Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fascinatingly late picks since 2000 in the NHL draft

While I've been looking through the drafts of the past and the old Maple Leaf picks and things like that, I've found it very interesting to see who falls to where in the draft. Seriously, even first round picks, however promising, don't really go that far - loading up on first round picks doesn't really mean that much.

Ten years ago

But some guys drop way down into the sixth and seventh rounds, but turn out really great. Here are some of the stand-outs that I've found. 7th round, 2000 draft: Henrik Lundquvist by the NYR, 205th overall. He's the highest paid goalie in the NHL right now! Rick DiPietro, Dan Heatley and Marian Gaborik went 1, 2, 3 that year. Biggest bust that year: Lars Jonsson went 7th overall. Never heard of him.

Nine years ago
Marek Svatos went 227th, last in the seventh round in the 2001 draft. Ilya Kovalchuk, Jason Spezza and Alexander Svitov went 1, 2 and 3. Biggest bust of that draft - who the hell is Svitov?

Eight years ago

From the 2002 draft, there's the notable Adam Burish, who was out-spoken after winning the Stanley Cup, saying he hated Chris Pronger, and if he saw him in the parking lot, he'd punch him in the face. Pronger responded - "Next time I see him? See him where? In the minors?" Yes, hilarious. Burish was drafted in the 9th round, 282nd overall - he was almost NOT drafted, basically. So - Pronger had a point, yet Burish has a Stanley Cup ring. Cup winner Maxime Talbot was picked in the 8th round, 234th overall. Also notable, Edmonton voided their 4th round pick, 123rd overall by selecting an ineligible player. Weird.

That was a tough year - not really many stars came out of that one. Rick Nash, Kari Lehtonen and Jay Bouwmeester went 1, 2 and 3. Yeah, a shallow draft crop.

Seven years ago
Notables - Brian Elliot was drafted second-last by Ottawa. He's since played playoff games for the Senators in net. Pretty good for the 9th round and 291st overall. Also in that 9th round was Jaroslav Halak! Picked 210th overall Halak is the premiere RFA this season, and STL will be happy to have him. Pretty deep draft year if you've got two playoff caliber goalies coming out of the ninth round! From the 7th round Joe Pavelski was picked by SJ - and this post season he was among the top goal scorers until the Sharks were eliminated.

Maple Leafs notables: Jason Smith was drafted this year by NJ. He's since retired, making it a short career, wouldn't you agree? This year had an outstanding first round, too. All of the picks were remarkable. Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal and Nathan Horton went 1, 2 and 3 while the bust of the draft is: Hugh Jessiman (who the hell is this guy?)

Six years ago
Not a lot happening in this draft. In the late rounds Mikhail Grabovski is selected 5th, 150th overall (remember, he was acquired for a second-round pick), and was technically the first-line centre for the Maple Leafs this season. But that hardly constitutes a surprise late in the draft. Cup winner Kris Versteeg was selected in the 5th round, 134th overall, which is a pretty good pick! Johan Franzen (probably the most expensive and high-scoring player from this draft not selected in the first round) was selected in the late 3rd round, 97th overall.

Put it this way, the Leafs passed on Franzen and selected Justin Pogge with their only pick of the draft - no kidding! The Leafers didn't have a first or second round pick in this draft, either! The draft opened with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Cam Barker, 1, 2 and 3. Yeah, other than the first two picks, this draft was a dud.

Five years ago
This year they stopped having nine rounds in the draft, stopping at seven. So there are a lot fewer chances for late picks. This also means that there are about 78% of the picks from the usual draft, which means you have to technically be more selective with what choices you get, considering you get fewer picks.

Biggest head-case from the draft is Sergei Kostitsyn (whom Montreal is happy to be rid of, I'm sure) especially considering that he's a seventh round pick, 200th overall. He had a big head (and Montreal had big expectations of him, too) considering he wasn't necessarily a high-ranked prospect. He's probably the big surprise to come late of the draft. Sid Crosby, Bobby Ryan and Jack Johnson went 1, 2 and 3. The NHL is still waiting for most of this draft to come of age.

Four years ago
As we get more and more recent with the drafts, it's obvious that there hasn't been enough time to see which picks play out to be better than others. So - we may not find diamonds in the rough yet, 'cause they haven't been squeezed out of the coal ... yet. None of the late picks have turned into NHL regulars yet. Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal and Jonathan Toewes went 1, 2 and 3. Two of those guys have Stanley Cups already.

Three years ago
In the middle of the seventh round Carl Gunnarsson was selected 194th overall, and he's been relatively popular in Toronto for having a good shot and a big body-check. That's a pretty good pick late in the draft. (Hilariously - the NYI drafted Blake Kessel - which sounds like a terrible Maple Leaf player that's expected to score more goals than possible. Doesn't it? I hope the Leafs never, ever wind up acquiring a player named Blake Kessel!)

This wasn't as deep a draft as the years before, which can be evidenced by the top three selections. While Patrick Kane has won a Stanley Cup and was a major contributor during the playoffs, James Van Riemsdyk and Kyle Turris went 1, 2 and 3.

Two years ago
While I hate this guy - and think that he's a problem waiting to happen, he still seems to be selected to the Canadian Junior National teams all the time. Steffan Della Rovere is a PIM magnet/ loose cannon/ problem on skates. How he's achieved as much as he has in his short career baffles me - perhaps I'm just jealous. But I seriously don't like his game or his contributions. That being said - he's a remarkably well regarded prospect who was selected 204th overall in the seventh round by Washington. 207 out of 211 is almost at the very bottom (probably where he belongs) but if his career is anything like his junior accomplishments - he could be a real steal down the road.

Andrei Laktionov was a star Spitfire who was selected early in the fifth round, 123rd overall by LA. He got called up to the bigs one night, was destroyed against the boards, and left in hospital somewhere in the mid-west while the Kings continued on their road trip. He appears to be a bit small for the majors, but in junior, he was simply amazing.

The top three this year were Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty and Zach Bogosian. Two of them have already made incredible impacts on the league so far. Bogosian is surely soon to follow.

Last year
John Tavares, Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene were taken 1, 2 and 3. It's way too early to find a long-shot in this draft.

This year
who knows. Let's hope that each of the Leafs picks are outstanding. Let's just hope.

King of the Road Caption: Wait a sec, where's Frank?

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