Maple Leafs’ Kyle Dubas preparing for early-June draft to happen

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Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas speaks to reporters after a locker clean out at the Scotiabank Arena. (Christopher Katsarov/CP)

Could an early NHL draft hurt the Toronto Maple Leafs? Maybe.

Could an early NHL draft help the Maple Leafs? Maybe.

General manager Kyle Dubas is taking a zen approach to these unusual times and the increasing likelihood that the league will complete its entry draft in advance, prior to completing its 2019-20 season.

Accept the things you cannot change.

“We’ve just taken the mindset that, rather than get involved in the political part of it or the discussions or the angst about it, we’re just going to try to prepare as though it was going to happen,” Dubas said Monday on a conference call.

“At the very worst, we’ll get a test run into a draft process that isn’t going to be normal, because it’s not going to be normal regardless of when it is. So, we’re fine with whatever’s decided.”

No dates have been announced, but NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly sent a memo on Friday to executives outlining the reasoning behind conducting an early-June draft, while the on-ice action remains paused and the 2019-20 final standings yet to be, well, finalized.

The GMs do not have a formal vote on the proposal. The league office and its board of governors will make the decision.

The NHL proposes using the current standings, as determined by points percentage, meaning the Maple Leafs would be awarded the 19th-overall draft pick in this scenario.

That pick would be transferred to the Carolina Hurricanes in accordance with Dubas’s trade of Patrick Marleau last summer.

The Leafs’ second-round pick (50th overall) would be followed by two choices in the fourth round, one in the fifth, three in the sixth, and three in the seventh.

“We have 10 picks, and a lot of them are later on,” Dubas said. “So rather than try to worry about when it’s going to be, our organization has felt that we have to use whatever time we have — whether it’s four weeks from now or whether it’s four months — to really, really try to hone in our focus on making sure we make the most of those picks. Because they’re going to be imperative to the future progress of our program.”

Since details of Daly’s memo went public, the timing of commissioner Gary Bettman’s proposed draft has been met with its share of criticism.

Despite being guaranteed the first- or second-overall pick under the proposed format, Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said he sees no need to rush the draft before the season is over.

Hockey Central
Chuck Fletcher not a fan of NHL having an early draft
May 04 2020

“From a general manager standpoint, I’m not in favour of it,” Chuck Fletcher added Monday on Hockey Central at Noon. “The draft is often a great time to reset your roster after season. You can often use draft picks to acquire players, or trade players to acquire draft picks, and it’ll make it a little bit more difficult to reset the roster at the end of the year.”

The Philadelphia Flyers GM, who would select 26th in each round, also takes issue with draft order, suggesting a snake draft, like the one conducted in post-lockout 2005, would be more equitable.

Another concern: If the pandemic prevents a 2020 Stanley Cup from being awarded, what reward do the non-lottery teams gain?

“We didn’t get to play any playoff games or playoff revenue or gain any playoff experience, so why are we picking sixth-last and every round? I mean, shouldn’t there be maybe consideration for a different type of lottery?” Fletcher said. “It’s a different world. Tough decisions will have to be made, and whatever happens, there’s going to be people probably not completely satisfied.”

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