One thing you might not know about me is I am very passionate about sports. As a reporter for the Chronicle newspaper last year, I was able to cover fastball and lacrosse. Everything from big wins, including a team’s first win ever, to key losses was my domain.
Away from work, I am one of those fans that has bled blue and white for many years now, and that is why Saturday’s draft lottery has stung me a bit. Yes, as you can ascertain, I was one of those fans that truly believed that the Leafs were going to win the right to draft Erie Otters wonder child Connor McDavid. It could have been youthful naivety, or just the lust for greater things in Leafland, but I felt that even though we only had a 9.5 per cent chance going in, we would win it anyways. For a moment, I forgot about the turmoil that was the 2015 season and looked forward to having the next big thing.
There is no doubt in my mind that McDavid’s amazing skill would definitely move up the timeline for Toronto’s rebuild. The fact that he had 120 points while only playing 47 games should be proof enough of his potential. Just imagine a line of McDavid, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk for a moment. Two, twenty five to thirty goal scorers and the ‘second coming of Sidney Crosby’ as he has been hailed.
But maybe what stings even worse is the next day finding out how close the Leafs came. As it came to the final ball, Toronto had the best odds at nabbing McDavid at 36 per cent. They were one number away. Now, instead of what could have been a quicker fix, there is uncertainty.
At the fourth overall position the other player the Leafs covet, the other Erie Otter superstar Dylan Strome, could be snatched by Arizona.
It would be more cut and dry had Edmonton stayed in their third overall position. The Oilers this season allowed more goals than any other NHL squad at 283 and appear to have a hole in their lineup for a stud defenceman such as Noah Hanifin. They only appear to have one smooth skating offensive defenceman in Justin Schultz.
At 6’3” and the OHL’s top goal scorer this past season, Strome would be the perfect consolation prize to losing McDavid. He would provide the size and skill at the position that the Leafs have not had since Mats Sundin left the Leafs in 2008. It would surely end the hunt for a bonafide number one centre, that has seen candidates such as Brad Richards and Eric Staal debated.
So what if the Coyotes take Strome with their pick? That would leave Toronto with the undersized prospect, London Knights 5’11 centre Mitch Marner or flashy NCAA defenceman Noah Hanifin, a kind of player the Leafs already have in Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly. I’m not trying to run down Marner, who came close to the scoring title with 126 points, it’s just he doesn’t really represent the big number one centre that I envision for Toronto and we already have a flashy, undersized forward from last year’s draft in William Nylander at 5’11 as well.
Now I pray that the number one centre that Toronto has searched for is available when whoever is named general manager of the blue and white takes the podium on Friday, June 26. But if it is possible, things appear even more uncertain when it comes to the Leaf’s future. Good luck Leafs fans everywhere. Hold onto the hope for a better season ahead.