Run it Back: Redrafting the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
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. Does anyone remember who Duncan Siemens is? Yup, neither do I, but he was the 11th overall pick in this draft ahead of some VERY good players. This is an extremely good and deep draft but there are still many picks that I am sure teams regret very much looking back at them. However, that is the problem with drafts, you never really know what you are going to get, it’s always a gamble.
I don’t mean to disparage any professional hockey player. Considering I am currently sitting here writing an article for a blog while these guys were all drafted into the biggest hockey league in the world (whether they played or not) says it all. 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 given what I am currently doing right now.
Normally when doing a redraft, there are a number of teams that made horrendous picks in the first round, even the top 5. Although, this 2011 draft was stacked with talent and depth which made it hard for even some NHL teams to miss on a serviceable player. Looking over the top 15, I would say that only one pick was an absolute misfire, while a couple others could have been better. That says a lot about this draft class, so let’s take a look at it.
1st: Edmonton Oilers – Nikita Kucherov
Originally: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Picked in ‘11: 58th (2nd round)
I mean, I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. He leads the draft class in goals, assists, and total points while being 12th in games played. Some of his other accomplishments include a Ted Lindsay, Art Ross, and Hart trophy. He also does not have a season where he didn’t eclipse 65 points or more since his rookie year and he has surpassed 100 points twice (probably would have made it a third this season had it not been put on hold). Kucherov is in fact, good at hockey.
2nd: Colorado Avalanche – Jonathan Huberdeau
Originally: Gabriel Landeskog
Picked in ‘11: 3rd (1st Round)
Now I would like to discuss the NHL’s 2011 redraft because it was really bad, and I enjoy making fun of the NHL for a variety of reasons. So, I will take this opportunity to do exactly that. For those of you who haven’t seen it, they started off the top 3 pretty well but then it goes downhill real quick. Jordan Binnington at 5? Above John Gibson? I know he won a cup and maybe in a few more years it can be justified, but it is still a little early to support that claim (considering he has played one and a half years in the NHL). Brandon Saad at 8? If you are a Blackhawks fan or a Saad fan in general, sorry but he doesn't even make the cut for this top 15 re-draft. And lastly, and why I brought this up in the first place is they had Huberdeau at 10… For me, he is going second, I think he is one of the best left wingers in the league and an absolute scoring threat at all times. What an unbelievable player he is, and he is quite underrated, which I think is partly because he plays in Florida. Barkov went through a similar phase before people finally realized he is one of the best two-way centres in the league. Soon enough people will see that with Huberdeau as well. Now I will say this, I think most people will disagree with me taking him at number 2 and opt for guys like Scheifele or Gaudreau but we will get to them shortly. However, while also being an offensive threat (albeit took him a little while to get to the “superstar” level), he is also outstanding defensively:
3rd: Florida Panthers – Sean Couturier
Originally: Jonathan Huberdeau
Picked in ‘11: 8th (1st Round)
So, time for Scheifele? Sorry not quite yet, but very soon. Sean Couturier is in a similar boat as Huberdeau as he is a solid two-way player who probably does not get the recognition he deserves. Being as Philadelphia is my second team, I tend to watch a lot of their games and follow up with how the team and players are doing every year. The perception I got was that Couturier has always been in the shadows of players like Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, even guys like Wayne Simmonds and Nolan Patrick when he was drafted. Maybe that was good for Couturier because he was able to focus on his defensive game and has now become a real Selke contender, and probably deserves to win it this year. Although he was only a 30-40-point guy for most of his career, he exploded with back to back 76-point seasons from 2017-2019 and was on pace for another 70-point season this year. I can still feel the hate coming my way for now picking two guys who are not as offensively consistent as some other players from this draft, but I like both these guys as they are defensive stalwarts while also trending up in offensive production.
4th: New Jersey Devils – Mark Scheifele
Originally: Adam Larson
Picked in ‘11: 7th (1st Round)
And here we are, finally, right? Because I can totally see an argument where Scheifele could be taken above both Huberdeau and Couturier. He ranks above both players in points throughout his career with 444 points in 519 games, while being over a point per game player in his last 4 seasons with the Jets. However, his advanced stats sort of surprised me, because almost every season he was a positive when comparing the “for” and “against” categories such as expected goals for vs expected goals against, scoring chances for and against, high danger chances for and against, and high danger goals for and against. However, the past two seasons he was a negative in almost every single one of those categories. Now this year I can understand because Winnipeg’s defence consisted of, well not a whole lot, so the decline makes sense. However, I will not let two recent seasons take away from the fact that he was a positive in all those stats in years prior to the 2018-2019 season. Especially because over the past 3 years, he has been elite at possession, both exits and entries he is among the best of the best. He is a phenomenal player in both ends of the rink and is easily a top 5 pick, and very much pushing for top 3.
5th: New York Islanders – Gabriel Landeskog
Originally: Ryan Strome
Picked in ‘11: 2nd (1st Round)
Is Landeskog the youngest old person in the league? I feel like this guy has been around forever as he provides the Colorado Avalanche that veteran leadership on a very good young team. Yet he is only 27… Anyways, being one of the youngest players to ever receive the captaincy, clearly the Avalanche saw something special in this guy and they were right. Although he dropped from 2nd to 5th, he is still an outstanding player (I feel like I have said that a lot already but as I said earlier, this is a very stacked draft so bear with me) and should be a top 5 pick any day. He ranks second in points among all players from this draft, so why didn’t I draft him second here? Well NHL.com did but he has also played the second most games, only behind Couturier, but close to 100 more games than guys like Huberdeau and Scheifele, so ya his stats will be inflated. Now, that could be a sign that he was good enough to come into the league right away, but it still plays a role in his offensive production. That is not to take anything away from him as he has become a perennial 50-60-point guy, even having a career high with 75 points just last season.
6th: Ottawa Senators – Johnny Gaudreau
Originally: Mika Zibanejad
Picked in ‘11: 104th (4th Round)
Now this was a tough one because simply based on points, Gaudreau is one of the best players to emerge from this draft. He has 445 points which is good for third, but he also played significantly less games than the two guys ahead of him. He is almost at a point per game pace throughout his career, making him the second-best offensive player behind Kucherov, so why isn’t he higher on the list? There are a few different mind-sets when it comes to drafting, and I am one who believes that you should draft the best available player, regardless of position. However, others believe that teams should prioritize position and team needs over talent and ceiling. So, by that logic and my own belief, maybe Gaudreau should be a little higher, but I also see that the difference between these players is not big enough to justify passing up on great two-way players for an offensively gifted player. What I mean by this is that Gaudreau has a tendency to be considered “one-dimensional,” and although that may be unfair, he isn’t exactly all that great in his own end and tends to give the puck up a lot. Since the 2017-2018 season, Gadreau ranks 7th in giveaways with 223, for context Keith Yandle leads this stat with 247 while Connor McDavid has 176. Now good players tend to give the puck away more because they have the puck on their stick more than others, and Gaudreau is excellent at breaking out of his own end with possession. Having that responsibility means that there is a greater chance at giving the puck away as a result, give and take. He is still a top 10 pick without a doubt.
7th: Winnipeg Jets – Mika Zibanejad
Originally: Mark Scheifele
Picked in ‘11: 6th (1st Round)
Zibanejad has emerged as a clear-cut number one center with the New York Rangers over the past two seasons where he has surpassed the 70-point mark both times. However, it did take him a while to get to his new found glory. After being traded out of Ottawa (big yikes there), he was really able to find his game as he was given the opportunity to grow and succeed. Although he has been a monster the past two seasons, his past production is something we need to keep in mind. He hit the 50-point mark only once in 5 and a half years since coming into the league, which is good, but not great. He is certainly trending in the right direction, but not sure two years justifies him going over some of the other guys ahead of him, plus he only dropped down one spot, nothing to get worked up about.
8th: Philadelphia Flyers – Dougie Hamilton
Originally: Sean Couturier
Picked in ‘11: 9th (1st Round)
Ah our first defenceman, which is odd because my last redraft (2008) was filled with elite defencemen, making up the majority of the top 15. Nice chance of scenery here, but either way Hamilton is by far the best defenceman in this draft and over the last few years, mainly in Carolina, has entered the elite category. I never understood the criticism about his personality which is apparently the main reason he was traded out of both Boston and Calgary? Whatever, he is having a blast with the Hurricanes and it is showing in his game as well. He was always a good player, but he has flourished with his new team, so much that if he did not get injured this season, he would have had my vote for the Norris, and probably many others as well (and by that I mean people that actually matter). Maybe playing in a smaller market works better for him? Or maybe the Hurricanes just simply acknowledged that there are no personality issues and he is a phenomenal player, who would have thought?
9th: Boston Bruins – John Gibson
Originally: Dougie Hamilton
Picked in ‘11: 39th (2nd Round)
And after our first defencemen we have our first goaltender. Now I will bring up NHL.com again because they had Jordan Binnington go before John Gibson, and as I said earlier, ya he has a cup to his name (and has been absolutely spectacular), but only has a track record of one and a half years. Again, like the introduction suggests, these redrafts are not to knock any player and I do hope that Binnington proves me wrong here, but Gibson’s career and track record is far greater than Binnington from a consistency standpoint. Let’s break this down a little, Gibson had his worst season this year, on a very very VERY bad Anaheim team where he sports a 3.00 GAA and a .904 SV%, not good. League average goaltending is .910 SV% this season, so he is below that mark quite a bit. The season before on, again, another bad Ducks team was 2.88 GAA and a .917 SV% meaning he was being absolutely shelled, because that is a very good save percentage while having a slightly high goals against average. Maybe this will help (regular season only):
10th: Minnesota Wild – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Originally: Jonas Brodin
Picked in ‘11: 1st (1st Round)
Here we have the first overall pick rounding out the top 10, that is quite the drop but in retrospect, being a top 10 pick is still an outstanding feat. Nuge has had a very successful career and absolutely deserves to be taken in the top 10 of the draft. He sits fifth among his draftees in points with 443 points, while playing the third most games with 604. He has recently been able to prove his versatility by making the jump from centre to wing in order for the Oilers to optimize their talent. This then gives him the opportunity to play alongside either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, not bad. When Leon gets bumped back up to play with McDavid, then Nuge slides back to the middle of the ice. He has also really seemed to find his game the past two seasons (this seems to be a trend) where he went from a 40-50-point player to flirting with 70. Now maybe part of his rise in production has to do with playing beside two of the best in the league, BUT either way, he is still a solid player.
11th: Colorado Avalanche – J.T. Miller
Originally: Duncan Siemens
Picked in ‘11: 15th (1st Round)
I have always liked Miller, after cementing himself in the NHL with the New York Rangers in 2015, he averaged around 0.61 points per game before being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2018 trade deadline. On an already stacked team, and when I say stacked, I mean an absolute powerhouse roster, he was able to produce 18 points in 19 games with his new club. The following year he had 47 points in 75 games, which isn't great, but that was around his average point total. Unfortunately for both Miller and the cap strapped Lightning team that had just re-signed him to a 5-year deal worth $5.25M, they were forced to trade him out to Vancouver. In his first season with his now third new team, he was on pace for around 85 points, I’d say Vancouver is happy with this trade. He has also been extremely effective in his own end being in the 97th percentile for possession exits per 60.
12th: Carolina Hurricanes – Jordan Binnington
Originally: Connor Murphy
Picked in ‘11: 88th (3rd Round)
I will make this one short because I feel like I have touched on the main points already throughout this article. He was a major part of the St. Louis Blues success and Stanley Cup victory and has continued to play extremely well, that cannot be denied. However, he has played in only 82 regular season games in the big leagues, while playing 26 in the playoffs, that is a sample size of 108 games. In the regular season (career total) he owns an amazing 2.30 GAA and a .917 SV% and his playoff numbers don’t stray away from his regular season numbers, as he owns a 2.46 GAA and a .914 SV% in those 26 games on route to a Stanley Cup title. Extremely impressive, but I had to go with Gibson over Binnington here because of the sample size. Gibson has a better regular season career save percentage than Binnington (by 0.01 but still true), with 205 more games played, that is unbelievable. Maybe Binnington will surpass Gibson if he continues to get better and more comfortable in the NHL, but as of this moment, I am giving Gibson the edge here. Plus, Binnington is still going 12th overall here, not like he is a bottom of the barrel pick.
13th: Calgary Flames – Jonas Brodin
Originally: Sven Baertschi
Picked in ‘11: 10th (1st Round)
Brodin is a very interesting player, in my mind along with everything I have read about him suggests that he is a defensive stalwart. Closes the gap well and has great speed moving up and down the ice are some of his best attributes. His advanced stats suggest that he is a positive player as well (using the same metric as I did for Scheifele with the “for” and “against” categories), all looks good to me, but then I used the A37 player analyzer (link below check them out they have an excellent tool), and his stats looked, well awful to be honest.
Brodin was never known for his offensive ability as he has become a perennial 20-point guy with a career high of 28 points this season. So, the shot contributions category does not surprise me, but everything else does. He is in the lowest percentile for a lot of these defensive categories, and although he is decent at breakups per 60, he remains very poor at allowing opposition into his own end. So, to be quite frank, I am not sure what to think of Brodin, he is not offensive, and there are two very different stories being told about his defence. I originally had him at his 10th overall spot but something about that graphic does not sit well with me and that is why I bumped him down.
UPDATE: I have no problem admitting that I could be wrong, and I think that is what happened here. After doing a little more research and reading more on Brodin it seems as if the advanced stats tells the more accurate story of his play. He is considered to be one of the most underrated players in the league and certainly one of the best defensive defencemen in the league. Maybe he should be higher up on the draft list now that I know this, but for now, this update will have to do.
14th: Dallas Stars – Vincent Trocheck
Originally: Jamie Oleksiak
Picked in ‘11: 64th (3rd Round)
I chose Trocheck here because of his all-around play, he plays both sides of the ice extremely well and being a centre always helps too (another trend for this draft). Trochek has produced 284 points in 427 games (average of 0.67 points per game) where he exploded in 2017-18 amassing 75 points in 82 games. He eventually ran into a serious injury last season that held him to just 55 games, but he was still able to have a solid year by putting up 34 points. For some bizarre reason, before the Panthers then decided to trade him at this season's trade deadline to the Carolina Hurricanes, he had 36 points in 55 games and just 2 points in 7 games with his new team. Now, as I am sure you have noticed by now, I don’t like to just use point production when analyzing a player, although it does help a lot, but check this out:
That is extremely impressive and puts him among some of the best players in the league for shot contributions and possession at both ends of the ice.
15th: New York Rangers – Ondrej Palat
Originally: J.T. Miller
Picked in ‘11: 208th (7th Round)
I initially felt like Palat could have gone a little higher, because I fiddled with this middle to end section of the draft for a while, but eventually fell on this order. To be honest, I had almost every honourable mention in this spot at one point before finally deciding to go with Palat, goes to show how good this draft was and how tough it was to redo. He entered the league and was quite impressive scoring 122 points in his first 2 full seasons (156 games), but at first glance it seems like he saw a decline in his offensive production where he averaged around 40 points over the next 5 seasons. He did however run into some injury trouble as he has never played a full NHL season (his first full year he played 81 games, so close). So, his offensive production may seem like it declined but in essence he was still averaging 0.66 points per game over those 5 seasons. Even with his injuries, he still ranks 10th in points among his draft class despite playing the second least amount of games among those players. Plus, he was originally the 4th last person to be drafted in 2011, talk about climbing the ranks.
Honourable Mentions: Rickard Rakell (30th, 1st round), Brandan Saad (43rd, 2nd round), William Karlsson (53rd, 2nd round), Oscar Klefbom (19th, 1st round), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (96th, 4th round), Adam Larsson (4th, 1st round)
Stats and charts courtesy of http://www.naturalstattrick.com/, https://public.tableau.com/profile/christopher.turtoro#!/vizhome/2-yearA3ZPlayerComps/ComparisonDashboard, and https://www.hockeydb.com/
Photo courtesy of ontariohockeyleague.com