Every year we get to witness the awkwardness that is he NHL entry draft. It is the time of the year that teams get to choose their next players for the year. Certain years, such as 2005 and 2015, have players that are guaranteed to get drafted first. Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid respectively. But every year brings us tonnes of photos of every player that gets drafted. Some of these are hilarious. The photos are glimpses into the past, showing us how hockey at such a high level can change someone, and showing us some horrific hairstyle choices.
We take a look at some of the NHL stars that have changed the most since their draft photos. Or players who just had funny draft photos. Included in the list are current stars like Sidney Crosby and a couple of retired, or near retired, stars such as Martin Brodeur. These stars have changed a lot since they were first drafted. These photos show, not only how hair styles have changed, but also how some of the players have changed. Some more gracefully than others.
The years have been kind to some of the players while others haven’t aged nearly has gracefully. Whether their looks have deteriorated due to a lack of teeth from rough housing too much on the ice. Or whether they grew out their facial hair; or attempted to get away with a little pencil stache.
15 Sidney Crosby
Sid the kid has been toted as the next Great One and in the past 12 years since he got drafted he has shown why people call him that. Sidney has lit up score sheets since he first got drafted in 2005 and this year was no different. With 88 points in 74 games, and hopefully many playoff games to play, the Kid is posting yet another solid season. And a Sidney Crosby solid season is a career season for most players. But with the aging of the star has come an interesting facial hair choice. The pencil stache.
The baby faced kid in the draft photo is what will be associated with the best player in the league; but he has grown up. The captaincy of one of the most consistently best teams in the league has brought stress and aged the Kid beyond 12 years. He isn’t Sid the Kid anymore. He’s all grown up.
14 Roberto Luongo
Roberto Luongo is one of the most successful NHL goalies to ever grace the sport. He led the Vancouver Canucks to the Stanley Cup finals in 2014 in which they narrowly lost the series to the Boston Bruins. Luongo was named the Vancouver Canucks captain but since in the NHL, goalies are not allowed to be captains he never carried out the on ice captain duties and never wore the C on his jersey; instead he incorporated it into his helmet design which he occasionally wore throughout the seasons.
When looking at the draft picture above it is hard to believe that a kid as lanky and skinny as Roberto could go on to become one of the most dominant goalkeepers in the league. Comparing this draft photo of Luongo to a recent one shows that no matter what your size, you can still dominate in the league if you compensate in the right areas.
13 Alex Ovechkin
Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin has aged well in his 13 years in the NHL. Drafted first overall in 2004, Ovechkin gave us the beautifully awkward happy photo above. Since then, the Russian winger has been one of the most consistent scorers; there aren’t many players that are known to have a near 100% chance of scoring when at a certain spot of the ice. But he does. If given a second or 2 at the top of the hash marks, Ovechkin can beat even the best goalies in the world. As proven. His shot has been described as moving frames where you only see a blur. The fact that any goalie can stop it is a testament to the reflexes of our goaltenders.
Being the captain of a team that was supposed to win the Stanley Cup several times in the past decade, but never has, has taken a toll on the star. The Caps are favourites nearly every year but never meet expectations and you can see it in the way that Ovechkin has aged.
12 Jaromir Jagr
Jaromir Jagr is a legend. The oldest active NHL player right now and he is still putting up respectable numbers. If you consider the fact that he is 45 years old then the fact that he is only 22 points behind Sidney Crosby shows his skill. There aren’t many players that can be talked about in the same sentence as Wayne Gretzky but Jaromir Jagr is one.
Playing such a tough sport takes a toll on the body and Jagr does not look like a 45 year old. But he does look good. The draft picture is funny because of the hair. How did he get it under control when he got out of bed in the morning?
11 Evgeni Malkin
Evgeni Malkin is arguably the 2nd most important ingredient in the Penguins recipe for success. And the kid has grown up before our eyes. Joining the NHL from Russia when he was 20 visa issues prevented him from playing in 2004. But by 2006 he was good to go in the NHL and would go on to become one of the most prolific players in the league.
In the draft photo from 2004 he looks like a little kid. He is actually 20 years old but looks so young and not ready for the NHL. Looking like someone just woke him up from a nap to tell him he got drafted, Evgeni is looking like a typical teenager. It is good to see the man has grown up and aged gracefully.
10 Erik Karlsson
Erik Karlsson does not look like the same person. He has been with the same team his entire career, the Ottawa Senators. But he doesn’t look the same at all. Just drafted Erik looks like a cocky kid who just got drafted into the NHL. Shocking. Watching Ottawa play you get used to seeing Erik in the lens of the camera. He doesn’t actively seek it but it does follow him; due to his skill as a player.
Throughout the years a person doesn’t see the way someone changes. If you are seeing them every week then you don’t notice the little changes. But seeing the an old and recent photo next to each other you can contrast them. Then you notice the difference.
9 Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goalkeepers in the game. He has produced incredible consistent results and is one of the biggest reasons that the New York Rangers are always a threat and a tough team to play. Scoring goals against them is always a challenge due to the inhuman efforts of this man.
The picture from his draft day looks like he just got selected as coach or team owner. While most recent photos one look like a red carpet photo where he is attending the premiere of his new blockbuster movie. Not at all like a star athlete in one of the toughest sports in the world.
His draft day photo reminds me more of a headshot for a CEO of a company; it doesn’t look like that person is going to go on to become one of the most efficient goalies in the league.
8 Jarome Iginla
Jarome Iginla led the Calgary Flames to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004. He was the heart and soul of that team; beloved by the city and one of the best players in the league. Sure to be inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame, what is shocking about Iginla isn’t how large of a toll competing has taken on him. But how little. He still looks the same.
Jarome is 39 years old. He looks like he is 25, maybe. For a franchise's all-time leader Jarome looks good. Just as he did on draft day. His draft day photo looks like what a normal draft photo should look like; and then Iginla never aged since that day. The year the draft photo was taken was the same year that Pocahontas and Toy Story were released. They were playing in theaters the year that Iginla joined the NHL. He has been playing in the league since before Connor McDavid was born. And he looks barely old enough to drink.
7 Daniel & Henrik Sedin
It is harder to find a more dynamic duo than the Sedin twins. These 2 have played for the same team their entire careers, never playing apart from each other. They haven’t changed.
That, and Daniel Sedin doesn’t look happy. Maybe he was hoping him and his brother would go to different teams? And while Hendrik looks like he is smiling, his eyes are pretty dead. They both look like they just got assigned a frustrating assignment that they didn’t want, but that isn’t the case. The 2 have been heard saying they love Vancouver, they love the city, the fans and the organization. They are aging, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is their mouths.
6 Martin Brodeur
Martin Brodeur showed up to the NHL Draft like he was on his way to join the army but changed his mind. One of the biggest goalkeeper legends in the game was utilitarian in his style when he joined the NHL. In fact, his face looks a lot Pvt Gomer Pyle from Full Metal Jacket. Unfortunate.
Looking at his appearance in 1990, one might assume that Martin Brodeur would be emotionless in his play. But as goalies are wont to do; Brodeur was anything but in his career. Watching him lead the New Jersey Devils was a joy, the way he handled the puck when it was dumped into his zone was a thing of beauty. The way that Brodeur made playing the game fun defies the way he cut his hair for the NHL draft.
5 Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane has helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the cup 3 times in a span of 5 years. He is one of the few players who can be mentioned in a conversation about the best active players in the league. But when he was drafted a mere decade ago, he looks like a scrawny kid who will struggle to fill the jersey that he is wearing. But he has laid any doubts to rest. When he was drafted, no one questioned whether he would be good. He was drafted first overall, but many asked if he was too small. Now that conversation has continued with the likes of Johnny Gaudreau tearing up the league.
Kane has really filled out since joining the league. The move up from minors has done him good. As well as a decade of growth.
4 Brent Burns
Brent Burns is one of the most dynamic players in the league. He is a defenceman for the San Jose Sharks but has also been played as a forward. He can play just about anywhere on the ice and have a positive impact. When playing defence, his slapshot has given him the most goals of any defenseman this season.
On top of being known as one of the best defenseman in the league, he is also known for his epic facial hair. He has grown an epic untamed beard. One that is the envy of every hipster to try to grow a beard. It is a true lumberjack beard. Despite the fact that he doesn’t chop down trees. At least not that we know of.
It is hard to recognize Burns when he was the 20th round draft pick by the Minnesota Wild. He doesn’t look like the same person without his scraggly beard.
3 Joe Thornton
Following the same vein as Brent Burns. We move on to his teammate, Joe Thornton. He too is barely recognizable without his scraggly beard. But he also looks a lot different because his hair has gotten seemingly less wavy. He has grown up so much playing for the Sharks and anchoring Brent Burns. Playing with a player like Brent Burns must be stressful, since he has a tendency to go up the ice more than a typical defenseman.
The scraggly beard seems to be a statement that the San Jose Sharks defenseman are making. They are the manliest of the NHL men. Joe Thornton looks like a goofy guy who is surprised he made it into the NHL. Like he was playing hockey ironically and ended up getting drafted.
The photo of when he got drafted is one of the most fun loving photos I have seen from the draft days.
2 Devan Dubnyk
Devan Dubnyk is huge. He is a big guy and I didn’t realize just how imposing he is. He makes the people next to him look like they are midgets. But if you look at his face, he also looks really young. It is hard to believe that the 2 people in the photos are the same person, albeit 13 years apart.
The youngster when he got drafted by the Oilers in 2004 is so ecstatic to help a franchise turn their fortunes around. Before the Oilers became the laughing stock of the league (not that they are anymore).
Dubnyk has grown more serious and not any smaller throughout the years. If anything, he has only become more formidable. I would not want to run into him in a dark alley.
1 Dion Phaneuf
That hair. That’s all there is to say. Dion Phaneuf is one of the best defenseman in the league, but he had horrible hairstyle choices back in 2003. To be fair to him, that was the style of the time. Looking back at it today it seems absurd that people would choose to have hair that curly and not run a comb through it.
Dion was drafted by the Calgary Flames back in 2004 and stuck with the team until they decided to do a complete rebuild. Then he was traded around for a couple of years but has now ended up captaining the Ottawa Senators. He was the keystone in the biggest trade in the year, between Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.
Luckily nowadays Dion has gotten better at his hairstyle selection. Keeping the hair short and dark.