The draft is the culmination of a year's worth of effort for hard-working scouts, who have traveled long hours across the world in their search to find the next great National Hockey League star. Drafting might be one of the most difficult things in all of sports -- for every late-round gem, there's always a high pick that does not work out the way the team had planned. Every NHL team has had their fair share of hits and misses when drafting players and undoubtedly, some teams have been better than others at the practice.
When looking at each team's top draft picks, it is remarkable to see how many of these players were taken after the 1st round. Overall, it truly shows that there is much more to drafting players in the 1st round and the better teams over the years take advantage of later round picks. Additionally, it shows there are some intangibles that just cannot be measured during the pre-draft process. With that being said let us not waste any time and look at every NHL team's best draft pick since 2000 (the list will be in alphabetical order).
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30 Anaheim Ducks - Ryan Getzlaf
The Ducks sure have had their fair share of good draft picks over the years, but none better than Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf was taken in the first round of the 2003 draft, 19th overall. Getzlaf is known around the league as a power forward with excellent playmaking skills (just ask Corey Perry). Since being drafted, Getlzaf has gone on to play 787 games, with 221 goals, 520 assists, a total of 741 points. Other career highlights for Getzlaf include being a Stanley Cup winner in 2007, three time NHL All Star, and a two time gold medal winner with Team Canada at the Winter Olympics.
Getzlaf still has many remarkable years in front of him and remains under contract with the Ducks up to the 2020-21 season after signing a eight year extension in 2013. It was a tough call between he and Perry, but when in doubt, you go with the big center.
29 Arizona Coyotes - Keith Yandle
Count this is as a late round gem. Yandle was taken in the 4th round, 105th overall at the 2005 NHL Draft. Yandle quickly established himself as one of the elite offensive defenceman in the NHL, leading the Coyotes in points in both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. He was also an integral piece during their run to the Western Conference Finals in 2011-12.
In total, Yandle played parts of eight seasons for the Coyotes, registering 558 games played and 311 points, a remarkable number for a defenceman. Yandle is currently playing for the Florida Panthers. On paper, this is a great move for the Panthers. The veteran presence of Yandle will definitely help this Florida team make the next step in their development. Overall, Yandle has been a great player in the NHL, but it probably will not be too longuntil Oliver Ekman-Larsson, another great Coyotes draft pick, passes him on this list.
28 Boston Bruins - Tyler Seguin
It probably pains all Bruins fans to read this part of the article. The Bruins used the 2nd overall pick in 2010 that was acquired in the infamous Phil Kessel trade to select Seguin. Seguin was part of the 2011 Bruins Stanley Cup winning team, but did not last much longer with the team, as he was traded to the Dallas Stars after the 2012-13 season. It was not until after the trade that Seguin became an offensive force (mostly due to more opportunity in Dallas). In his first three seasons with Dallas, he has recorded 234 points in 223 games and also made the All Star team his last two seasons.
The better question relating to Seguin is why he was traded. Yes, there was criticism of his partying, but is that not to be expected of most 20-year-old kids? The Bruins will forever regret this trade.
27 Buffalo Sabres - Jack Eichel
One of the more obvious choices on this list is Jack Eichel. Eichel was taken 2nd overall in 2015 by the Sabres. Prior to being selected, Eichel led the NCAA with 45 assists and 71 points total. In most other drafs, Eichel would have been the number one pick, but in this case he was taken behind the next great player in Connor McDavid. Bob McKenzie went so far as to say that Eichel would have been picked first in any draft year between 2006 and 2014. The Sabres missed out on McDavid in the 2015 lottery, but Eichel is just about the greatest consolation prize you could get.
In his lone season in the NHL, Eichel recorded 24 goals and 32 assists for 56 total points in 81 games played. Overall, Eichel has a bright future ahead of him and barring any unforeseen circumstances, he will be leading the Buffalo Sabres first line for many years to come.
26 Calgary Flames - Sean Monahan
This was a tough decision because the Flames have had many good draft picks over the past few years. However, we have to give the nod to Monahan due to his impressive statistics and the fact he has gotten better every year in the early stages of his career. Monahan was selected 6th overall in the 2013 draft by the Flames. He is only 21 years old and has already played three full seasons in the NHL. Additionally, he is already an alternate captain for the Flames.
In total, he has registered 159 total points in 237 games played. It will not be long before Monahan becomes at least a point per game player, especially playing with all of the other young studs in Calgary. We will also see him representing Team Canada at international events in the near future. Overall, a great pick for the Flames.
25 Carolina Hurricanes - Eric Staal
Eric Staal has been facing a downhill trend in terms of statistics over the past few years, but this is still an easy choice. Staal was taken 2nd overall by the Hurricanes in the 2003 draft and his since gone on to become a member of the Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup winner, World Championship winner, and 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist). In the 2005-06 season, Staal scored a career high 100 points during the regular season. That same season, he led the Hurricanes with 28 points in 25 games during their Stanley Cup run. He went on to finish 4th in voting for the Hart Memorial Trophy as well that season.
Staal has since gone on to put up consistent point production until his decline in 2014-15. Stall recently signed a one year contract with the Minnesota Wild in hopes of rejuvenating his career.
24 Chicago Blackhawks - Jonathan Toews
This was one of the more difficult choices, as Chicago also has drafted Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook in the same time frame. Ultimately, Toews was chosen because of the great leadership and two-way game he displays on a nightly basis. Toews was taken 3rd overall in the 2006 draft and almost immediately became captain of the team. It says something when an NHL team is willing to make you a captain at the age of 20. Also, is it a strange coincidence the Blackhawks started their current playoff streak at this time? I think not.
Toews has always been the leader of this team and he also backs it up with his play on the ice. Toews has three cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Selke Trophy, and two Olympic Gold Medals with Team Canada. He has 564 points in 645 career games and we likely will see much more of Toews and his Blackhawks.
23 Colorado Avalanche - Gabriel Landeskog
Gabriel Landeskog was taken 2nd overall in the 2011 draft by the Avalanche. Landeskog is tied as the 2nd highest Swedish draft pick in NHL history. In 2011-12 Landeskog was annouced as the winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy. Since then, Landeskog has become the youngest captain in NHL history (19 years 286 days). In total, Landeskog has recorded 246 points in 356 games played. Landeskog has also participated internationally for Sweden on many different occasions, including the 2014 Winter Olympics where he helped Sweden capture a gold medal. All of this has been accomplished at the young age of 23.
The future certainly looks bright in Colorado with Landeskog leading the team and being accompanied by many other young talents such as Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon. Fans are waiting for this team to finally break through with some playoff success and if they do, it will be due to their tremendous young core of forwards.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets - Rick Nash
Rick Nash was selected 1st overall by the Blue Jackets in the 2002 draft. He then went on to be the face of the franchise for many years before being traded to the New York Rangers. Although the team had limited success during Nash's tenure, his individual performance cannot be overlooked. Nash was nominated for the Calder Trophy in his rookie season. In his 2nd season, he was tied for the league in goals scored. Over the course of his career, Nash has reached 40 or more goals on three separate occasions, and 30 or more goals on five occasions. He is also a five time NHL All Star. At the international level, Nash has won an Olympic Gold Medal (2010), and World Championship Gold (2007).
Overall, Columbus was not able to surround Nash with enough talent to compete for the Stanley Cup and they eventually had no choice, but to trade him to a playoff team.
21 Dallas Stars - Jamie Benn
What a steal for the Dallas Stars. Jamie Benn, now captain of the Stars was selected in the 5th round, 129th overall in the 2007 draft. He has since gone to become one of the top players in the NHL. Picks like Benn prove there are some intangibles that just cannot be measured. Benn was dropped in pre-draft rankings due to his speed, however what many scouts did not realize is that he has the hockey smarts to make up for this perceived lack of speed. This is surely a mistake that all other 29 teams regret, as every team passed on him.
How about Benn's stats? In the 2014-15 season Benn was awarded the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer with 87 points. In 2015-16 Benn upped his point total to 89 (although he did not win the Art Ross). Benn has just recently signed an eight year extension with the Stars worth $76 million. Not bad for a 5th round pick.
20 Detroit Red Wings - Niklas Kronwall
The Red Wings have done some amazing drafting over the years and Kronwall is no exception. Another member of the Triple Gold Club, Kronwall was selected by the Red Wings in 2000, 29th overall. Kronwall is another player that was somewhat overlooked prior to being drafted. This was mostly due to his 5'11 frame, as most NHL teams covet bigger sized defenceman. Luckily for the Red Wings, they are more open-minded than most NHL teams when it comes to the draft and got a great player. The Wings of this era just seemed to know where to look, even when they were picking late.
Kronwall has since played 13 NHL seasons and has become known for his solid two-way play on the Red Wing's blue line, as well as his open-ice hitting. He has become so good at hitting that every time he does this it is referred to as "Kronwalled."
19 Edmonton Oilers - Connor McDavid
You think this would be a difficult decision since it feels like the Oilers have had top 5 picks for the last 10 years, but this ended up being one of the easiest choices in the article. Before he was even in the NHL, McDavid was touted as the next great player. Some, including Wayne Gretzky, were saying that he was best player to enter the NHL in the last 30-40 years. Although he missed time due to injury, McDavid certainly did not disappoint in his rookie season. His speed, power, puck handling, and strength showed all fans around the NHL what made him such a highly touted prospect.
In total, McDavid recorded 48 points in 45 games played during his rookie season. It appears that he was only scratching the surface of his potential, which is a scary thought for the other teams. Now the question is if he is the true savior that Edmonton fans have been so desperately waiting for.
18 Florida Panthers - Aaron Ekblad
In the last five years, the Panthers have done well to build a solid foundation through the draft. They did especially well when they drafted Aaron Ekblad no.1 overall in the 2014 draft. Ekblad is only 20 and has only played in the league for two years, but it is not hard to see that he is a franchise altering defenceman. In his rookie season, Ekblad scored 39 points with a plus-12 rating on his way to winning the Calder Trophy. Ekblad saw more success in his sophomore season, scoring 36 points with a plus-18 rating. This early success helped Ekblad secure an eight year, $60 million contract extension from the Panthers.
Overall, the Panthers are stacked with young talent and with Ekblad leading the back-end it will not be a surprise to see the Panthers in Stanley Cup contention for many years to come. It also wouldn't be a surprise if Ekblad soon becomes the best defenceman in the league.
17 Los Angeles Kings - Drew Doughty
Drew Doughty was selected 2nd overall by the Kings in the 2008 draft, and the rest is history. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old. He would go on to make the All-Rookie team. He is also a two time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, two time Olympic Gold Medalist with Canada, 2008 World Junior Championship Gold Medalist, and a Norris Trophy Winner. Basically, Doughty is a winner at all levels. For his career, Doughty has played in 606 games, recording 318 points with a plus-62 rating.
The most remarkable part about Doughty is that he is not just an offensive defenceman. He is often paired against the other teams' top players and for him to consistently produce points while playing this role is amazing. Overall, Doughty has been a major cog in the Kings' recent success.
Anze Kopitar was a close second in determining this entry, but Doughty just gets the edge.
16 Minnesota Wild - Marian Gaborik
This may be an unpopular choice with Minnesota Wild fans, however the outstanding career of Marian Gaborik cannot be denied. Gaborik was the first draft pick in team history when he was selected 3rd overall in the 2000 draft. Many Minnesota fans will remember Gaborik for his constant injuries rather than his electric speed and goal scoring ability. Gaborik was eventually signed by the New York Rangers to a hefty price tag of five years at $39 million. He's also spent time with the Blue Jackets and the Kings.
Nonetheless, he is a veteran of 933 games with 386 goals and 387 assists, which totals to 773 points. Additionally, Gaborik has scored 40 goals in a season on three separate occasions...Could you imagine what Gaborik's numbers would look like if he was able to stay healthy?
Overall, Gaborik has had a remarkable NHL career and he was a key component to the Kings winning the Stanley Cup in 2014, as he led the playoffs with 14 goals.
15 Montreal Canadiens - Carey Price
Remember when some people/experts thought that Montreal drafting Price with the 5th pick in the 2005 draft was a bit of a reach? Well yeah, those people sure have been proven wrong by Price. It is very easy to make a case that Price is the best goalie in the world. When he is on top of his game, Price has almost single-handedly carried Montreal to victories. Unfortunately for Price and the Habs, he has been experiencing health issues and was limited in the 2015-16 season. It is probably not a coincidence that Montreal struggled badly without Price this past season.
Some of Price's career achievements include, a Vezina, Hart Trophy, Olympic Gold Medal and he is a four time All Star. Overall, this was a great selection by the Habs and let us hope that they can surround him with more talent so that his skills will not be wasted. Also, remember this: Price is only 28 years old and we probably have not seen the best of him just yet.
14 Nashville Predators - Shea Weber
The fact that Nashville has been one of the best drafting teams since their existence made this a very difficult choice. Overall, the nod had to be given to Shea Weber over the likes of Pekka Rinne because Weber's contribution to Nashville was (recently traded) enormous. If you wanted to list all time steals, then yes, Rinne would be on this list, but this is best players drafted. Weber was the key figure to put Nashville on the map and probably the main reason they now have one of the best fan-bases in the NHL.
Can you count a 2nd round pick as a steal? Well, considering some of the defencemen that were taken ahead of him were Shawn Belle, Danny Richmond, Mike Egener, and Matt Smaby, absolutely you can. For perspective, Weber has gone to play more games in the NHL then all of the aforementioned players combined. In total, Weber has played 763 games recording 443 points and +48 rating. He has also represented Canada on many occasions, including two gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.
13 New Jersey Devils - Zach Parise
Similar to Nashville, count New Jersey as one of the better drafting teams in recent history. The top of the list starts with Zach Parise, who was taken by the New Jersey Devils 17th overall in the 2003 draft. During his time in New Jersey, Parise held the "C" for one season and was a very productive player. In his fourth season, Praise truly established himself as an NHL star by scoring 45 goals and 49 assists for 94 points. Although Parise has been unable to match this point total, he has been a consistent 25-30 goal scorer when healthy and also provides great leadership.
Unfortunately for the Devils, Parise expressed a desire to play in his home area and signed with the Minnesota Wild in 2012. In total, Parise has played 761 games and recorded 299 goals and 320 assists, good for a total of 619 points. Now we will have to wait and see if Parise can bring a Stanley Cup to his home state.
12 New York Islanders - John Tavares
An easy choice for this article, and an easy choice for the Islanders. Most people knew John Tavares was going to be a number one pick for a long time and it just came down to when he was finally eligible for the draft. That day finally happened in June of 2009, and the Islanders selected him 1st overall. Tavares has since been the face of the franchise for the Islanders and everything that New York imagined he would be. While his 2015-16 regular season numbers were down compared to the previous year, he still scored over 30 goals for the 3rd time in his career. He also was the crucial factor in leading the team to the 2nd round of the playoffs by recording 11 points in 11 games.
Thus far, Tavares has played 510 games in his NHL career, and he has registered 207 goals and 264 assists, good for 471 points. The Islanders better do all they can to keep Tavares happy, or who knows if he sticks around after 2018, when he is scheduled to become a free agent.
11 New York Rangers - Henrik Lundqvist
When people think of the New York Rangers, they usually think about free agents over draftees. This is probably because New York has been so aggressive in signing free agents to large contracts over the years. However, Henrik Lundqvist is an exception to this rule and is arguably the most popular/best player on the current Rangers team. Lundqvist was selected all the way in the 7th round, 205th overall. To show how good the Lundqvist pick has been, NHL.com recently did a "re-draft" of the 2000 draft and Lundqivst was taken 1st overall. Lundqvist made such an immediate impact in New York that he earned the nickname "King Henrik" in his rookie season.
His career accomplishments are no joke either. Lundqvist won the Vezina in 2012 and was nominated three times in a row before that. He is the only goaltender in NHL history to record ten 30-win seasons in his first 11 seasons. In total, he has started in 558 games recording 374 wins with a stellar .921 save percentage. If New York is going to take advantage of this great goaltender they better do it soon, because Lundqvist is not getting any younger (now 34).
10 Philadelphia Flyers - Claude Giroux
Philadelphia has had many great draft picks since 2000, but none better than Claude Giroux. Giroux was selected 22nd overall in the 2006 draft. Similar to some of the previous players in this article, it is remarkable to go back and look at some of the players drafted ahead of Giroux. Teams must really regret taking players such as Peter Mueller, James Sheppard, Michael Frolik, Jonathan Bernier, and Michael Grabner over Giroux. Giroux truly had his chance to shine after the Flyers traded both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. He has since gone on to lead the team in points for the 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2013-14 seasons.
Currently, Giroux is the captain for the Flyers. In total, he has produced 517 points in 574 games played, all with the Flyers. Fans and other NHL teams should stay used to Giroux tearing it up, as he is still only 28 years old.
9 Pittsburgh Penguins - Sidney Crosby
If Evgeni Malkin played for almost any other team he would be listed in this article. However, he just happens to play alongside a once in a lifetime talent in Sidney Crosby. Crosby was taken 1st overall in the highly anticipated 2005 draft, otherwise known as the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes. How many players have helped save a franchise like Crosby? If you recall, before his arrival, Pittsburgh stands were nearly empty every night. Fast forward to the present, and Pittsburgh has one of the longest consecutive sell out streaks in the NHL.
Individually, and team wise, Crosby has won almost every award or trophy that can be won. He is a two time Stanley Cup winner, two time Art-Ross Trophy winner, two time Hart Trophy winner, Conn Smythe winner, and Maurice Richard winner. He has nothing left to prove, but is still only 28 years old. Who knows what else he will accomplish in his storied career.
8 Ottawa Senators - Erik Karlsson
The current captain and once in a generation defenceman of the Senators was taken in the 2008 draft, 15th overall. The most impressive part of this draft selection was that Senators general manager Bryan Murray traded up three spots in the first round to ensure that no one would select Karlsson. Since being drafted, Karlsson has become if not the best, one of the best offensive defenceman in the league. He has already won the Norris trophy on two separate occasions and is only 26 years old. Furthermore, Karlsson has already played in 479 games, recording 100 goals and 285 assists, a total of 385 points. Karlsson also pulled off a remarkable feat this last season by averaging a point per game (82 points in 82 games). This is a statistic we rarely see from defencemen, and Karlsson shows no signs of slowing down. It seems safe to say Murray knew what he was doing when he traded up in the draft to select Karlsson.
7 San Jose Sharks - Joe Pavelski
Yet another late round pick that makes the list of best drafted players since 2000. Joe Pavelski was taken by the San Jose Sharks in the 7th round, 205th overall in the 2003 draft. It seems like Pavelski is always in the right place at the right time. Either that, or the puck just likes to follow him around the ice. He also has great leadership skills, evident in him becoming captain of the Sharks.
For his career, Pavelski has 266 goals and 297 assists for 563 points in 643 career games. He is well on pace to score over 300 goals, 700 points, and play in over 1000 games. He is not showing any signs of slowing down, as the most recent NHL season was the best of his career. He recorded 78 points in 82 games played. Pretty good for a player taken in the 7th round.
6 St. Louis Blues - Vladimir Tarasenko
Tarasenko's talent makes it seem like the Blues got a steal, even though he was drafted 16th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. The best part about this pick is that the Blues also had the 14th pick in the same draft and used it on Jaden Schwartz. Do you think the Blues had an idea that Tarasenko was going to be the face of the franchise over Schwartz when they made these selections?
Nonetheless, Tarasenko has gotten better each season, including back to back 70 plus point campaigns in his last 2 seasons. At 24 years of age, Tarasenko is just getting started and very well could be a 50 goal scorer for multiple years. The next step in his career, along with many other of the Blues is to get the team into the Stanley Cup Finals.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning - Steven Stamkos
The focus of the 2008 NHL Draft was clear: the future NHL franchise centerman, Steven Stamkos, was going to be taken 1st overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Stamkos would enter the league as an 18 year old, but unlike many 1st overall picks before him, his immediate impact was limited. Stamkos had just 6 goals and 20 points in his first 50 games of his rookie season. Then, Stamkos made his major breakthrough after being made a healthy scratch.
Fast forward to the present, and Stamkos is the captain and face of the franchise. He has won two Rocket Richard trophies, been named an All Star four times, and played in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. He is often praised by his teammates and coaches for possessing great character and leadership skills. Stamkos, 26, has 312 goals and 562 points in 569 games. He has recently re-signed with the Lightning, even leaving money off the table to help keep the team competitive. The Lightning will surely continue to be a force in the league given that they are led by Stamkos.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs - Auston Matthews
Some may question whether or not the 2016 no.1 pick, Austin Matthews, deserves to be on this list due to the fact he has not played an NHL game. Yes, it is not a 100 percent guarantee that Matthews will be a star in the NHL. However, the counter-argument is to take a look at some of the previous 1st overall picks and the impact they have ended up having on their teams. Barring injury, there is no reason to expect any different from Matthews. He might even have a step on previous no.1 overall picks before him due to his experience playing professionally with men. This past season Matthews played for Zurich in the National League A, Switzerland's top professional league. He produced 46 points in 36 games, and was second in voting for MVP.
Overall, it sure seems like the Leafs have found the man to build their franchise around. Maybe he can be the centerman Leafs fans have been waiting for since Mats Sundin left.
3 Vancouver Canucks - Ryan Kesler
Canucks fans may not like this choice, but there is no denying that Ryan Kesler was one of the best picks in franchise history. He was taken 23rd overall in the 2003 NHL Draft, perhaps one of the deepest drafts ever. In his first few seasons with the team, Kesler was mostly known for winning faceoffs, shot-blocking, penalty killing, and defensive play. Suddenly, in 2011 Kesler developed his offensive game, which helped him become a legitimate star. In that season he scored 41 goals and 32 assists, both career highs. He also continued his stellar defensive play and won the Selke Trophy. Kesler was also named an All Star that season and was a major factor behind the Canucks Stanley Cup run.
Unfortunately, it did not end well for Kesler in Vancouver and he requested a trade. He currently is playing for the Ducks and is still trying to win his first Cup.
2 Washington Capitals - Alex Ovechkin
It was a no doubter to put Alex Ovechkin here. The number 1 overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft has had a similar impact to that of Sidney Crosby (in the sense of elevating a franchise, not winning). Before he arrived, the stands in Washington were empty. Now, it is hard to see a game that is not sold out.
Ovechkin has been the recipient of many individual awards over his career including the Calder Trophy, the Hart Trophy three times, the Maurice Richard Trophy six times, and the Art Ross Trophy. He has also been an All Star on five different occasions. In total, he has played 839 games, recording 525 goals and 441 assists, a total of 966 points. Not only are these remarkable numbers, but Ovechkin has also shown the willingness to improve on other areas of his game, such as defence, a true sign of a great player. Now, for Ovi to establish himself as one of the all time greats, he needs to win in the playoffs.
1 Winnipeg Jets - Mark Scheifele
For the purposes of this article, I will only focus on the Winnipeg Jets draft selections and not previous selections made when the team was still in Atlanta. Therefore, I have decided to pick the first player selected for the "new" Jets, Mark Scheifele. Many scouts had Scheifele going in the 10-20 range of the 1st round, but the Jets surprised many by drafting him 7th overall in the 2011 draft. Furthermore, many Jets fans at the time wanted Sean Couturier with the 7th pick. However, it looks like the Jets knew what they were doing, as Scheifele has gotten better each season and has produced better much better numbers than Couturier. In his first year, Scheifele scored 34 points, 49 in his second, and 61 in his third, compared to 15, 39, and 37 for Couturier. Jets fans can expect more improvement, as Scheifele is still only 23 years old.
In the end, I would not be surprised to Patrik Laine at the top of this list in a couple of years, but for now it is Scheifele's spot to lose.
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