Toronto Maple Leafs: The importance of home-grown talent

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 19: Auston Matthews
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 19: Auston Matthews /

The Toronto Maple Leafs change in philosophy to draft and develop their own players has proven to work and will be the reason for their success moving forward.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are arguably Canada’s team. The team that always has news and rumours surrounding it. It’s pretty sad to consider that only now the hope associated with the team is legitimate.

There was a time where management tried to trick the fan base. When the team was actually awful when they kept telling us they were good. Now it’s a completely different story. The Leafs no longer acquire they’re main contributors through trades or free agency. They’re drafting them.

To get a sense of the organizational change that favours drafting, let’s take a look at the Leafs’ roster from the 2013-2014. For those who don’t remember, they cliff-dived their way out of a playoff spot in the final 20 games.

Out of that entire roster, only five of the players were Leafs’ draft picks. The rest of them were from trades and free agent frenzy, including their best player in Kessel. From how well this and future rosters performed, it was the greatest news to hear that they were going to start doing things differently.

Doing It Right

The Leafs 2016-2017 roster at the end of the season looked like this:

This time around, six Leafs draft picks. Only double then that of the 2013-2014 roster, but there’s one main difference between the two. The best players on the team were drafted and developed in the Leafs’ system, save for JVR.

Although they had far better goaltending and coaching, the Leafs are where they are now because they are building the right way. It’s not just in the NHL, after other players move on, the Leafs have more home-grown talent to replace them.

Travis Dermott looks very close to making the next step. Additionally, Adam Brooks and Jeremy Bracco are two prospects that could be on the team in the next year or two. Most championship teams have players that they build through their system end up being the ones to hoist the cup. It’ll be a great site to see Matthews, Nylander, and Marner part of a deep playoff run, and be able to say, “We drafted them”.

Next: Marlies Projected Roster

Who will be the next wave of draft picks to make the team? How relieved are you that the Leafs decided to build the right way? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.