Yes, that’s a scary title. Don’t worry though, “Tank Nation” isn’t back on. No need to panic, Leafs fans.
But tank or not, when covering any club that’s putting a premium on draft-and-develop or in a build phase, it’s probably never too early to try to get a handle on the next draft. And since some preliminary rankings are now starting to roll in, we can get more familiar with a few names.
There are a number of options out there for anyone to get their draft fix, but if you’ve been following along with our coverage over the past couple summers, you know we lean on some scouting services more than others. For these preliminary rankings I mainly just consolidated the most up-to-date preliminary lists from key outlets that I like to keep up on – HockeyProspect, International Scouting Service, Future Considerations, Draft Buzz, and Sportsnet (Jeff Marek). [Keep in mind this is now a top-31 with the Vegas addition, which’ll take a bit of getting used to.]
Here’s how things shake out when we merge those rankings:
A FEW NOTES:
Nolan Patrick is the consensus number one pick, and though a few draft outlets have said there’s a real shot he can be overtaken by Liljegren, no one has dropped him from that top spot yet. That isn’t surprising considering Patrick already had a 102-point season under his belt before this draft-eligible year. We should note Patrick is currently out with an upper-body injury that’s caused him to miss the past four weeks of the WHL season, while Liljegren has only recently returned to his Swedish club from a bout with mono.
We’ve heard a bit about these top two, but Gabe Vilardi landed pretty comfortably at three when I merged these lists. To date he’s got 17 points in ten games for a Spitfires team that’s been among the best in the entire CHL.
Because these rankings are such an early look at this class, there’s obviously plenty of uncertainty with so many of these prospects, and as such their range is all over the place. But when going through these lists and doing some research of my own, it’s fairly easy to see why some players can rank as high as the early teens on one list but will be left off another. Sometimes it appears to come down to exposure, and given the geographical coverage and personnel resources of these scouting services can vary quite a lot, it stands to reason why a prospect from overseas might see a big drop from one list to the next, for example.
With all that said, there is some interesting consistency in the rankings for a few of these guys. Maxim Comtois didn’t move any more than two spots from list to list, and the same goes for Callan Foote – son of former NHL great and noted broken-nose-haver Adam.
This would typically be the part where I tell you “If the draft happened right now, here’s where the Leafs would likely pick”, but not today, friends. Toronto is in a wildcard spot for the time being and I don’t want that kind of loser’s attitude seeping in. For all I know, they’re picking 31st.
Again, if you want to check out each of these Scouting Service rankings individually, they’re listed below: