Each day this month, I have been counting down the days to this annual event where teams can make the choices that will define their franchise's future and now it is finally close.
The past few weeks have been filled with silly speculation and rumours, including trade offers from Arizona for the first overall pick, and that the team might choose Patrik Laine over Auston Matthews. Those will finally be put to bed this Friday.
This is likely the most anticipated draft since 2005, when Sidney Crosby was chosen by Pittsburgh first overall. Not only are the Leafs choosing first overall, for the first time since they chose Wendel Clark in 1985, but there are numerous trade rumours circulating because of the fact that expansion is all but confirmed to Las Vegas and teams are preparing their rosters for a future expansion draft.
There are many big names that are being bandied around in trade talks currently, including Marc-Andre Fleury, Steven Stamkos, and any of Edmonton's top players such as Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle. The Leafs acquired one of those in Frederik Andersen.
Of course, there are also teams that are looking to move up in the draft to grab some of the top talent, including the Calgary Flames.
The Leafs will have to take advantage of the fact that this is a deep draft, and each selection will eventually prove what direction the team's future is heading. Going into the draft, Toronto's talent pool doesn't look too bad, with players such as Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Nikita Soshnikov, Connor Carrick and others. To add to that this year, with a first line centre in Auston Matthews, the timeline will likely move up as to when the Leafs can be a competitive team again.
Leafs fans have not exactly had much to cheer about in the past few seasons, with the team's last playoff action being in 2013; and of course nobody wants to remember the game 7 disaster, in that series. Now, at least management has a chance to continue building the team the right way, by drafting and developing quality prospects, not building like predecessors Brian Burke, John Ferguson Jr. or Cliff Fletcher. Enjoy the 2016 NHL draft fellow fans!