Jiri Tlusty was ranked as the third best European skating prospect by Central Scouting, but was not even a top-30 player of that draft
Speculation is that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be the top pick in this weekend's 2011 NHL Draft, but how accurate are those assessments?
Over the days that follow, there will be a lot more speculation about which team did best. But the draft is hardly an exact science, and the reality is one cannot know the value of a pick for years.
For instance, two of the San Jose Sharks leaders in ice time in the 2011 playoffs, Ian White (click the following link to see why the team should re-sign him) and Dan Boyle, were taken with the 191st pick and undrafted, respectively. Fellow top-four defenceman Douglas Murray was drafted in the eighth round.
But after five years, one has a pretty good assessment of who was worth what. With that in mind, we revisit the 2006 draft and assess how the first round may have gone had we known then what we know now.
CORRECTION: The Seabrook taken 52nd was Keith, not Brent. With the third-best player of this draft rated there based on that mistake, he has been dropped.
Thus, the other picks have been elevated one spot each, and the above-pictured centre Jiri Tlusty moves up to 30th. The 13th pick in the draft has played in 149 career games (21st in this draft) with 17 goals (21st), 21 assists (tied for 20th), 38 points (23rd) and a minus-11 rating (15th).
Jonathan Toews was the third player selected in 2006, but has been the best player out of that draft.
Toews has played in 302 games, scored 115 goals, 152 assists, and gone plus-70 while recording 168 PIM. That ranks him fifth in games and second in goals, assists, points, and plus/minus.
But Toews is first in hardware. While there other players from that year's draft to win Lord Stanley's Cup, no others have been their team's captain nor the Conn Smythe winner.
Nicklas Backstrom was the fourth pick in 2006 by the Washington Capitals, but has been that draft's second-best player. Despite Washington's playoff struggles, Backstrom has been a large part of the reason they have gotten there.
Over his time with the team, he has played in 323 games, scored 87 goals, 236 assists, is plus-90 and has 160 PIM. Three players have more games and three have more goals, but no one matches him for assists, points, or plus/minus rating.
Point a game players these days are Hall of Fame players, and Backstrom's best years lay ahead of him.
Milan Lucic was a late second-round pick (50th) who ranks in the top-three of players drafted in 2006. He is the only one in the top-10 taken later than 22nd and his ranking 47 spots ahead of where he was drafted is sixth-best on the list, behind Viktor Stalberg (+135), James Reimer (+86), Theo Peckham (+50), Brad Marchand and Steve Mason (+49).
But Lucic is by far the most instrumental to his team's success, and he and Marchand are the only ones to hoist the Cup. His physical presence and skill make him one of the best young power forwards in the league.
In 278 games, Lucic has 64 goals, 87 assists, is plus-36 and has 390 PIM. Those numbers rank seventh in games and assists, sixth in goals and points, fifth in plus/minus and second in penalty minutes.
Claude Giroux was the 22nd player selected, but is the fourth-best player from the 2006 draft. Giroux has been the primary scorer on one of the game's most potent third lines, and is a good defender as well.
That has been a major reason the Philadelphia Flyers have been one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference the last three seasons, with six playoff series wins. He gives them the depth to contemplate trades of top players to find room for Ilya Bryzgalov.
In 208 games, he has 50 goals, 100 assists, is plus-19 and has just 84 penalty minutes. The skating talent of the Flyers has been a contributor to his games played ranking just 15th, yet he ranks in the top-10 of this draft in goals (ninth), assists (sixth), points (seventh) and plus/minus (seventh).
After his first three years, the second pick in the 2006 draft looked like its best player. Jordan Staal won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie in 2007, and had led the league in short-handed goals.
Since, he has scored 20 twice more and helped his team reach the Stanley Cup Finals twice, winning it in 2009. However, he has not matched his 29-goal output from his rookie campaign nor reached 50 points yet despite having 42 that season.
Still, he is one of the better checking line centres in the game, and ranks in the top five in games played (third with 95), goals (third with 95), assists (fifth with 103), points (fourth), plus/minus (fourth at plus-42) and PIM (fourth with 197).
Prior to his Calder Trophy Finalist 2011 campaign, Michael Grabner might have been thought a bust. He had played just 20 games and had 11 points before going from the forward-stocked Vancouver Canucks to the talent-starved New York Islanders, showing just how precarious early judgments of drafts can be.
He has now played in 96 games, scored 39 goals, 24 assists, and 63 points with a plus-15 rating and just 18 penalty minutes. While he is not in the top-15 in games or any scoring statistic, his performance as one of the few scoring threats on a bad team shows a lot of promise.
Phil Kessel had been somewhat of a disappointment to Maple Leafs fans in 2009-10, when the team traded what turned out to be the second pick in the 2010 draft for his rights.
But by battling cancer and winning the Bill Masterton Trophy in his rookie campaign, Kessel has shown the ability to rebound as he did in 2010-11.
He is not known as a physical defender (minus-23 rating and just 101 PIM), but has scored 30 goals for three seasons in a row. He won the silver medal with Team USA in 2010 and made the 2010-11 All Star team.
He ranks second in games (374), first in goals (128), fourth in assists (117) and third in points (245) among that year's draftees. This easily makes him one of the top-10 picks of that draft.
The St. Louis Blues gave up on the top pick of the 2006 draft, trading Erik Johnson to the Colorado Avalanche during the 2010-11 season. But his numbers are still good enough to put him in the top-10 of that class.
He is a solid defender who can be physical, as evidenced by his 163 PIM (eighth on this list). His minus-21 rating is tied for fifth lowest, but this is because he has often been used by marginal teams to defend against their opponents' best scorers.
At the same time, he is an asset in the offensive end. His 101 points in 225 games makes him the single-best scorer from the blueline drafted that season.
Viktor Stalberg was the steal of the 2006 draft, coming out of the sixth-round
The rest of the players who should have been selected in the first round of the 2006 draft include three second-round picks, four third-rounders and one from the sixth round.
They are listed below with, respectively, their draft order, drafting team, position, games played, and goals, assists, points, plus/minus and PIM for skaters and goals allowed, saves, save percentage, GAA and record for goalies:
|44||Nikolai Kulemin||Maple Leafs||LW||233||61||63||124||-1||60|
|99||James Reimer||Maple Leafs||G||37||90||1134||0.921||2.6||20-10-8|
|69||Steve Mason||Blue Jackets||G||173||456||4852||0.906||2.77||77-67-41|
|6||Derick Brassard||Blue Jackets||C||201||37||73||110||-20||126|
|161||Viktor Stalberg||Maple Leafs||LW||117||21||17||38||-11||73|
|47||Shawn Matthias||Red Wings||C||126||15||21||36||-8||30|