I was fortunate enough to attend this past weekend’s NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, and while it was fun for me (what a weekend!), it was all business for the thirty NHL teams there. The Leafs made six selections in this year’s draft, including three defensemen. The team also made the (now well-known) trade of Luke Schenn to the Flyers for James van Riemsdyk.
In the first round, the Leafs began their draft-day escapades by selecting 18-year-old defenseman Morgan Rielly with the fifth overall pick.
The Vancouver native was ranked fifth, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that’s exactly the spot he went in.
Rielly spent last season with Moose Jaw of the WHL, but played just 18 regular season games before being sidelined by injury. (He later returned for a portion of the playoffs, where he had three assists in five games.) Prior to this, he played in Moose Jaw the previous season and had 28 points in 65 games.
Fun fact: Hockey runs in Rielly’s blood – his father played in the BCHL for the Surrey Eagles in 1974-75.
Their next pick was 35th overall in the second round and was another defenseman. This time, however, it was an OHLer: Matthew Finn.
Finn, 18, hails from none other than Toronto and has spent the past two seasons with the Guelph Storm. This year, he had 10 goals and 38 assists in 61 games, which was enough to lead the team in defensive scoring and place sixth overall in that category league-wide.
He was named the team MVP and top defenseman. Prior to his time with Guelph, Finn played a season with the Toronto Marlboros of the GTHL, and on his NHL.com biography prior to being drafted, he named the Leafs as his favorite NHL team.
Fun fact: Finn’s cousin is Carlo Colaiacovo.
Although they didn’t have any picks in the third or fourth rounds, the Leafs had four picks in the final three rounds. They began by drafting 18-year-old center Dominic Toninato, who played last year with Duluth East high school in Minnesota.
The Duluth native was drafted 126th overall, higher than his final rank of 149th. He had 27 goals and 34 assists in 25 games with Duluth East this year, and also played with Fargo in the USHL and Team North of the MHSEL this past season, where he earned 25 points in 24 games.
The team’s first pick in the sixth round was former Erie Otters right winger Connor Brown, followed by another OHLer, Ryan Rupert.
Brown, another Toronto native, is a right-winger who was ranked somewhat significantly higher. Although the final rankings put him at 110, the Leafs were able to take him at 156th.
Brown just finished his first season in the OHL with the Otters, where he had 25 goals and 28 assists in 68 games. Prior to this, he spent a season in the OJHL and also played on the Toronto Marlboros of the GTHL in ’09-’10 with fellow Leafs draft pick Matthew Finn.
Rupert, the Leafs’ final 18-year-old draft pick from this year, also spent last year in the OHL. In 63 games with the London Knights, he had 17 goals and 31 assists.
Rupert was one of six players from the Knights to be drafted this year. In 2010-11, he played 39 games with London and had 27 points in his first professional season. The Grand Bend, Ontario native did not have a pre-draft ranking.
Finally, they closed the draft by selecting 19-year-old Viktor Loov 209th overall. The Swede was the lone European drafted by the Leafs, as they took him 209th overall.
The defenseman played for Sodertalje and Sodertalje Jr. this past season. In a combined 55 games, he had 3 goals and 6 assists as well as 44 penalty minutes.