With hockey news running slow, I decided I'd write about the future. And when talking about the future, why not focus on the 2009 NHL Entry Draft?
There is really one name that comes to most people's minds when next year's first overall pick is brought up—Oshawa Generals superstar John Tavares. However, lots of people aren't aware of Swedish defenseman, Victor Hedman, who too is projected to possibly go first overall.
First, I'll take a look at Tavares. In 2004-05, he was playing AAA Minor Midget, so he was facing people one year older than him. He played one season for the Toronto Marlboros, where he finished the season with a spectacular 158 points (91 goals, 67 assists).
Tavares ended up playing the end of the season with the Milton Icehawks of the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League, notching 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists) in 20 games.
At the OHL draft the following summer, Tavares became the youngest player ever drafted into the OHL, at age 14. In his OHL rookie year (2005-06), he played 65 games, finishing with 45 goals, 32 assists, and 72 penalty minutes. That season Tavares won the CHL Rookie of the Year, and the OHL Rookie of the Year.
In the 2006-07 season, he was invited to the Canadian World Junior selection camp, but did not make the team. However, he played 67 games for the Generals that year, and finished with an outstanding 134 points.
In this 134-point campaign, Tavares scored 72 goals, which broke the legendary Wayne Gretzky's record of 70 goals (by a 16 year-old). That year he was awarded with the Red Tilson Trophy (most outstanding player in the league) and the CHL Player of the Year award.
And then comes this season just past. Tavares played 59 games this past season, scoring 40 goals, and finishing the season with 118 points. He was again invited to the Canadian World Junior selection camp—and this time, made the team, helping Canada to its fourth-straight gold medal.
Due to his amazing offensive ability shown in his past three OHL seasons, Tavares has already been compared to the likes of Mike Bossy.
Now on to the relatively unknown Victor Hedman. There isn't as much information on him as there is about Tavares, but I found as much as I could. He plays for MODO Hockey in Elitserien. He played 39 games for the team, scoring two goals, adding two assists, and 44 penalty minutes. He was also a plus-one.
Although those stats don't seem amazing, one must take into consideration that Hedman is an amazing 6'6", and weighs 220 lbs.—and he'll surely gain weight. He too played in the World Junior Championships this year, losing to Canada and winning a silver medal with Sweden.
Like Tavares, Hedman has been compared to an NHL player—except for Hedman it's Chris Pronger, defenseman and captain for the Anahiem Ducks.
I was also able to find an article about Hedman, which includes a quote on the Swede, saying he'd be a wise choice for a first overall pick. It says as follows:
"But Hedman is already making a name of himself, highly ranked for the 2009 draft. So highly indeed that a senior NHL scout who had a lot of success in drafting the past 20 years told Hockey’s Future during a WJC game this week that he would not hesitate to recommend to his organization to take Hedman instead of Canadian John Tavares as the first overall pick of the 2009 draft."
Until I started researching Hedman, I would have easily said John Tavares will go first overall in next year's draft. But now I have to say I'm not really sure—especially after reading such a quote as the one above.
So, I'm not going to finish this article with a final opinion, since I do not have one. However, I'll instead ask you, the readers, your opinion. Who would you choose: the next Mike Bossy, or the next Chris Pronger?