If you care enough about the Toronto Maple Leafs to have found my blog, then you probably already know that Brian Burke has publicly stated his desire to move up in this season's draft. He's said that he would still like to pick twice in the first round, but would move a first and our second (39th overall) in order to move up.
Burke loves to swing for the fences on draft day. Everyone will recall his deal to get Chris Pronger in Hartford or to land both Sedins in Vancouver. He also stated his desire to acquire the first overall pick and to draft John Tavares in 2009 so remember that things don't always work out the way BB would like them to.
There's some flexibility for Leafs' management and scouting staff depending on what they're looking to achieve in a deal. The Leafs have the 25th, 30th, and 39th overall selections in this year's draft so they look like an attractive trade partner to a team that needs a volume of middling prospects sooner than a single higher quality prospect. The Leafs are rife with potential third line prospects after nabbing Greg McKegg and Brad Ross in last year's draft and Jesse Blacker the season before. It's clear to any fan familiar with the Leafs' system that what they need are guys with top-six potential and that is doubtless what Burke will be aiming at on Friday.
It doesn't seem likely that the Leafs will be drafting in the top 10 this year, so let's look at who owns the picks between 10 and our first selection (25).
15. New York Rangers
The most obvious trade partner as I see it is Calgary. Other than Greg Nemisz and Mikael Backlund, their prospect pool is bleak. They have cap-headaches as well with Bouwmeester and Kiprusoff both outearning their recent production by a long shot. The 13th pick would also get us in the range of Mark McNeill who is a guy that would look great in the organization and who possesses the attributes Burke likes. If I'm Calgary, I'm willing to sacrifice quality for some quantity at this point.
Chicago is another team that could use a little more flexibility for the same reasons. Aside from Kyle Beach and Jeremy Morin, there isn't much in Chicago's system. How much value is there in moving up seven spots is a question that only the Leafs' scouts can likely answer. I expect that a move like this is only likely in the event that the scouting staff really like a guy and he's still available at this spot. This move would almost certainly happen with Chicago on the clock, in my opinion.
Other than these two teams, I suspect most teams will be looking for quality over quantity. Having said this, there remains the possibility of a GM gambling that a player their staff likes still being available at 25 or 30 and trading down for this reason. With the number of wildcard players in this year's draft I could see this being a fairly likely scenario as well. Guys like Khokhlachev, Clandening, Namestinkov and Jenner have projected all over the place depending on what you're reading.
There is a remote possibility of the Leafs dealing all three picks in an effort to get in the 6-10 range. A guy like Ryan Strome would almost certainly interest the Leafs and he may fall into this range. If a team like Columbus isn't so keen on Strome and would rather take three tosses at the proverbial dartboard then this might be a possibility, albeit a remote one.
More speculation on what is sure to be a busy week for the Leafs. Excitement is at a fevered pitch for fans of the Buds and our GM is one of the most active in the league. What trade scenario would you like to see play out? Who are the draft eligible guys that you like? Let's hear it, Leaf fans!