will see the Toronto Maple Leafs draft 28th overall in the first round.

This 28th overall pick was deemed untradeable by Leaf Management as this years draft takes
place in Toronto. Should a 28th overall pick be deemed untradeable ever? What if trading that pick could mean adding a Darius Kasparaitis to a depleted defense core? What if that pick was a required component in finalizing a deal for a superstar like Eric Lindros?

When is it right to hold on to a draft pick, and when is it right to move it?

Management told previous Leaf GM Cliff Fletcher that he could part with a 4th overall pick and a 12th overall selection (Kenny Jonsson) of the Leafs to bring back an aging veteran who had already given all he had to the Leaf organization, and had little left to give. Some called it loyalty, but Fletcher did not want the move, Leaf management pushed it on him. That fourth overall selection became a franchise goaltender in the making in Roberto Luongo. Kenny Jonsson is one of three top notch defenseman currently threatening to eliminate the Leafs.
These two players should have been Leafs.

Now, management has seen how trading away these good picks hurt the team… and is clinging to their picks. The only problem now is that the selections they are telling Quinn not to deal, are so late in the round that they might actually be better used as trade bait. Don’t get me wrong, a 28thpick could turn out to be a star still, but the likelihood is much lower and maybe the risk is worth taking to deal that choice.

The Leafs are fighting for their playoff lives. Injuries have hit them hard, and a Kenny Jonsson still on the Leafs club, or a Kasparaitis added at the deadline could very conceivably have made a difference in a close game like the Leafs lost last night. Parrish scored two of the six goals in the Isles win in game three. Jonsson has been dominant with Aucoin and Hamrlik on the Isles defense and Kvasha’s size has caused troubles in front of the Leaf net. All three of these players would not be Islanders if it was not for the Leafs trade to acquire Clark. Management was willing to risk dealing two high first round selections for Clark, and yet were not willing to deal one late selection for much needed defensive depth. One can only hope that 28th pick sometime wins the Leafs a playoff series, because management’s mistakes to date with handling draft picks is starting to cost them this one.

Leafs Prospect Depth: A quick Preview and Review

Below are a few of the best prospects and how they performed during this past season.

Mikael Tellqvist started the season as the Leafs top Goaltending prospect, and arguably, the teams best all around prospect. Tellqvist had a terrible start to the season, losing a backup job he was handed and then struggling on the Rock. However, he did rebound strongly in the later half of the season. For a first taste of North American Hockey, Tellqvist learned very quickly and shows signs of still being a good prospect in the Leafs system.

Sebastien Centomo was a virtual unknown except to the most dedicated and die hard Leaf fans.

He came into the season with no expectations, performed incredibly well in Memphis and earned
a spot on Canada’s Spengler Cup team. He was promoted to St. John’s where he again had stellar performances and raised many eyebrows in the Leafs organization. He earned a call up to the Toronto Maple Leafs when Joseph was injured. Centomo ended the season ahead of Tellqvist on the Leafs depth rankings.

Peter Metcalf started the season as another virtual unknown. An incredible season with career
highs in goals and points and a selection as Team Captain by his teammates sky rocketed his value in the Leafs organization. This defenseman may find himself second behind Colaiacovo
in the Leafs System if he can continue his improvement of this season in the pros next year.

Carlo Colaiacovo showed a little more of the offensive flair the Leafs had foreseen in selecting
the youngster. His defensive play remained solid, and he is quietly developing into a legitimate
two way threat that the Leafs hoped he would become. Occasionally he even showed a more physical side to his game. Probably will need two more years yet, but is the top dog in the Leafs core of defenseman prospects.

Jay Harrison had a breakout offensive year, and still remains a tough physical in your face defenseman. His performance at the World Juniors was a little disappointing, but he rebounded well in the last half of the OHL season. George Armstrong compares Harrison to a Zdeno Chara but without the almost seven foot frame.

Brad Boyes continues to improve his offensive game. Quietly excelling as a defensive forward as well, Brad shows signs that he could exceed the number two centre expectations Leafs management had for him. His skating is still a little suspect as ex Leaf GM Jim Gregory observed… but his heart and head are totally in the game. His hockey sense is incredible, and his leadership skills are developing rapidly. The top prospect in the Leafs system at season’s end.

Miguel Delisle had a breakout offensive year. He demonstrated an outstanding sniper ability, and showed more offensive creativeness than the Leafs could have ever expected. His biggest
problem is his play in his own zone. He is working on improving that area of his game At this stage Leafs scout George Armstrong calls Delisle a Sergei Berezin style forward with a little less flare but a little more finish.

Jim Gregory contributed to this report.

COAST TO COAST AND ACROSS THE POND

Brad Boyes – Erie Otters (OHL)
Brad was named the winner of the OHL’s William Hanley trophy for most sportsmanlike player
as voted by OHL coaches and GM’s. It was his second straight year to receive the honor. Boyes was also a very close runner up for the OHL faceoff award.

Kyle Wellwood – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Kyle was third in voting for the William Hanley trophy just behind Matt Ellis. Despite his teams difficulties against the Otters, Kyle continues to shine having recorded 11 goals (4th in the OHL) and 22 points (3rd in the OHL) in the playoffs so far.

Jean-Philippe Cote – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Despite not recording a point in the past three games, JP continues to lead Cape Breton through his great two way play. He leads the team in the playoffs as a +11.

Peter Metcalf – Maine Black Bears (NCAA)
Peter has yet to hear from Leafs management about a contract offer, despite finishing his final year at the University of Maine. If he does go unsigned, he will be a highly sought after free agent in the off season.