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Calling No. 28: A glance at some players Maple Leafs could pick in first round

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Provided the Maple Leafs don’t trade their first-round pick in the 2023 National Hockey League draft, the team will wade into relatively uncharted territory.

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The Leafs are slated to make their first pick on June 28 in Nashville with the 28th selection, a spot they’ve used just twice previously. In 1983, the Leafs picked forward Jeff Jackson; four years later, they called the name of winger Daniel Marois, who scored a total of 70 goals in his first two NHL seasons but never came close to those numbers again.

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Players who have been picked 28th in the NHL draft include Anthony Beauvillier, Brady Skjei, Nick Foligno and Corey Perry. Many more who went 28th overall didn’t make it and quickly were forgotten. 

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The Leafs’ needs today involve improving on the blue line. They’re not going to get a player late in the first round that can help them in 2023-24, certainly not in the defence corps. Still, we’ll be curious to see whether Brad Treliving’s first draft as general manager of the Leafs (though his participation will be limited and the draft will be run by director of amateur scouting Wes Clark) will include defencemen that could potentially help the Leafs down the road.

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Toronto’s scouts and analytics spreadsheets won’t have many chances to get it right this year. Once the Leafs are done in the first round, they won’t pick again until the fifth and sixth rounds, marking just the second time (including 2021) that they’ve had as few as three picks in the entry draft.

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A glance at some of the players who could be there for the taking when the Leafs pick toward the end of the first round:

Tom Willander, D, 6-1, 180, Rogle Jr., Sweden

A right-handed shot, the smooth-skating Willander is confident and reliable at both ends of the ice. He’s smart and doesn’t get into trouble. 

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Otto Stenberg, C/W, 5-11, 181, Frolunda Jr., Sweden

There’s no quibble with Stenberg’s talent, as he has plenty of it, but there have been challenges with playing consistently. Overall, he plays a well-rounded game.

Quentin Musty, LW, 6-2, 200, Sudbury, OHL

The first pick in the 2021 OHL draft, Musty blossomed this past season, recording 78 points in 53 games. Has the tools to be an effective power forward.

Lukas Dragicevic, D, 6-1, 190, Tri-City, WHL

The top-ranked defenceman by NHL Central Scouting among North American skaters (18th overall), Dragicevic is smart in transition. Offensively talented. 

Oliver Bonk, D, 6-2, 180, London, OHL

The son of former NHLer Radek Bonk is a right-handed shot, bringing an impact in a shutdown role. Making smart decisions among his assets.

Etienne Morin, D, 6, 180, Moncton, QMJHL

Responsible and hard-working D-man is a strong skater who is making strides on the defensive side. Should become stronger as he matures.

Riley Heidt, C, 5-11, 178, Prince George, WHL

Offensive talents have served him well in junior; defensive side will need improvement to go to next level. Passing skill is next-level.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

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