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Maple Leafs impressed with depth of draft

by Adam Kimelman

BUFFALO -- Toronto Maple Leafs director of player personnel Mark Hunter is confident that when the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft has ended, the Maple Leafs will have added two very good players.

The Maple Leafs have the fourth pick and the 24th, which they acquired from the Nashville Predators for defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli.

"We're pretty happy where we're sitting," Hunter said Friday at the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine. "We really believe we're going to get a top-end kid, a top-end player [at No. 4]. It's a good spot. I think there's good depth in the draft. We even believe with the 24th hole there's going to be a good player sitting there at that time."

Among the options at No. 4 are Erie Otters center Dylan Strome, London Knights center Mitchell Marner, Kingston Frontenacs left wing Lawson Crouse and Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin.

Hunter said the depth of talent could push a player that's in the Maple Leafs' top 10 down to the bottom of the first round, and be available to choose with their 24th pick.

"That's what's great about the draft," Hunter said. "You never know what's going to happen. There's things that happen sometimes and circumstances that people fall down to an area where you say wow, can't believe he's still sitting there. We hope that happens. But only time will tell.

"I've talked to people with more experience than I have, years of drafting, and they're very impressed with the depth of this draft and the quality of the draft."

In addition to the two first-round picks, the Leafs have one pick in the third, fifth and sixth rounds, and two in the fourth. Hunter did not rule out looking to acquire more selections.

"You never know what's going to happen during the draft," he said. "Sometimes there's lots of movement from players and personnel. Right now we're just concentrating on what picks we have and we'll wait and see the next three weeks if it does get heated up, if there's any movement."


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