North York - December 30, 2011 - There's been a lot of trade rumours swirling around throughout the month of December. People are calling for the Leafs to trade more draft picks and good prospects for a high value player. There are some things that need to be considered before the Toronto Maple Leafs go and trade away their future. I decided to do some research about trading draft picks. I picked six teams to research, the last five teams to win the Stanley Cup (Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Anaheim) and I also added the Washington Capitals. I decided to look up each of these teams and see what they did with their first round draft picks since the draft prior to the NHL lockout season of 2004-2005.
2004 - Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Shultz, Mike Green
2005 - Sasha Pokulok, Joe Finley
2006 - Nicklas Backstrom, Semyon Varlamov
2007 - Kyle Alzner
2008 - Anton Gustafsson, John Carlson
2009 - Marcus Johansson
2010 - Evgeny Kuznetsov
2011 - None - Traded first round (26th overall) to Chicago for Troy Brouwer
2004 - Ladislav Smid
2005 - Bobby Ryan
2006 - Mark Mitera
2007 - Logan MacMillan
2008 - Jake Gardiner
2009 - Peter Hollan, Kyle Palmieri
2010 - Cam Fowler, Emerson Etem
2011 - Rickard Rakell
Detroit Red Wings
2004 - None - Traded first round (29th overall) to Washington
2005 - Jakub Kindl
2006 - None - Traded first round (29th overall) to Phoenix for two second rounders (41st and 47th)
2007 - Brendan Smith
2008 - Thomas McCollum
2009 - None - Traded first round (29th overall) to Tampa Bay for 32nd overall and 75th overall
2010 - Riley Sheahan
2011 - None - Traded first round (24th overall) to Ottawa for two second rounders (35th and 48th)
2004 - Evgeni Malkin
2005 - Sidney Crosby
2006 - Jordan Staal
2007 - Angelo Esposito
2008 - None - Traded first round (29th overall) to Atlanta in the Marian Hossa deal
2009 - Simon Despres
2010 - Beau Bennett
2011 - Joe Morrow
2004 - Cam Barker
2005 - Jack Skille
2006 - Jonathan Toews
2007 - Patrick Kane
2008 - Kyle Beach
2009 - Dylan Olsen
2010 - None - Traded first round (30th overall) to the New York Islanders for 35th and 58 overall
2011 - Mark MacNeil, Phillip Danault
2004 - None - Traded first round (27th overall) to Washington for Gonchar
2005 - Matt Lashoff
2006 - Phil Kessel
2007 - Zach Hamill
2008 - Joe Colborne
2009 - Jordan Caron
2010 - Tyler Seguin
2011 - Douggie Hamilton
In the eight years noted, of all the years either of these six teams traded their only first round pick away, none of the picks were ever higher than 24th overall.
Detroit is the only team above to not draft in the first round more than once in the last eight years, however in two of the four years they didn't have a first round pick they had three second round picks. In one of the four years they traded their 29th for the 32nd and 75th overall, such a high second round pick is pretty much a first round pick.
Toronto Maple Leafs
On to the Leafs now. Brace yourself...
2004 - None - The Leafs had 24th overall. They traded it to the Rangers in the deal for Brian Leetch. NOTE: The Leafs first pick was 90th overall in the third round. Justin Pogge.
2005 - Tuukka Rask - What happened to him??? Oh right, we traded him for Andrew Raycroft. NOTE: No second round pick in the draft because we also traded that for Brian Leetch
2006 - Jiri Tlusty
2007 - None - Leafs traded the 13th, 44th, and 98th overall picks to San Jose for in Vesa Toskala trade NOTE: The Leafs first pick was 74th overall. They drafted Dale Mitchell.
2008 - Luke Schenn
2009 - Nazem Kadri
2010 - None - The Leafs traded 2nd and 32 overall in 2010 as well as 9th overall in 2011 for Kessel.
2011 - Tyler Biggs, Stuart Percy
NOTE: Despite trading the 9th overall pick, Leafs would trade off other players and lower draft picks to get a few late first round picks in return.
Since 1991 the Toronto Maple Leafs have not drafted in the first round seven times. Also since 1991 the Leafs would have a top ten draft pick eight times, yet they would only draft four times in the top ten. The four of those top ten draft picks that they traded away would be used to draft Scott Neidermeyer (1991), Roberto Luongo (1997), Tyler Seguin (2010), Douggie Hamilton (2011)
Apparently the Toronto Maple Leafs either really don't like arriving on time for the draft and prefer to wander in at the second or third round or they seem to think they are better than the Detroit Red Wings. Either way, this culture of constantly trading away draft picks over the past 20 years is what separates the Leafs from teams like Pittsburgh or Chicago, who keep their draft picks and then win Stanley Cups.
This was PART ONE a two part analysis of Leafs vs. Draft Picks. Stay tuned for PART TWO - An in-depth look at what the Leafs have actually done with their draft picks over the last twenty or so years.