Maple Leafs 2024 Draft Targets: EJ Emery

Mike Armenti
June 2, 2024  (11:47)

EJ Emery
Photo credit: NHL.com

The Maple Leafs own the #23 pick in the NHL Entry Draft, but rather than using the pick, they have the unique opportunity to trade down and still get their guy.

When you look at the Maple Leafs' depth chart, it becomes very clear very quickly that defense is not exactly an area of strength in Toronto. Yes, they can deal with some of these issues in free agency and via the trade market, but the best way to build on the blueline is now and always has been through the draft. Enter EJ Emery.
Currently projected to go anywhere from 17th overall and 44th overall, the 6-foot-3 blueliner is a right-shot and plays a strong shutdown game. He also happens to be an excellent skater, as ESPN's Rachel Doerrie pointed out in her analysis.
"The 6-3, right-handed defenseman has been the program's best defender this season in large part because of his skating. He isn't flashy and doesn't have elite offensive attributes, but he's shown flashes of developable offensive tools. He's disruptive when defending the rush, and has room to fill out a frame to be a punishing two-way force. His first pass ability steadily improved once he started to use his skating to create space.

Once he fills out his frame and adds a little snarl, there is belief that he'll be an effective shut-down defender in the NHL."
- ESPN's Rachel Doerrie

Emery posted just 6 points in 27 games this past season, but also enjoyed a very successful U18 World Junior Championship tournament, during which he had posted 6 assists in 7 games.
The Leafs haven't taken a defenseman in the first or second rounds since Rasmus Sandin and Sean Durzi in 2018, so it's certainly long past due for the club to turn its focus to the blueline.
With what we know about Leafs GM Brad Treliving, and his desire to build a big, strong blueline, Emery certainly fits the mold of what he'd covet in a player. With the Leafs also lacking draft capital over the next 3 seasons, the scene seems to be perfectly set to see the Leafs trade down a few spots to acquire some additional picks and select a defenseman in the first round. If that does occur, expect Emery to receive a lot of consideration.
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Maple Leafs 2024 Draft Targets: EJ Emery

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