Toronto Maple Leafs Draft Rumors: Auston Matthews vs Patrik Laine

patrik laine auston matthews

The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t made the playoffs since the 2012-2013 season where they lost in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 7 games against their bitter rivals, the Boston Bruins.

The Maple Leafs have struggled to be successful since that season, finishing 12th, 15th and 16th in the Eastern Conference in the past 3 seasons. The Maple Leafs have not won the NHL lottery since the 1985 entry draft where they selected Wendel Clark of Saskatoon. Luckily, they will select 1st overall this year after receiving 20.0% odds for finishing dead last in the league this past season.

This upcoming summer, on June 24th 2016, the Toronto Maple Leafs will have their choice of either Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine.

Auston Matthews

The clear cut 1st overall pick on all analysts’ big draft board had a great viewing on the International stage in Russia. Auston Matthews of the United States finished with 9 points (6 goals, 3 assists) in 10 games played. As an 18 year old, Matthews led the team in goals and tied for the lead in points. He was tied for 7th in overall scoring, and tied for 2nd in tournament goals.

Auston Matthews’ career statistics with the U.S. National development teams are quite impressive. In his 3 seasons, Matthews averaged 1.55 points per game before signing with the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League A (NLA). With the Lions, Matthews scored 46 points in 36 games.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have lacked a number 1 center since the 6’4”, 240 lb Mats Sundin captained the team until 2007. Auston Matthews could fill that void, standing at 6’2”, 194 lb, the big left handed center could fill Sundin’s past scoring touch and leadership.

Patrik Laine

The potential 1st overall pick, most talked about 2nd overall pick had a superior viewing on the International stage in Russia. Patrik Laine was named the tournament's most valuable player (MVP) at the age of 18. Patrik Laine of Finland finished 4th in scoring with 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists), tied with teammate Mikael Granlund. Laine also led the tournament in goals, and came close to Sidney Crosby’s record of 16 points in 10 games performed by a U19 player.

Patrik Laine’s career statistics with the Tappara Tampere of the SM-liiga league are not as impressive as you think but his clutch play style and international dominance make up for it. In 2 seasons with the team, Laine has averaged less than a point per game. In Laine’s second season with the Tamperes, Laine scored 10 playoff goals and finished with 15 points in just 18 games.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have lacked a natural scorer since they believed they got one in Phil Kessel. Phil Kessel never re-lived the glory he achieved back in Boston and was soon traded to Pittsburgh. Patrik Laine’s gift of scoring and supreme power at 6’4”, 209 lbs, would fit nicely alongside gifted passers like Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk.

Toronto’s Offseason

Toronto’s offseason leading up to draft in June could change their views on both Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. Even though NHL free agency doesn’t begin until July 1st, many teams begin shopping for free agents. The Toronto Maple Leafs will have close to 30 million dollars in cap space and have great voids to fill.

Adding the potential likes of centermen Steven Stamkos or trading for Rick Nash could force the Maple Leafs in choosing Patrik Laine over Auston Matthews. Whereas, the Maple Leafs could add Kyle Okposo or Andrew Ladd, which would make Auston Matthews the obvious choice. The Maple Leafs have many elite prospects, either in the minors or on the current roster, and have an enticing late-first round pick acquired from Pittsburgh in the Kessel trade which they could deal this offseason.

Toronto’s run at free agents and Lou Lamoriello’s offseason acquisitions will shape the way the organization wants to build around their future 1st overall pick, pushing them towards the playoffs and their 14th Stanley Cup. 

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