Sunday, October 01, 2006

My Kingdom for a Winger...

I know I am just repeating what every single Leaf fan has heard, thought, dreamed, translated into Esperanto, but seriously, why can't the Leafs draft and develop a single top 50 NHL forward to play for them?

I urge you to name the last great forward that the Leafs have actually developed in-house. The Sens, for their part, have managed to bring up a Hossa, Alfredsson, Yashin, Havlat, etc. Sure, they sucked for about a decade and typically had a great draft position, but what about a team like Detroit? They were and are perennial favorites, have drafted lower than almost any team in the league and have still managed to draft and develop the likes of Zetterberg and Datsyuk.

Don't get me wrong, even through their inept drafting, a few decent prospects HAVE worked their way through the system and are now playing in the NHL. Just on different teams, of course. Take Brad Boyes for example. Shipped to the Sharks for Owen Nolan, and mystifyingly traded to the Bruins shortly after that, he has begun to blossom into a legitimate first-line NHL player, and would have made a serious run at the Calder last season if not for a certain pair of generational phenoms in Pittsburgh and Washington.

Or how about Jarkko Immonen, sent to the Rangers to rent Brian Leetch for a few short weeks? Immonen went on to lead the Rangers AHL affiliate in scoring last season, and appears as of this writing to have made the big club in the big apple. Look for a solid season out of Jarkko.

Maybe young Czech Jiri Tlusty, drafted in the first round of this year, is a step in the right direction. Refusing to part with Alex Steen in the rumoured Pronger deal is also a positive sign. It is certainly a refreshing change of course that has seen picks and what little prospects the 'Buds' have being shipped out every spring in a desperate attempt at a Cup run.

Only time will tell of course. Oh, and the answer to the question above, 'name the last top 50 forward that the Leafs have actually developed in-house...' is Vincent Damphousse. Scary, isn't it?

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