Flashback to the 2014 NHL Entry Draft — mercifully Dave Nonis’ last one at the helm of the Leafs’ draft table. The Leafs are up at pick number eight with an assortment of options on hand. There was Nikolaj Ehlers; a 6-foot-0 skilled Scandinavian winger. There was William Nylander; a 5-foot-11 skilled Scandinavian winger. Lastly, there was Nick Ritchie; a 6-foot-2 power forward from Orangeville, Ontario.
Now, remember that at this point in time Brian Burke had brainwashed many in Leafs Nation that the key to success was through “pugnacity, testosterone, truculence, and belligerence.” It was a team-building view shared by his successor, Nonis, as evidenced by the Mikhail Grabovski-David Clarkson switcheroo the prior summer. For many, Ritchie was the obvious pick, the type of player this iteration of Leafs management dreamt about. There was no way he was getting past the Leafs here, many thought.
But then the funniest thing happened: the Leafs passed on Ritchie, choosing William Nylander instead. Factions of Leafs Nation were incensed to see a player with Ritchie’s package of size, strength, and shot slip through the Leafs’ fingers.
As we all now know, the Nylander pick has proven to be the right decision. But now …
Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation