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Leafs look to restock via draft

by John McGourty

OTTAWA -- Toronto Maple Leafs interim General Manager Cliff Fletcher has a difficult job, trying to rebuild the team while maintaining it as a contender in the Northeast Division. Toronto fans, possibly the most passionate in hockey if not all sports, won't allow a reconstruction project similar to the one undertaken in recent years by the Washington Capitals.

Fletcher is obviously looking to make the Maple Leafs younger. That's why he granted the Montreal Canadiens the exclusive negotiating rights to center Mats Sundin just before the start of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

The Maple Leafs were 36-35-11 for 83 points last season. With that record, Toronto missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third-straight season.

Here is a look at Toronto’s 2008 NHL Entry Draft class:

No. 5 Luke Schenn, D, Kelowna Rockets (WHL) -- Fletcher traded up two spots to get Schenn, a 6-foot-2, 216-pound skilled player who fashions himself after rugged NHL defender Adam Foote. That's a nice combination: A big ox who scares the heck out of opposing forwards with his hits and goalies with his shots. Schenn said he was overjoyed to be joining what he called, "Canada's team."

Schenn helped lead Canada to the gold medal at the World Juniors and was named to the WHL Western Conference Second All-Star Team. He also won a gold medal at the World Under-18 Tournament two years ago.

"There are four, maybe five, defensemen in this draft who will be impact players for many years to come," said Fletcher, who observed Schenn on a March scouting trip. "We think Schenn is the best of that group and were delighted we could get him."

No. 60 Jimmy Hayes, RW, Lincoln Stars (USHL) -- The jury is out on Hayes, who looked very good two years ago with the United States National Development Team when he played on a line with James VanRiemsdyk and Colin Wilson. He started slowly with the U.S. team last year and jumped to the USHL but didn't do much better there.

Hayes is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds and he grew up in a couple of very tough Boston neighborhoods. He plays with an edge, is second cousin to Keith Tkachuk and Tom Fitzgerald, and his favorite player is Ryan Getzlaf.

No. 98 Mikhail Stefanovich, C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) -- Stefanovich brings good skills and size at 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds. He moved from Belarus to play in the Quebec League last year and led all QMJHL rookies with 32 goals while finishing second overall with 66 points. He was also awarded the Michael Bossy award as the best professional QMJHL prospect.

No. 128 Greg Pateryn, D, Ohio Jr. Blue Jackets (USHL) -- Pateryn jumped from Michigan high-school hockey to the USHL last season and posted three goals with 24 assists. He is 6-foot-2, 212 pounds and has good leadership skills. Pateryn expects to attend the University of Michigan in the fall.

No. 129 Joel Champagne, C, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL) -- Champagne is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds and fashions his game after Getzlaf. He had 18 goals and 22 assists in 70 games for the Sagueneens. Typical of a young man his size, he is not a great skater, but he is great on faceoffs and is a tough two-way player.

No. 130 Jerome Flaake, LW, Koln (Germany) -- Flaake made huge strides this year, jumping from the No. 41 European skater at midseason to No. 22. He led Koln in scoring with 80 points in 36 games. He played on Germany's World Junior team and the World Under-18 team.

No. 158 Grant Rollheiser, G, Trail SmokeEaters (BCHL)
-- Rollheiser had a losing record with a 3.19 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
 
No. 188 Andrew MacWilliam, D, Camrose Kodiaks (BCHL) -- MacWilliam is a big, stay-at-home defenseman. He is 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds and had no goals and 13 assists in 54 Tier II games this past season.


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