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Maple Leafs nonetheless on the lookout for speedy assist after drafting Rodion Amirov

The pause, Kyle Dubas later confirmed, was not for dramatic impact.

But the delay was pronounced sufficient that commissioner Gary Bettman started asking the Toronto Maple Leafs in the event that they wished to take a timeout whereas deliberating what to do with the 15th decide throughout Tuesday’s digital NHL draft.

Inside the makeshift conflict room at Scotiabank Arena, there was no debate about who to pick. Russian ahead Rodion Amirov was their man. But the Leafs first needed to weigh the deserves of buying and selling again, including extra property and certain settling for somebody apart from Amirov as a substitute.

“There were a number of trade situations that we were considering,” mentioned Dubas. “We had been simply considering the entire completely different eventualities that had been coming in actually from the time Winnipeg picked [at No. 10] proper by means of to our decide proper on the very finish.

“Then in the end just made the pick right at the buzzer.”

The draft isn’t any straightforward train once you’re a crew making an attempt to win now.

Amirov is already competing in opposition to males within the KHL and will finally present a giant increase as somebody able to making an affect on a cost-controlled, entry-level contract. But that is likely to be years away even when issues go nicely. The 19-year-old is beneath contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa till spring 2021 and there doesn’t appear to be any thought he’ll be pushing his method into the NHL instantly afterwards.

In different phrases: His presence within the group doesn’t do a lot for Auston Matthews, Morgan Rielly and Mitch Marner, who introduced the choice. At least not within the foreseeable future. That’s partly why Dubas spoke overtly about flipping this 15th decide from the second he acquired it within the Kasperi Kapanen commerce with Pittsburgh and finally listened to provides proper up till he was on the clock with the choice.

“By the time he’s kind of entering into his prime, it’s five years from now and suddenly a lot of the guys who are part of our core will all be nearing 30,” Dubas mentioned of Amirov. “That’s kind of sad to think about, but that’s just the reality of the situation.”

At least he matches the profile of what Toronto needs to be drafting for proper now. Dubas noticed Amirov play reside within the Canada/Russia Series almost a 12 months in the past and has used the COVID-19 pause to comb over video of his video games at numerous ranges of the home league.

His pace is “amongst the best in the class,” in line with the Leafs GM. Dubas got here away from a latest name with the prospect believing he’s higher off for having to struggle his method by means of Salavat’s lineup as a young person.

He’s presently producing as a top-six winger on a crew that’s seen various gamers contract coronavirus.

“What we like about him is that, especially in international play and at the under-18 tournaments and various different events, he’s scored at a high level,” mentioned Dubas. “When he’s been with Ufa at the MHL and VHL level he’s scored there. And now at the KHL level this year — not that this year played a huge factor in it — but he’s up at the top of their lineup in their top two lines, on their team, and he’s scoring there as well.”

Ideally, the Leafs mission him doing the identical factor within the NHL in the future.

“I think we certainly envision him, because of his ability on and off the puck, to be able to play up with our top players,” mentioned Dubas. “With his speed, with his play-making ability and his ability to drive possession and the puck in transition, that’s our expectation.”

Let’s contemplate it an open query as as to if his improvement timeline will mesh with the one the Leafs are on. As a lot as they’d like to maintain a protracted window of rivalry that requires the pipeline to repeatedly be refilled, most Stanley Cup contenders sacrifice an enormous quantity of draft decide and prospect capital to get there.

Toronto remains to be in that chase place. Dubas acknowledged that he’d be keen to maneuver a number of the 10 picks he holds within the decrease rounds Wednesday to be able to present extra speedy assist for his crew.

“I think that we certainly know what we’re trying to do,” mentioned Dubas. “We’re trying to get as good a read as we can on the market and free agency. If there are opportunities tomorrow to improve the team with some of those picks we won’t hesitate to do so.”

The Leafs clearly have their eye on some free-agent bargains, particularly among the many pool of restricted free brokers who don’t obtain qualifying provides earlier than Wednesday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline. There are anticipated to be extra of these than standard this low season.

We ought to see a way more energetic commerce market within the days forward, too.

Those are areas the place Dubas must make his mark to spice up a talent-laden roster that’s misplaced within the first spherical of playoffs every of the final 4 years. The draft is thrilling when your crew has been down and out, however it is a group that’s proven a number of promise with out the breakthrough.

That’s why they took so lengthy to name Amirov’s title on Tuesday night time. They love the prospect, however have solely a lot want for prospects proper now. They definitely weren’t making an attempt so as to add any spice to the made-for-TV draft.

“We try to reduce the drama here as much as we can here,” mentioned Dubas. “That’s our goal anyway. We’d like to be more successful at it as we move ahead.”

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