NHL Draft: Toronto Maple Leafs Split on Who to Take With Fourth Pick


NHL Draft: Toronto Maple Leafs Split on Who to Take With Fourth Pick

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One of the most potentially pivotal days in the recent history of the Toronto Maple Leafs is finally here. After months of speculation, fans get to discover who the team will take with the fourth pick of the 2015 NHL draft.

The only problem is, the Leafs themselves are apparently unsure of who they will select. A report by James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail indicates the front office has been divided in this matter for several months.

Of course, who the Arizona Coyotes choose with the third pick could have an impact. (Most analysts are predicting they will select Dylan Strome.) However, the divide within the Leafs organisation essentially comes down to two players – Mitch Marner and Noah Hanifin.

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

As Mirtle explains, Marner and Hanifin have contrasting skill sets, backgrounds and development curves. As you can imagine, this makes a decision even more difficult, especially with members of the front office having different ideal’s about what is the best fit for helping turn the Leafs franchise around.

Marner’s biggest support comes from Mark Hunter. This is no surprise, given the background the two men share with the London Knights.

Meanwhile, Hanifin has Mike Babcock in his corner. Mirtle writes that the Leafs head coach loves his combination of size and speed, as well as his ability to move the puck out of the defensive zone.

Assuming both players are still available when it comes to the fourth pick – it could depend if and who the Coyotes trade their pick to – who are the Leafs likely to go for? Mirtle believes they will select Marner, and for two good reasons.

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The first relates to the 18-year old’s ability and enthusiasm to play both on the wing and at the centre position. Of course, where he potentially ends up will depend on his development in respect of his size and skill.

The second reason comes down to Brendan Shanahan’s decision to put Hunter in charge of the draft. Given the director of player personnel’s belief in Marner, all indications are that he will get who he wants.

For his part, my colleague David Morassutti also thinks the Leafs will select Marner. In his NHL mock draft, he writes: “If picking based solely on talent then the Leafs should take Marner, because he is one the most skilled players in the draft, behind McDavid and Eichel.

“He was three points shy of the OHL scoring lead. He has also drawn comparisons to Patrick Kane and former Leaf Doug Gilmour.”

Within the hockey media world in general, it appears a lot of media experts are in agreement about the Leafs taking Marner. This includes the like of TSN‘s Craig Button and Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated.

Understandably, not everyone buys this assessment. Take, for example, Damien Cox of Sportsnet, who predicts the Leafs will select defenceman Ivan Provorov.

Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter what the media think. After months of speculation, rumors and mock drafts, we’ll all find out some time after 7:00 pm tonight.