Although the fruits of this past weekend’s lottery will not be realized for several seasons, this draft was important to a new regime understandably anxious to continue the fine work previously done by Hedberg and Smith. Additionally, many players previously drafted (Hodson, Rourke, Gagnon, Warren, Ponikarovky and Travnicek) will graduate to the St John’s roster in the fall thus leaving several holes to fill at the lowest levels of the organizational depth chart.
Here is a thumbnail assessment of the newest Maple Leafs.
1. Brad Boyes (Erie Otters) - Offensively gifted pivot who fell to the Leafs at number 24 due to a perceived lack of size and/or dynamic skating ability. The Leafs have implemented a formal development program for their youngsters during the past couple of years and have already graduated several key players (Antropov, Kaberle and Farkas to name but a few) who were also once regarded as questionable prospects. Brad is a prime candidate to join this group in that he is highly intelligent and possesses elite hockey sense. Watch for him to become a dominant scorer and team leader at the junior level during the next two seasons and eventually to become the #2 center in Toronto (behind Antropov) by 2004.