TLN Top 20 Leafs: #14 Nick Ritchie

Flashback to the 2014 NHL Entry Draft — mercifully Dave Nonis’ last one at the helm of the Leafs’ draft table. The Leafs are up at pick number eight with an assortment of options on hand. There was Nikolaj Ehlers; a 6-foot-0 skilled Scandinavian winger. There was William Nylander; a 5-foot-11 skilled Scandinavian winger. Lastly, there was Nick Ritchie; a 6-foot-2 power forward from Orangeville, Ontario.
Now, remember that at this point in time Brian Burke had brainwashed many in Leafs Nation that the key to success was through “pugnacity, testosterone, truculence, and belligerence.” It was a team-building view shared by his successor, Nonis, as evidenced by the Mikhail Grabovski-David Clarkson switcheroo the prior summer. For many, Ritchie was the obvious pick, the type of player this iteration of Leafs management dreamt about. There was no way he was getting past the Leafs here, many thought.
But then the funniest thing happened: the Leafs passed on Ritchie, choosing William Nylander instead. Factions of Leafs Nation were incensed to see a player with Ritchie’s package of size, strength, and shot slip through the Leafs’ fingers.
As we all now know, the Nylander pick has proven to be the right decision. But now …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

What does a successful July look like for Kyle Dubas?

We all know the run down. Buyouts. The Expansion Draft. The Entry Draft. Free Agency. All of that sprinkled with constant trade speculation and the need to add an Assistant Coach to the Leafs bench. Sure, the trades and coach hiring doesn’t need to happen in July, and Kyle Dubas has already got the ball rolling (slowly) with the re-signing of Travis Dermott, but in what looks like the make or break summer for Kyle Dubas, what would success look like in the busiest three weeks of the GM year?
Here’s what our panel of Learned Elders readily available Leafs writers had to say…
Jori Negin-Shetcher:
It’s going to be an extremely busy month for Kyle Dubas with all of the big events coming up on the hockey calendar for the rest of July, however, there’s a pretty clear path forward for Dubas to put together a positive month as GM. First and foremost, the Maple Leafs need to add some more draft picks for this year’s entry draft. The Maple Leafs only hold three picks at the moment, due in large part to a host of poorly executed trade deadline moves, which is not …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Artur Akhtyamov… Better than Yaroslav Askarov?

In the 2020 NHL Entry draft completed yesterday, a healthy number of goalies were selected, with 20 of the 216 players being netminders. That’s 9.2% percent of the selections, while they represent 10% of your dressed roster in each NHL game. The Leafs chose one of those 20, in Artur Akhtyamov, a Russian comrade to the only goalie selected in the first round, Yaroslav Askarov.
It’s healthy to pose the question whether Akhtyamov could surprise and end up better than Askarov in the end. After all, goalies are voodoo, and plenty of other highly drafted goalies have not worked out as expected, our own Jack Campbell being near the top of that list. However, it’d be ridiculous to say, with any element of credibility, that Akhtyamov will be better than Askarov.

still can’t believe Nashville reached for Askarov at 11 when Artur Akhtyamov was available
— BOOby cappucino (@bobbycappucino) October 8, 2020

Whoops! (I did not “eat the onion” as they say, I know Bobby is being facetious. He’s the best at it).
All kidding aside, if it were possible to know that, obviously the draft positions would look a lot different. That doesn’t take the possibility out of the question though.
In Askarov …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

2020 NHL Draft: Four Russians utilize extra 2020/21 games

With the 2020 NHL Entry Draft occurring nearly 4 months later than normal, scouts have a unique opportunity to catch some extra viewings. The KHL season is about 12 games in, the SHL is underway, and Liiga opened October 1st.
Besides the Russian leagues there won’t be too many games to scrutinize, but every point will draw more attention that players in North America don’t have available to them. If a team is undecided between a European and American prospect it is much better to watch shifts from the past week than months old USHL film. Many of the European prospects are also playing against better competition than they have seen in the past, which is very useful to evaluators.
For all these reasons, draft eligibles in the KHL could rocket up the draft boards by playing well early in the 20/21 season. These are some of the players that have taken advantage of that opportunity:
Yegor Chinakhov
The 5’11” RW is an early ’01 birthday, so he has already gone undrafted once. The reason he drew so much attention this time around was a jump from 16 MHL points to 69. That was enough to vault him Chinakhov into the 6th/7th round on some …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Pros and cons of the Leafs signing Wayne Simmonds

It is going to be an interesting day in the hockey world. With the NHL Entry Draft tonight, there will be rumours about potential trades and signings flying around all day. Many of which could be about Toronto, a team that is expected to be very busy during this time. The first Toronto-related rumour of the day came from Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic: 

Hearing that the Maple Leafs have genuine interest in pending UFA winger Wayne Simmonds at the right price. They have him listed as a target once free agency opens Friday. Again, would need to be a reasonable contract for it to work. But Leafs have sincere interest there.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 6, 2020

Toronto is looking to become a “tougher team to play against”. In the past, Dubas has alluded to valuing tough players but making sure they also play well is what makes it difficult. He has traded for Jake Muzzin and Kyle Clifford in the past, along with signing free agent Ilya Mikheyev. Looking for “gritty players” isn’t really something new for Dubas.
Simmonds spent the past season with the New Jersey Devils and the Buffalo Sabres. He had 25 points in 68 games while fulfilling …

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Author: Nick DeSouza / The Leafs Nation