Draft day: the most exciting part of any young-athlete’s career. Having their name called in front of thousands of people and pulling the sweater of the team from their new home over their head is an experience like no other. This marks the birthplace of a career as a professional athlete, an opportunity that many dream of. The fascinating part about being a hockey fan who follows the league closely is the fact that you’re able to watch a complete transformation of a person; their voice begins to deepen, their complexion clears up, hair begins to shed, and even more importantly, you get to see the person they become. It’s like flipping through a history book, with each page bringing a different type of maturation of the player.
The entry draft isn’t just great because of all the listed reasons above but also since we reside in the digital age, we can view the draft-day pictures on any medium we desire — granting those who do with a reminder of the day their favorite franchise drafted that cornerstone, or even providing an occasional laugh regarding the way they look. For players that were drafted years ago, it’s evident that the current styles and trends have changed completely, which normally is a reason for why we find their looks hysterical. However, at a certain point in time, it was acceptable to go out in public dolled up the way they were. Regardless of that fact, this article will showcase 15 current NHL Stars on their special day.
15. Drew Doughty
Boy, did the Los Angles Kings know what they were doing when they drafted Drew Doughty second overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Since being drafted by L.A., Doughty has been a staple on the backend for both of the Kings’ playoff runs that resulted in Stanley Cup wins. Normally, it takes defensemen a little longer to develop than a forward due to a number of responsibilities on the ice, however with Doughty, he was inserted into the lineup immediately and has had a positive impact ever since. After capturing the James Norris Trophy for the first time in his career last season, he’s built up quite the collection of trophies over the course of his playing career. I’m sure it sits nicely with the two Olympic gold medals and Cup rings.
14. Erik Karlsson
Also in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, arguably the best defenseman (or even player) on the planet, Erik Karlsson was drafted as well — blossoming into an absolute stud on the backend. Being drafted 15th overall in the ’08 draft, it’s mind-boggling to see that players like Luke Schenn and the now-retired Cody Hodgson were drafted above him. The Ottawa Senators certainly lucked out here seeing as if the GMs of the draft knew how good he was going to be, there’s a good chance he would’ve gone ahead of number-one pick Steven Stamkos and 2nd-overall Drew Doughty. No shame to them but after watching this year’s playoffs, Karlsson has proven to be the backbone of the Senators and one of the NHL’s elite talents. As their GM said during the postseason, on the “8th day, God created Erik Karlsson.”
13. Henrik Lundqvist
I guess in this younger picture of Henrik Lundqvist, we should be referring to him as the prince? His nickname, King Henrik, wasn’t just given to him for no reason — he’s the king of New York. Being drafted back in 2005, he’s developed into one of the best goalies in the league — with many arguing that he’s even better than Carey Price. In fact, after a strong rookie campaign, he was able to lead Team Sweden to their second gold medal. He came real close to capturing Lord Stanley’s Cup back in 2014 but came up short. Hank’s not getting any younger, so it’s now on management to put together another Cup-worthy team if there’s any chance of him winning a championship. He currently owns the record for the most wins by a European goaltender in the NHL.
12. Steven Stamkos
Believe it or not, it took Steven Stamkos about a year before he stabilized his reputation in the league as a bonafide sniper. After a couple of healthy scratches, Stammer eventually realized what it took to be an NHL superstar and rapidly developed since then — that is, when he’s not injured. He’s managed two Rocket Richard Trophies over the tenure of his career thus far; notching an impressive 60 rips in the 09-10 season and 60 in 11-12. Other than his World Cup of Hockey gold medal, that’s basically the extent of Stammer’s professional-hardware collection — which is shocking for a player of his caliber. Mind you, had he not broken his leg back in 2014, he would’ve won gold at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
11. Carey Price
The true backbone of the Montreal Canadiens, Carey Price has been deemed the best goalie in the NHL on various occasions. It’s no secret that the Montreal Canadiens would be in very hot water had they not drafted Price 5th-overall back in 2005. He proved his worth back in 2015 when he cleaned up at the NHL Awards — taking home the Ted Lindsay, Jennings, Vezina and Hart Trophies. However, I’m positive that between his various individual awards and both of his Olympic and World Cup of Hockey gold medals, Price has his eyes on the most prestigious award in all of hockey: the Stanley Cup. If they don’t win next season, one can only wonder what Marc Bergevin will do next, because he’s clearly not afraid of moving superstars.
10. Phil Kessel
Phil “the Thrill” Kessel has become one of the most popular players in the league after being drafted 5th-overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Now a two-time Stanley Cup Champion, he’s killed the old reputation he had in Toronto as a “coach killer.” Now, Kessel isn’t just the owner of one of the fastest-snapshot releases in the league, he’s also filled with hilarious sound bites too. He certainly wouldn’t have predicted former President Barack Obama giving him a special shout-out while visiting the oval office. It’s hard to imagine that this is the face responsible for frequently calling people “idiots.”
9. Ryan Getzlaf
It’s almost hard to recognize Ryan Getzlaf with hair these days, but surely, he did have some back in the day. One of the older drafts for current players, the now-shiny-headed Getzlaf was drafted back in 2003 — going 19th overall. Since then, he’s won two Olympic gold medals and a Stanley Cup back in 2007; which was done via his blended playing style of pure grit and talent, which is a style not many superstars carry. Getzlaf has enjoyed productive seasons since he’s been drafted, leading the Anaheim Ducks in assists for 10 consecutive seasons and leading them in points in seven times. It’s pretty awesome that he was drafted by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Now if only the Ducks would consider returning to their old jerseys.
8. Evgeni Malkin
With three Stanley Cups, two Art Ross Trophies, a Calder Memorial Trophy, a Conn Smythe Trophy, and a Hart Trophy, Evgeni Malkin still doesn’t seem to get the credit he deserves. With a world-class skill set and a big frame, he could very well be one of the most-skilled players in the entire league; and back in 2004, the Penguins certainly got lucky when #71 fell right into their hands. After a top-100 NHL players in history snub, Geno got to work this year and helped secure his third Stanley Cup against the Nashville Predators. If Malkin wasn’t consistently plagued by injuries throughout his career, there’s no argument that he would be on that list. However, I believe after watching this year’s playoffs, the NHL may need to reconsider.
7. Jonathan Toews
Funny to think that this young player with a big smile on his face would soon be receiving the nickname Captain Serious not too long after the 2006 entry-level draft — going 3rd-overall. A natural-born leader and talented player, it only took Toews one season before getting an “A” on his jersey, ultimately leading to him getting the “C” stitched on in the summer. For a fairly young player, Toews has had quite the career already — as made obvious by being listed in the NHL’s top 100 players of all time. It seems like just yesterday Toews came up clutch in the world-junior shootout against Canadian rival Team USA — going 3 for 3 on his attempts. Toews is a natural-born winner, there’s no arguing that.
6. Anže Kopitar
What is that on Anže Kopitar’s head? Oh…it’s his hair…yikes. Style on draft day wasn’t exactly Kopitar’s thing, but the Kings managed to look past this atrocious hairstyle and select a franchise cornerstone in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft — a stud that has been a pivotal piece in L.A.’s two Stanley Cup Playoff runs. He is the centerman that every team dreams of drafting; an excellent two-way player who is a handful on draws, while also owning a set of soft mitts and superb vision. Although nowadays Kopitar doesn’t have blonde hair, he does still play for the Kings and has led them in scoring nine years straight — up until this previous season. It’s obvious that he will be looking to get them back into a playoff spot come next season.
5. Patrick Kane
Clearly, this photo of Patrick Kane was before the days of playoff mullets, NHL highlight-reel goals, three Stanley-Cup rings, and the nickname: Showtime. Yes, Kane could be the most exciting player to watch in the league with his lightning-speed hands, precise vision and his unerring shot that all stems from his creativity. Truly a magician on the ice, it comes as no surprise that he is frequently shadowed by the other teams in the league. In Kane’s rookie year he took home the Calder Trophy as a result of his strong play. The Ex-London Knight has since added to his resume, becoming the only American player in the history of the league to win an Art Ross trophy (with 106 pts), while also bringing home the Hart Trophy. Not a bad hardware collection for the 28-year old.
4. Joe Thornton
Have a look at “Jumbo” Joe Thornton back when he was drafted by the Boston Bruins back in 1997. His face looks a lot skinnier … it’s almost as if he’s missing something? Oh yeah, right; he’s missing that huge chunk of hair dangling from the bottom of his face — the beard that has seemed to become an icon in San Jose. Jumbo is still one of the best playmakers in today’s game and rarely opts to shoot (as you can tell by his season stats). Nonetheless, Thornton is a veteran of the league and provides not only stats and humorous quotes but intangibles as well, like his top-notch-dressing-room atmosphere. Currently a UFA, the Sharks would certainly be foolish if they were to let one of the biggest pieces of their team walk.
3. Jaromir Jagr
Yep, you’re looking at the draft-day photo of the second leader in all-time points in the NHL, Jaromir Jagr. Now with a little gray in his beard, the only consistent feature that has remained intact are his luscious locks — gracefully forming the iconic Jagr mullet. But at the withered age of 45, why does he continue to play if he’s won everything? With five Art Ross awards, three Lester B. Pearson Awards (now known as the Ted Lindsay Award), two Stanley Cups, and one Hart Trophy there’s basically nothing left in the NHL to win for the veteran. The answer, however, is simple. He loves the game. He is frequently the first one at the rink and has even been known to go to the arena at obscure hours. Certainly a different kind of character, Jags is a fan favorite and a first-ballot Hall of Famer. It will be a very contrasting world when Jagr retires.
2. Alexander Ovechkin
Yes, this is the face of a seven-time 50-goal scorer … and arguably one of the best goal scorers in NHL history. In Alex Ovechkin’s rookie season, he managed to tally an impressive 52 goals and 54 assists — giving him a leeway to win the only trophy that Sidney Crosby doesn’t have and will never get: the Calder Trophy. He didn’t stop there either; since then he has been awarded the Hart Trophy (three times), the Rocket Richard Trophy (six times), the Ted Lindsay Trophy (three times), and the Art Ross once. There’s no denying that Ovechkin is one of the greatest to play the game and the Capitals would be absolute duds if they were to trade the best player in franchise history. Now, if he could just get that Stanley Cup under his belt it would certainly cement his spot amongst the greats.
1. Sidney Crosby
Sid the Kid looks like a literal kid — no wonder he was given the nickname. Now with his third Stanley Cup under his belt after a pure dominant performance, Crosby has proven that he is indeed, the best player on the planet. At this point in his career, Crosby has basically won every single trophy in hockey; with two Olympic gold medals, a World Cup championship, various scoring titles, and lastly, his second Conn Smythe trophy. Not many players get to win one of those trophies, let alone all of them. The only thing that hasn’t really changed for Crosby is his facial-hair game; maybe one day he’ll be able to grow a full-on playoff beard. Until then, he can get by with his world-renowned talent.
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