Rodion Amirov vs Braden Schneider; did the Leafs make a huge mistake at the 2020 draft?

Published January 14, 2022 at 9:04
BY MIKE ARMENTI
After shipping off their own first round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for the Canes taking the contract of Patrick Marleau off their hands, the Toronto Maple Leafs swung a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins, sending Kasperi Kapanen back to the team that drafted him, with the Pens' first round pick in 2020 being the primary piece coming back to Toronto.

The Leafs did alright in this ordeal, as their pick ended up being 13th overall, which Carolina used to draft forward Seth Jarvis. The pick the Leafs acquired from Pittsburgh was the 15th overall pick, which they used to draft one of the top-ranked European skaters in Rodion Amirov.

At the time, many pundits, including TSN's lead scout Craig Button, thought that the Leafs' pick was certainly going to be 6'2, heavy-hitting, right-shot defenseman Braden Schneider from the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Fast forward about a year and a half, and we find ourselves in a bit of a precarious position with Amirov, who has played very little in the KHL in some very important developmental years. Meanwhile, Braden Schneider just made his NHL debut and did this..



Obviously, it's too earlier to say that the Leafs made a huge mistake, but let's be honest. Big, strong, skilled, right-shot defenders don't exactly grow on trees and average sized skilled wingers are much easier to acquire.

For all we know, Schneider may end up being another Luke Schenn, while Amirov ends up being the next Alexander Mogilny. The fact of the matter is that until Amirov is in North America, playing in the National Hockey League, we should probably withhold judgement on the decision to draft him over Schneider.

Of course, this could just as easily end up being another piece of revisionist history with everyone looking back and saying that 15th overall pick could have been much better spent. Time will tell.
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