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Who Is This Easton Cowan Kid?

As it turns out, he’s one hell of a player.

The Toronto Maple Leafs entered what was considered one of the deepest drafts of the past decade with a scarce amount of picks. One first-rounder, 28th overall from Boston that they acquired in the Rasmus Sandin trade and their own fifth and sixth rounders.

Not exactly loaded with draft capital.

Therefore, they had to either trade down, sacrificing draft position for expanded options or really make this first-round pick count.

They chose the latter option, selecting Easton Cowan 28th overall.

The Leafs went way off the board with this pick. Most insiders and scouting reports had Cowan going somewhere between 50th and 80th overall, that’s late second round to mid-third. No one had him going at 28th. The closest projection was TSN’s Craig Button, who predicted Cowan going 34th. Still outside the first round.

So why take him at 28th overall?

This past season was a very solid one in the OHL for Cowan. The Mount Brydges Ontario native put up 20 goals and 33 assists for 53 points in 68 games with the London Knights. He’s also not afraid to get his hands dirty, with 47 penalty minutes over that span.

While many would consider him to be somewhat undersized for a centre standing at just 5’10, 170 pounds, Cowan’s play style is very effective when he plays with skilled linemates. He has incredible offensive awareness and can find his teammates with an accurate pass through traffic. Without the puck, he seems to be constantly moving to find the best possible position and opportunity to score. When he gets it in a spot that he likes, it’s off his stick in an instant thanks to his deadly quick release.

While his shot isn’t the hardest, the release is a thing of beauty. Some strength training would go a long way for his scoring ability.

The number of highlights where Cowan is able to slip away from defensive coverage and get an opportunity on the breakaway are shocking in their volume. With his deadly release and deceptive ability to escape defenders, he's very similar to Max Pacioretty in his prime, but with an added touch of playmaking.

Even after seeing his impressive highlights and recognizing his high ceiling, there are still many Leafs fans disappointed with the pick. It’s important to remember however that this is the same scouting staff who was able to find hidden gems like Mathew Knies, Nick Robertson, and Fraser Minten in the second round. All of which will most likely see significant ice time with the Leafs next season.

They’ve been consistently able to identify great talent in the draft, and Easton Cowan may soon join the group of Leafs' prospects would go much higher in a re-draft.

It’s also worth noting that this was widely regarded as one of the deepest drafts in the past decade. A player like Cowan who was projected to go somewhere around 50th this year may have easily gone in the top 20 in years previous.

Only time will tell, but as it stands today, the Leafs went off the board and were able to get a very talented young centre in the first round, where they haven't picked since Rodion Amirov in 2020.

Dave Felsbourg

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