As hard as it may be to believe, not every decision weighing on the shoulders of Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving involves Mitch Marner.

True, the future of the winger is front and centre, but there are other matters that will require Treliving’s attention.

A standard quote from any National Hockey League GM runs along the same lines: We’ll look at everything, or try to do everything, if we think it makes our team better.

With that in mind, it will be intriguing to see what becomes of the Leafs’ first pick in the NHL draft later this month in Las Vegas. When the time comes during the first round on June 28, will Treliving make a selection at No. 23 or will he have traded the pick?

There are a couple of factors that could sway the GM one way or the other.

The Leafs don’t have a first-round pick in 2025, having traded it to Chicago in February 2023 in the deal that brought defenceman Jake McCabe to Toronto, though that pick is top-10 protected.

And when the second round of the draft gets under way, the Leafs will have time to cool their heels. After the first round, they’re not slated to pick again until the fourth round with the 120th selection.

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You would think that the Leafs’ first-rounder would come into play if, for example, Treliving takes a legitimate run at trying to acquire goaltender Jacob Markstrom from the Calgary Flames. The Treliving interest in the 34-year-old Treliving wouldn’t need to be explained. When he was Flames GM, he signed Markstrom to a six-year contract in October 2020, a pact that has two years remaining with an average annual value of $6 million US. Pricey, to a degree, but when stacked with Joseph Woll’s AAV of $766,667, the total for two NHL goalies would be palatable for the Leafs. 

There’s little history of the Leafs choosing at No. 23, but that has nothing to do with whether they should keep the pick this year. Just three times in franchise history have the Leafs had the 23rd pick overall, and not since 1992, when they called the name of forward Grant Marshall. He never skated in a game for Toronto, but carved out a 700-game NHL career with Dallas, Columbus and New Jersey.

Previously, the Leafs picked defenceman Dave Fortier 23rd in 1971 and defenceman Jim Dorey 23rd in 1964. Fortier played in 23 games for the Leafs in 1972-73. Dorey skated in 231 games for the Leafs from 1968-72.

If the Leafs hang on to the pick, they should have some confidence that the player eventually will make it to the NHL. How long that player lasts in the NHL, and to what degree he makes an impact, would have no guarantees when he arrives on the draft floor to meet Leafs staff a few Fridays from now.

Among the players who were chosen at No. 23 and went on to enjoy a successful NHL career were Travis Green (1989, New York Islanders), Ray Whitney (1991, San Jose Sharks), Todd Bertuzzi (1993, Islanders) and Ryan Kesler (2003, Vancouver Canucks).

More recently with the 23rd selection, the Dallas Stars picked Wyatt Johnston in 2021, Vancouver took Brock Boeser in 2015 and the Washington Capitals chose Andre Burakovsky in 2013. 

Not including the past couple of drafts, only two players taken since 1986 — Connor Bleackley by the Colorado Avalanche in 2014 and Craig Hillier by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1996 — didn’t play in a single NHL game. There were more who got to the NHL but didn’t last long enough to make a name for themselves. 

Keep in mind that the player Treliving settles on, provided he does not trade the pick, after taking the advice of his scouting staff is unlikely to develop to the point that he can make a difference in the next few seasons. So while the Leafs need defencemen now, they’re bound to take the player, regardless of position, who they would call the best one available when their turn comes.

In the latter stage of the first round, that player could be big right-handed defenceman Charlie Elick (Brandon, Western Hockey League), winger Terik Parascak (Prince George, WHL), big winger Liam Greentree (Windsor, Ontario Hockey League), centre Sacha Boisvert (Muskegon, United States Hockey League), winger Nikita Artamonov (Torpedo, KHL) or winger Emil Hemming (TPS, Liiga).

Treliving could make an argument for trading the pick or keeping it. If Markstrom were the return, the Leafs would be getting a better goalie than anyone who is going to be available in free agency.

On the other hand, as much as Leafs Nation is excited about the potential in forwards Easton Cowan and Fraser Minten, Toronto’s prospect cupboard is not overflowing. It needs to be restocked, and keeping the first-round pick would help.

We’ll have our answer on at least one of Treliving’s decisions in less than three weeks.

X: @koshtorontosun