2012 NHL Entry Draft: Which Player Will Burke Take With The 35th Pick?
In the end 15 forwards, 13 defensemen and two goalies were selected in the first round with 14 Canadians leading the way.
Heading into the draft we determined the Maple Leafs biggest organizational need was at forward. Sure, Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul are legitimate top line forwards, but after that the lineup is full of question marks and void of much physicality.
There is still plenty of hope that Nazem Kadri will emerge as a top-six forward soon and Joe Colborne, Greg McKegg and Tyler Biggs look to be good prospects. That said, the question still remains—are any of these kids going to be impact players? If not, where can we expect Burke to land such a player, and why did Burke use his number five overall pick to select a defenseman when two very talented forwards—Radek Faksa and Mikhail Grigorenko—were still on the board?
When you consider the Maple Leafs overall depth on defense and with goaltenders Andrei Vasilevski (Tampa Bay) and Malcolm Subban (Boston) already being selected, Burke could look to draft Swedish goaltender Oscar Dansk, or try to land a forward.
There are plenty of prospects at this stage of the draft that fit the bill of a physical forward, finding high-end offensive talent may be a challenge though.
One forward that might peek Burke’s interest is Colten Sissons (RW). At 6’1”, 198 pounds, Sissons brings a good mix of offensive flare (he scored 26 goals in 58 games With the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL last season) and defensive play.
While not considered a top-six forward at the NHL level, Sissons looks to be a safe bet to be a good two-way player who could make life difficult for opposing forwards.
Playing in the WHL for the Kamloops Blazers last season, American Tim Bozan brings a good mix of size (6’1”, 183), shooting abilities and a measure of toughness to his game. Through 71 games with the Blazers Bozon scored 36 goals and added 35 assists for a total of 71 points.
Of course there are some glitches to Bozon’s game. He’s not a great skater, but that can be improved over time. He’s a left winger, so he still wouldn’t address Burke’s need for a centre, but he would be a decent option at 35th overall.
There were a few high ranking forwards that were not selected in the first round. Swedish born Sebastian Collberg (RW) was ranked 11th by International Scouting and was not selected thus far.
At 5’11 and 174 pounds Collberg has some filling out to do, but he has a wicked shot and decent scoring prowess.
Fellow Swede Pontus Aberg (LW) also failed to get drafted in the first round. At 5’11, 194 Aberg has decent size and is known to have good offensive instincts. Scouts are really unsure about his upside, but he is skilled nonetheless.
Ranked 35th overall by International Scouting Services, Phillip Di Giuseppe (LW) is a player of interest for Burke. At 6’0”, 176 pounds, Di Giuseppe has decent size but like many his age needs to fill out. Di Giuseppe played last season with Michigan in the CCHA.
He scored 11 goals and added 15 assists through 40 games and has tremendous skating ability and speed. His defensive game is decent and he has a nose for the net.
This is a kid that pays the price to score and brings a good compete level every night—exactly the type of player Burke likes.
In the end, the apple of Burke’s eye might be USNTDP forward Nicolas Kerdiles. Standing 6’2” and weighing in at 200 pounds, this left winger has all the tools to be a top-six scoring forward at the NHL level.
Kerdiles brings speed, agility and a high hockey IQ which translates into offense. He’s not the most rugged guy on the ice, but when you have the speed and skill that he has, you don’t have to be rugged.
Kerdiles will need a few more years to develop, but he might just be the type of project that Burke is looking for. He has a lot of upside and with speed becoming so important at the NHL level, Kerdiles will be a valuable commodity down the road.
Time will tell which player Burke selects. All the action starts Saturday morning at 9:00 am.
Until next time,