What do you do when your team has been out of contention since October and there isn’t a ton going on outside of the playoffs? You go back and nitpick previous drafts, of course! So I took a look back five years in time to the 2009 NHL Draft to see how things would shake out with the benefit of a little hindsight. Here’s what I came up with:
1.) New York Islanders – Original Pick: John Tavares, New Pick: Tavares – This ends the same way it did the first time around: the Islanders get their franchise center and the best player in the draft. Tavares has become an MVP-calibre player and has yet to even reach his ceiling. No-brainer here.
2.) Tampa Bay Lightning – Original Pick: Victor Hedman, New Pick: Hedman – Based on need, the pick might remain the same (I have Duchene ranked higher) as the Lightning were deep offensively and lacking on the back end. Hedman has developed nicely and turned in his best overall season this past year. He’s big, smart and mobile; all of the traits of a franchise defenseman.
3.) Colorado Avalanche – Original Pick: Matt Duchene, New Pick: Duchene – Are we sure this is a re-draft? It is, but it turns out that the first three players selected in 2009 were actually the three best players in the draft. Duchene has always been a tantalizing talent, but he dabbled with superstardom this year. He has next-level speed and developed an innate ability to find space and the open man this year. He’s still behind Tavares, but not by much.
4.) Winnipeg Jets – Original Pick: Evander Kane, New pick: Ryan O’Reilly – Speaking of another Colorado pick the first time around, it’s safe to say no one thought O’Reilly would turn out the way he has. Not only has he brought a stellar two-way game to the fold, but he’s a leader and locker room favorite and has developed a surprising offensive game (he led the Avalanche this year with 28 goals). His hard-nosed, two-way game and strong leadership would be a great fit on a young team that needs help at center like the future Jets could’ve used here.
5.) Los Angeles Kings – Original Pick: Brayden Schenn, New Pick: Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Drew Doughty is enough to handle on most nights, but can you imagine if the Kings added the young Swedish defender to go along with him? Ekman-Larsson plays an understated game – mostly because he plays in a city that doesn’t get much attention – but is capable of being a franchise defenseman. Imagine if he were able to thrive while Doughty took on the toughest competition.
6.) Phoenix Coyotes – Original Pick: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, New Pick: Kane – It seems like the Coyotes are always bringing in defensive talent, but this could be the first game-changing offensive talent to howl in the desert in a long time. Kane is that special mix of size, speed and skill, with a strong enough frame to muck it up and win the battles. With the right talent around him, he could lock down your top line wing for a long, long time.
7.) Toronto Maple Leafs – Original Pick: Nazem Kadri, New Pick: Nick Leddy – It seems like the Leafs are always searching for defensive help and they would get it with this pick. Nick Leddy isn’t going to blow the doors off as a franchise-level defender, but he’s as solid and versatile as can be. He’s a strong skater, capable of leading the rush and quarterbacking the power play, but he’s smart in his own end as well. Leddy isn’t the flash that Maple Leaf Nation loves, but he’s the solid they need.
8.) Dallas Stars – Original Pick: Scott Glennie, New Pick: Tyson Barrie – It’s hard to find puck-moving defensemen like Tyson Barrie and it’s even easier to pass them over (he was a third round pick the first time around). Over the last few years, Barrie has shown that he has that elite-level offensive ability from the back end. He’s a fantastic skater, picks his spots well and has a nose for the net when given the opportunity. He gets caught out of position sometimes, but he’s remedied that part of his game to a “needs work” level, which is something teams can deal with when getting that kind of offensive output.
9.) Ottawa Senators – Original Pick: Jared Cowen, New Pick: Schenn – Like defensemen, it seems like you can never have too many quality centers. Getting Schenn here would be a great value for the Sens, who would be able to slot him in behind Jason Spezza and give him some quality talent to help accentuate the offensive side of his game. Even when he’s not scoring, he’s got a solid two-way game and displaying strong faceoff skills. He’s the complete player who doesn’t win awards, but helps you win titles.
10.) Edmonton Oilers – Original Pick: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, New Pick: Tomas Tatar – Is it just me or are there never any defensemen valued where they pick? Regardless, the pick here is the uber-talented Tomas Tatar. He’s a magician with the puck and can make the impossible happen; surrounding him with elite young talent like the Oilers have offensively could see his game take off. The Oil would love a defenseman here, but they’ll take another incredibly talented forward. Especially ones capable of undressing Zdeno Chara.
11.) Nashville Predators – Original Pick: Ryan Ellis, New Pick: Kadri – The Preds are always looking for ways to bolster their less-than-thrilling offensive attack and a player like Kadri would be more than welcome. He’s a strong playmaker with great one-on-one skills and could benefit from playing in a place where he’d be allowed to just play. In Toronto, there is constant scrutiny to deal with. In Nashville? He’d be allowed to learn and grow, potentially into the star-calibre offensive player he was thought to be the first time around.
12.) New York Islanders – Original Pick: Calvin de Haan, New Pick: Dmitry Kulikov – Looks like the Islanders stick with defense here, going with Dmitri Kulikov instead. Kulikov has good size and mobility along with decent offensive pop, but it’s his physical game that makes him a complete player. He has the ability to mash with the best of them and is capable of laying out a huge hit (ask Mike Green). Imposing presences on the blueline can’t be understated.
13.) Buffalo Sabres – Original Pick: Zack Kassian, New Pick: Marcus Johansson – The Sabres took a risk on Kassian originally because they needed to add size, but in retrospect, a skilled playmaker. With the current state of the Sabres, he could benefit some of the young talent coming up and ease their transition or perhaps even facilitate a move to wing for one of the many centers on the roster.
14.) Florida Panthers – Original Pick: Dmitry Kulikov, New Pick: Craig Smith – With their original (and better) pick off the board here, Smith would give them some much-needed offensive punch up the middle. At 6’1”, he’s got the size teams like up the middle and popping in 24 goals and 52 points in offensively-challenged Nashville indicates the talent is there. Smith could take over top minutes with Jonathan Huberdeau and ease the pressure off of recent top pick Aleksander Barkov.
15.) Anaheim Ducks – Original Pick: Peter Holland, New Pick: Reilly Smith – Smith displayed his worth on a deep team this year by netting 20 goals and 51 points with the Bruins. He could have a similar impact on a deep team like the Ducks where he would be allowed to take second and third-line minutes and take pressure off of Anaheim’s top unit. No one ever has enough smart, skilled wingers in their midst.
16.) Minnesota Wild – Original Pick: Leddy, New Pick: Darcy Kuemper – Funny how this one worked out. The first time around, the Wild managed to grab Kuemper in the sixth round, but this time they’re going to have to pay a little higher price. The young, 6’5” netminder had a solid if abbreviated regular season before playing a huge role in the Wild’s first round upset of Colorado. He’s big, smart and covers his angles well, making him tough to beat. If his playoff performance is any indication, the Wild found themselves a keeper.
17.) St. Louis Blues – Original Pick: David Runblad, New Pick: Ryan Ellis – The Blues, already ridiculously stacked on defense, would be even more ridiculous with Ellis on their blueline. He’s not the rough-and-tumble, beat-‘em-up style the Blues like, but his skating and offensive abilities would fit in anywhere. Not only that, but with a blueline like the one in St. Louis, his size (5’9”) would be less of a liability if he were protected.
18.) Montreal Canadiens – Original Pick: Louis Leblanc, New Pick: Chris Kreider – Bittersweet given the events of the Eastern Conference Final, no? Still, it would be hard to turn down his blazing speed and size (6’2” 200). He’s still developing as a scorer, but has all the tools to make it big in the NHL. He still needs work defensively as well, but Kreider has a ton of potential to build on.
19.) New York Rangers – Original Pick: Kreider, New Pick: Jakob Silfverberg – With Kreider gone, Silfverberg is a nice consolation. The 6’1” Swedish winger is already praised for his strong two-way game, but is seen as someone who could hit the 25-30 goal mark as well. He could use a little stability (he was traded before he ever got his feet set in Ottawa) and his strong talent and big potential would be welcomed in the Big Apple.
20.) New Jersey Devils – Original Pick: Jacob Josefson, New Pick: Robin Lehner – With Martin Brodeur on his way out in the very near future, imagine a Devils team with Lehner and Cory Schneider sharing the load. Both have starter-level talent and Lehner, who has earned comparisons to Henrik Lundqvist, has the talent to steal the show.
21.) Columbus Blue Jackets – Original Pick: John Moore, New Pick: Kassian – While Moore, who was eventually dealt for Marian Gaborik, has been a solid piece for the Rangers, Kassian would be a perfect fit for Columbus hockey. He’s big, mean, physical and has all the talent to pop in 20-25 goals if he hits his stride. If he’s allowed to blend in and do his thing, he will become a reliable force.
22.) Vancouver Canucks – Original Pick: Jordan Schroeder, New Pick: Alex Chiasson – Chiasson seems like the perfect fit for the Canucks: big (6’4”) and talented. His skating is still a work in progress and he could stand to muck it up a little more for his size, but Chiasson has the tools to be a star in this league especially if he’s working with the right linemates.
23.) Calgary Flames – Original Pick: Tim Erixon, New Pick: Moore – The pick remains defense and the Flames add another solid building block to the defense with Moore. He still needs to work on his defensive game and could stand to add a little more grit given his size (6’2”), but he’s a fantastic skater and has an outstanding shot. With some refinement, he could be an absolute steal here.
24.) Washington Capitals – Original Pick: Johansson, New Pick: Kyle Palmieri – A guy like Palmieri is just what the Capitals need: a high-energy winger with a non-stop motor and the talent to go with it. Palmieri isn’t the biggest guy (5’11”) and still needs to learn to shore up his defense, but he’s the perfect bottom-six guy for a team like the Caps.
25.) Boston Bruins – Original Pick: Jordan Caron, New Pick: Drew Shore – Just what the Bruins need: another big, skilled center to add to their group of outstanding forwards. His skating still needs work and he’s adding size, but Shore is a very good playmaker who is learning to use his size. Playing the Bruin way could make him a force in the NHL.
26.) Anaheim Ducks – Original Pick: Palmieri, New Pick: Simon Despres — With Cam Fowler topping the Ducks blueline charts, a player like Despres – positionally sound, tough to beat one-on-one, big frame – could thrive in a place like Anaheim where he doesn’t have to be “the man”. He’s not mean enough for his size (6’4”) and might not have a standout offensive game, but Despres is likely to be a defenseman that’s counted on even if his name isn’t mentioned often.
27.) Carolina Hurricanes – Original Pick: Philippe Paradis, New Pick: Mattias Ekholm – Ekholm seems a lot like Despres: big, but not quite physical enough. Solid, but unspectacular. The Hurricanes are lacking for a lot these days and every good team needs an Ekholm or two on their blue line.
28.) Chicago Blackhawks – Original Pick: Dylan Olsen, New Pick: Marcus Kruger – Another team picking a player they got way later in the draft. Kruger, originally a fifth round pick, is solid on the faceoff and has strong playmaking skills. He’s solid and responsible in all three zones, making him an ideal third-line center. The Hawks got it right the first time and only validate that by making Kruger a first round pick this time.
29.) Tampa Bay Lightning – Original Pick: Carter Ashton, New Pick: Cowen – Cowen has tumbled from the ninth pick due to injuries and inconsistencies, but he still has the ability and potential to be an impactful player. He’s a big, mobile defender with a strong physical game. With Hedman taken by the Bolts already, he would be given a chance to make an impact on the second pairing instead of worrying about becoming an all-around defenseman logging top minutes.
30.) Pittsburgh Penguins – Original Pick: Despres, New Pick: Brandon Pirri – Could Pirri be the long-awaited winger the Pens have been looking to pair with Crosby? A center by nature, Pirri has the offensive ability to thrive – he had 14 points in 21 games with Florida after being traded – and would see time on the power play. He’s a strong playmaker and could help The Kid explore his scoring touch.
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