Besides abysmal regular season records and fan bases that have endured cruel and unusual punishment year after year. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers don’t have many similarities.
As was the case in 2010 with Edmonton, who will they select? Tyler Seguin? Or Taylor Hall?
Six years later.
Two different players.
A different organization.
Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine?
Fortunately for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the World Championship of hockey offers one last opportunity for a scouting report. Both Matthews and Laine were selected to represent their respected countries, the United States and Finland.
For the United States, pool play was an up and down battle. There were times where they appeared unstoppable, but just as easily they seemed outmatched. Unsurprisingly, the one constant was Auston Matthews.
Matthews scored in regulation and added a shootout helper, carrying United States to the final four of the tournament. They will face the winner of the Sweden/Canada game. Matthews has been tremendous all tournament long, similar to how fellow countryman Jack Eichel shined last summer.
Now, if history is any indication of what is to come Canada will advance past Sweden this afternoon and will face the United States. You won’t want to miss that.
Without a doubt Finland has been the most dominate team in the entire tournament. Patrik Laine has been instrumental to their success. The projected number two pick in this summers draft has played among men and flourished.
In a game against Canada, known agitator Brad Marchand targeted the talented youngster. Between whistles the two had a minor gentlemanly disagreement, Marchand barking at Laine. The 18 year old wasn’t afraid to give the business right back at Marchand, laughing while doing so.
Laine may have just qualified to vote, but he by no means is a kid anymore. Standing 6 foot 4 inches and weighing in at 205 pounds, he has the frame to play big time NHL minutes come October.
Winnipeg fans rejoice. If Laine slips to number two, as expected, you’ll have yourself one hell of a player.
While the NBA draft appears to be a two player draft, the NHL draft initially seems different. For Columbus, owning the 3rd overall pick in the draft seems to have an interesting decision to make themselves.
Matthew Tkachuk or Jesse Puljujarvi.
Both fill a desperate need for the Jackets, a shifty winger who can score. Puljujarvi plays with Laine on team Finland for the Worlds. 17 points in just 7 games.
While Tkachuk wasn’t selected to represent the US at the World Championship, he shined in the World Junior tournament. 11 points in 7 games. What’s more impressive was his totals in the OHL this season, 107 points in 57 games for the London Knights.
No doubt whoever the Jackets pass on will be heavy in the mind of the Oilers who will select 4th.
2016 is a draft year littered with talent and for the teams picking 1-5 have a golden opportunity to select a solid player. Refreshing, in the sense that two teams neither of which are Edmonton will select a cornerstone that have the skill to change not only the mold of their team, but the league.
As for now, you’ll just have to sit back and enjoy the playoffs and the remainder of The World Championships.