There were only 14 games remaining in the regular season when the trade was made. Antonio Alfonseca Jersey . The then-Pat Quinn-led Maple Leafs were jostling for top spot in the Eastern Conference and wanted to add some Hall of Fame punch to their lineup. So on Mar. 3, 2004 - with John Ferguson Jr. installed as general manager - Toronto swung a deal with New York for Brian Leetch; a swap that would cost them two prospects, (and of much more significance to the future) a first round pick in 2004 and a second round pick in 05. Six days later they would fire another draft selection - a fourth round pick in 05 - to Carolina for Ron Francis. It was only one year earlier that they surrendered their first round pick in 03 and two young players - Alyn McCauley and Brad Boyes - to San Jose for Owen Nolan. Theyd sacrifice another second round pick (04) for Glen Wesley less than a week after that. Later was constantly being sacrificed for now in an era when draft futures held little of their current premium for a big spender like the Leafs. But it was that strategy of now for later - two firsts, two seconds in a string of three drafts - that helped damage the club in the years that followed the second lockout; useful (and inexpensive) prospects in a cap era were nowhere to be found. Sending out another first (07) in the Vesa Toskala trade and two more (10, 11) in the Phil Kessel swap, the Leafs had, over the course of nine drafts (03-11), traded five of their first round selections. The result was a prospect cupboard continually lacking in NHL-caliber talent and an organization short on internal depth. That prospect could be changing with a collection of youthful talent - the likes of Petter Granberg, Josh Leivo, Jerry DAmigo, Stuart Percy, and Andrew MacWilliam among others - edging closer to potential jobs with the Leafs and others - such as Matt Finn, Connor Brown, Tom Nilsson, and Carter Verhaeghe - in line to follow. With the eighth overall selection (at the time of this writing) in the 2014 draft, the club will add another asset to that mix. Fronting the charge for that selection is Dave Morrison, the teams director of amateur scouting, who spoke with TSN.ca about the Leafs draft history, Brendan Shanahan and his role in the draft process, high-risk, high-reward picks, a burgeoning group of blueline prospects and an unpredictable draft in Philly. SIEGEL: Youve talked to me in the past about looking for indicators as far as prospects go, indicators that will tell you that a prospect can play in the NHL - whether thats speed, size, or a shot. In terms of that personality, how would you say its progressed from when Brian Burke was in charge to now that you have Brendan Shanahan at the helm? MORRISON: Well, those things never really change because I think some of those core indicators really do need to stay the same. They have to be able to get to a certain proficiency in skating, if theyre not already elite skaters. Some kids just are naturally very gifted on their feet; other kids have to really work at it. Does their brain function fast enough to be able to play at the next level? And if theyre not a good skater does it function fast enough to compensate for their lack of foot speed? Do they have enough courage? The game has changed a lot and courage, probably the definition of it and how it pertains to the player being able to play in the game has changed too a little bit. Its a little different than it was 10, 15 years ago. But a lot of those things havent changed in the sense that you have to be able to put a value on them and make sure that down the road theyre going to have those things that are going to enable them to play or give themselves a chance to play. SIEGEL: Is foot speed more important now than maybe 10 years ago? MORRISON: Absolutely. I think pre-original lockout there was a lot more hooking and holding. I think strength, size, the ability to battle through things was really, really important. Its still important. As you can see in the playoffs, teams that are big and strong and have those bodies can be really effective at this time of year. But it has changed in the sense that the smaller player is maybe getting a little bit more of an opportunity. I think speed, you can really see speed and what it can do in a game. So it has changed a little bit in that sense. I think all things being equal you would like a big player with great speed, with great hands and with great hockey sense (laughs). SIEGEL: Perfect player. MORRISON: Yeah, its always been that way, but unfortunately its never as clear-cut as that. SIEGEL: We got a pretty good understanding when Brian was here; he liked that North American player, black and blue style. His first draft in 2009 you picked seven North American players. So now that youve had one draft under Dave Nonis and obviously Dave Nonis and Brendan Shanahan are now at the top [together], what does a Brendan Shanahan player look like now? What kind of player has he passed along to you that he would like in the system? MORRISON: You know Brendan himself was a black and blue, skilled player. He was a very competitive, skilled player. I think he himself likes those kind of players as well. We as an organization, weve always sort of wanted those kind of guys. Yes, along the way weve maybe tried to get a different type of player at different times and sometimes thats difficult to do. But I think anybody in our organization would tell you that competitiveness is really important and obviously you need to have skill on your team. Those are important ingredients. But you also have to have a certain number of physical players that play hard and can play the game two ways; preferably everybody plays hard and two ways. You do have different types on your team. Competitiveness is really important to us. Certainly you want to be a big, strong, skilled team if you can be. SIEGEL: When you look at the current group that you have, youve got some prospects that look like they could be ready to take that next step...but when they project right now you can see them more as role players at the NHL level. Do you feel like youve got to keep injecting more skill into the prospect cupboard? MORRISON: I think you always want to inject everything into your prospect cupboard every year. If you look at the past it always sounds like our cupboard is bare of skilled players - what I read and what I hear - but if you look at a kid like Andreas Johnson, who was just the Swedish Elite League rookie of the year with 15 or 16 goals as a 19-year-old in that league, I see a skilled player. I see a Connor Brown, who won the scoring [title] in the CHL. Does he need some development time? Yes. But hes a very skilled player. Fabrice Herzog [scored] over 30 goals in his first year with Quebec last year. Do we have some skill in the pipeline? Yes. Do we have role players? Yes. Do you need to inject skill players? Yes. You always need to do that. Kids like Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly, I think those kinds of players you do have to draft and weve drafted them in the past and well draft them again. SIEGEL: Well and I think you could probably add Carter Verhaeghe to that list as well - you look at what he did last year in Niagara. But whether its Andreas Johnson, Fabrice Herzog, can you look at those guys and say theyll be high impact players at the NHL level? MORRISON: I think they have a chance to be [high] impact players, Jonas. I think any prospect has a chance and an opportunity to do that. The blue-chip type, those franchise-type guys, theres not many of those available every year. And I think you can throw a lot of other players in as they develop, the closer they get they get closer maybe to being a blue-chip [prospect]. But its always an opportunity and a chance for these kids to become those players and thats part of the development process that weve been putting a lot more work and effort into the last few years. Were hopeful that were going to see the fruits of that labour at some point here. And I know theres an impatience in Toronto and I understand it totally and its incumbent upon us to change things and put a winning team on the ice - thats just the bottom line. SIEGEL: Whats the balance when youre putting together your list, and its obviously a really rigourous process, but whats the balance between ranking a player who is maybe a safer bet to make the NHL as opposed to a player whos higher risk, but potentially offers higher rewards? MORRISON: Thats a million dollar question. Sometimes if you think you can get a third line player, big centre like Fred Gauthier well use an example. Is he going to be an impact player in his own way? Well, we believe he is. Is it going to be as an offensive player? No. Is he going to be an integral part of a winning team at some point? We certainly hope so and we think so. So theres a lot of these different things that you think about. And it takes a lot of different pieces to make a winning team and some people get focused on the idea that you have to get 150 points in junior to be a good NHL player and that certainly is a good indicator, but its not everything. Weighing everything out, yes, youd love to get that high-impact offensive, first-line player with every pick. The reality is thats very tough to do. So when were doing that youre weighing well what are the odds of this guy getting there versus this guy? And what will he bring to your lineup? And is it going to be valuable? And is it going to be tough to find when you need that? Thats another question. Teams will give up first round picks for players because they dont have [that specific skill] at some point. SIEGEL: But couldnt you make case that its more difficult to find skill than it is a role player? If youre going to get that player dont you have to draft him? MORRISON: Yeah, I dont disagree with you in that sense. Yes. Skill, a guy that will be a top-line player, is definitely harder to find and we are trying to do that at all times. Certainly at some points youre looking at that guy and youre saying Well, how far away is he? Does he have a chance? And then youre ranking him versus another guy, whos maybe not a first-line player, but a second-line player, but you say Hey this guy has those intangibles, maybe we do that? We havent done that with every pick weve made. Again Jonas, were always trying to get that top guy with every pick and we feel like we can get a guy that can impact our lineup were going to take him. SIEGEL: Yeah, I guess its just easy to look at some of the teams that have advanced deep into the playoffs, Chicago, L.A., and theyve managed to find some steals later in the draft. I understand its a crap-shoot and picking Andrew Shaw in the fifth round, theres got to be some degree of luck to that, but when you look at the [Leafs] organizations drafting history, is there something youve identified and said You know what, we can do that better? MORRISON: Well, youre always trying to get better. In our group, our amateur scouting group here, we talk about it constantly throughout the whole year every year. What can we do better? With this particular pick what did we do wrong? What can we improve upon? What did we miss? Whats something we can make ourselves better at? We do that constantly. And I think most scouts would tell you theyre extremely proud of the players that theyve picked that have made it, but they also talk about the failures. We often compare it to a batter going up to the plate; youre going to fail more than youre going to succeed. And thats an unfortunate reality that we really dont want to come to grips with and we dont. We go into that draft thinking with seven picks were going to get seven players and we want to get seven players out of every draft. So were always, always trying to get better at. I believe in this scouting [staff]. I think if you look at a lot of scouting staffs, over time with experience, they all tend to get better. SIEGEL: When you look at the group that youve put into place, are you most excited about some of the prospects that youve been able to assemble on the back-end? You look at Petter Granberg, you look at Tom Nilsson, Matt Finn, the year that he had. Is that the area where you probably have the most strength right now? MORRISON: Thats the group right now thats further along in the cycle. Am I proud of that group at this particular point? Yes, I am. But they havent got there yet Jonas and until they get there Im not satisfied and neither are they. I see a group of forwards too that I think have a lot of potential and are trying to get to that ultimate goal as well. I just think that all the picks weve made weve put a lot of our heart and soul into and these kids we know are doing the best they can to get there. We just need them to take those extra steps and a lot of them seem to be doing it. And right now it appears some of these defencemen we have are getting very close so thats a good thing. SIEGEL: When you look at this years draft, does the unpredictability at the top make it difficult to project what youre going to be able to land at the eighth pick? MORRISON: I would say so. You look at a lot of these independent lists and things online and different publications and theres a real difference in the lists. Maybe, other than a few guys at the very top, there seems to be a real difference in who likes who. I would think that its probably the same with 29 teams. Its difficult, but at the end of the day we know what we like and we know what wed like to get and thats I think the most important thing going into the draft. SIEGEL: When you look at some of those publications, aside from the 2-3 guys at the top, it seems to be winger-heavy at the point where youre picking. If thats the case and obviously this organizations strength, one of its strengths is on the wing, are you okay with picking another winger or do you look and say weve got to find a way to keep addressing the need at centre? You added Gauthier last year. How do you balance that juggling act? MORRISON: I think we take the best player. I think we dont think about the position so much as the player and the talent. And thats the way were going to look at it. We want to get the best player we possibly can, the player with the most NHL potential and potential impact at the NHL level when they get there. So thats what were going to do. We wont be position-specific; its more about the player. SIEGEL: I dont want to go through all the different guys, but is there a type that youre looking at within that group, because you seem to have some power wingers, youve got a couple two-way centres; what about the group coming into this draft strikes you? MORRISON: This group, theres all different flavours there. Theres really a different bunch of styles and types in that group. We like quite a few of them. Weve got a framework now for our list obviously. We know who we like and were confident were going to get a good player. Its exciting going in. Sandy Alcantara Jersey . -- Get a flow chart ready to follow the Packers quarterback situation. J. T. Riddle Jersey . -- Blake Griffin scored 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds, DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 22 rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers outlasted the Golden State Warriors 98-96 on Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.(SportsNetwork.com) - Mark Buehrle tries to follow up a terrific season debut on Tuesday when the Toronto Blue Jays open a three-game set with the Houston Astros at Rogers Centre. Buehrle turned back the clock on Wednesday against Tampa Bay, as the 35-year- old left-hander scattered four hits and struck out 11 over 8 2/3 scoreless innings to get the win. Remarkably, it was only the second time in Buehrles 15-year career he had double-digit strikeouts. It was a sharp contrast to his first few starts from a year ago which saw him allow at least five runs in five of his first seven outings. "He was really good; he might have found the fountain of youth," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said in a half-joking manner. "He said all spring training long that hes felt the best he has felt in a long, long time." Buehrles fast start could continue, as he was 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA in two starts against Houston last season. After taking two of three from the Rays to start the season, the Blue Jays dropped two of three to the New York Yankees and come into Tuesdays opener having lost three of their last four games. The offense has been the main culprit, as the team is hitting just .196 (9- for-46) with runners in scoring position through seven games. Still, Toronto has hit eight homers accounting for 12 of its 22 runs thus far. "Weve got a few guys in our lineup that are cold right now," said Gibbons. "Weve wwon a few games, gotten some pretty good pitching, so Im optimistic (wins will come) once they get going. Chad Wallach Jersey . It shouldnt be that far off. Too many of them have proven themselves in the past." That could be good news for 24-year-old lefty Brett Oberholtzer, who will be looking to bounce back from a loss to the Yankees his first time out. Oberholtzer gave up three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings of that one. Houston has lost four of five since winning its first two games against the Yankees. On Monday the Astros were walloped by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 9-1, in the finale of a four-game set at Minute Maid Park. The Astros are also off to a slow start at the plate this year, hitting .191 as a team through seven games. Nearly a quarter of their hits (10-of-41) have been home runs and they have nearly as many extra-base hits (20) as they do singles (21). Mondays setback was also third time in the last four games that the team managed to push just one run across the plate. Toronto was 4-3 against the Astros last season. Astros line-up Robbie Grossman 7 Jose Altuve 4 Jesus Guzman 3 Jason Castro 2 Chris Carter DH L.J. Hoes 9 Matt Dominguez 5 Alex Presley 8 Jonathan Villar 6 Brett Oberholtzer 1 Blue Jays line-up Cabrera 7 Lind DH Bautista 9 Encarnacion 3 Navarro 2 Lawrie 5 Rasmus 8 Izturis 4 Diaz 6 Buehrle 1 ' ' '