Toronto Maple Leafs: Trades Alone Will Not Fix Team

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Leafs Need to Rely on Drafting

Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; A general view of the complete draft board after the completion of the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The reason for this is because the Leafs did not have a system in place to draft and develop players into elite talent. Sometimes you do not need a top 10 pick in order to get this elite talent. Looking at the best players not picked in the first round, it is safe to say that as an organisation, if you have confidence in your scouting and player development, you hold onto your draft picks or you try to get as many draft picks as possible. That way you have a stockpile of young talent. Here is a list of players that have gone past the first round who have been or are currently great players.

Jan 10, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber (6) looks on during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Predators defeated the Wild 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Second Round

Shea Weber, P.K. Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Mike Cammalleri, and Duncan Keith

Dec 16, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) during the first period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Third Round

Mark Messier, Jonathan Quick, Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Richards

Fourth Round

Ulf Samuelsson, and Jari Kurri,

Fifth Round

Ryan Miller, Alexander Mogilny, Kevin Bieksa and Jamie Benn

Sixth Round

Daniel Alfredsson, Brett Hull, and Pavel Datsyuk

Dec 7, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk (13) skates with puck against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Detroit Red Wings defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Seventh Round

Joe Pavelski, and Doug Gilmour

Eighth Round

Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Kaberle, Dustin Byfuglien and Henrik Lundqvist

Ninth Round

Tim Thomas

Dec 10, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Gustav Nyquist (14) during the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL draft can be a gold-mine or a crap shoot, but the one thing that has hurt the Leafs since 2005 is their inability to draft and develop players. Recently we have seen players start to come through the Marlies and contribute in lower roles. However, what this team needs is what the Detroit Red Wings got from Gustav Nyquist, when he came in last season and scored 28 goals and 48 points in 57 games. It was the reason why the Red Wings made the playoffs and got over key injuries – not bad for a player picked in the fourth round.

This is what the Leafs need to do in order to be successful. They have prospects that can have an impact with the team if the Leafs remain patient with their development. Players like Connor Brown (a sixth round pick that got selected to the AHL all-star game), Antoine Bibeau, Frederik Gauthier, Stuart Percy, Matt Finn Joshua Leivo, Greg McKegg and of course William Nylander. Now it is no guarantee that these players will be stars in the NHL, but the Leafs can find pleasure in knowing that they have some intriguing prospects in their system.

Mar 9, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Maple Leafs legend mascots Wendel Clark (17) (on left) and Doug Gilmour (93) dance during a break in the action against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Air Canada Centre. The Penguins beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in the shootout. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, trades have landed the Leafs players like Mats Sundin, Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk, Rick Vaive and Kessel, but the players that have given this team its identity were those were drafted or brought in by the Leafs as undrafted rookies. Players like Darryl Sittler, Wendel Clark, Börje Salming and Dave Keon were beloved in this city, because they played their hearts out for this city (I’m not saying that all players do not). It all comes down to how patient a team is willing to be in allowing these young players to develop to their potential. At the same time, I do not believe that tanking is the answer because if you look at the Oilers, it has not helped their cause. (Although having a number one pick would have been nice.)

Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; William Nylander poses for a photo with team officials after being selected as the number eight overall pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The best course of action for this Leafs team is to rely on drafting and developing players that have the potential to be stars. Right now trades will probably need to made in order to clear out contracts, get a good young player, make room for prospects to come in and acquire more draft picks. I like their new format for free agency, which is to get veteran players on shorter deals to fill out the roster and bring in the role model play that will motivate younger teammates. We have started to see these changes, but the Leafs still need to find a way to get that Shea Weber or Jonathan Toewslike player that can take this team to a Stanley Cup and I don’t think they will find that with a trade.