Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Mark Hunter announces Mitchell Marner (not pictured) as the number four overall pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs as commissioner Gary Bettman looks on in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs Defencemen
The Leafs 34th overall pick was the quarterback of a dangerous Erie Otters powerplay that included Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome, Nick Baptiste and Remy Elie. He prides himself for being a solid puck moving defenceman with a good first pass and a chance to get better defensively. He is not a flashy defenceman, but provides stability to the backend, which is something the Leafs need. Expect Dermott to go back to Erie and be in the mix for the Team Canada World Juniors squad. He made the highlight reel during an exhibition game between Canada and Russia, where he made a nice open ice hit.
While he may not be a big defenceman, it will be interesting to see how he adapts his size to the NHL game. He will probably be on the powerplay for the Leafs during the rookie camp, but it will be important to see how he plays in his own end without the puck, which has been a big problem for the Leafs recently
A second round pick in the 2012 draft finally made the jump to the AHL after four seasons in the OHL. He only played 28 games, registering three points after a knee injury set him back. Whether he can properly adjust to the pro level is still uncertain at this point, but Finn has the tools to do so. Who knows how different Finn’s season would have played out if he did not have to deal with injuries, but for him, having a bounce back year will be crucial. Rookie camp and the tournament will provide him that opportunity, while having a full season in the AHL will also be important for Finn, as he tries to get himself back on track.
The big Russian defenceman was a late addition to the Marlies last season, playing in only two games after the Kootenay Ice were eliminated in the WHL playoffs. He has his eyes set on being a part of the Leafs powerplay unit, where he has the tools to be an effective offensive player, while not being a liability defensively. He is not afraid to be physical, as his 6’2″, 208 pound frame makes him a tough opponent in his own end. The Toronto Star mentioned in an article that Valiev was being overlooked at the last World Juniors in Toronto, because Nylander was playing for Sweden. Do not be surprised if Valiev is on the top pairing at the rookie camp, where he will receive the harder matchups against the opponents top unit.
Next: Looking at the goaltenders