2003 to 2017 NHL Drafts Top-10 redone

This Coronavirus is causing quite the commotion everywhere in the world, including in Canada and the United States. You can’t turn a TV Channel, listen to the radio or browse the internet without hearing about it… and that’s a good thing. Just recently, the NHL announced the postponement of the NHL Draft which was supposed to be held in Montreal this year. With local product Alexis Lafrenière ranked number one, it would have been a great venue for his to be named to a NHL team. The date and format are still up in the air at the time of writing this, as is the rest of the season and the playoffs.

But since the Draft seems to be the next big thing for hockey fans, let’s dig a bit into the last 14 years (not counting 2018 and 2019 as most draftees aren’t in the NHL yet). So from 2003 to 2017 inclusively, I have tallied the top-10 draft picks and decided to complete an exercise: re-rank the Drafts based on what we know today, on these players’ production so far in the league. Of course, this won’t take into consideration the team picking and their needs, as it’s strictly based on production.

Admittedly, this exercise is completely subjective and you might have a different opinion on the rankings, which is perfectly fine. To be truthful, I often hesitated between players myself when deciding of the order. But you will notice that while the rankings might differ in your opinion, the names mentioned should pretty much be the same.

2017

  1. NJD Nico Hischier 
  2. PHI Nolan Patrick 
  3. DAL Miro Heiskanen 
  4. COL Cale Makar 
  5. VAN Elias Pettersson 
  6. VEG Cody Glass 
  7. NYR Lias Andersson
  8. BUF Casey Mittelstadt 
  9. DET Michael Rasmussen 
  10. FLA Owen Tippett 

Those were the selections. Below, the new rankings. In general, teams were quite accurate with their picks. There are a few players who were drafted just outside the top-10 but it’s not a big stretch. The sample size is very small though and if we did this exercise in 3 years, the results could very well be quite different.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Elias Pettersson5+41395577132
2-Cale Makar4+257123850
3-Miro Heiskanen3150204868
4-Nico Hischier1-32095184135
5-Nolan Patrick2-3145263561
6-Nick Suzuki13+771132841
7-Robert Thomas20+13136195675
8-Filip Chytil21+13144262349
9-Kailer Yamamoto22+1353121931
10-Martin Necas12-272172138

2016

  1. TOR Auston Matthews
  2. WIN Patrik Laine
  3. CBJ Pierre-Luc Dubois
  4. EDM Jesse Puljujarvi
  5. VAN Olli Juolevi
  6. CGY Matthew Tkachuk
  7. ARI Clayton Keller
  8. BUF Alexander Nylander
  9. MTL Mikhail Sergachev
  10. COL Tyson Jost

This draft had more than a few teams missing out on some very good players who were selected much later. Alex DeBrincat, Jesper Bratt and Adam Fox made the biggest jumps amongst the picks that year.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Auston Matthews1282158127285
2-Matthew Tkachuk6+429394141235
3-Patrik Laine2-1305138109247
4-Mikhail Sergachev9+52272581106
5-Alex DeBrincat39+342348786173
6-Pierre-Luc Dubois3-32346593158
7-Clayton Keller723754104158
8-Charlie McAvoy14+6184197392
9-Jesper Bratt162+1531853763100
10-Adam Fox66+567083442

2015

  1. EDM Connor McDavid
  2. BUF Jack Eichel
  3. ARI Dylan Strome
  4. TOR Mitch Marner
  5. CAR Noah Hanifin
  6. NJD Pavel Zacha
  7. PHI Ivan Provorov
  8. CBJ Zach Werenski
  9. SJS Timo Meir
  10. COL Mikko Rantanen

This is about average. The top-2 were pretty much guaranteed no matter what team was selecting at those position. Sebastian Aho made the biggest jump.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Connor McDavid1251162307469
2-Jack Eichel2354137200337
3-Mitch Marner4+130083208291
4-Sebastian Aho35+31310121142263
5-Mikko Rantanen10+528199151250
6-Zach Werenski8+230058111169
7-Mathew Barzal16+923459148207
8-Kyle Connor17+924910596201
9-Brock Boeser23+141977586161
10-Ivan Provorov7-33154390133

2014

  1. FLA Aaron Ekblad
  2. BUF Sam Reinhart
  3. EDM Leon Draisaitl
  4. CGY Sam Bennett
  5. NYI Michael Dal Colle
  6. VAN Jake Virtanen
  7. CAR Haydn Fleury
  8. TOR William Nylander
  9. WIN Nikolaj Ehlers
  10. ANA Nick Ritchie

Look at all the teams who passed on David Pastrnak! And what about Brayden Point? Viktor Arvidsson at 112th overall was a steal.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Leon Draisaitl3+2422168254422
2-David Pastrnak25+23390180199379
3-Brayden Point79+76295116146262
4-Dylan Larkin15+11389107159266
5-Nikolaj Ehlers9+4369115142257
6-William Nylander8+230786135221
7-Viktor Arvidsson112+10533511797214
8-Sam Reinhart2-6400109146255
9-Aaron Ekblad1-845871141212
10-Nick Schmaltz20+1024945105150

2013

  1. COL Nathan MacKinnon
  2. FLA Aleksander Barkov
  3. TBL Jonathan Drouin
  4. NAS Seth Jones
  5. CAR Elias Lindholm
  6. CGY Sean Monahan
  7. EDM Darnell Nurse
  8. BUF Rasmus Ristolainen
  9. VAN Bo Horvat
  10. DAL Valeri Nichushkin

Teams pretty much nailed this draft in the top-10. The only one who was a late first round who moved to the select list is defenseman Shea Theodore.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Nathan MacKinnon1525190305495
2-Aleksander Barkov2479155252407
3-Sean Monahan6+3541194217411
4-Seth Jones452460198258
5-Elias Lindholm5525120200320
6-Bo Horvat9+3446120155275
7-Rasmus Ristolainen8+149342185227
8-Max Domi12+437581170251
9-Shea Theodore26+172643693129
10-Jonathan Drouin3-734967142209

2012

  1. EDM Nail Yakupov
  2. CBJ Ryan Murray
  3. MTL Alex Galchenyuk
  4. NYI Griffin Reinhart
  5. TOR Morgan Rielly
  6. ANA Hampus Lindholm
  7. MIN Matt Dumba
  8. PIT Derrick Pouliot
  9. WIN Jacob Trouba
  10. TBL Slater Koekkoek

One of the weakest Draft during this time span, the depth was non-existent. I hesitated to put Alex Galchenyuk this high simply because he’s been traded three times and his future in the NHL doesn’t seem to be that secure. But statistically speaking, he belongs… due to the weak Draft. How many teams would take Colton Parayko today?

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Filip Forsberg11+10458166187353
2-Morgan Rielly5+351754216270
3-Teuvo Teravainen18+1542891198289
4-Tomas Hertl17+13453132148280
5-Alex Galchenyuk3-2549135185320
6-Jacob Trouba9+347849157206
7-Hampus Lindholm6-150250144194
8-Tanner Pearson30+22457108107215
9-Matt Dumba7-241162112174
10-Colton Parayko86+7638639120159

2011

  1. EDM Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
  2. COL Gabriel Landeskog
  3. FLA Jonathan Huberdeau
  4. NJD Adam Larsson
  5. NYI Ryan Strome
  6. OTT Mika Zibanejad
  7. WIN Mark Scheifele
  8. PHI Sean Couturier
  9. BOS Dougie Hamilton
  10. MIN Jonas Brodin

This one is incredible. 57 times, teams have passed on Nikita Kucherov and 103 times, they passed on Johnny Gaudreau! Can you believe this? So you can’t blame one team’s scouts more than another. Ondrej Palat made the biggest jump.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Nikita Kucherov58+57515221326547
2-Johnny Gaudreau104+102464151294445
3-Mark Scheifele7+4519180264444
4-Gabriel Landeskog2-2633198262460
5-Jonathan Huberdeau3-2536148289437
6-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins1-5604169274443
7-Sean Couturier8+1647156246402
8-Mika Zibanejad6-2548176208384
9-Ondrej Palat208+199496110218328
10-Dougie Hamilton9-155296203299

2010

  1. EDM Taylor Hall
  2. BOS Tyler Seguin
  3. FLA Erik Gudbranson
  4. CBJ Ryan Johansen
  5. NYI Nino Niederreiter
  6. TBL Brett Connolly
  7. CAR Jeff Skinner
  8. ATL Alexander Burmistrov
  9. MIN Mikael Granlund
  10. NYR Dylan McIlrath

This Draft is summed up to two names: Mark Stone and John Klingberg. St. Louis picking Vladimir Tarasenko at the 16th spot was a good one too.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Taylor Hall1627218345563
2-Tyler Seguin2741279356635
3-Jeff Skinner7+4720258207465
4-Vladimir Tarasenko16+12507214214428
5-Ryan Johansen4-1660144298442
6-Mark Stone178+172449149236385
7-Yevgeni Kuznetsov26+19479120269389
8-Jaden Schwartz14+6520146218364
9-John Klingberg131+12242558233291
10-Cam Fowler12+267967234301

2009

  1. NYI John Tavares
  2. TBL Victor Hedman
  3. COL Matt Duchene
  4. ATL Evander Kane
  5. LAK Brayden Schenn
  6. PHO Oliver Ekman-Larsson
  7. TOR Nazem Kadri
  8. DAL Scott Glennie
  9. OTT Jared Cowen
  10. EDM Magnus Paajarvi

People would put Tavares first and I wouldn’t argue. It was close then between Hedman and Tavares, and it’s still a close call today. I don’t think neither the Islanders nor the Lightning are complaining with their pick. But Ryan O’Reilly jumped from 33rd to 4th on my list.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Victor Hedman2+1762105368473
2-John Tavares1-1814345424769
3-Matt Duchene3793245344589
4-Ryan O’Reilly33+29804195365560
5-Oliver Ekman-Larsson6+1723125239364
6-Nick Leddy16+1072063242305
7-Evander Kane4-3713242215457
8-Brayden Schenn5-3658179251430
9-Nazem Kadri7-2612180213393
10-Marcus Johansson24+14648129235364

2008

  1. TBL Steven Stamkos
  2. LAK Drew Doughty
  3. ATL Zach Bogosian
  4. STL Alex Pietrangelo
  5. TOR Luke Schenn
  6. CBJ Nikita Filatov
  7. NAS Colin Wilson
  8. PHO Mikkel Boedker
  9. NYI Josh Bailey
  10. VAN Cody Hodgson

The year of the defensemen. Look at the quality in there! All but Alex Pietrangelo were picked at least 10 ranks later where I have them today.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Steven Stamkos1803422410832
2-Drew Doughty2919117385502
3-Alex Pietrangelo4+1758109341450
4-Erik Karlsson15+11736135468603
5-John Carlson27+22757105373478
6-Roman Josi38+31632109304413
7-Jordan Eberle22+15724225293518
8-Derek Stephan51+44739167312479
9-Josh Bailey9+2885154322476
10-Adam Henrique82+72665186192378

2007

  1. CHI Patrick Kane
  2. PHI James van Riemsdyk
  3. PHO Kyle Turris
  4. LAK Thomas Hickey
  5. WAS Karl Alzner
  6. EDM Sam Gagner
  7. CBJ Jakub Voracek
  8. BOS Zach Hamill
  9. SJS Logan Couture
  10. FLA Keaton Ellerby

How many teams were kicking themselves for passing on Jamie Benn and Wayne Simmonds? As for P.K. Subban, scouts knew that the talent was there but there were many questions about how coachable he was, which dropped him to the second round… something that has plagued his career in the NHL so far.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Patrick Kane1
2-Jakub Voracek7+5
3-Jamie Benn129+126
4-Max Pacioretty22+18
5-Ryan McDonagh12+7
6-Wayne Simmonds61+55
7-P.K. Subban43+36
8-Logan Couture9+1
9-David Perron26+17
10-Kevin Shattenkirk14+4

2006

  1. STL Erik Johnson
  2. PIT Jordan Staal
  3. CHI Jonathan Toews
  4. WAS Nicklas Backstrom
  5. BOS Phil Kessel
  6. CBJ Derrick Brassard
  7. NYI Kyle Okposo
  8. PHO Peter Mueller
  9. MIN James Sheppard
  10. FLA Michael Frolik

The Bruins made out as thieves in this Draft, with not one, but two steals in Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic. If you count that Phil Kessel was drafted by them as well, before being traded to Toronto, it was Boston’s Draft year.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Nicklas Backstrom4+3956243684927
2-Jonathan Toews3+1943345470815
3-Claude Giroux22+19889257558815
4-Phil Kessel5+11066371490861
5-Brad Marchand71+66751290356646
6-Jordan Staal2-4961225312537
7-Bryan Little12+5843217304521
8-Milan Lucic50+42958206315521
9-Erik Johnson1-877680223303
10-Kyle Okposo7-3800196310506

2005

  1. PIT Sidney Crosby
  2. ANA Bobby Ryan
  3. CAR Jack Johnson
  4. MIN Benoit Pouliot
  5. MTL Carey Price
  6. CBJ Gilbert Brule
  7. CHI Jack Skille
  8. SJS Devin Setoguchi
  9. OTT Brian Lee
  10. VAN Luc Bourdon (Only played 36 games, passed away)

The Draft after the lockout, the one that saw the salary cap put in place. Everyone wanted Crosby. The Draft where the Montreal Canadiens surprised everyone by selecting Carey Price fifth overall, when they already had Jose Theodore in net. This Draft wasn’t deep and I even found myself bumping Price up on rank to number four because of it.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Sidney Crosby19844628011263
2-Anze Kopitar11+91073333617950
3-Kristopher Letang62+59808127410537
4-Carey Price5+1682
5-Paul Stastny44+39945250476726
6-Keith Yandle105+9997699474573
7-T.J. Oshie24+17803238329567
8-Bobby Ryan2-6833254301555
9-James Neal33+24821289256545
10-Marc-Edouard Vlasic35+25103572254326

2004

  1. WAS Alex Ovechkin
  2. PIT Evgeni Malkin
  3. CHI Cam Barker
  4. CAR Andrew Ladd
  5. PHO Blake Wheeler
  6. NYR Al Montoya
  7. FLA Rostislav Olesz
  8. CBJ Alexandre Picard
  9. ANA Ladislav Smid
  10. ATL Boris Valabik

No one would argue the top-2 in this Draft. Like the previous year, we would find a goaltender in the top-5 as Pekka Rinne has been know as one of the best in the world throughout his career. Passed the top-5 though, this might be one of the worst depth Draft during the period being looked at here. I did put Johan Franzen in as he still managed 600+ games before having to shut his career down.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Alex Ovechkin111527065721278
2-Evgeni Malkin29074166601076
3-Blake Wheeler5+2931264497761
4-David Krejci63+59911207479686
5-Pekka Rinne258+253659
6-Mike Green29+23880150351501
7-Alex Edler91+8487399302401
8-Andrew Ladd4-4950249289538
9-Travis Zajac20+11991195337532
10-Johan Franzen97+87602187183370

2003

  1. PIT Marc-Andre Fleury
  2. CAR Eric Staal
  3. FLA Nathan Horton
  4. CBJ Nikolai Zherdev
  5. BUF Thomas Vanek
  6. SJS Milan Michalek
  7. NAS Ryan Suter
  8. ATL Brayden Coburn
  9. CGY Dion Phaneuf
  10. MTL Andrei Kostitsyn

What? A goalie picked first overall? I guess it’s hard to argue considering the Cups Pittsburgh ended up winning, but I have dropped him to eighth on the 2003 list. Good mix though between centres, quality defensemen and a goalie to round up the top-10 with teams having missed out on Joe Pavelski several times. It’s also safe to say that both Patrice Bergeron and Shea Weber wouldn’t have been second round picks either.

NAMEPICKEDUP/DOWNGPGAPTS
1-Ryan Getzlaf19+181053274691965
2-Eric Staal212404365851021
3-Patrice Bergeron45+421089352517869
4-Shea Weber49+45990218352570
5-Brent Burns20+151113210218694
6-Ryan Suter7+2114290498588
7-Joe Pavelski205+1981030369423792
8-Marc-Andre Fleury1-7847
9-Corey Perry28+201045277420797
10-Zach Parise17+81015386406792

So there you have it folks. As you can see, it doesn’t matter which teams’ scouts you’re looking at, ALL passed on great players to select lesser quality guys. Why is that since they’re professional scouts, attending games all over the world? It’s because the Draft is not a perfect science. Fans tend to look at the past season, or the last couple of years of a players’ production, then compare them to their opposition at that age. If pro scouts and NHL teams did that, there would be even more mistakes being made!

You see, drafting is not so much about today, but rather trying to determine how much more will these young men continue to improve, to progress. Every single player, including franchise players, will reach the peak of their development at some point and it’s certainly not at 18 years of age, when they are selected. When GMs say that you need a bit of luck in the Draft, they are speaking the truth. Nobody knows, at the time of drafting, when these young men will reach the summum of their development. Even with the best scouting in place, teams are still rolling the dice hoping they will continue developing. Some do, some don’t. It’s been the same since day one of the NHL and will continue to be the same every single year. Many (myself included), would like the NHL to up the draft eligibility to 19 years old. While it wouldn’t eliminate mistakes, it would certainly cut some of them… but that’s a whole different topic. Stay safe folks!

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