2009 NHL Entry Draft's Top Steals
Every year, players get passed over and do much better then players picked ahead of them. In this draft, like every other, there were players that were drafted below where they should have gone.
The following is a look back at this past draft, and takes a closer look at a few of the picks to see which teams got a real bargain for their selection.
No. 7 Mike Hoffman
Drafted by the Ottawa Senators, Mike Hoffman was a very good steal at 150th overall.
Mike Hoffman played for the Drummonvdille Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Hoffman had a very good offensive year for the Voltigeurs, recording 52 goals and 42 assists for 94 points in 62 games.
Hoffman finished fifth overall in league scoring, and second overall in goal totals for the league. How Hoffman was completly ignored in his original draft year is a mystery to me.
No. 6 Ethan Werek
A potential first-round selection slipped to the 47th spot in the draft right into the hands of the New York Rangers.
Last year, Werek was a rookie for the cellar-dwelling Kingston Frontenacs. Despite that fact, Werek had an outstanding year with the Fronts, finishing second in rookie goals for with 32 markers. Werek also managed to tally 32 assists throughout the season as well making him a top contender for the rookie of the year award.
Frankly, I am surprised he did not go higher then he did which makes him a good steal.
No. 5 Jaroslav Janus
Jaroslav Janus is a very underrated goaltender. Many may have never even heard of him before, but believe me, this kid has a lot of potential.
I first heard of Janus during the 2009 World Junior Championship. Janus was the starting goaltender for the Slovakian junior squad. In the first game I saw him play was quite possibly the best goaltending performance I have ever witnessed at the tournament.
The Slovaks were matched up against the United States. Very outmatched, Janus managed to make 44 saves on 47 shots, and won the game for Slovakia.
This goalie can play amazing when the chips are down, and that makes him an excellent pick for the Tampa Bay Lightning
No. 4 Dmitry Kulikov
Dmitry Kulikov was rated in the top 10 but fell to the 14th selection right into the hands of the Florida Panthers.
With the loss of all-star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, this is the perfect way to replace him. Kulikov is a high-caliber defenseman who provides a lot of offensive punch.
In his first season in the QMJHL, Kulikov managed to claim the Rookie of the Year award, Best Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Defenseman of the Year award. Not too shabby if I say so myself, especially in a league that is very offensively minded.
The Panthers have found a gem in Kulikov and he could very well skate with the team next season.
No. 3 Jared Cowen
Jared Cowen was the ninth overall selection of the Ottawa Senators. Cowen at once was slated to go in the top five of the draft, but fell due to injury problems.
Cowen is a massive defenseman, and is very steady and very reliable. He was a rock for the Spokane Chiefs, and was a pivotal piece in their 2008 Memorial Cup victory. Cowen is exactly what the Senators need on defense.
Although he will likely return to Spokane for another season, and with that experience he will eventually become one of the best in the league possibly the replacement of Zdeno Chara the Ottawa Senators so desperately need.
No. 2 Matt Duchene
Now I know what you are probably thinking. Duchene went third overall: how is this a steal? But believe me, the Avalance got the best player available in the draft.
Duchene, a forward for the Brampton Battalion, is the real deal. He is on of the best skaters in the draft, and quite possibly the smartest as well. One of the best qualities, however, is that he elevates his game in key situations.
I had the pleasure of watching him play in the first round of the OHL playoffs last year, and he ran the tables; it was very impressive. Duchene was voted the best playmaker and stickhandler in the East as voted by the coaches, and he also won Scholastic Player of the Year for the entire league.
Colorado has a future star in the making.
No. 1 Ryan Ellis
Ryan Ellis went right around where the scouts predicted, so you may be asking, why would he be a steal?
Well, Ellis, in his second season in the OHL, scored 22 goals and added 67 assists in the regular season, tops among defensemen for points and seventh in overall scoring for the league. Ellis went a +57 in the regular season and was voted Defenseman of the Year. In the annual coaches poll Ellis received three awards as top offensive defenseman, hardest shot, and smartest player in the West.
Oh! did I mention Ellis also won the Memorial cup and took gold in the World Junior Championships? Not bad for 11th overall.