When a team adds the first pick overall, it is enjoying a pivotal draft in team history, especially when that player is considered to be a cornerstone number one center like Auston Matthews. An extremely skilled skater who can stickhandled at high speeds and both distribute and shoot the puck impressively, Matthews will be a key component in Toronto’s rise back to respectability. Yegor Korshkov went a bit higher than expected given he’s a 1996-born prospect, but there was no denying the 6-4 winger’s physical dominance at the U-20 last winter. He’ll compete for a roster spot very soon. Carl Grundstrom doesn’t wow with his speed or offensive flair, but he’s a smart, hardnosed center with top-notch defensive skills that will compete for a bottom-line position in a few years.
|1||1||2||Auston Matthews||C||USA||6-2/210||ZSC Zurich (Sui)|
|2||31||63||Yegor Korshkov||RW||RUS||6-4/180||Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (Rus)|
|2||57||41||Carl Grundstrom||RW||SWE||6-0/195||MoDo (Swe)|
|3||62||104||Joseph Woll||G||USA||6-2/200||NTDP (USA)|
|3||72||106||James Greenway||D||USA||6-5/215||NTDP (USA)|
|4||92||108||Adam Brooks||C||CAN||5-10/175||Regina (WHL)|
|4||101||NR||Keaton Middleton||D||CAN||6-5/235||Saginaw (OHL)|
|5||122||146||Vladimir Bobylev||RW||RUS||6-2/205||Victoria (WHL)|
|6||152||90||Jack Walker||LW||USA||5-11/180||Victoria (WHL)|
|6||179||NR||Nicolas Mattinen||D||CAN||6-4/220||London (OHL)|
|7||182||NR||Nikolai Chebykin||RW||RUS||6-3/185||MVD Balashikha (Rus)|
Joseph Woll brings good size and skills to the goalie position…he’ll need to keep working on the mental aspect of his game. James Greenway is a gargantuan defenceman who improved as the season went along, impressing scouts at the U-18’s with his skating and skills while cutting down on mental errors that remain a significant issue. Adam Brooks showed the hockey world that passing on him a third time would be a mistake following a tremendous season in which he led all WHL scorers with 120 points. More than just a scorer despite his size, the 5-10 center plays a smart, competitive two-way game. Keaton Middleton…Jacob’s “little” 6-5 brother, was overshadowed at times by fellow Saginaw defenceman Markus Niemelainen, and wasn’t expected to be drafted in the fourth round. Lots of work to do, but certainly has the size and raw physical skills to be a candidate for a bottom pairing role at the pro level. Vladimir Bobylev is a 6-2 center/winger with soft hands and above-average playmaking skills who really developed in his second CHL season. Jack Walker’s transformation from junior defenceman to elite winger took place over an 18-month period. This past spring Walker was by many accounts the top forward in the WHL playoffs…he has NHL skills and competes hard. Look for him to be an AHL regular next season.
Mark Hunter reached out to his junior team in London to pluck Nicolas Mattinen...the third blueliner at least 6-4 drafted by the Leafs in this draft. Nikolai Chebykin is another large Russian forward passed in the draft who impressed at an international tournament…in his case it was the WJAC.
Grade: A+: Landing the prospect considered by many to be the best in the draft, and eight in total who were in McKeen’s rankings gives the Leafs the top grade in this draft. This should one day be looked back on as the pivotal weekend in Toronto’s rebuilding process.