by S. Ferguson
Looking back at the selections made by the Toronto Maple Leafs
There is no better way to rebuild your team or add depth to your roster than through the draft. The 2023 version is coming up at the end of the month and between now and then, every few days, we are going to take a look back at what the Leafs did at a specific draft. I have to tell you, I’m afraid of what I will find here.
THE 2011 DRAFT
This was a pretty solid draft year with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins taken first overall, followed by Gabriel Landeskog and Jonathan Huberdeau. All three are still stars today (though Landeskog is battling injuries).
Leafs First Round:
We had two picks late in the first round.
Our first pick was 22nd overall and we went with Tyler Biggs. Biggs was a left winger who played zero games in the NHL and scored very few points in a couple seasons with the Marlies. Not great.
We didn’t have much more luck with our second first round pick at number 25 when we chose Stuart Percy who is from Oakville. Percy had some productive years with the Marlies but only played 12 games in the NHL (that said he had 3 points which is not bad). Percy is still playing putting up nearly a point a game last year in the Czech league.
Who we could have had instead:
Here are some of the players chosen in the next ten picks after Percy: Phillip Danault (Chicago, 26th), Rickard Rakell (Anaheim, 30th). Both still solid players to this day, that said, a lot of other teams had our bad luck.
Picked with Our Picks
These are the ones that hurt. The players we could have had if we hadn’t traded away our picks (and note that we have still been doing this. Kyle Dubas traded away a lot of picks!)
9th overall: Dougie Hamilton: Yes, Dougie Hamilton who still finishes in the top ten among voting for best defenceman in the league could have been a Leaf. We traded this pick (and the 2nd overall the year before which turned out to be Tyler Seguin) for Phil Kessel. While I loved Phil Kessel, this was not a good trade in the long run.
39th overall: John Gibson. Through some complicated trades Anaheim ended up with this Leafs pick, and chose their franchise goalie for the next decade.
43rd overall: Brandon Saad. Same thing, this pick changed hands a few times but at one point did belong to Toronto. Saad won a Stanley Cup with Chicago who drafted him here.
Our Best Pick:
Josh Leivo at 86th overall. A winger with some grit and a hard shot, Leivo has played nearly 300 games in the NHL for a few teams. He was with St. Louis last year and will be an unrestricted free agent.
You could also make a case for Garret Sparks. He was a steal in the 7th round and played 20 games in net for the Leafs one year. He was also the goalie for the Marlies team that won the Calder Cup in the AHL. He is no longer with the Leafs and split his time between teams in the AHL and ECHL last season. Also, don’t forget, Sparks was the first Leaf goalie ever to put up a shutout in his NHL debut.
2011 was absolutely brutal. There was potential for a game changing draft with the likes of Dougie Hamilton, John Gibson, and Brandon Saad, and instead we came away with nothing from our top picks and while Leivo and Sparks played hard, Leafs management needed to do better.
Here is the entire 2011 draft from hockeydb.