Reviewing Rounds 2-7 of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2016 NHL Draft

Maple Leafs' brass spent Saturday filling out the rest of their 2016 NHL Draft. (Pension Plan Puppets)

Maple Leafs’ brass spent Saturday filling out the rest of their 2016 NHL Draft. (Pension Plan Puppets)

By Hunter Crowther (@HunterCrowther)

After a historic night which saw the Toronto Maple Leafs select Auston Matthews with the No. 1 overall pick, team executives spent Saturday using the remaining 10 draft selections between the second and seventh rounds.

The blue and white seemed to focus on size, with six of the 10 picks were at least 6″2. A few choices left fans and observers on social media baffled, many noting there appeared to be a shift from the skill focus there was last year.

 

Here are the 10 players the Maple Leafs’ selected on Saturday.

 

2nd round pick (31): F Yegor Korshkov (Russia)

The Maple Leafs kicked off the second day of the NHL Draft by selecting Yegor Korshkov, a Russian winger you may remember from last year’s World Junior Championship, where he scored two goals and eight points, tying him for eighth in tournament scoring.

I love this highlight, watch Korshkov carry the puck into the zone once his team gains possession at the 2:02 mark.

Korshkov’s blows by the Finnish defenseman after receiving the pass, then enters the offensive zone comfortably strong on the puck, circling the net and attempting a tight curl. He stops, recognizes the puck is loose and follows the miss with a great second effort. The disc remains uncovered, and his teammate jams it in for the goal.

Not many players with that size can create an offensive play with the speed and hands that Korshkov displays in that sequence.

From Pension Plan Puppets’ Scott Wheeler early Saturday,

 

Korshkov, ranked 102nd by our staff at Future Considerations, is a power forward with some snarl. At 6-4, he adds some size on the wing to a pool of Leafs prospects that is considerably undersized. An overager with a 1996 birthday, Korsakov is a rangy left-handed shot who played the right wing with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the KHL and its farm team in the MHL last season (where he registered six points in four games), registering 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 41 KHL games. After spending the regular season with the KHL club, Korshkov returned to the MHL to post 19 points in 15 games as the playoff’s leading scorer, pushing Lokomotiv to an MHL championship.

Some observers raised eyebrows to Toronto drafting an “overager,” but the extra year can do wonders for a prospect’s maturity, both physically and mentally.

2nd round pick (57): F Carl Grundstrom (Sweden)

Carl Grundstrom has played for MODO of the Swedish men’s league. (HFBoards)

The Swedish winger was ranked 40th on TSN insider Bob McKenzie’s draft board. A product of MODO Hockey’s academy in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, a town with a population of less than 30,000 yet seems literally every Swedish hockey player ever comes from.

He amassed 16 points in 49 games for MODO last season, playing defensive minutes and providing both secondary scoring and reliable play in his own zone in one of the toughest professional leagues in hockey. Don’t discount the experience of playing against grown men while developing.

Keep an eye for him at next year’s World Junior Championship, where he’ll look to improve on his one goal performance last winter.

3rd round pick (62): G Joseph Woll (United States)

After acquiring goaltender Frederik Andersen from the Anaheim Ducks earlier in the week, Toronto selected Joseph Woll, a ’98 from the United States national development program. The 6″3 netminder fills out the net well, posting a .918 save-percentage and 2.14 goals-against-average in 33 games with the U.S. under-18 team.

Woll is enrolling into Boston College this fall, and should spend the next few seasons honing his game in the highly competitive NCAA. With time to develop behind the Maple Leafs’ sudden depth at the position, Woll could end up like James Reimer in the sense he slowly climbs the organizational ranks for several years before battling for starts in the big leagues.

3rd round pick (72): D J.D. Greenway (United States)

(USA Hockey)

Another member of the U.S. program, the 6″4 205 pound blue liner plays a physical style — racking over 200 penalty minutes in his time with the program — while contributing some offensive skill, posting 23 assists and 28 points in 64 games with the under-18 team.

Like Woll, Greenway will play college hockey next fall, enrolling at the University of Wisconsin.

4th round pick (92): C Adam Brooks (WHL) 

Adam Brooks could be the diamond in the rough for the blue and white in this year’s draft. (Winnipeg Sun)

He wasn’t their first overage selection, but the Regina Pats centre was the first Canadian taken by the Maple Leafs in this year’s draft.

Generously listed at 5″10, Brooks ran away in team scoring with 120 points — 50 ahead of second place Sam Steel — and led the Pats in team scoring with 23 points in 12 games.

Turning 20 last May, Brooks is a player whose skillset is worth taking a chance on, especially when you consider 4th round picks seldom sustain a career in the NHL.

4th round pick (101): D Keaton Middleton (OHL)

The Maple Leafs selecting the 6″6 240 pound (!) blue liner was the pick that caused the most confusion among observers of the team.

Three goals and 16 points in 127 games over two seasons with the Saginaw Spirit immediately puts Middleton in the “stay-at-home” category. His skating has been questioned by scouts, but his size causes some to overlook his short-comings.

However, Middleton has played top even strength minutes and on the penalty kill, and his big frame and long stick are an asset in the defensive zone.

5th round pick (122): F Vladimir Bobylev (WHL)

Another overager, the Russian winger only produced nine points over 52 games in his first WHL season with the Vancouver Giants. Eligible for the 2015 CHL Import Draft, the Victoria Royals took Bobylev, who bounced back with 28 goals, 39 assists and 67 points over 72 games last season.

His 6″2 205 pound frame and underrated wheels are similar to Nikolai Kulemin. Another year in the WHL will allow Bobylev to season his offensive skills.

6th round pick (152): F/D Jack Walker (United States)

Will Jack Walker make the show as a forward, defenseman or both? (eliteprospects.com)

Bobylev’s teammate in Victoria, Walker has split time between the wing and blue line, finishing the season third in team scoring with 36 goals, 48 assists and 84 points.

Turning 20 in July and ranked 90th by McKeen’s Hockey, Walker was skipped over in the last two drafts, despite 55 points and 70 games in 2014-15.

This selection seems like a “project,” as the Maple Leafs hope Walker may find a spark at whatever position they settle on.

6th round pick (179): D Nicolas Mattinen (OHL)

A perplexing selection, especially when you consider the 6″5 220 pounder was a healthy scratch for the majority of the London Knights’ season.

It would make sense that director of player personnel Mark Hunter, who still co-owns the Knights with brother and Knights’ head coach Dale Hunter, has reason to believe Mattinen will have a major role on the team next season.

But most would argue there’s an undersized skill guy or a diamond in the rough who could have been taken instead. Perhaps Mattinen is that guy.

7th round pick (182): F Nikolai Chebykin (Russia)

(IIHF)

The team’s final pick is a prominent member of the Russian development program, producing 35 points in 39 games with HK Balashikha in the MHL Russian junior league.

Expect the 6″3 winger to stay in Russia and develop his game before catching on in the Toronto organization.

 

Hunter Crowther is a managing editor for The Hockey Guys. You can follow him on twitter @HunterCrowther, or email him at hunter.crow@hotmail.com

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