LEAFS FIRST OVERALL PICKS – THEN AND NOW.
35 years ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Saskatchewan native, Wendel Clark first overall in the 1985 draft. Wendel spent his junior years with the Saskatoon Blades where he had 55 goals and 155 points in 136 games over a span of 2 seasons. In his rookie season, the 19-year-old would lead the Leafs with 227 penalty minutes while also scoring 34 goals and 45 points in only 66 games – both team-leading stats.
After his rookie season, he was named to the All-Rookie Team and was 3rd in voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy awarded annually to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the NHL. Some guy named Mario won it.. they called him the Magnificent One or Super Mario. Not bad finishing 3rd in votes behind Mario Lemieux!
Since then, the Leafs never saw another 1st round (1st overall) pick until 31 years later – 2016, enter 19-year-old, Auston Matthews. Born in San Ramon, California, Matthews played his junior hockey for Zurich SC in the Swiss-A league – having scored 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games in 2015-16. In his rookie campaign with the Leafs, Matthews led all rookies with 40 goals and 69 points in 82 games – winning the Calder Memorial ahead of Patrik Laine and Zach Werenski.