Drafting Some Hope

Admit it, you were nervous that Edmonton was going to win the draft lottery again, weren’t you?

Nobody, and I truly mean absolutely no human being outside of the Edmonton Alberta region actually wanted the Oilers to draft Auston Matthews. Luckily, they don’t own that luxury, Toronto, the second saddest Canadian born franchise does.

Whats the difference between them? Toronto made major leaps of improvement this past season. Despite the horrific record and the countless number of jerseys sickened fans tossed on the ice near the conclusion the season. Mike Babcock and Brendan Shanahan put their hockey wits together, changes to the game plan, and roster paid instant dividends.

Petr Mrazek #34 of the Detroit Red Wings makes a first-period save on a shot by William Nylander #39 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena on March 13, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan.
At just 20 years old William Nylander leads the youth movement established by Toronto this past season. Much to the enthusiasm of management, but more importantly the fans.
What was most impressive was the confidence instilled in the youth of their organization. Following the trade deadline when it was more than evident the playoffs were a snow balls chance, the youth movement officially began. Cream of the crop? William Nylander, 6-7-13 in 22 career games against the big boys. Yeah, he’s also only 20 years old, and definitely passed the eye ball test.

What I’m trying to hammer home is how far and beyond a better organizationally sound team Toronto is when compared side by side to Edmonton. While their numbers aren’t all that different, Toronto’s ceiling is much higher and prosperous. When they draft Matthews, he’ll immediately solve their most glaring issue, the lack of a number one center.

No doubt there will be crazy Leaf fans predicting an appearance at this years Cup final. Similarly to how Red Sox fans reacted to the David Price signing. Truth be told they aren’t crazy, they’re just starving for hope.

Remember the hype surrounding Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel last year? Matthews deserves just as much if not more hype than they received. Don’t believe me? YouTube a highlight clip then proceed to read.

Lightning fans can probably take a deep breath, with Matthews going to Toronto they no longer need that bonafied number one center. So favorite all the tweets you’d like Mr. Stamkos, odds are you’re staying put.

Speaking of whom, Matthews has been compared to elite centers such as Steven Stamkos and John Tavares. Slightly outside the realm of a Sidney Crosby type player, but by no stretch of the imagination, Matthews remains a player you build a franchise around.

What is without a doubt the best part of the draft is the fact that Edmonton won’t even be selecting in the top 3. While picking fourth isn’t a bad consolation prize, it’s something that GM Peter Chiarelli called “disappointing”. Rumor has it Edmonton is flirting with the idea of trading the pick for an established top four defensemen.

Whomever decides to do business with Edmonton could look towards another promising American, Matthew Tkachuk. Amassing 107 points last season, 5th in OHL scoring.

Bet the farm that Toronto will waste no time selecting Matthews number one, unless Tampa signs Stamkos long term then ships him off moments later. Even then I’d expect Toronto to turn that deal down, Matthews is an exciting proposition. Especially for a franchise that has endured so much hostility and scrutiny from just about everyone.

Hold off on planning those parade routes Leaf nation. Your depth chart has some gaping holes in it, enough that one, 18 year old kid, couldn’t possibly fix on his own.

However, it appears as though you just drafted yourself some hope.

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