After the Maple Leafs drafted big Russian forward Yegor Korshkov with the 31st overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, fans waited anxiously to see who they would take when they were on the clock again at 57th overall. There was still lots of talent on the board, but once players such as Tyler Benson, Rasmus Asplund, Alex DeBrincat, and Nathan Bastian were taken, fans began to wonder who would still be available for them. Three of the four most highly touted goalies in Tyler Parsons, Carter Hart, and Filip Gustavsson were gone, so the pick could have been anyone. The silence and speculation was finally ended when the Leafs took Swedish forward Carl Grundstrom at 57.
Now, the second round this season played out the same way it did last season. Both times, they had two second rounders, one early and one late. With their first second rounder, they took a player off the board who was projected late second and early third round. Last year it was Travis Dermott, this year it was Yegor Korshkov. Then with their next second, they took a player who was either a projected first rounder or an early second. Last year it was Jeremy Bracco, this year it was Grundstrom. The Umea native spent last season playing for MODO Hockey of the SHL, putting up 16 points in 49 games. While these totals aren't overwhelming, they're pretty good for someone who's Grundstrom's age. He'll be playing for Frolunda HC of the SHL next season, but Leafs management does have the option to assign him to the Marlies if they want to monitor him closely.
Let's talk a little bit about the way Grundstrom plays. He's never going to wow you with offensive production, but he's a total hard-nosed player who's great defensively and plays with an edge. He's not afraid to go into the corners to dig for the puck and he doesn't shy away from contact. He's not a goon, but just in general is a solid all around player who plays a game that any team would love to have. When the time comes that the Leafs are a contender, Grundstrom would make a great middle six player.
NHL COMPARABLE: Leo Komarov
Man, how awesome would that be if the Leafs had another Uncle Leo on their hands? Of course, he likely won't have the innocent personality Leo has, but he plays the exact same game as the three nation citzen. They both have a solid defensive game, both play with an edge, and both have good offensive skills. If he pans out, Grundstrom could become a 40 point guy, and that would be exceptional for a player like him.
NHL ETA: 2018-19
I don't know what the Leafs' plans are with Grundstrom, but as of now it looks like he's headed back to Sweden for another season. If he does head back, he'll either stay there for two more seasons or stay there for one and then spend one playing for the Marlies before being given a closer look for the Leafs roster. If he pans out the way he's projected to, he should be in the NHL by 2018-19.