NHL Millennium Megadraft: Round One
If you're confused by the title, don't feel bad. You're probably not alone. So I'll explain how this works.
Being a draft junkie, and experiencing writer's block due to the lack of hockey action in August, I've decided to play around a bit with the last few drafts.
I've taken the top five picks from each of the last six drafts (starting with 2001, and leaving out 2007 and 2008, because most of those players haven't hit the NHL yet). I've then merged all 30 players into one newly-ranked list.
And that gives us round one of the NHL Millennium Megadraft.
Let's get started. Here are the players we'll be working with:
2001: Ilya Kovalchuk, Jason Spezza, Alex Svitov, Stephen Weiss, Stanislav Chistov
2002: Rick Nash, Kari Lehtonen, Jay Bouwmeester, Joni Pitkanen, Ryan Whitney
2003: Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Nathan Horton, Nikolai Zherdev, Thomas Vanek
2004: Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Cam Barker, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler
2005: Sidney Crosby, Bobby Ryan, Jack Johnson, Benoit Pouliot, Carey Price
2006: Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews, Nicklas Backstrom, Phil Kessel
Now to plunk them all into one list, and rank them 1-30. Remember, some of the younger players (e.g. Bobby Ryan) haven't established themselves in the NHL yet and will be ranked lower accordingly.
1. Sidney Crosby: Edges out OV in a two-man race.
2. Alex Ovechkin: A no-brainer.
3. Evgeni Malkin: Not far behind Ovechkin, but not quite on the same level.
4. Rick Nash: Explosive goalscorer has improved all-around game.
5. Ilya Kovalchuk: Other-worldly talent, no supporting cast.
6. Marc-Andre Fleury: Finally proved himself in 2008 playoffs.
7. Jay Bouwmeester: Two-way D-man likely to hit market next summer.
8. Eric Staal: Excellent all-around talent, though consistency is an issue.
9. Jason Spezza: Propensity for turnovers puts him a shade behind Staal.
10. Jonathan Toews: New 'Hawks captain could be near top of list in future.
11. Kari Lehtonen: Injuries an issue, but Lehtonen is a rock when healthy.
12. Thomas Vanek: Tailed off last year, but 50 goals not out of reach.
13. Nathan Horton: Power forward in the making has put injuries behind him.
14. Joni Pitkanen: Stock has fallen considerably, but franchise potential still there.
15. Erik Johnson: Sky is the limit for Blues' franchise player.
16. Jordan Staal: Strong PKer who can snipe, but offensive upside is questionable.
17. Nikolai Zherdev: Perennial headache could reach new heights in Big Apple.
18. Ryan Whitney: Offensive d-man has room to improve in own end.
19. Nicklas Backstrom: Look for Swede to climb the charts setting up Ovechkin.
20. Carey Price: Unflappable goalie will rise considerably with more experience.
21. Phil Kessel: Not the Next One, but Kessel will be a first line forward.
22. Jack Johnson: Nasty rearguard could form NHL's top pairing with Doughty.
23. Stephen Weiss: Centre not living up to expectations; third line centre on most teams.
24. Andrew Ladd: Canes pick looks for fresh start in Chicago; lots of time yet.
25. Cam Barker: Having trouble cracking a regular spot; object of trade rumours.
26. Bobby Ryan: Why Ducks took him over JJ, we'll never know; maybe a top-six forward.
27. Benoit Pouliot: Not an NHL regular yet, but development still on track.
28. Stanislav Chistov: Bruins reclamation project all but finished with NHL.
29. Alex Svitov: Played three seasons with disappointing results before returning home.
30. Blake Wheeler: Off-the-board pick who just finished college, signed with Bruins.
Feel free to make your own list and post it below.
Stick around for next time as Josh puts together Round 2 of the NHL Millennium Megadraft.
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