Maple Leafs face crapshoot with 8th-overall draft pick | Hockey | CBC Sports

NHLMaple Leafs face crapshoot with 8th-overall draft pick

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014 | 12:31 PM

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Darryl Sittler was a No. 8 pick that turned out pretty well for Toronto. (Canadian Press) Darryl Sittler was a No. 8 pick that turned out pretty well for Toronto. (Canadian Press)

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have the eighth pick in this year's draft, and if they are looking for a player that will make an immediate impact, they might want to think about trading up. Way up.
Terry Ryan. Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Mark Bell. Jason Herter.

What do they have in common?

They were all chosen eighth overall in the NHL entry draft, and none could be considered a star player.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have the eighth pick in this year's draft, and if they are looking for a player that will make an immediate impact, they might want to think about trading up. Way up.

Odds are the player the Maple Leafs get with the pick -- assuming they don't trade it -- will be a few years away from making the club.

There are exceptions. The Buffalo Sabres selected defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen with the eighth overall pick last June and he played half of this past season in the NHL. The six-foot-four, 220-pound Finn scored two goals and four points in 34 games.

The year before, the Pittsburgh Penguins selected six-foot, 200-pound defenceman Derrick Pouliot eighth and he continued to serve his apprenticeship in junior with Portland of the Western Hockey League. Will he turn out to be a good pick? Hard to say.

Leafs need help

Picking eighth is a bit of a crap shoot. Sometimes you get a Jonathan Aitken -- picked eighth by the Boston Bruins in 1996, he played 44 NHL games, registering one assist before finishing his pro career playing in Austria -- and sometimes you get a Sergei Samsonov. He was chosen eighth in 1997 and scored a respectable 235 goals and 571 points in 888 games.

The New Jersey Devils played a hunch when they drafted superstar Bryan Trottier's younger brother Rocky eighth in 1982, but it was a swing and a miss. He scored a meager six goals and 10 points in an otherwise rocky 38 NHL games.

When the Philadelphia Flyers picked centre Sean Couturier eighth in 2011 they thought they were getting a player who would one day pick up the scoring slack that was created in recent years with the loss of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Who knows, he may one day live up to that expectation.

For now, though, Couturier is more of a defensive specialist -- a checker -- although his 13 goals and 39 points in 82 games has him trending upwards in terms of what he brings to the table on offence.

The Maple Leafs need help all over the map. They need a backup goalie to spell Jonathan Bernier on occasion, but it's unlikely they'd use the eighth overall pick to fill that need.

They need a little muscle on defence and on the third and fourth lines. They could use the pick to add some size and strength or they could trade it to get more NHL-ready bodies.

Or, of course, they could simply pick the best available player and wait for him to develop.

Roenick went 8th

Since 1980, there have been some impressive eighth overall picks. The San Jose Sharks were pleased to get Devin Setoguchi in 2005, one year after the Columbus Blue Jackets struck out by choosing defenceman Alexandre Picard eighth.

Jason Wiemer, Niklas Sundstrom, Taylor Pyatt, Andrew McBain, Jimmy Waite, Pat Elynuik, Shayne Corson and Brent Fedyk all had good-to-very-good NHL careers after being selected eighth.

The Chicago Blackhawks hit one out of the park in 1988 when they used the eighth pick to draft centre Jeremy Roenick. After playing junior with Hull of the Quebec League in 1988 he jumped straight to the NHL at the end of the season, scoring nine goals and 18 points in 20 games. Roenick never played a game in the minors and was an above-average player for 19 seasons.

If you dig a little deeper you'll even find some Hockey Hall of Famers that were chosen eighth. The Edmonton Oilers got goaltender Grant Fuhr with the eighth pick in 1981. Prior to that, defenceman Ray Bourque, left-winger Bob Gainey and centre Darryl Sittler were all eighth-overall picks.

The NHL's Central Scouting Service has left-winger Brendan Perlini of the Ontario Hockey League's Niagara IceDogs ranked eighth among North American skaters. Perlini, who is six-foot-three and 200 pounds, hails from Sault Ste. Marie and scored 34 goals and 71 points in 58 games this past season.

Seems like he might be a nice fit for the Maple Leafs, but only time will tell.

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