Updated: Apr 28, 2020
All-American in '07
Throughout the previous decades, analysts and fans alike have noticed a growing certainty in the star power of a top of the draft prospect. While recent drafts have seen bonafide stars blossom almost immediately out of the June draft, the uncertainty that preceded this period of prospect riches makes hindsight very interesting. Remember Nail Yakupov? 1st overall in 2012. I mean at least he cracked an NHL lineup. Who here remembers Scott Glennie? 8th overall in 2009, played one NHL contest. In a redraft, the odds of either of these guys being taken in the top half of the draft is slim, let alone the first round.
I don’t mean to disparage any professional hockey player. I’m currently caught in a crisis of establishing the merits of both finishing my Coffee Crisp right now and saving it for after dinner. Getting drafted by an NHL club places one in rarified air, let alone being at the top of your draft class. So while some didn’t pan out, I don’t intend to belittle their career, and don’t really have a place to speak given my lack of athletic prowess.
But I will anyway, because I’ve decided to save the Coffee Crisp. And today we will be rewinding way back to 2007. There was a consensus #1 overall pick, and a surprisingly productive 5th round. While almost every pick is different, much of the top 10 does feature in this list, so relative to some of the years to come (watch out for 2012), the teams did quite well in acquiring future talent. But without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, magic man Kaner…
1st: Chicago Blackhawks - Patick Kane
Originally: Patrick Kane
Picked in ‘07: 1st (1st Round)
This one is a no-brainer. The man led the league in total points across the previous decade. He’s got an MVP, Art Ross, Conn Smythe, Ted Lindsay, and Calder trophy. He’s got three Stanley Cups, including a Cup clinching overtime goal. He’s the second filthiest shootout scorer of all-time (can’t disrespect Datsyuk). Enough said.
2nd: Philadelphia Flyers - Jaime Benn
Originally: James Van Riemsdyk
Picked in ‘07: 129 (5th Round)
Again, I didn’t have to sweat too much on this pick. The Dallas Stars’ captain was a steal in the fifth round (having dropped that far in part because he was not sure whether to pursue baseball or hockey), and has accomplished so much in his career. He’s led the league in points for an Art Ross, is an Olympic champion, and a fantastic leader. His playstyle reminds one of a Jarome Iginla; natural goal scorer, but a heavy hitter and can even drop the mitts.
While his play has declined in recent years, his style of game allows him to remain a valuable contributor to an NHL roster. No disrespect to JVR, but Benn is the obvious choice here.
3rd: Phoenix Coyotes - Logan Couture
Originally: Kyle Turris
Picked in ‘07: 9th (1st Round)
This was where some thought needed to be put in. The next three players, alongside Couture, are really a dead heat, but a number of reasons promoted the Sharks’ captain to third. For starters, his high level play has held up until now, as he has been an extremely consistent NHL scorer, scoring between 0.71 and 0.85 points per game every year after his rookie season.
He is also a prolific playoff scorer. With 65 points over his past four seasons, Couture is operating well over a point per game in the playoffs. That level of clutch is hard to reconcile in absolute value terms - but trust me, it’s high.
Turris has had his ups and downs - but he's a healthy scratch now (I reiterate my concern in ignoring my Coffee Crisp).
4th: Los Angeles Kings - Max Pacioretty
Originally: Thomas Hickey
Picked in ‘07: 22nd (1st Round)
Pacioretty was having a monster year before the season was abruptly paused, operating at nearly a point per game with 66 points in 71 games with Vegas. Already just two points shy of a career high in points, Pacioretty was an integral cog in this Vegas lineup. A perennial 30 goal scorer (save for a few random years in the middle), Pacioretty’s change of scenery has paid massive dividends, and re-established him among the best offensive left wingers in the league.
5th: Washington Capitals - Jakub Voracek
Originally: Karl Alzner
Picked in ‘07: 7th (1st Round)
Nabbing a huge contributor from a division rival would be nice (even if they are replacing him with Jaime Benn), especially if Karl Alzner is the alternative. Jakub Voracek has been a consistent assist machine throughout his NHL career, and helped Philadelphia to a surprising season that saw them challenge the Capitals for the division title. With Giroux as his career running mate, Voracek can expect to remain competitive and productive for the foreseeable future, and would be a great grab at 5th.
6th: Edmonton Oilers - P.K. Subban
Originally: Sam Gagner
Picked in ‘07: 43rd (2nd Round)
Three years ago and he probably would have been second. P.K. Subban’s fall from grace has been quick and noticeable, with his production dropping from Norris Trophy calibre to barely replacement level. That doesn’t mean that he isn't an NHL player, just that his offense has dried up.
As you can see here, while PK has declined across the board, he is still controlling shots at 5 on 5, and is able to successfully exit the defensive zone with possession. Subban’s spot here is somewhat justified by his current play, but mostly by the elite levels he reached in the early 2010s.
7th: Columbus Blue Jackets - Ryan McDonagh
Originally: Jakub Voracek
Picked in ‘07: 12th (1st Round)
Traded from Montreal to the Rangers in a deal for Scott Gomez (Yikes), McDonagh developed into a very capable captain for the Rangers, and a borderline top pairing defenceman. Never the flashiest, his ability to consistently limit the opponent’s offense. He helped the Rangers get to the Cup final in 2014, and has since played a big role in Tampa Bay’s juggernaut regular season. A worthy 7th overall selection no doubt.
8th: Boston Bruins - David Perron
Originally: Zach Hamill
Picked in ‘07: 26th (1st Round)
With four career points, the Bruins would have certainly swapped Hamill for Perron (I would like to, again, reiterate my Coffee Crisp anecdote, and my career 0 NHL points). Perron is, for my money, one of the most underrated players in the NHL. He has been an extremely consistent point producer at the NHL level, going back to even his 19-year old rookie season. He also has the distinction of being picked by Vegas in the expansion draft, and subsequently helping them to a historic Cup final appearance. Despite bouncing around the league, Perron has undoubtedly been a fantastic player through his career.
9th: San Jose Sharks - Mikael Backlund
Originally: Logan Couture
Picked in ‘07: 24th (1st Round)
A two-way gem, Mikael Backlund has been a rock for the Flames. Through all the highs and lows he's experienced with the club, he has remained a consistent threat at both ends. His stout defensive play is represented in his sterling shot repression numbers, and he’s versatile enough to take the ice in all situations. No, he doesn’t have the scoring pedigree of Couture, the original pick at this position, but this shouldn’t take anything away from the incredible player that Backlund has developed into.
10th: Florida Panthers - Jake Muzzin
Originally: Keaton Ellerby
Picked in ‘07: 141st (5th Round)
The beard alone secured a top 10 position, but Muzzin is also a fantastic defender. A key
member to the second Kings’ Cup run, Muzzin has proven to be an extremely effective defensive defencemen. Operating as a high end second pairing defenceman, he can also chip in offensively, topping 40 points on multiple occasions. His leadership, grit, and effective play style simplifies the game and has his team in control of the play more often than not.
11th: Carolina Hurricanes - Evgenii Dadonov
Originally: Brandon Sutter
Picked in ‘07: 71st (3rd Round)
After a number of unsuccessful attempts to stay in an NHL lineup, Dadonov bolted for the KHL, and it seemed as though he would turn out to be a simple miss on a 3rd rounder. Well, he turned the tables and came back with huge success in the 2017 season, and has since become a mainstay in the Panthers’ top six. Sutter, on the other hand, has been a perfectly serviceable 3rd line centre who’s been in that role for 12 years, while not a bad pick, Dadonov’s recent exploits would be much preferable to Sutter 20-point campaigns.
12th: Montreal Canadiens - James Van Riemsdyk
Originally: Ryan McDonagh
Picked in ‘07: 2nd (1st Round)
Van Riemsdyk never lived up to the 2nd overall hype, but to be fair that is still hard to do (resist the Coffee Crisp urge). He has had a very impressive career, but he falls out of the top ten due to his defensive liabilities. While he may be one of the best players to have in front of the net, the man cannot keep it out of the back of his without sheltered minutes. At this stage of his career, I do believe he still has the ability to put up 30 goals, but it will have to be from the third line and first powerplay unit.
13th: St. Louis Blues - Alex Killorn
Originally: Lars Eller
Picked in ‘07: 77th (3rd Round)
Killorn must have known that we were going to do a redraft this year, because he put forth the best season of his career to date. With already 26 goals on the year, he’s definitely been on a heater (relative to his career average). Still, he’s a fantastic middle six forward with significant offensive punch and a great grind to his game that playoff bound teams desire. Lars Eller is mighty fine too, joining Kane in the group of people who have scored Stanley Cup clinching goals. But being a career third liner will inevitably hamper you in this type of exercise, so it was to be expected.
14th: Colorado Avalanche - Kevin Shattenkirk
Originally: Kevin Shattenkirk
Picked in ‘07: 14th (1st Round)
Totally random that the only picks in the top 15 that have remained the same are first and 14th. Nevertheless, props to the Avs on their clairvoyance? Shattenkirk has had such an up and down career, from a tantilizing offensive prospect with the Avs, so infamously dealt for former first overall pick Eric Johnson, and ascending to top pairing and powerplay QB with St. Louis. Then he got dealt to Presidents’ trophy bound Washington and somewhat shot them in the foot, then signed a massive contract with the Rangers before playing awfully and getting bought out. A 1-year low money “show me” deal with the Bolts has reinvigorated his career, as he’ll be looking at a considerable raise this season.
15th: Edmonton Oilers - Wayne Simmonds
Originally: Alex Plante
Picked in ‘07: 61st (3rd Round)
The man every team wants but is not willing to pay for, Wayne Simmonds is the player a franchise loves most. In his prime, he was a big hitting and grinding power forward that could bully you in front of the net and pot 30 goals in the process. That style of play takes a toll on a person, and after a one year deal with the Devils didn’t pan out, he was shipped to Buffalo to basically be closer to his family in Toronto. A pending UFA this year, he won’t make much on the open market and teams will be too scared to give him any significant term. That being said, his impeccable leadership, grit, and other intangibles would make him a great addition to any team, and makes him the perfect player to round out this list.
Honourable Mentions: Kyle Turris (3rd, 1st Round); Alex Martinez (95th, 4th Round); Nick Bonino (173rd, 6th Round); Carl Hagelin (168th, 6th Round)
Stats provided by DobberHockey, Natural Stat Trick, and CJTDevil.