As a kid, Larionov and Makarov were there and he idolozed them.
Then he became a huge fan of Owen Nolan and Jeff Friesen, the next wave of Sharks stars.
He simply said, when interviewed by Toronto media if the Leafs were one of the teams he wanted to be drafted by, he said "Yeah for sure i'd love to play here. I was hoping they would have drafted me."
He would have said that do any reporter for any city.
You are correct. Pretty much every city he visits with fans that actually show up to the rink and fill it and make a bit of noise he will say he wants to play there. I believe he has said Calgary Montreal Toronto, Detroit, Edmonton and a few others.