Throughout the previous decades, analysts and fans alike have noticed a growing certainty in the starpower of a top of 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. Would it blow your mind to think that Bobby Ryan, Jack Johnson and Benoit Pouliot were all taken over Carey Price? What if I told you it was in that exact order? What if the last pick in that same draft was Patric Hornqvist? Go check out the 2005 NHL Draft because that happened and boy do some teams really wish history could be changed.
I don’t mean to disparage any professional hockey player. These early 2000 drafts are hard for me being an Oilers fan and just thinking of what could have been. 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 hockey career, and don’t really have a place to speak for I believe the Oilers would find a way to mess that up anyways. Maybe take Alex Burmistrov at #1. Who knows?
But I will say, all the players drafted have skill and were clearly recognized for it by being selected, where I have a skill of doing next to nothing for a long time. And today we will be rewinding way back to 2010. Taylor vs Tyler. The battle for number one. This was an intense draft where there was no clear front runner, 1a and 1b. No matter who went first these players were each good enough for number one. Well maybe slightly leaning towards one other person now. This draft began what would be the Edmonton Oilers onslaught of high picks and what could be the biggest trade mistake in Leafs history (arguably). There was a lot of NHL talent in this draft so let’s take a look at how I would re-draft.
1st: Edmonton Oilers – Tyler Seguin
Originally: Taylor Hall
Picked in ‘10: 2nd (1st round)
Since entering the league Tyler Seguin has taken it by storm. In his sophomore season with the Bruins he played a role in helping them win the Stanley Cup. That’s certainly not a bad way to start one's career in the best hockey league in the world as a 19-year-old kid. In six of his nine seasons in the NHL Seguin has eclipsed the 70-point mark. He fell 3 points shy of 70 in his sophomore season registering 67 points in 81 games. He has scored 30+ goals in 5 different seasons. In their clear-cut NHL statistics Seguin is far superior. Seguin has found more success and consistency in the league, you could argue that it is based on the teams he played for in comparison to Hall but, it’s still the biggest difference. The argument can be made all day but the numbers support it.
2nd: Boston Bruins – Taylor Hall
Originally: Tyler Seguin
Picked in ‘10: 1st (1st round)
But it begs the question, relooking at the Taylor vs. Tyler situation why was Hall taken first? In their draft year Seguin scored 48 goals where Hall scored 40. Both put up 106 points respectfully. Both played against the same competition in the Ontario Hockey League. But the one big difference was Windsor, where Hall was playing at the time won the league and won the memorial cup. Hall led Windsor to back to back memorial cup championships and won two memorial cup MVP’s. Nothing is more attractive to a team than a player that can lead his team to a championship. Regardless of if Seguin outplayed Hall in junior or not, this was the defining factor. It gave Hall more exposure, more time for the scouts to see him and was ultimately the difference maker. Unfortunately for Edmonton the winning never translated… well unless you count his luck when winning the draft lottery… 5 different times. Hall has only surpassed the 70-point total twice in his career and is yet to find playoff success. This doesn’t mean Hall is not a good impactful player but Seguin has proven to be the more established player thus far in their careers.
3rd: Florida Panthers – Mark Stone
Originally: Erik Gudbranson
Picked in ‘10: 187th (6th round)
Drafted in the late 6th round by the Ottawa Senators, Mark Stone has become one of the league’s best two-way players. After being drafted in 2010 Stone went back to the Western Hockey League for another 2 seasons where in a combined 137 games, he put up 229 points. In his rookie season Stone stepped into the NHL and was tied for the lead in rookie scoring but did not win the Calder Trophy. Stone has only played in 6 full NHL seasons and in 5 of those seasons he has surpassed the 60-point mark. This along with his dynamic defensive capabilities that are known league wide have made him into one of, if not the best two-way player in the league. Once the rebuilding Senators traded Stone to Vegas, he signed an eight-year contract with an AAV of 9.5 million. Not too shabby for a 6th round pick. All I will say is Stone for Selke, just wait.
4th: Columbus Blue Jackets – Evgeny Kuznetsov
Originally: Ryan Johansen
Picked in ‘10: 26th (1st round)
With this pick the Blue Jackets were looking for their franchise centre moving forward. Kuznetsov has emerged as an elite centre in the NHL and on any team he is a clear cut first line centre, one that the Blue Jackets could desperately use. Kuznetsov’s passing ability and offensive awareness for the game doesn’t go unnoticed when he plays. This is definitely a pick that Columbus wishes they would be able to go back on.
5th: New York Islanders – Vladamir Tarasenko
Originally: Nino Niederreiter
Picked in ‘10: 16th (1st round)
Tarasenko when healthy is one of the deadliest snipers in the league. He has put up 30+ goals in 5 different seasons in his 8-year career. Unfortunately this most current year was derailed by injury. Every team needs a good scorer and although he may not be the biggest or best all-around player, he does his job extremely well.
6th: Tampa Bay Lightning – Jeff Skinner
Originally: Brett Connolly
Picked in ‘10: 7th (1st round)
Say what you want about Jeff Skinner and his new contract, being accused of being way overpaid, but he still has had a good career to this point. 465 career points in a 10-year career puts him third in points of players drafted from 2010. His skating ability is incredible but it’s his consistency that is always put into question. If you add Jeff Skinner to a Tampa Bay team to play alongside Stamkos and Kucherov it's more likely his consistency and production would have been furthered along instead of playing on two teams that have struggled to make the playoffs year in and out.
7th: Carolina Hurricanes – Ryan Johansen
Originally: Jeff Skinner
Picked in ‘10: 4th (1st round)
A big right-handed centre. Johansen currently sits fourth in collective points by players from the 2010 draft. Johansen needs to work on increasing his point totals and being an influential player each night, and not only showing up when he feels like it. Even with his inconsistency his point totals overall aren’t terrible but, he could and should be far superior for the player he is. This still wouldn’t be a bad pickup for the Hurricanes at pick seven and would add a different type of skill to their lineup.
8th: Atlanta Thrashers – John Klingberg
Originally: Alexander Burmistrov
Picked in ‘10: 131st (5th round)
Klingberg has been a stud for Dallas. Since entering the NHL, he has put up no less than 40 points in a season (minus the shortened 2019-20 season) and has only had a minus rating in one complete season (again the shortened 2019-20 season). Klingberg has taken a huge load on from Dallas and would have definitely been able to help the Thrashers, now Jets, by eating minutes and stabilizing their blue line.
9th: Minnesota Wild – Jaden Schwartz
Originally: Mikael Granlund
Picked in ‘10: 14th (1st round)
Schwartz’s career has been very injury prone, but his production levels are very sound to go along with it. Schwartz has never played in a full 82 game season but has put up 5 separate seasons at 55+ points. When he is on the ice Schwartz is a very effective player on both ends of the ice and would definitely have helped Minnesota’s roster out.
10th: New York Rangers – Justin Faulk
Originally: Dylan McIlrath
Picked in ‘10: 37th (2nd round)
The Ranger would have added a much-needed right-handed shot defenceman to their fold with this pick. Faulk, a good offensive defenceman, would have been a nice addition to quarterback the Rangers powerplay. His defensive abilities have always been in question with his plus/minus rating being very poor in almost every NHL season. Granted he was on a lowly Hurricanes team for the majority of his career. However, pairing him with one of the Rangers many long-time 2-way or defensive defenceman certainly would have boosted his offensive capabilities.
11th: Dallas Stars - Cam Fowler
Originally: Jack Campbell
Picked in ‘10: 12th (1st round)
Fowler is a good two-way defenceman regardless of what his plus/minus may show. To me Fowler on a good championship team would be a 2-4 defenceman. A smooth skating defenceman that can eat up minutes would be something every team would love to have. He can be effective on the special teams just as much as 5 on 5. There is a reason the Ducks kept him over most of their other defenceman.
12th: Anaheim Ducks – Tyler Toffoli
Originally: Cam Fowler
Picked in ‘10: 47th (2nd round)
Tyler Toffoli is a perfect fit to be a west coast player. The sniper has a good body frame sitting at six feet just shy of 200 pounds. He has never emerged as a top line player but was put into that role in a rebuilding Los Angeles’ line up. Toffoli playing behind a player like Corey Perry with what to me is a very similar playing style would have been able to learn a lot and thrive on this team.
13th: Phoenix Coyotes – Mikael Granlund
Originally: Brandon Gormley
Picked in ‘07: 9th (1st round)
Much like Schwartz, Granlund has been very effective since entering the league. Taken with the 9th pick originally, he is a very good player and played first line most of his time in Minnesota. He has tallied 352 points in 450 games which isn’t a bad number at all. The shifty Granlund may not be a top 10 pick but his numbers show he still deserves to be a lottery pick, and to me his skill would have fit perfectly in Phoenix’s top 6.
14th: St. Louis Blues – Brendan Gallagher
Originally: Jaden Schwartz
Picked in ‘10: 147th (5th round)
Gallagher is that perfect mix between a skilled and gritty forward who has the ability to get under anyone’s skin. He is a perfect top 6 winger. He may not be the flashiest guy out there or lead your team in points, but night in and out Gallagher’s consistency, tenacity, and reliability are hard to ignore.
15th: Los Angeles Kings – Brock Nelson
Originally: Derek Forbort
Picked in ‘10: 30th (1st round)
Nelson has been a staple in the Islander’s line up for years. Sitting at 6’3, 212 pounds he fits the west coast with his size while still being able to skate and provide skill. He would be a perfect 2-3 centre on a championship team. He has scored 20+ goals in 5 seasons and falling just shy of 6 finishing the 2017-18 campaign with 19. A big centre that scores, every team would love that.
Honourable Mentions: Nino Niederreiter (15th, 1st round), Jason Zucker (59th, 2nd round), Nick Bjugstad (19th, 1st round), Kevin Hayes (24th, 1st round)
Photos courtesy of https://nesn.com/2011/11/tyler-seguin-taylor-hall-cant-escape-shared-history-as-2010-top-picks-to-meet-again-when-oilers-visi/ and https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/oilers-bruins-preview-hall-or-seguin-1.985379