If not for that Eric Hassli trade Toronto FC fans might be getting excited about the potential of landing a useful piece near the top of the draft next week. Instead, the Vancouver Whitecaps will have the chance to add quality with the third pick while TFC will have to wait until 15th to get involved unless they make a move to trade up in the draft order.
TFC will have a few options to play with on draft day thanks to getting back into the first round. Acquiring the 15th overall selection from the New York Red Bulls in the Bobby Convey trade puts them in position to at least come away from the draft with something.
The first option would be to sit at 15th and hope that someone is available that suits their needs. The success rate of 15th overall picks is dubious at best in MLS but the same can be said for any pick outside of the top 5 as things quickly become hit and miss. There is the odd time that a Generation Adidas talent slips down the board but for the most part you are drafting college seniors who need a fair bit of work.
If TFC do make a move to trade up they could get their hands on some decent talent. The draft this year seems to be lacking in any real standout players at the top but it is a bit deeper than recent years in terms of players who should be in a good position to contribute in MLS. A big part of that is the fact that the draft is very deep with centre backs and that is a position that tends to have a high success rate for first round picks when it comes to transitioning from NCAA to MLS.
Christian Dean and Steve Birnbaum, two CBs from Cal, could wind up going 1-2 in the draft but they are not the only talent at that position that is worth keeping an eye on. A.J. Cochran (Wisconsin), Kevin Cope (Michigan State), Kyle Venter (New Mexico), and Grant Van De Casteele (Notre Dame) could all be first round selections so if TFC are interested in added depth at that position it should not be too hard to make a move to nab their preferred option.
Another position that TFC could look to add depth at is defensive midfielder. This draft is not stocked with talent at that position by any means but there are at least a pair of names that could be on the board at 15th and have the potential to do well at the next level. Both Jared Watts (Wake Forest) and Joey Dillon (Georgetown) had impressive college careers and could do well given the chance to learn behind Matias Laba and Jeremy Hall.
Looking for depth players is probably the best that TFC can hope to do in this year's draft as their are very few players available who would be capable of coming into the starting lineup early in their career. They could get such a player by trading up but with the draft not being that strong is would seem foolish to give up too much to move up.
There is of course the option of a repeat performance of the selection strategy from last year when the club grabbed a pair of Canadians in the first round. There will options in this draft even if UCONN freshman Cyle Larin decides not to sign his GA contract offer and stays in school for another year.
Cal Poly senior Mackenzie Pridham is the top rated Canadian outside of Larin and could be available to TFC at either 15th or even 24th. Experts seem a bit divided on the forward though as some consider him capable of playing a role at the next level while others view him as more of a long-shot who might be worth risking a second round pick on if you are in need. If any club knows Pridham it is TFC though as he trained with them during his summers so if they did grab him on draft day it would not be a shock.
No matter how things shake out on draft day it is unlikely that TFC will be adding an impact player unless they somehow complete a trade that lands them a proven MLS talent. They have a lot of options to look at heading into draft day but it seems unlikely that anyone will be declaring them the "winners" of this years draft.