People forget how good Redden once was

Does Draft Position Matter? Part 2

Yesterday I looked at 3 teams who have had very different situations and demonstrated what they have done in their particular circumstances.  While I was researching that post I saw an alarming number of top 10 busts, and wondered how  many teams would kill for a “do over”.  Which leads me to this unexpected sequel to that piece.  Today I will follow that up by looking at the drafts between 1992 (the Sens’ first draft) and the 2007 draft.  I will show the top 10 in each draft as it progressed, and also do a “hindsight” re-drafting of my own top 10 from each year the way it “should” have gone if management could see the future.


Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
TB 1 Roman Hamrlik Alexei Yashin (2)
OTT 2 Alexei Yashin Nickolai Khabibulin (204)
SJ 3 Mike Rathje Sergei Gonchar (14)
QUE 4 Todd Warriner Cory Stillman (6)
NYI 5 Darius Kasparitis Roman Hamrlik (1)
CGY 6 Cory Stillman Jere Lehtinen (88)
PHI 7 Ryan Sittler Martin Straka (19)
TOR 8 Brandon Convery Michael Peca (40)
HAR 9 Robert Petrovicky Adrian Aucoin (117)
SJ 10 Andrei Nazarov Anson Carter (220)

Hamrlik was a decent choice as TB's first ever pick, but could have been better

For all Yashin’s foibles in Ottawa, he is still arguably the best player from the draft.  Khabibulin would have been an early solution to the Sens goaltending woes, but at 204, he wasn’t a highly thought of prospect at the time.  Only 3 of the top 10 picks would still be in the top 10 after the fact.



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
OTT 1 Alexandre Daigle Chris Pronger (2)
HFD 2 Chris Pronger Paul Kariya (4)
TB 3 Chris Gratton Jason Arnott (7)
ANH 4 Paul Kariya Saku Koivu (21)
FLA 5 Rob Niedermayer Pavol Demitra (227)
SJ 6 Victor Kozlov Todd Bertuzzi (23)
EDM 7 Jason Arnott Bryan MacCabe (40)
NYR 8 Niklas Sundstrom Jamie Langenbrunner (35)
DAL 9 Todd Harvey Miroslav Satan (111)
QUE 10 Jocelyn Thibault Andrew Brunette (174)

It was a toss up for me between Pronger and Kariya for who I would take 1st overall in hindsight.  The Sens had the biggest steal in Demitra, but they let him go for *cough* Christer Olsson *cough*.  Daigle was the consensus #1 that year, but didn’t pan out. Again, only 3 of the top 10 would still be in the top 10 if drafted today.

What could have been for the Senators?



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
FLA 1 Ed Jovanovski Daniel Alfredsson (133)
ANH 2 Oleg Tverdovsky Patrick Elias (51)
OTT 3 Radek Bonk Ryan Smyth (6)
EDM 4 Jason Bonsignore Tomas Vokoun (226)
HFD 5 Jeff O’Neill Ed Jovanovski (1)
EDM 6 Ryan Smyth Milan Hejduk (87)
LA 7 Jamie Storr Chris Drury (72)
TB 8 Jason Weimer Tomas Holmstrom (257)
NYI 9 Brett Lindros Steve Sullivan (233)
WSH 10 Nolan Baumgartner Jose Theodore (44)

Daniel Alfredsson is among the biggest steals ever in the draft, since he is the best player from his draft year and Ottawa got him at 133.  The talent level of this top 10 is very good, but only 2 of the hindsight top 10 players were actually drafted in the top 10.

Jovo is good, but Alfie is sublime, lucky Senators



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
OTT 1 Bryan Berard Jarome Iginla (11)
NYI 2 Wade Redden Shane Doan (7)
LAK 3 Aki Berg Mikka Kiprusoff (116)
ANH 4 Chad Kilger Wade Redden (2)
TB 5 Daymond Langkow Marc Savard (91)
EDM 6 Steve Kelly Petr Sykora (18)
WIN 7 Shane Doan JS Giguere (13)
MON 8 Terry Ryan Daymond Langkow (5)
BOS 9 Kyle McLaren Bryan Berard (1)
FLA 10 Radek Dvorak Radek Dvorak (10)

Iginla and Doan were Kamloops Blazers teammates and are the two best players from the draft.  Berard could have been higher but his eye injury limited what his talent might have shown.  Still, 4 of the top 10 would still go in the top 10 today.



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
OTT 1 Chris Phillips Zdeno Chara (56)
SJ 2 Andrei Zyuzin Danny Briere (24)
NYI 3 JP Dumont Chris Phillips (1)
WSH 4 Alexandre Volchkov Tomas Kaberle (204)
DAL 5 Ric Jackman JP Dumont (3)
EDM 6 Boyd Devereaux Matt Cullen (35)
BUF 7 Erik Rasmussen Dainius Zubrus (15)
BOS 8 Johnathan Aitken Derek Morris (13)
ANH 9 Ruslan Salei Marco Sturm (21)
NJ 10 Lance Ward Pavel Kubina (179)

This is one of the weaker drafts in the list.  It was a series of busts for the top 10’s, but Chara was a steal for the Islanders.  They simply gave up on him before his potential was reached.  Only 2 of the top 10 would still merit that selection today.



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
BOS 1 Joe Thornton Joe Thornton (1)
SJ 2 Patrick Marleau Roberto Luongo (4)
LAK 3 Olli Jokinen Marian Hossa (12)
NYI 4 Roberto Luongo Patrick Marleau (2)
NYI 5 Eric Brewer Brendan Morrow (25)
CGY 6 Daniel Tkaczuk Brian Campbell (156)
TB 7 Paul Mara Olli Jokinen (3)
BOS 8 Sergei Samsonov Sergei Samsonov (8)
WAS 9 Nick Boynton Dan Cleary (13)
VAN 10 Brad Ference Kristian Huselius (47)

This is the first time in 7 years that the actual first player chosen is the one who would still be in that spot today.  Thornton is the top player, while Luongo might have taken over the top spot with a Stanley Cup this past spring.  Still, half of the top 10 was warranted, and in my redraft would still be top 10 picks.



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
TB 1 Vincent Lecavalier Vincent Lecavalier (1)
NSH 2 David Legwand Pavel Datsyuk (171)
SJ 3 Brad Stuart Brad Richards (64)
VAN 4 Bryan Allen Alex Tanguay (12)
ANH 5 Vitaly Vishnevski Scott Gomez (27)
CGY 6 Rico Fata Simon Gagne (22)
NYR 7 Manny Malhotra Brad Stuart (3)
CHI 8 Mark Bell Mike Ribeiro (45)
NYI 9 Mike Rupp Brian Gionta (82)
TOR 10 Nik Antropov Jaroslav Spacek (117)

The second year in a row that the top pick would still be tops.  Tampa had a good draft as they got the 2 of the 3 best players in the draft.  Datsyuk could end up overtaking Lecavalier in the next few years, should we revisit the list at a later date. Datsyuk would rival Alfredsson as the biggest steal ever from the draft, and may yet overtake Lecavalier as the best of the class.  It was a year of surprises, as only 2 of the top 10 would get back to that level in a re-draft (although Legwand would be close to making it 3).



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
ATL 1 Patrik Stefan Henrik Sedin (3)
VAN 2 Daniel Sedin Daniel Sedin (2)
VAN 3 Henrik Sedin Henrik Zetterberg (210)
NYR 4 Pavel Brendl Ryan Miller (138)
NYI 5 Tim Connolly Martin Havlat (26)
NSH 6 Brian Finley Martin Erat (191)
WSH 7 Kris Beech Tim Connolly (5)
NYI 8 Taylor Pyatt Ryan Malone (115)
NYR 9 Jamie Lundmark Mike Comrie (91)
NYI 10 Branislav Mezei Jordan Leopold (44)

Wow Atlanta, how different it might have gone for you.  Either of the Sedins would have made a difference, as would Zetterberg who completes the trifecta of best steals ever.  Only 3 of the top 10 would still qualify for the honour today.



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
NYI 1 Rick DiPietro Dany Heatley (2)
ATL 2 Dany Heatley Henrik Lundqvist (205)
MIN 3 Marian Gaborik Marian Gaborik (3)
CBJ 4 Rostislav Klesla Ilya Bryzgalov (44)
NYI 5 Raffi Torres Lubomir Visnovsky (118)
NSH 6 Scott Hartnell Scott Hartnell (6)
BOS 7 Lars Jonsson Rick DiPietro (1)
TBL 8 Nikita Alexeev Justin Williams (28)
CGY 9 Brent Krahn Alex Frolov (20)
CHI 10 Mikhail Yakubov Brad Boyes (24)

DiPietro hasn’t fulfilled the promise that made him the first overall pick.  He has had health issues, but even when he plays he doesn’t have the consistency and isn’t even the best goalie to come from the draft.  This was a deep goalie draft as Lundqvist and Bryzgalov would both be among the top 10 as well as DiPietro.



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
ATL 1 Ilya Kovalchuk Ilya Kovalchuk (1)
OTT 2 Jason Spezza Jason Spezza (2)
TB 3 Alexander Svitov Mike Cammalleri (49)
FLA 4 Stephen Weiss Ales Hemsky (13)
ANH 5 Stanislav Chistov Derek Roy (32)
MIN 6 Mikko Koivu Patrick Sharp (95)
MTL 7 Mike Komisarek Tomas Plekanec (71)
CBJ 8 Pascal Leclaire Mikko Koivu (6)
CHI 9 Tuomo Ruutu Stephen Weiss (4)
NYR 10 Dan Blackburn Marek Zidlicky (176)

Its a toss-up between Spezza and Kovalchuk, but I had to give the edge to Ilya (if for no other reason than my past Spezza favortism).  However, I don’t think Ottawa would deal Spezza for Kovalchuk straight up if all other things were equal.  Both are pretty much exactly at a point per game in their career, but Spezza makes others around him better.  The first time that the 1-2 picks would still apply today.



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
CBJ 1 Rick Nash Rick Nash (1)
ATL 2 Kari Lehtonen Cam Ward (25)
FLA 3 Jay Bouwmeester Duncan Keith (54)
PHI 4 Joni Pitkanen Alexander Semin (13)
PIT 5 Ryan Whitney Jay Bouwmeester (3)
NSH 6 Scottie Upshall Pierre-Marc Bouchard (8)
ANH 7 Joffrey Lupul Joni Pitkanen (4)
MIN 8 Pierre-Marc Bouchard Jarret Stoll (36)
FLA 9 Petr Taticek Joffrey Lupul (7)
CGY 10 Eric Nystrom Kari Lehtonen (2)

Rick Nash is the best player, but Cam Ward has a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe which would lend credence to those who might slot him ahead of the Blue Jackets’ sniper.  Six of the top 10 have proven themselves worthy of being in the same situation after the fact.



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
PIT 1 Marc-Andre Fleury Marc-Andre Fleury (1)
CAR 2 Eric Staal Eric Staal (2)
FLA 3 Nathan Horton Corey Perry (28)
CBJ 4 Nikolai Zherdev Ryan Getzlaf (19)
BUF 5 Thomas Vanek Mike Richards (24)
SJS 6 Milan Michalek Zach Parise (17)
NSH 7 Ryan Suter Dion Phaneuf (9)
ATL 8 Braydon Coburn Shea Weber (49)
CGY 9 Dion Phaneuf Ryan Kesler (23)
MTL 10 Andrei Kostitsyn Patrice Bergeron (45)

This is easily the best draft year in this study group, and probably ever.  There could be as many as 15 other players that would get consideration to be on the top 10 list of any other year.  Looking at the names left out of the top 10, there could be an argument for each one to be included.  Leaving Tomas Vanek and Nathan Horton off my list was tough.



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
WSH 1 Alex Ovechkin Alex Ovechkin (1)
PIT 2 Evgeni Malkin Evgeni Malkin (2)
CHI 3 Cam Barker Mike Green (29)
CAR 4 Andrew Ladd Mark Streit (262)
PHX 5 Blake Wheeler Pekka Rinne (258)
NYR 6 Al Montoya Johan Franzen (97)
FLA 7 Rostislav Olesz David Krejci (63)
CBJ 8 Alexandre Picard Travis Zajac (20)
ANH 9 Ladislav Smid Drew Stafford(13)
ATL 10 Boris Valabik Alex Edler (91)

Easy 1-2 picks, but after that the rest of the top 10 has disappointed.  There are some good players there, but not among the class some of the players who were picked after them.



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
PIT 1 Sidney Crosby Sidney Crosby (1)
ANH 2 Bobby Ryan Carey Price (5)
CAR 3 Jack Johnson Paul Stastny (44)
MIN 4 Benoit Pouliot Bobby Ryan (2)
MTL 5 Carey Price Anze Kopitar (11)
CBJ 6 Gilbert Brule Kris Letang (62)
CHI 7 Jack Skille Jonathan Quick (72)
SJS 8 Devon Setoguchi Devin Setoguchi (8)
OTT 9 Brian Lee James Neal (33)
VAN 10 Luc Bourdon Keith Yandle (105)

Crosby was and still is the run-away top pick.  Ryan took some time, but is now coming on as a dominant force that Brian Burke thought he would be.  It is unfortunate that  we will never know just how good Luc Bourdon could have been, as his fatal motorcycle accident took his life and his career before it really got started.



Team Pick # Actual Hindsight (Their actual spot)
STL 1 Erik Johnson Jonathan Toews (3)
PIT 2 Jordan Staal Nicklas Backstrom (4)
CHI 3 Jonathan Toews Jordan Staal (2)
WSH 4 Nicklas  Backstrom Claude Giroux (22)
BOS 5 Phil Kessel Phil Kessel (5)
CBJ 6 Derick Brassard Erik Johnson (1)
NYI 7 Kyle Okposo Milan Lucic (50)
PHX 8 Peter Mueller Chris Stewart (18)
MIN 9 James Sheppard Bryan Little (12)
FLA 10 Michael Frolik Peter Mueller (8)

I think the Blues might want this one back, as Johnson is becoming and will improve to be a star player.  However, the dynamic forwards I would have in the top 5 would all have suited the Blues better. You could also argue for Lucic and Stewart to also be slotted ahead of Johnson.  Mueller could improve the standing if he can return from serious concussion problems.

So this is just more evidence that having a lottery pick isn’t always the best thing. The pressure is on those players is immense and many can’t live up to the hype.  Only 7 times out of 15 years was the top pick indeed the top pick, and a couple of those are even debatable.

Of the 150 top 10 picks between 1992 and 2006, I would have slotted only 54 as legitimate top 10 picks in hindsight, or barely over 1/3. In fact, 26 players that were drafted 100th or later would be in my top 10 for that particular year.

More evidence that it doesn’t matter what pick you have, its what you do with it that counts.  Its not an exact science and there is an incredible amount of luck involved.




Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.

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