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What You Need To Know About The 09 Draft

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Back To Draft CentralBilly Talent 3

What: The 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal

Friday, 7 p.m. to end of first round. Rounds 2-7 Saturday morning beginning at 10 a.m.

Who: Who will the Leafs draft? Ask Garth Snow.

Will the Maple Leafs land John Tavares?

Answer: Well, we might as well get to it. There are 30 general managers in the National Hockey League. Only one has said he wants the former junior and World Junior star. That would be Brian Burke. By announcing his intention to land Tavares, Burke supercharged interest in the draft, at least as far as Leaf-watchers are concerned. Burke has a history of draft day miracles, he landed Chris Pronger for the Hartford Whalers and the Sedin twins for the Vancouver Canucks. That may not help him since there aren’t a long list of rivals anxious to help him land the best-known player in the draft.

The question comes down to this. Victor Hedman is just as good a prospect as Tavares. Does Islanders GM Garth Snow feel that for the credibility of his franchise, he must take the far-better known Tavares? That’s the easy choice and it may be the best. No one save for a few in Islanderville know for sure who the team will take. If Snow’s taste for risk is as bloated as his goaltending equipment used to be, it’s game on with Tampa at number two. The Lightning need cap help and defencemen. The Leafs have both those commodities.

Question: Assuming there are no trades, what are the chances of reuniting Luke Schenn with his brother Brayden?

Not good. Draft prognosticators have Schenn very near the Big Three of Tavares, Hedman and Brampton’s Matt Duchene. One mock draft has Schenn fourth. Schenn doesn’t bring the pure offence of Duchene or Evander Kane but he is recognized as a character player and a terrific two-way talent. If Burke wants a family reunion, and he has a precedent with the Sedins, he will have to move some bodies to make it happen.

Question: How many choices to the Leafs have and in which rounds?

Answer: The Leafs have their seventh overall. They draft twice in the second round thanks to deadline deals that sent Nik Antropov to the Rangers and Dom Moore to the Buffalo Sabres.

The remainder of their choices are one in the third, none in the fourth and one each in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. That makes seven choices in seven rounds.

Question: Knowing Burke’s love of the word truculent and players who fit that description, are there players available high in the first round who bring some toughness?

Answer: Zack Kassian is a six-foot-three right winger who built up some nasty credentials with the Peterborough Petes. Spokane defenceman Jared Cowen would bring toughness to the blueline.

Question: Is it possible Burke might go for a gunner whose initials aren’t J.T.?

Answer: Burke loves tough players, but he sees them as simply one component needed to win. Gifted scorers would be more than welcome so if he is available, don’t be absolutely shocked if the Leafs take Swedish star Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson. He has elite size and skill and the Leafs have had pretty good luck with Swedes (Borje Salming, Mats Sundin) in the past.

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