There’s little doubt that Henrik Lundqvist of Sweden will end up in the Hockey Hall of Fame once the 34-year-old New York Ranger becomes eligible. That still may be a few years away even though he’s facing a battle from 27-year-old Antti Raanta of Finland for the top job in the Rangers’ crease this season. What’s remarkable about King Henrik is the fact that he wasn’t drafted until the seventh round in 2000 when New York took him with the 205th overall pick.
Lundqvist has played in over 700 regular-season NHL games since then and 116 more in the playoffs. As of December 22, 2016 the 2011-12 Vezina Trophy winner owned several franchise records and achievements and had a record of 389-237-73 with a GAA of 2.29 and a 92.1 save percentage. And let’s not forget that he’s also posted 60 shutouts. But Lundqvist was the 22nd goalie drafted in 2000, meaning there were 21 other netminders taken before him.
This list focuses on the 21 netminders drafted ahead of Lundqvist. There were 32 goalies drafted in 2000 with 10 being taken after him. Out of the 32, just 12 made it to the NHL for at least one game. We’ll check out the goalies taken before Lundqvist and rank them based on their careers. Most of them were career minor leaguers in the AHL, ECHL, and the old CHL (Central Hockey League) with some playing in Europe.
21 Ghyslain Rousseau
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League was notorious for its high-octane offense in the past and this is why most good goalies still allowed at least three goals against per game. One of those was Ghyslain Rousseau, a native of Thetford Mines. Rousseau was playing with Baie-Comeau in the QMJHL when he was drafted 111th overall by Buffalo, making him the 10th goalie selected in 2000. The highest league Rousseau made it to was the CHL when he played in Oklahoma for a season in 2002-03. He then played in the Quebec Major Senior Hockey League and Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey. Rousseau also played in a couple of other local Quebec leagues before hanging up his skates in 2013. He’s now a goaltending coach with the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL.
20 Shane Bendera
Shane Bendera was another relatively small goalie at five-feet-eleven-inches, but that didn’t deter the Columbus Blue Jackets from drafting him as the 18th goalie in 2000 with the 169th pick. Bendera was playing between the pipes with the Red Deer Rebels in the Western Hockey League when the Blue Jackets selected the native of Edmonton, Alberta. He spent parts of five seasons with Red Deer before playing out his final junior year with Kelowna in 2001-02 after being traded. Bendera’s pro career began the next season in the ECHL with Dayton and he spent one more campaign as a pro with stints in the UHL and CHL. Before calling it quits. Rumours have it that Bendera couldn’t adjust to the pro lifestyle and had what some hockey people called an “attitude problem.”
19 Brandon Snee
Even the New York Rangers themselves selected another goalie in the 2000 draft before taking Henrik Lundqvist. They had the 143rd pick and used it on Brandon Snee of Philadelphia, taking him as the 13th goalie in the draft, eight goalies before choosing Lundqvist. Snee was drafted out of Union College, but his career there wasn’t the greatest as he posted a record of 34-62-12. Snee suited up with Muskegon in the UHL in 2002-03 as well as Trenton and Reading of the ECHL. He then played a dozen times with the Jacksonville Barracudas of the WHA2 and that’s basically the last we’ve heard of him. With his numbers it’s hard to see why Snee was drafted at all, but of course it’s all just water off of a duck’s back to the Rangers now since they ended up with Lundqvist anyway.
18 Jean-Francois Racine
After taking Mikael Tellqvist in the third round with the 70th overall pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs used another third-round selection to choose Jean Francois Racine of Roxton Falls, Quebec with the 90th pick. The Leafs took a gamble with Racine since he had average numbers with Drummondville in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Racine’s numbers actually improved the first few seasons he played as a pro in the CHL and AHL, but then declined soon after. The Leafs basically gave up on the youngster after the 2006-07 season and he played the last few years of his pro career in the little-known LNAH or Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey in Quebec. Racine was the eighth goalie drafted in 2000 out of 32 and one of the 20 to never play a minute in the NHL.
17 Nathan Marsters
Nathan Marsters of Grimsby, Ontario had pretty good size for a goalie at six-feet-four-inches in height. Perhaps that’s why the Los Angeles Kings took a chance on him back in 2000 by selecting him with the 165th overall pick, making him the 15th goalie chosen. Marsters played a few years with Bramalea in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League as a youngster before heading to college and playing with the RPI Engineers of the NCAA’s ECAC division. He had a fine college career, but couldn’t make the jump to the NHL. Marsters played from 2004-05 to 2007-08 in several different leagues in North America and Europe, but mainly in the ECHL. Unfortunately, Marsters passed away in June of 2009 at the age of 29 when he truck struck a deer in Smithville, Ontario.
16 Jure Penko
Jure Penko of Slovenia was the last goalie drafted before Henrik Lundqvist, making him the 21st netminder taken in 2000. He went to the Nashville Predators with the 203rd overall pick so the club probably didn’t expect too much from him. They probably weren’t disappointed then when he didn’t step foot onto the ice as an NHL player. Penko had played in Leamington, Ontario in Junior B and then in the ECHL and USHL the two years prior to being drafted. After Nashville took him, Penko’s numbers and play didn’t improve significantly and he continued to split his time in the ECHL and USHL. In 2002-03, Penko ended up in the CHL with the Lubbock Cotton Kings for his North American swansong. He then remerged in Europe and played out his career there.
15 Zdenek Smid
Zdenek Smid of the Czech Republic was playing in his homeland when the Atlanta Thrashers chose him as the 17th goalie taken in the 2000 draft with the 168th overall pick. Smid stood just five-feet-nine-inches tall, making him appear quite small indeed, especially on the bigger Olympic-sized rinks of Europe. Smid played for several teams in the Czech Republic and also represented his nation of birth at the Under-18 World Junior Championships. He also won a gold medal at the World Junior Championships in 1999-2000 and that’s probably why he was drafted in the first place. Atlanta blew their pick on him though since Smid never played pro hockey anywhere other than the Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden, retiring at the end of the 2004/05 campaign at the young age of 26 due to injuries.
14 Mike Ayers
No, it was Mike Ayers, not Mike Meyers who the Chicago Blackhawks drafted with the 177th pick back in 2000 as the 20th goalie called to the podium. Ayers and Meyers do have something in common though as neither the goaltender nor the comedian of Wayne’s World and Austin Powers fame played a minute in an NHL game. Ayers was playing in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints when drafted even though he posted a less-than-mediocre 16-35-3 record. After the draft, Ayers carved out a pretty good college career with the University of New Hampshire for four years. Once school was over he spent the next four years bouncing around the AHL and ECHL before heading to Sweden for a season in 2007. Ayers then returned to North America and entered the college and U.S National Team coaching ranks.
13 Davis Parley
Grenfell, Saskatchewan native Davis Parley was drafted 120th overall by the Florida Panthers in 2000 from the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL. The youngster had a pretty good junior career, but unfortunately failed to make it to the NHL. Parley spent the majority of his pro career in the ECHL with a couple of AHL outings thrown in the mix. He then headed to the UK to play for the Nottingham Panthers for a handful of games in 2008-09 when he split the season between England and Tulsa of the old CHL. Parley was the 12th goalie drafted in 2000 and one of the many who didn’t live up to his potential after being selected. However, he still enjoyed a pro career and was good enough at one point to have been taken by the Panthers.
12 Levente Szuper
I don’t know who headed up the scouting department in Calgary back in 2000, but they didn’t really do a very good job of it. The Flames drafted two goalies before Henrik Lundqvist was taken. They selected Brent Krahn 15th overall and then took Levente Szuper of Budapest, Hungary with the 116th pick. Even though he would wear an S on the front of his uniform later in his career with the AHL’s Saint John Flames he was no Szuperman. He did have a fine junior career with the Ottawa 67’s with a record of 53-21-5 though and was the 11th goalie taken in the draft. Szuper was just 5-foot-11 and spent four years in the North American minor pro leagues before heading back to Europe in 2005. Szuper then headed back to the U.S. and spent a couple of years in the CHL.
11 Matus Kostur
Even though Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur was the main man in New Jersey back in 2000, the Devils decided to use their 164th pick, in the fifth round, on Matus Kostur of Slovakia. Kostur was the 14th goalie drafted that summer and the Devils noticed him while playing in his homeland in the Under-18 and Under-20 leagues. Kostur made his pro debut in North America in the 2002-03 campaign when he played 44 games with Columbus of the ECHL. He split the next pair of seasons between the ECHL and AHL before heading back to Europe in 2005. The 36-year-old is actually still playing as he’s taking care of the crease for GSC Katowice in Poland in 2016-17. He’s also played in Belarus, Latvia, the Czech Republic, and Russia., winning championships in Latvia and Belarus.
10 Peter Hamerlik
Unfortunately, the most memorable thing about Slovakian goalie Peter Hamerlik may be his amusing last name. But in reality, this guy was the seventh netminder taken in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft when the Pittsburgh Penguins used the 84th overall pick on him. Hamerlik had decent numbers with Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), but couldn’t agree to terms with Pittsburgh and went back into the draft two years later. For reasons unknown, Boston then chose him with the 153rd pick in 2002 even though he hadn’t really improved in the OHL. Hamerlik played just 33 times as a pro in North America in the ECHL and AHL before heading back to Europe. He enjoyed some good seasons there and the 34-year-old is still playing in 2016-17 with Trinec Ocelari HC in the Czech Republic.
9 Stefan Liv
Detroit decided to add goaltending depth in 2000 when they drafted Stefan Liv. He was drafted 102nd and was the ninth goalie taken that year. He was also one of the few Polish natives ever drafted into the NHL. Liv had been playing in Sweden at HV71 Jonkoping. He didn’t seem too interested in an NHL career and didn’t leave Sweden until 2006. Liv played just 37 games combined in the AHL and ECHL in 2006-07 with pretty good numbers, but decided North America wasn’t his cup of tea. He headed back to Europe at the end of the season and played three more years in Sweden and one in the KHL before retiring in 2011. The only time his GAA reached 3.00 during his career was during his short stint in the AHL.
8 Brent Krahn
You’ve never heard of Brent Krahn? Well he was the second goalie drafted in the 2000 NHL Draft. It looks like the Calgary Flames unwisely used the ninth-overall draft pick on the Winnipeg, Manitoba, native. The Flames were familiar with Krahn as he played junior hockey with the Calgary Hitmen. Krahn had a fine rookie season with the Hitmen, but things went downhill from 2000-01 onwards, after the Flames had already drafted him. Krahn spent most of his career in the ECHL and AHL, but finally became one of the 12 goalies drafted in 2000 to appear in an NHL game when he suited up for Dallas in 2008-09. Krahn played a period, allowed three goals against on nine shots and his big league career basically started and ended on the same day.
7 Mathieu Chouinard
Looking back to 1998, Ottawa basically wasted a valuable first-round draft pick by taking Mathieu Chouinard with the 15th selection. However, the player and team couldn’t agree on a contract and Chouinard went back into the draft two years later. It was déjà vu all over again as the Senators drafted him again in 2000, this time 45th overall and the fourth goalie taken that year. He had a stellar career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with a 140-60-13 record, but in reality, Ottawa blew two draft picks on a career minor leaguer. Chouinard suited up for 10 different pro teams and played just two minutes in the NHL during a relief appearance with Los Angeles in 2003-04. He saved both shots faced for a 100 per cent save record.
6 Nolan Schaefer
The 16th goalie taken in 2000 was one Nolan Schaefer of the booming metropolis of Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan. With a population of about 700 people, Schaefer did well to make it to the NHL. Only two other Yellow Grass residents have made it that far. One being his brother Peter and the other being scout Mike Rooney, who’s with Nashville. Schaefer was drafted 166th by San Jose out of Providence College. His first few pro years were spent in the minors, but he finally got a shot at the NHL with the Sharks in 2005-06. Schaefer played in seven games and did quite well with a shutout, a save percentage of 92.0 and a sparkling 1.88 GAA with a 5-1 record. However, those were the only NHL games he’d ever play for some reason. He’d spent the rest of his career in the minors and Europe and is now a free agent.
5 Mikael Tellqvist
Toronto chose Sweden’s Mikael Tellqvist with the 70th pick, making him the sixth netminder taken in 2000. He spent his first two years in the AHL and while his save percentage wasn’t bad, he struggled slightly when it came to goals against by conceding more than three against per game. Tellqvist made his NHL debut in 2002-03, playing three games. He played just times with the Leafs over five seasons with average numbers and a .500 record. Tellqvist then ended up in Phoenix for two years as a backup with similar numbers. His final NHL stop came in 2008-09 with Buffalo where he played just six times. Tellqvist appeared in 113 NHL contests and went 45-41-10 and then headed back to Europe where he had more success. The 37-year-old is still playing in Sweden with Djurgardens IF.
4 Dan Ellis
The Dallas Stars had the 60th pick in the draft and chose Dan Ellis of Saskatoon, making him the fifth goalie to be selected in 2000. Ellis then played university hockey and spent time in the minors before making his NHL debut in 2003-04. He played just one game with Dallas and didn’t return to the crease in the big leagues until 2007 with Nashville. Ellis basically lived out of a suitcase after that as he bounced around as a backup goalie to Tampa, Anaheim, Carolina, back to Dallas and then down to Florida with a few minor-league stints in between. The 36-year-old played with Hershey of the AHL last season and is now a free agent. Ellis played 212 NHL games with a 87-79-18 record, a 2.79 GAA and 90.6 save percentage along with seven postseason contests.
3 Rick DiPietro
To many, Rick DiPietro will go down in history as one of the worst number one overall draft picks in NHL history. This is probably due to the ridiculous 15-year, $67.5 million contract he signed combined with the fact he was injury prone and didn’t seem to be too concerned about playing. The New York Islanders drafted him after DiPietro starred with the U.S. Junior National Team and traded Roberto Luongo to make room for him. He didn’t crack the lineup as a regular until 2003 and played just 50 games after 2008. The Islanders finally bought him out in 2013 after millions of wasted dollars and eight left on his contract. DiPietro managed to play 318 NHL games and won 130 of them with a save percentage of 90.2. He also appeared in just 10 playoff contests. Still, after Lundqvist and Ilya Bryzgalov, he was the second-best goalie taken in 2000.
2 Ilya Bryzgalov
Anaheim took Russian native Ilya Bryzgalov as the third goalie in the draft with the 44th overall pick. His NHL career more or less ended with the Ducks in 2014-15 too, but in between he had stints with Phoenix, Philadelphia, Edmonton, and Minnesota. The Flyers made the mistake of signing the flaky goalie to a nine-year deal in 2011 and bought him out just two years later. Bryzgalov had a good career stats-wise with a 221-162-54 record, a 2.58 GAA and 91.2 save percentage. He’s an unrestricted free agent, but at 36 it’s unlikely he’ll play another NHL game. Bryzgalov won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim, was a three-time Olympian, played in the World Junior Championships, a World Cup of Hockey and the World Ice Hockey Championships. He also was runner up in voting for the Vezina Trophy in 2009-10 and a Hart Trophy finalist the same season.
1 Roman Cechmanek
The 19th goalie drafted was Roman Cechmanek of the Czech Republic when Philadelphia took him 171st when he was 29 years old. He had three great seasons in Philly with a 92-43-22 record, a 1.96 GAA, a 92.3 save percentage with shutouts. Cechmanek played in the All Star game in his first season and came in second in Vezina Trophy voting. The alleged inconsistent goalie was blamed for the Flyers lack of playoff success though and was sent to LA in 2003 for just a second-rounder. However, the NHL was locked out after one season on the coast and Cechmanek decided to stay in Europe. This guy arguably could have been just as good as Lundqvist or maybe even better. He posted 25 shutouts in 110 NHL wins and shared the Jennings Trophy in 2002-03 with a 1.83 GAA.