With the Maple Leafs, for now at least, operating without their first two draft choices, the pressure for the scouting staff actually intensifies.
Can the team find jewels in the later rounds?
We spoke to a large sampling of players who may or may not be available should the Leafs choose 62nd in the June 25,-26 entry draft in Los Angeles. Here are their stories.NAME:
Coconut Creek, FLHEIGHT:
205 lbs.CENTRAL SCOUTING RANK:
25 goals, 30 assists, 55 points, 97 PIMs, 63 games.
Andrew Yogan is a Gordie Howe fan. Or at least, he is a fan of Mr. Hockey's shining athletic achievement: the Gordie Howe Hat Trick: a goal, an assist and a fight.
"I had one this season," he said. "That's my game. I'm a power forward. I love to hit and score in every game."
Yogan did not get his wish. A broken left foot late in the season scratched him but he doesn't think the injury will hurt his standing in the eyes of scouts.
"I didn't take it as a big deal. It's a broken foot, not like a serious injury that's going to be a big problem. People know how I play. It's no surprise. I don't think anything would have changed had I not been hurt."
While there is a slowly emerging trickle of players from California, the other U.S. hot spot now has a representative. Marlies coach Dallas Eakins was born in Florida but his family relocated to Canada when he was a young teenager. He learned the game to survive.
Yogan's story isn't as dramatic.
"For me, it was luck," he said. "My best friend asked me to play and I have loved it ever since. It's been great. There were two ice rinks at Boca. It wasn't hard to get ice. Actually it was pretty easy.
To progress, Yogan had to move and it was a journey even harder for major junior players who usually find themselves playing away from home in their 16th year.
"I moved when I was 12 and played for team Illinois. I came back home when I was 15 and then I started playing in the Ontario Hockey League."
Yogan has already weathered his first trade, the Windsor Spitfires drafted him before moving Yogan to Erie where he would enjoy a six-point night.
He is also extraordinarily well-traveled.
"My Dad is a pilot for American Airlines. My Mom is a stewardess. Because of that, I have been to a lot of Southern places."