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Leafs In The Lead For Vesey? Draft History – 1985

August 1, 2016, 4:26 PM ET [357 Comments]
Mike Augello
Toronto Maple Leafs Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Jimmy Vesey situation will finally resolve itself after August 15, when the 23-year-old forward will be free to talk to other clubs as an unrestricted free agent.

CSN’s Joe Haggerty reported last month that the Harvard forward met with Buffalo Sabres (who have exclusive negotiating rights for another two weeks) but that Vesey will explore interest from a short list of teams that includes the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Bleacher Report’s Adrian Dater reported on Sunday that the Leafs are “back in the lead” for the Hobey Baker winner, whose father is a scout and brother is a prospect with the organization.

Teams also under consideration include the Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs pick of center Auston Matthews at the NHL Draft in Buffalo in June was the first time the franchise selected first overall since drafting Wendel Clark in 1985.

Clark remains one of the most popular players in Toronto history in spite of a career riddled with injury and played for the Leafs three times during his 15-year NHL career.

The drafts since the selection of Clark had a few ups, several downs and many missed chances and opportunities. During the traditionally slow hockey news month of August, we will take a look at the drafts from 1985 to 2015 and see where the Leafs went right and went wrong.




1985 Draft

Wendel Clark LW Saskatoon Blades [WHL]

Ken Spangler D Calgary Wranglers [WHL]

Dave Thomlinson LW Brandon Wheat Kings [WHL]

Greg Vey LW Peterborough Petes [OHL]

Jeff Serowik D Lawrence Academy (Mass.)

Jiri Latal D Trencin Dukla [Slovak]

Tim Bean LW North Bay Centennials [OHL]

Andy Donahue C Belmont Hill H.S. (Mass.)

Todd Whittemore W Kent H.S. (Conn.)

Bobby Reynolds LW St. Clair Shores H.S. (Mich.)

Tim Armstrong C Toronto Marlboros [OHL]

Mitch Murphy G St. Paul's H.S. (N.H.)


The popularity of Clark aside, the Kelvington, Saskatchewan native was clearly the best player selected the first round of the 1985 Draft.

The only legitimate contenders are wingers Craig Simpson and Ulf Dahlen. Simpson was selected by Pittsburgh second overall and told Toronto prior to the draft that he did not want to be selected by the Leafs. Dahlen(selected seventh overall by the New York Rangers) is the only player other than Clark to exceed 300 career goals of those selected in the first round.

Wendel was a victim of his own enthusiasm and rough-and-tumble style. His hard-hitting play and willingness to take on some of the league's top enforcers directly contributed to back problems that prevented him from playing more than half a season during his early 20’s and scoring over 500 career goals.

Toronto selected their top three picks from the WHL, Clark(Saskatoon), defenseman Ken Spangler (Calgary) and winger Dave Thomlinson(Brandon). Spangler was selected at the top of the second round-22nd overall (ahead of Hall of Famer Joe Nieuwendyk, goalies Mike Richter and Sean Burke) after piling up 251 penalty minutes in his draft year but never played an NHL game and was out of the organization by 1988.

Thomlinson played five WHL seasons and never played a game in the Leafs organization, eventually playing 42 NHL games with St. Louis, Boston and Los Angeles.

Fourth rounder Greg Vey, seventh rounder Tim Bean, eighth rounder Andy Donahue, ninth rounder Todd Whittemore and 11th rounder Mitch Murphy never played an NHL game, with only Bean playing any professional hockey.

Defensemen Jeff Serowik(5th round) and Jiri Latal(6th round) both played in the NHL, but only one of their 120 career games was with the Leafs. 10th rounder Bobby Reynolds and 11th rounder Tim Armstrong played spot duty with the Leafs in 1989 and 1990 and played in Europe and the minors until 2007.

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The Leafs have a 48-hour window starting Monday for buyouts due to three players filing for salary arbitratrion. The Arizona Coyotes exercised that option on veteran forward Antoine Vermette, buying out the final year of the 34-year-old’s two-year, $7.5 Million deal.

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