Eric Johnson was the last D-man taken first overall. The Blues selected him ahead of Jordan Staal, Jonathon Toews and Nick Backstrom in 2006. Pretty much every draft rankings had Johnson rated #1 heading into the draft, so it wasn’t a shock that the Blues took him, but historically taking a D-men that high won’t guarantee you the best player or even the best defenceman in the draft.
Looking at the past ten draft classes, with at least three completed NHL seasons, it is pretty clear that the Oilers would be better served to take the best forward, instead of the best defencemen in the upcoming draft.
Eric Johnson wasn’t a bad pick, he’s been the best D-man from his class, but he hasn’t become the best or most impactful player from the 2006 class.
After the Blues took Johnson, Pittsburgh took Jordan Staal 2nd, the Hawks grabbed Jonathon Toews 3rd, the Caps happily took Nick Backstrom 4th and the Bruins called Phil Kessel at #5.
Toews has turned out to be the best, followed closely by Backstrom. Staal and Kessel have made bigger impacts than Johnson thus far as well.
I know the Oilers need a star blueliner, and there is a solid crop of D-men available, however, the odds the Oilers take the best one at #1 are very slim. Conversely, recent history shows us that in most cases the best forward in the draft is taken at #1.
YEAR 1st pick Highest D-man Best forward Best D-man
2000 Dipietro (G) Klesla #4 Heatley #2 Visnovsky #118, Kronwall #29
2001 Kovalchuk Komisarek #8 Kovalchuk #1 Hamhuis #12, Ehrhoff #106
2002 Nash Bouwmeester #3 Nash #1 Duncan Keith #54
2003 Fleury (G) Ryan Sutter #7 Eric Staal #2 Shea Weber #49,
2004 Ovechkin Cam Barker #3 Ovechkin/Malkin Edler #91, Green #29, Streit #262
2005 Crosby Jack Johnson #3 Crosby #1 Yandle #105, Letang #62
2006 E. Johnson E. Johnson #1 Toews #3 #E. Johnson #1
2007 P. Kane T. Hickey #4 Kane #1 Shattenkirk #14, Subban #43
2008 Stamkos D. Doughty #2 Stamkos #1 Doughty, Karlsson #15, E.Pietrangelo #4, T. Myers #12
2009 Tavares Hedman #2 Tavares #1 Ekman-Larsson #6, Hedman #2
PATIENCE IS BEST
The lovely Adriana Lima, who claims she waited until marriage, is proof that being patient can pay off.
It is obvious the Oilers have a major void on their backend, and with the report today that Oscar Klefbom is close to signing an entry level deal, but will likely play in Sweden one more year, the Oilers might be even more tempted to use the first pick on Ryan Murray, but I’d be very cautious of that.
Murray might develop into the best D-man in his class, but Morgan Rielly, Matt Dumba, Griffin Reinhart, Cody Ceci or Jacob Trouba might just as easily become the class of their draft.
In the past 25 years, only five times has the first D-man drafted turned out to be the best in his class: #3 Scott Niedermayer in 1991, #1 Roman Hamrlik in 1992, #2 Chris Pronger in 1993, #1 Ed Jovanovski 1994 and Johnson in 2006. Since 1994, it has only happened once, so it is clear that it is become harder to project who will become the best defender out of an entire draft class.
It is very likely that Murray will be an excellent player, and he doesn’t have to be the best D-man in his class to be considered a solid pick, but if I’m Steve Tambellini I wouldn’t draft a D-man first overall.
- I’m not sure where his career will go, but the Oilers’ 2011 4th round pick, Tobias Rieder, is leading the OHL playoff scoring race with 11 goals and 25 points in 13 games. The RW has been great for the Kitchener Rangers thus far, and he might be another guy to watch in the future.
- OKC absolutely dominated Houston, 5-0, in game one of their best-of-five series last night. They outshot the Aeros 48-14. Shots were 19-3 in the 1st, 21-6 in the 2nd and 8-5 in the 3rd. That has to be Yann Danis’ easiest playoff shutout ever. Teemu Hartikainen and Anton Lander each had a goal and five shots on net. Tyler Pitlick also scored. D-man, Bryan Rodney was the only skater without a shot on net. The Barons owned the Aeros and even though the first two games are in Houston, I doubt this lasts more than three games.