Every NHL draft has a strong wildcard component. Scouts spend hundreds of hours watching players live and on film, but when you are drafting players, some of which have yet to turn 18 (birthdays between June 24th-Sept 15th), and the majority who are only 18 or 19 in most cases, it is extremely difficult to project what type of player they will be in ten years. We’ve even seen picks in the top five of a draft class not pan out. It is difficult to predict, and with the 2017 NHL draft starting next Friday, you will likely read articles determining winners and losers of a draft 24 hours after the final selection has been made. It is a strange phenomenon considering how different a draft class looks ten years later.
Let’s compare the 2007 draft then to now.
Here are some rankings from 2007:
Kyle Woodlief from the Red Line Report had an interesting projection, and he was very accurate on the first few picks.
Most rankings had Patrick Kane as the number one pick in 2007, and the Chicago Blackhawks were extremely lucky to win the lottery and move from the #5 slot to #1 and take Kane. Would the Hawks have won three Stanley Cups if they hadn’t won the 2007 lottery? No chance. Kane was their offensive catalyst, and while Jonathan Toews got more credit, Kane was the finisher. When the Hawks needed a big goal, he was often the one scoring it. It is interesting how many suggest the Penguins and Oilers were the biggest benefactors of the draft lottery. Chicago has to be right up there due to winning the chance to draft Kane.
During their Championship runs in 2010, 2013 and 2015, here is the production of the Hawks’ big six.
Player GP G A PTS
Kane 68 30 40 70
Toews 68 20 44 64
Sharp 68 26 27 53
Keith 67 7 44 51
Hossa 67 14 34 48
Seabrook 68 14 12 26
He was #1 in 2007 and he still is today, but the rest of the draft looks very different.
Here is how I would rank the first round if they re-drafted today.
- Patrick Kane (first overall to Chicago). The best player in June of 2007 and in 2017.
- Jamie Benn (Dallas fifth round, 129th overall). Benn has 517 points in 588 games. He won the Art Ross in 2015 and is one of the best power forwards in the game. He’s become a dominant force in the league.
- P.K Subban (Montreal second round, 43rd overall). He’s won the Norris, been a first-team all-star twice and is a dynamic player in all-three zones.
- Ryan McDonagh (Montreal first round, 12th pick). Glen Sather fleeced the Habs when he acquired McDonagh for Scott Gomez. McDonagh played half a season in 2010/2011, and became a regular in 2011/2012, four years after he was drafted. A very steady all-around defender.
- Max Pacioretty (Montreal first round, 22nd pick). The Habs’ first three selections in 2007 were unreal. Pacioretty played one year of college after being drafted and then split his next three seasons between the NHL (123 games) and AHL (82). He became a regular in 2011/2012 and he’s scored 33, 39, 37, 30 and 35 goals in five full seasons since. He had 15 in 44 games during the lockout-shortened year. Since 2011/2012, only Alex Ovechkin (257), Steven Stamkos (202) and Joe Pavelski (192) have more goals than Pacioretty’s 189.
- Kevin Shattenkirk (Colorado first round, 14th overall). Only Subban has more points among defenders from this class. Shattenkirk is one of the most dangerous D-men in the entire NHL in the offensive zone.
- Jake Muzzin (Pittsburgh fifth round, 141st pick). Pittsburgh never signed him. He went back in the 2009 draft and wasn’t even selected. He returned to junior as a 20-year-old in 2009/2010 and the LA Kings signed him as a free agent on January 4th, 2010. He then made the Kings’ opening night roster in October of 2010. He played 11 games before being sent to junior. He never returned to the NHL until January 22nd, 2013 (NHL lockout year). He persevered and won a Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2014 and played for Canada at the World Cup in 2016.
- Jakub Voracek (Columbus first round, seventh pick). He played three seasons in Columbus before being traded for Jeff Carter two days before the 2011 NHL draft. He’s flourished in Philadephia and in the past four seasons he has scored the 19th most points in the NHL.
- Wayne Simmonds (Los Angeles second round, 61st pick). He played three seasons in LA before being traded for Mike Richards two days before the 2011 draft. He’s been a very consistent goal scorer for the Flyers. He has scored 28, 29, 29, 32 and 31 goals. He had 15 in 45 games during the lockout shortened 2013 season (prorates to 27 goals). He has scored the 15th most goals since 2011/2012 and he plays with an edge.
- Logan Couture (San Jose first round, 9th pick). He played two more years of junior after being drafted then split his first year of pro between the AHL (42 games) and the NHL (25 games). He has two 30-goal seasons and four 20-goal campaigns.
- James Van Riemsdyk (Philadelphia first round, second overall). He’s become a very solid scorer in Toronto. The Leafs stole him from Philadelphia in a trade for Luke Schenn. JVR has scored 30, 27 and 29 goals in three of the past four seasons. He had 14 in 40 games in 2016. He’s become a consistent 28-goal, 60 point player.
- Karl Alzner (Washington first round, fifth overall). He played one more year of junior and then split his first two seasons as a pro between the NHL (51 games) and AHL (102). He is a steady, defensive defender who plays tough minutes.
- Kyle Turris (Phoenix first round, third overall). He was likely rushed to the NHL by the Coyotes. He played one season in College, before playing 63 games for the Coyotes in 2008/2009. He spent the next season in the AHL, and then returned to the NHL in 2010/2011 and scored 11-14-25 in 65 games. He had a contract dispute with the Coyotes to start the 2011/2012 season and didn’t sign until November 22nd. He played six games and was traded to Ottawa for David Rundblad. Turris tallied 29 points in 49 games with the Senators that season and since then he has continued to improve. He’s become a well-rounded player and has become a solid 25-goal, 59-point player the past four seasons, excluding 2016 when he was injured.
- Justin Braun (San Jose seventh round, 201st overall). He was 20 years old when selected and then spent three more years in college after being drafted. Braun was the ultimate late developer, but he is now a very good defender who faces the top lines alongside Marc-Edourd Vlasic every night in San Jose.
- Mikael Backlund (Calgary first round, 24th pick). It took him until 2013/2014 to establish himself as a top-six forward, and he’s become a very good two-way forward who has averaged 21 goals and 50 points the past two seasons.
- Alex Martinez (Los Angeles fourth round, 95th overall). He was passed over in the 2005 and 2006 drafts before the Kings selected him a month before his 20th birthday. He played one more year of college then turned pro. He played two years in the AHL, then another 20 games before being recalled and playing 60 with the Kings in 2010/2011. The past few seasons he and Muzzin have played the most together and he’s become more offensive the past few seasons. He had 39 points this year.
- Sam Gagner (Edmonton first round, sixth overall). Only Kane has played more games than Gagner from this draft class. He debuted at 18 years old with the Oilers and scored 49 points. That was his highest total, until this past season when he tallied 50 on a good team in Columbus. Gagner has excellent hands and is very determined. His footspeed has been his issue, but he proved this past year he can still be a very effective scorer when put in the right positions. He is one of only five players from this draft with 400 career NHL points.
- David Perron (St. Louis first round, 26th overall). Perron also debuted at 18 years young. He had 50 points his second season and 20 goals in his third. He is an agitating winger, who is good around the net, but as the game gets faster his footspeed has become an issue. His best season came in Edmonton when he scored 28-29-57 in 78 games. To date he has scored the seventh most goals from this class, but I suspect he’ll drop over the next five seasons.
- Alex Killhorn (Tampa Bay third round, 77th overall). He is another late developer. He played one year of high school after being drafted and then four years at Harvard. He began his pro career in 2012/2013 and played 44 games in the AHL before being recalled during the lockout-shortened season and played 38 games. He has averaged 16 goals and 39 points the past four sesaons.
- Nick Bonino (San Jose sixth round, 173rd pick). He spent three years at Boston University after being drafted. He elected to become a free agent and signed with the Ducks. He had two points in his first 35 NHL games over two seasons, then become a regular midway through the 2011/2012 season. He had a breakout season, 22-27-49 with the Ducks in 2014 and was then traded to Vancouver as part of the Ryan Kesler trade. The next year he was traded to Pittsburgh for Brandon Sutter. Bonino was a solid third line centre for the past two Championships in Pittsburgh. He’ll get a big contract in free agency this summer most likely.
- Carl Hagelin (New York Rangers sixth round, 168th overall). He played four seasons at the University of Michigan post-draft and then 17 AHL games before being a regular with the Rangers in 2011/2012. He has played 112 playoff games already. He’s never lost in the first round, been to the third round twice and played in three Cup Finals, winning the past two with the Penguins. The speedy winger has had four 30+ points seasons.
- Brandon Sutter (Carolina first round, 11th overall). He played one more year in the WHL before going to the NHL for the 2008/2009 season. He wasn’t ready and in 50 games he had 1-5-6 before they sent him to the AHL for the final 22 games, four days after he turned 20 years old. He had his most productive season the next year. He started in the AHL for seven games, but was recalled and scored 21-19-40 in 72 NHL games. He has had three 32+ point seasons since. He was traded to Pittsburgh as part of the Jordan Staal trade and then to Vancouver for Bonino.
- Patrick Maroon (Philadelphia sixth round, 161st pick). He played one year in the OHL after his draft and then spent five seasons in the AHL, and played only 15 NHL games. He became a regular in 2013/2014, six years after being drafted. He had a career-high 27 goals this past season.
- Lars Eller (St. Louis first round, 13th selection). He played two years in Sweden and then one in the AHL. He, along with another prospect Ian Schultz, were traded to Montreal a week before the 2010 draft for Jaroslav Halak. He become an NHL regular in 2010/2011 with the Habs. The past six seasons he has scored between 25-30 points. Strangely his most productive season, points wise, came during the shortened 2012/2013 season when he had 30 points in 46 games.
- Carl Gunnarssson (Toronto seventh round, 194th pick). He was 21 when the Leafs drafted him and he played two more years in the Swedish Elite League before coming to Toronto in 2009/2010. He played 12 games in the AHL, but he’s basically been an NHL regular since leaving Sweden. He was traded to to the Blues on day two of the 2014 NHL draft for Roman Polak. He is seven games shy of 500.
- Paul Byron (Buffalo sixth round, 179th pick). He played two more years of junior and then two years in the AHL. At the 2011 draft he and Chris Butler were traded to Calgary for Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and a second round pick. He split the next three seasons between Calgary (73 games) and Abbotsford (100 games). Then in 2014/2015 he played only in Calgary. He was claimed on waivers by the Canadiens on October 6th, 2015. He had 16-30-46 in 130 games with the Flames over four seasons. His first year in Montreal he tallied 11-7-18 in 62 games, but this past year he had a breakout season scoring 22-21-43. He’s another late bloomer from the 2007 class.
- Brendan Smith (Detroit first round, 27th pick). He spent three years post-draft at Wisconsin and then turned pro. He played one full season in the AHL and then split the next two between the NHL and AHL. He is a defensive D-man, but in a short time with the Rangers he had a lot of success, especially in the playoffs paired with Brady Skjei. He is competitive, but doesn’t bring much offense.
- Thomas Hickey (Los Angeles first round, fourth pick). Hickey never played a game for the Kings. He played two more years of junior then three and a half seasons in the AHL before the Islanders claimed him on waivers on January 13th, 2013. He has been a regular for the past five seasons on Long Island and is now a steady, but not flashy, third pairing defender.
- Dwight King (Los Angeles fourth round, 109th pick). He played two more years in the WHL before turning pro. He began the 2009/2010 season in the ECHL, playing 20 games, then moved to the AHL for the final 52 games. He played 150 AHL games over the next two and a half seasons, with 33 NHL games sprinkled in, but has been a regular NHLer since the start of 2013 lockout shortened season in January. He was an excellent complementary player for the Kings in their two Cup wins scoring eight goals and 19 points in 46 games in 2012 and 2014.
- Yannick Weber (third round, 73rd pick). He played one more season of junior before turning pro and starting in the AHL. He played eight NHL games his first two seasons of pro and 133 in the AHL and then in 2011 and 2012 he played a total of 101 games in Montreal. The past five years he has a signed a one-year deal. Three of them in Vancouver, then last summer in Nashville. He just signed another one-year deal with the Predators earlier this week.
Thirteen players from the 2007 first round didn’t make my list, but Ian Cole and Riley Nash are honourable mentions.
Zach Hamill, eighth overall to Boston. Played 20 NHL games.
Keaton Ellerby, 10th overall by Florida. Played 212 NHL games.
Alex Plante, 15th overall to Edmonton. Played 10 NHL games.
Alexei Cherapanov, 17th overall by the Rangers. He passed away October 13th after collapsing on the bench in a KHL game. He was 19 years old.
Ian Cole, 18th to St.Louis. He has played 338 games and if you want him in over Weber I can understand. Very similar players.
Logan MacMillan, 19th overall to Anaheim. Never played in the NHL.
Angelo Esposito, 20th overall to Pittsburgh. Never played in the NHL.
Riley Nash, 21st overall to Edmonton. He has played 323 NHL games and is an honourable mention for the re-draft.
Jonathon Blum, 23rd overall to Nashville. He played 110 NHL games.
Patrick White, 25th to Vancouver. Never played in the NHL.
Nick Petrecki, 28th to San Jose. He played one NHL game.
Jim O’Brien, 29th to Ottawa. He played 67 NHL games.
Nick Ross, 30th to Phoenix. Never played in the NHL.
- The best goalie from this draft is Scott Darling. He has only played 75 NHL games to date, but after reading his incredible story about battling alcohol, I could see him cracking the top-30 in a few years. I highly recommend reading his story here. Only three other goalies from 2007 have played an NHL game. Allen York (11 games, played for Camrose Kodiaks in AJHL), Jeremy Smith (10 games, from Plymouth in OHL) and Timo Pielmeier (one game, from Cologne in DEL).
- Montreal had players pan out. Subban, McDonagh, Pacioretty and Weber. Could you imagine what the Habs might have looked like if Habs GM Bob Gainey hadn’t traded McDonagh in June of 2009 for Scott Gomez?
- Los Angeles had a stellar draft as well picking Simmonds, Martinez, King and Hickey. Hickey didn’t pan out as a #4 pick, but their other picks made up for it. They also signed Muzzin as a UFA two and a half years later. Every team, including the Kings, passed on Muzzin in the 2009 draft.
- San Jose took Couture, Braun and Bonino.
- The breakdown for each round of my re-draft was:
Seventeen first rounders.
Two second rounders
Two third rounders.
One fourth rounder.
Two fifth rounders.
Four sixth rounders.
Two seventh rounders.
Teams had more success in rounds 5-7 than they did in rounds 2-4.
- When the draft concludes on June 24th, remember many things will change over the next decade, and when we are discussing 18, 19 and 20 year old young men, remember that even the scouts who watch them regularly have a difficult time accurately projecting what type of player they will be in five or ten years.
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