Maple Leafs: At the Draft

By Doug Evinou

The Maple Leafs brass will be spectators for most of the
first day at the NHL’s 2003 Entry Draft, having traded away their first round
draft pick to San Jose in the deadline deal to acquire Owen Nolan.  The Leafs won’t pick until the 57th
selection on Saturday, a position from which they grabbed Belleville forward Matt Stajan in last year’s draft.  Last June they managed to pick up a 3rd (78th
overall) round pick from Calgary in a compensation deal for the rights to
Curtis Joseph. While most experts agree that this is one of the
deepest drafts in recent memory, the Maple Leafs scouting staff will have to be
at their best to find two quality young players at their present drafting
positions. The Maple Leafs sacrificed quite a few of their picks loading up at
this year’s trade deadline, and only have five at present to work with at the

Overview of Maple Leafs 2003 Picks


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How Acquired



Own Pick



From Calgary as compensation for losing Curtis Joseph to
free agency



Own Pick



Own Pick



From Nashville for the rights to Tie Domi in late June

The Maple Leafs are fond of saying they are looking for the
best players available every year; however, given the shortage of quality
forward prospects within their farm system, they must be hoping that a few good
young snipers fall to their draft slots. 
Here is a look at a few players that may interest the team at this
year’s draft. 

Corey Perry: the 6’2” sniper from the
London Knights had a tremendous play-off run, scoring 23 points in 14
games.  Perry has the size and scoring ability that the Leafs desperately
need in their prospect system. (CSS Rank: 35NA)

Jonathon Filewich: the 6’2” right winger
brings size and energy to the table.  A
teammate of Maple Leafs prospect Todd Ford, Filewich is a
well-rounded player who, like Perry, would bring some much-needed skill and
size up front to the Leafs organization.  (CSS Rank:24NA)

Mike Richards: the offensive sparkplug of
the Kitchener Rangers will probably be gone by the time the Leafs turn to draft
comes around, but could slip due to concerns about his size.  Richards  has the skills the Maple Leafs need up front.
(CSS Rank: 30NA)

Nathan Paetsch: Paetsch is the cream of
the draft re-entry crop.  The 6’0”
defenseman is a known commodity, and is ready to step in at the AHL level.  Leafs scouting director Barry Trapp knows
Paetsch from his years of involvement with Canada’s World Junior program.  While the Leafs are quite deep at the
defense position in terms of young prospects, selecting the former Capitals
second rounder would free them up to deal from a position of strength to fill
holes elsewhere in the organization. (CSS Rank: N/A)

Robert Nilsson: The top ranked Swede for
this year’s draft, Nilsson would look really good alongside countryman Alex Steen in Blue and White down the road.  The Maple Leafs would most likely have to
find a way to trade up to acquire the young playmaker, although his stock has
taken a bit of a hit. (CSS Rank: 9E)

Is being drafted by the Maple Leafs a curse?

It is quite a popular sport in Toronto to deride the Maple
Leafs poor draft record in recent years. 
Sure, the selections of players such as Jeff Ware, Ryan Pepperall and Peter Reynolds have not worked out the way the organization
projected on their respective draft days, but the team has also been plagued
with an unusual number of accidents, injuries and maladies which has cut short
or seriously de-railed a number of their young prospects careers as of late. What kind of player would
Luca Cereda be today
if he had had the opportunity to play for Brian Kilrea’s Ottawa 67s in 2000,
rather then missing the entire season due to an irregular heart beat?  Would the Maple Leafs have been able to
overcome their injuries on the blue line against Philadelphia this past
post-season if Karel Pilar had not missed the last half of
the year due to a virus that weakened his heart?  Would Mark Deyell have contributed at the big league level after
a few promising seasons on the Rock, if his eye had not been damaged in a freak
on-ice accident in 1999?  How good would
Nik Antropov be today if he hadn’t already had two knee surgeries that forced
him to miss almost a full season of hockey? 
Would Jeff Farkas be playing full-time somewhere in the NHL if it hadn’t
been for his unfortunate spine injury this past season?  How about former top prospect and 1998 second
rounder Petr Svoboda, who has been suffering from a sort of
chronic-fatigue illness that has only just been properly diagnosed and

Hockey is a physical sport and all teams suffer injuries to
their players as a result.  The Maple
Leafs just seem to have been more snake-bitten then most recently, especially
when it comes to their high draft picks. 
If I were a top prospect sitting in the stands in Nashville, I might be
tempted to cross my fingers when the Maple Leafs turn comes about late in the
second round on Saturday. 

Did you Know?

While the Maple Leafs have mostly drafted CHL players with
their top picks in recent years, they have been very successful drafting
European defensemen in the bottom of the draft as well.  Check out the list of players who have been selected in the 5th
round and later:

Daniel Markov: 150th 1995

Tomas Kaberle: 206th, 1996

Pierre Hedin: 239th, 1999

Markus Seikola: 209th, 2000

Maxim Kondratiev: 168th, 2001

Staffan Kronwall: 285th, 2002