The Toronto Maple Leafs have had many forgetful drafts over the years and the 2006 iteration certainly fits into that category when looking back in hindsight.
The 2006 Draft came after an off-season of somewhat surprising change for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had fired Pat Quinn after missing out on the playoffs by just two points, the first time in his tenure with the team.
The team’s points total of 90 was the lowest under Quinn’s stewardship and the club decided to give Paul Maurice, formerly the Carolina Hurricanes head coach and coach of the Toronto Marlies at the time, another shot at an NHL job.
General manager John Ferguson Jr was still in charge entering the 2006 Draft but both he and Maurice would be out of Toronto in just two year’s time, an indication of the difficulties to come for the team.
Having already taken a look at how the Leafs would approach the 2005 Draft given the power of hindsight/foresight, we here at Tip of the Tower decided to make a controversial but logical change with regards to the 2006 edition.
Original Pick: Jiri Tlusty
In the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs held the 13th pick, which they used on promising Czech winger Jiri Tlusty.
Tlusty entered the draft on the back of a 44-game season with HC Kladno that saw him score seven goals and register 10 total points in the top professional league in his home country.
After being drafted by the Leafs, he was brought over to North American to develop further with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, whom he registered almost a point-per-game (34 in 36 games) while being a strong presence in the playoffs.
He also had four points (three goals, one assist) in six games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, giving the organisation plenty of hope he could develop into a legitimate NHL player.
The following season saw Tlusty dominate in a brief 14-game spell with the Marlies, earning 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) before being brought into the Leafs team.
He scored 10 goals in his rookie campaign in the NHL, featuring in 58 games while the team slumped to a disappointing 36-35-11 record during Maurice’s second season in charge, in what would be his last in Toronto.
Despite having a promising start to his NHL career, Tlusty found himself spending the majority of the 2008-09 season back in the AHL, where he scored 25 goals and had 66 points in 66 regular-season games, proving he was more than ready for his chance in the big league.
Unfortunately his career was destined to be elsewhere, as the team brought him in for just two more games before trading him away to the Hurricanes in exchange for then-prospect Philippe Paradis.
Tlusty never truly showed first-round quality during his career, except for a 23-goal, 38-point campaign during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, but he featured fairly regularly in the show before one season in Finland and then ultimately retiring from the game at the age of 30.
NHL Stats: 446GP, 89G-88A (177 pts)
Redraft Pick: Brad Marchand
If the Toronto Maple Leafs could go back in time and change the fortunes of the franchise with their 2006 selection, there’s no doubt that Brad Marchand would be the player they take.
This may be a controversial pick for fans of the Leafs, due to his antics on the ice and penchant for contributing to playoff heartaches against the team, but this is exactly why they make this pick.
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Marchand has been one of the league’s most prolific agitators and has effectively become a villain in the eyes of many fans around the NHL. However, he has also become one of the best players in the entire league and has far exceeded all expectations after being selected in the third round (71st overall).
Over the past four years, he has produced at above a point-per-game and even hit the 100-point mark during the 2018-19 season, a campaign that saw the Boston Bruins reach the Stanley Cup finals, knocking the Leafs out of the first round once again.
While he is one of the most polarizing players and one who Leafs fans generally hate the team to play against, taking him away from the Bruins in this redraft would make it all the better.
Marchand has formed a dominating chemistry alongside Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, so having him removed from that equation and placed in the Leafs’ lineup could see the team’s fortunes change in an alternate universe.
He took a bit longer to develop into the NHL player he is today, requiring a few seasons in the juniors and AHL before he scored 21 goals as a rookie, but knowing what kind of player he could become and ensuring the Bruins don’t have that for the long-term is something the Leafs would easily decide to do.
NHL Stats: 751GP, 290G-356A (646 pts)
What do you think Leafs fans? Would you feel different about Marchand if he was a part of the organisation? Or who else would you have preferred the team target in the first round of the 2006 draft? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!