As NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly read out the draft envelopes one-by one, you couldn’t help but get a little more excited as the positions counted down.
Then came the number four selection and many fans were hoping that the fourth pick would not have the Maple Leafs logo.
That didn’t happen.
The good news to come of this is the Leafs didn’t drop down to fifth in the draft and stayed where there were. But it was hard to not feel like the wind was taken out of your sails just a bit, when it was clear that Toronto wouldn’t be selecting first.
“We’re happy with four, there are some good guys around there,” said Leafs President Brendan Shanahan. “Everyone came here hoping to get the golden ticket but the odds were stacked against most teams.”
This year was an anomaly for the NHL’s draft lottery process in many ways. It is the first and last time all 14 non-playoff teams participating would either stay where they are, drop down one spot or select first.
Next year, the lottery will be used to determine the top-three selections, meaning a team that was projected to pick first could potentially drop down to fourth.
“It was a very transparent process,” said Shanahan who was fine with the way it all went down. “I think the idea of having a lottery for the top three picks instead of just the first pick overall, I think it creates a little more fairness and just the way that teams are perceived as teams are coming down the stretch. I think it adds to the integrity of the process.”
Locked in at number four, the Leafs can prepare to build their team. The staff will go to work assessing talent.
But one player won’t make a team. It never has and the Leafs are busy over the next couple of months trying to build a front office with the right staff and getting the right players.
Director of Player Personnel Mark Hunter has the huge task of making sure the Leafs make the most of not just their first pick, but the ones that follow afterwards — finding the diamonds in the rough that other teams have found successfully in the past.
The Maple Leafs have two first round choices, having their own and a yet-to-be-determined late-round draft choice they acquired from the Nashville Predators that depends on when they are eliminated from the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Luck won’t build a team. Even though it sure could have helped.
Shanahan was wearing a shamrock hoping for luck of the Irish hoping for any help.
“I thought I would enlist whatever I had, I wasn’t going to leave anything at home. I’m still proud of being Irish.”
The anticipation behind the draft is over. Now it’s time for the Maple Leafs to get to work.