With The 28th Pick, The Leafs Select……..

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As always, we’ll start with a little tidbit of news or rumours and today’s is hilarious…. or is it?

At first glance this would seem ridiculous to me, but the more you think on it, the more you begin to remember former GM, Kyle Dubas, as well as the head coach, Sheldon Keefe, talk about the core, rather than the team, breaking through in the playoffs. Not every time they spoke, but definitely sometimes.

The culture of an organization starts at the top and the culture is sour in Toronto once again. The fans, media and even the organization, to a degree, have created a situation where everything tends to revolve around the star players on the team. So, for a moment, picture yourself on the Leafs and just having won the Stanley Cup (I know, shut up) and the only thing being talked about is how so many people knew that “they,” as in, the stars on the team, could do it, while you get zero credit for being part of the win. Because that’s what is happening right now. The core was credited with being able to get out of the 1st round, not the team.

Also, for what it’s worth, it doesn’t appear that the team plays like a team on the ice. After the Leafs lost in the 2nd round to the Florida Panthers, Matt Tkachuk stated that the Leafs have more skill than the Panthers, pointing out that it might not even be that close, but that the Panthers play as a unit and the Leafs don’t. Sure, this is as much about coaching and structure as anything, but that, combined with the fact that they seldom pick up for each other during scrums and physical confrontations makes you wonder how fractured the dressing room could be and how much of a Them and Us exists between the star players and depth additions.

Or maybe it’s all bullshit.

Otto Stenberg
Position: Centre
Shoots: Left
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 180lbs
NHL Comparable: Any number of small, skilled forwards, such as Johnny Gaudreau or Tim Stutzle

Skill, skill and more skill is what Stenberg brings to the ice. He’d be a shoe-in as a Dubas pick, so, considering Wes Clark and his staff appear to be the ones running this show because Brad Treliving can’t be at the draft table, there is a possibility that they go with a selection like this.

Stenberg is a player that likes to hang onto the puck and spin his way out of danger. He thrives in transition and is labeled as a two-way centre that can also play the wing. He brings energy and pace to his game, combined with speed and intelligence. There aren’t any major holes in his game, as he is simply an all-around player that can help all over the ice. He projects as a 2nd or 3rd line centre, which makes my selection of Stutzle and Gaudreau as comparables seem silly, because he doesn’t appear to have that top end ceiling, but comparables are silly anyway, so there’s that. Lastly, he is already a leader on his teams, as he captained Sweden at the Hlinka Gretzky Tournament this year, scoring 5 goals and 9pts in 5 games.

While I’m excited by the idea of adding a player to the prospect cupboard that brings a different element than what is currently present (as in size and grit), it would be very difficult to hate this selection if they decided to go this way. Stenberg could be a terrific complementary player for a very long time for the Leafs, who have a great history with Swedish players.