The Kids Need To Get It Done

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The biggest change in this team over the last six years has been age. Six years ago, the Leafs were well on their way to what fans thought might be a successful post-season. By the end of the 2003-2004 season, the Leafs were deploying the likes of Mats Sundin, Gary Roberts, Alex Mogilny, Joe Nieuwendyk, Ron Francis, Brian Leetch, Owen Nolan and Ed Belfour. Six years later, times have changed.

All of those seasons of going for it, with big splashes at the trade deadline have taken their toll on the Leafs the last few seasons, but that has never been more evident than it has been this season. With the team practically stripped down to its bones, it is evident that the Leafs cupboard of prospects is no where near full.

One could argue that the current team is full of young players, which means that there is plenty in the cupboard. This is true, but take this into consideration; of all the young players that suited up against the Bruins this evening, only 5 of them were actually drafted by the team. They are Schenn, Gunnarsson, Kulemin, Stalberg, and Mitchell. Yes Kaberle was drafted by the Leafs, but he's not exactly a young player.

What was very telling is that in tonight's game against the Bruins, these five Leafs combined for 6 points, including the game winner and on top of that they were a combined +7 on the night. The rest of the team combined for 4 points and a +2 rating.

Another interesting fact is that out of those five, only Luke Schenn was a first round pick. In a league where drafting is so important, the Leafs only have one of their first round picks on their roster. The scary thing is that the Leafs only have the rights to one of their other first round picks in Nazem Kadri, and then that's it.

Here's a look at the Leafs 1st round picks over the last decade:

2000 - 24th - Brad Boyes: Traded to the San Jose Sharks along with Alyn McCauley and a 1st round pick in 2003 for Owen Nolan.

2001 - 17th - Carlo Colaiacovo: Traded to the St. Louis Blues along with Alex Steen for Lee Stempniak.

2002 - 24th - Alex Steen: Traded to the St. Louis Blues along with Carlo Colaiacovo for Lee Stempniak.

2003 - No Pick: Traded to the San Jose Sharks along with Alyn McCauley and Brad Boyes. The Sharks selected Mark Stuart.

2004 - No Pick: Traded to the New York Rangers, along with Maxim Kondratiev, Jarkko Immonen and a 2005 2nd round pick for Brian Leetch and a 2004 4th round pick. The Rangers selected Kris Chucko with the 1st round pick and selected Michael Sauer with the 2nd round pick.

2005 - 21st - Tuukka Rask: Traded to the Boston Bruins for Andrew Raycroft

2006 - 13th - Jiri Tlusty: Traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for Phillippe Paradis.

2007 - No Pick: Traded to the San Jose Sharks for Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell. The Sharks traded this pick to the St. Louis Blues. The Blues selected Lars Eller with this pick.

2008 - 5th - Luke Schenn: Currently on the team.

2009 - 7th - Nazem Kadri: Currently in development.

Note: If you think this couldn't have turned out any worse, think again. The San Jose Sharks had the option at the 2007 NHL Draft of either the Leafs' 2007 or 2008 first round pick. The Leafs in this case were lucky that they went with the 2007 first round pick.

Now don't get me wrong, the future still looks very bright for this team. Keep in mind that Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and Mike Komisarek were all 1st round picks within the last decade.

Burke has stripped the team down to almost entirely youth, and they will have the stage for the rest of the season. Tonight they were successful, but sustaining success has been the big issue with this team.

With the likes of Kessel, Phaneuf, Schenn, Kadri, Gustavsson, Stalberg, Bozak, Caputi, Gunnarsson, Grabovski and tonight's finisher, Kulemin in the the system, all is not lost. I'm excited to see what these kids can do with the opportunity they have to finish the season. With that said, I expect more big changes in the summer.

Let me know what you think,

Patrick Storto