Toronto Maple Leafs: Mock Draft Monday 3.0

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
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 /

We continue to take a look at who the Toronto Maple Leafs might select in the upcoming NHL Draft.

If the season were to end today, all seven Canadian teams would be in on the Auston Matthews sweepstakes. For fans north of the border that means there is a 70 percent chance of a Canadian team winning the first pick.

Related Story: Toronto Maple Leafs: Mock Draft Monday 2.0

However, when you further refine those odds you’ll discover that a 54.5 percent chance exists where the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, or Winnipeg Jets will win the lottery, as those four teams currently sit at the bottom of the NHL standings.

While the thought of the Oilers possibly winning another lottery sends chills down your spine, we’ll continue our early look at the draft and project who the Maple Leafs might select with their two first-round picks.

Incase you forgot, here’s a refresher of how we go about this process: using NHL Lottery, we simulated the upcoming lottery and projected who the Leafs would take in their simulated spot. Going forward, Chris Okrainetz, David Morassutti and Jake Middleton will complete a mock draft every third week leading up to the draft in June, and project who the Leafs might pick based on the simulation.

Here’s who we have the Maple Leafs selecting in the third instalment of the Tip of the Tower 2016 NHL Mock Draft:

Toronto Maple Leafs
Tip of the Tower Simulated NHL Mock Draft on Mar. 13, 2016 /

No. 1: Toronto Maple Leafs — Auston Matthews, C

David Morassuti: Auston Matthew’s decision to go play in the Swiss League was a risky one, but in the end it will pay off for many reasons. One of the issues facing prospects that play in the CHL or NCAA is how they handle the transition from junior hockey to the NHL/AHL. For Matthews playing against older players in Europe has prepared him more for the NHL then if he played junior hockey.

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He also had the benefit of learning from former NHL head coach Marc Crawford, who has had experience with players like Peter Forsberg, Owen Nolan, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Anze Kopitar and Jamie Benn.

Matthews would have been in contention as a top three pick in the 2015 draft, but he just missed the age requirement for the draft. He has great agility, elite stick skills, and better puck protection skills than most prospects. Matthews is someone who can accelerate the Leafs rebuild and give them a dynamic player for the foreseeable future.

Jake Middleton: This is by far the easiest decision any team will make on draft night. What more can be said about this kid? A massive center, standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing just a shade under 200 pounds, Matthews is the prototypical elite No. 1 center that is so valuable in today€’s NHL.

Born a mere two days after the cut off for the 2015 NHL Draft, Matthews is so talented that had he been born two days earlier, he would have legitimately been in the conversation with Jack Eichel for who went No. 2 or 3 overall in the draft (how perfect would it have been had he been available for the Coyotes at No. 3, an Arizona kid going to his hometown team).

Matthews is the overwhelming favorite to be the prize for the team lucky enough to win the 2016 NHL Draft lottery. An exceptional skater for his size, he combines his elite skating ability with his big body to dominate other skaters.

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Choosing to bypass US college or major junior hockey was a terrific choice for this American hockey prodigy because he seemingly had nothing to prove against kids his age. Taking the leap of faith to go play in the Swiss Super League clearly paid off for Matthews as he just capped a fantastic season with Zurich.

His experience overseas allowed him to get used to playing against men, something he will definitely be doing one year from now in the NHL.

The No. 1 choice for the Maple Leafs is without question, Auston Matthews.

No. 2: Columbus Blue Jackets — Patrik Laine, RW
No. 3: Calgary Flames — Jesse Puljujarvi, RW
No. 4: Edmonton Oilers — Matthew Tkachuk, LW
No. 5: Winnipeg Jets — Jakob Chychrun, D
No. 6: Buffalo Sabres — Olli Juolevi, D
No. 7: Arizona Coyotes — Alex Nylander, LW
No. 8: Vancouver Canucks — Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW
No. 9: Montreal Canadiens — Julien Gauthier, RW
No. 10: Ottawa Senators — Mikhail Sergachyov, D
No. 11: Colorado Avalanche — Mike McLeod, C
No. 12: New Jersey Devils — Tyson Jost, C
No. 13: Carolina Hurricanes — Kiefer Bellows, C
No. 14: Philadelphia Flyers — Jake Bean, D

* * *

No. 15: Minnesota Wild — Clayton Keller, LW
No. 16: Detroit Red Wings — Dante Fabbro, D

No. 17: Toronto Maple Leafs (from Pittsburgh Penguins) — Charlie McAvoy, D

Jake Middleton: A solid two-way defenseman from Boston University, McAvoy is having a standout season at NCAA powerhouse BU, showing off an impressive combination of size, skating, and puck handling ability.

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  • While not as offensively dynamic as a Jake Bean or Dante Fabbro, McAvoy projects as a top 4 defenseman in the NHL. He would instantly slot in behind Andrew Nielsen, and above Travis Dermott, as the Leafs No. 2 defensive prospect.

    His game reminds me a lot of another former BU Terrier, and St. Louis Blues standout, Kevin Shattenkirk. This pick is a no brainer in my opinion and almost will 100 percent be a defenseman, a position where the Leafs lack organizational prospect depth.

    Chris Okrainetz: Adding talented defensemen to their prospect pool is an area of need for the Maple Leafs, and selecting a player like Charlie McAvoy would certainly help.

    The Boston University product is very offensively gifted and is a strong skater. He moves the puck well, is poised on the point, and looks to be a good fit for the style of hockey Mike Babcock has implemented in Toronto. He’s also right-handed, which is something the Leafs could use along their blue line.

    According to Jeff Cox of SBN College, McAvoy says Ryan McDonagh is his favourite player, but he tries to emulate and model his game after Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie.

    Off the ice, McAvoy is family friends with Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco. Also, much like Boston University, the Toronto Maple Leafs are riddled with tradition, which was a big reason McAvoy chose to attend BU. I’m sure the Leafs’ tradition will appeal to McAvoy, as much as he does to the Leafs.

    Overall, McAvoy is a good fit for the Maple Leafs and he appears to have all the intangibles the Leafs’ brass is looking for in a prospect.

    No. 18: Nashville Predators — Max Jones, LW
    No. 19: Boston Bruins (from San Jose Sharks) — German Rubstov, C
    No. 20: New York Islanders — Logan Brown, C
    No. 21: Anaheim Ducks — Luke Kunin, C
    No. 22: Arizona Coyotes (from New York Rangers) — Riley Tufte, LW
    No. 23: Tampa Bay Lightning — Nathan Bastian, C/RW
    No. 24: Carolina Hurricanes (from Los Angeles Kings) — Alex DeBrincat, RW
    No. 25: Florida Panthers — Pascal Laberge, C/RW
    No. 26: Boston Bruins — Logan Stanley, D
    No. 27: Winnipeg Jets (from Chicago Blackhawks) — Tyler Benson, LW
    No. 28: St. Louis Blues — Sam Steel, C
    No. 29: Dallas Stars — Rasmus Asplund, C/LW
    No. 30: Washington Capitals — Dillon Dube, C

    Next: Maple Leafs: 5 Defensemen Aiming to Feature Next Season

    Who do you think the Toronto Maple Leafs should select in this year’s NHL Draft? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Plus, you can also check out our first mock draft here, and our second one here.