The Toronto Maple Leafs may not have had a lot of high picks in the 2012 NHL Draft, but they made the most of their top two picks and could start seeing an impact from at least one player as early as the 2013-14 season. As they look ahead to this summer’s draft they will likely be targeting some scoring forwards, as their 2012 class featured two top defense prospects.
With the fifth pick overall, the Maple Leafs selected Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) blueliner Morgan Rielly. The 2012-13 season was the best yet for Rielly, as he scored 12 goals and had 54 points for the Warriors. He was able to show the Maple Leafs that he can adjust to the game at the pro level, as he joined the Toronto Marlies of the AHL for 14 regular season games and eight playoff games. He scored one regular season goal, and added another in the playoffs, and he could compete for a spot with the Maple Leafs at training camp. If he’s not quite ready, he’ll spend a full season with the Marlies, but will be a prime candidate to get called up in case of injury.
In the second round, the Maple Leafs were able to nab defenseman Matt Finn of the Guelph Storm (OHL). Finn played in just 41 games this season, but managed to chip in 11 goals and 31 points. He could head back to juniors for another year, or possibly make the jump to the AHL next season but there seems to be no point in rushing his progress.
The Maple Leafs didn’t pick again until the fifth round, and their pick there may end up being a steal. Toronto took a chance on Duluth, Minn. high-schooler Dominic Toninato, and so far that looks like a great decision. In his first season of USHL hockey, Toninato scored 29 goals and had 70 points (in 64 games) for the Fargo Force, and will head to the University of Minnesota-Duluth next season.
A solid draft class headline by Rielly could start having an impact for the Maple Leafs over the next few seasons, and hopefully this summer’s draft class works out the same way for them.