The 2009 NHL Draft was actually one of the most disappointing in recent memory. Though only a handful of stars have come out from it, it doesn't compare to a draft class like 2005 which would see the likes of Sidney Crosby, Anze Kopitar, and Carey Price get drafted.
We've seen a number of awful NHL Drafts. The 1998, 1999 and 2012 drafts stand out as ones everyone would like to forget about. That is unless you drafted the Sedin Twins in 1999 or Filip Forsberg in 2012, for example.
It's easy for us to look back and critique any of the selections that general managers have made. They have scouts whose jobs are to study these players and take them, expecting the players to lead their franchises down the road. However, that doesn't always happen and, even though it's unfortunate for general managers, it's part of working in the business.
Fans will always look back and wonder what would have happened if they took somebody else. It's hard to see your team waste a top draft pick, only for a superstar to go late in the first round, or even in one of the later rounds. But that happens to every general manager. Nobody nails every pick.
But just because not every pick pans out for every team, that doesn't mean we're going to let it go. We're going to re-examine the top 30 players selected in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, and see how it likely would have played out if GMs could go back in time and fix their mistakes.
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30 New York Islanders - John Tavares
The Islanders were the NHL's worst team in 2009 and it was obvious from the get-go they were taking the franchise-changing center with the top pick. Luckily for them, they have no regrets.
Garth Snow would no doubt make the same pick. John Tavares has brought the fans from Long Island/Brooklyn back into hockey, carrying them to the playoffs in three of the last four years, giving them their first true superstar to cheer on in ages.
With the 20-goal mark reached in each year and two 80-point seasons, Tavares has cemented himself as a top-10 forward in the NHL. The Islanders would be nowhere without him. There's no questioning this pick.
29 Tampa Bay Lightning - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
The Lightning were more than happy to have world-class defenseman Victor Hedman fall into their laps at number two overall in 2009. Seven years later, he's emerging as their top defenseman, but he's not someone you'd call Norris Trophy-calibre...yet.
As for Oliver Ekman-Larsson? He's been a bright star in Arizona for the Coyotes. In an era where scoring is increasingly low, he's still managed two 20-goal seasons as a defenceman. That's simply incredible. He just finished posting his first career 50-point season (55 total) and is a force at both ends of the ice.
Given how he was able to transition to the NHL quicker, there's no doubt he would have been the better pick for Tampa.
28 Colorado Avalanche - Victor Hedman
Though Matt Duchene has been a superstar with the Colorado Avalanche, the offense has been aplenty in Colorado, but the defense, not so much.
Patrick Roy's club features other star forwards in Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Jarome Iginla. They have missed the playoffs for two straight years because they haven't had the defense needed to go all the way.
Well, Victor Hedman would gladly fit the bill. He's developing more and more, with double-digit goals and 140 points in his last two seasons. That sounds like a future Norris Trophy winner. I'm sure Patrick Roy would love that after having Rob Blake, Ray Bourque, and Adam Foote play in front of him during his years as a goaltender with the team.
27 Winnipeg Jets - Matt Duchene
Like Victor Hedman, the man who was actually taken before him in 2009, Matt Duchene would fall back by just one spot. He's been one of the league's fastest and most talented all-around scorers, and would mould perfectly with today's Jets' team.
Winnipeg has talents in Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Drew Stafford, plus Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor as rising superstars to watch for. Now imagine Duchene in that mix.
That would be, in my opinion, the league's scariest-looking offense. Evander Kane was originally taken fourth overall, failed to reach his full potential, and was traded to Buffalo during the 2014-15 season.
26 Los Angeles Kings - Tyson Barrie
The Kings used this pick to select Brayden Schenn. While he has been a star in Philadelphia, the Kings gave up on him too early, shipping him to the Flyers for Mike Richards. And yes, Richards came nowhere close to starring in California.
Los Angeles took Drew Doughty in 2008 and it's safe to say he would have happily turned Tyson Barrie into a star. The latter has been the backbone of an otherwise awful Avalanche defense after being selected 64th overall, but with Darryl Sutter's supreme defensive system, would have formed something else with Drew Doughty.
Plus, the Kings traditionally don't score much, but having Barrie and Doughty quarterback your powerplay sounds special, doesn't it?
25 Arizona Coyotes - Ryan O'Reilly
The Coyotes are no doubt happy that they got Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but if a re-draft was happening, they simply were not getting the Swedish star to lead their blueline for the foreseeable future.
As such, they'd have to go with center Ryan O'Reilly. Though it took the talented forward a while to get his game going, he proved he was for real during the 2013-14 season, scoring 28 goals and 64 points.
Last summer, he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres and managed 21 goals and 60 points on a rebuilding squad. The Coyotes haven't had a superstar forward since Shane Doan was in his prime about five years ago now, so having O'Reilly would have helped them in the long-run.
24 Toronto Maple Leafs - Mike Hoffman
The Leafs took Nazem Kadri with this pick, and while he hasn't been a draft bust, he hasn't become the franchise-changing forward they were hoping he would become. Because of that, Mike Hoffman, who originally went 130th overall, would be the right pick.
A late bloomer, Hoffman has posted 56 goals and 107 points in his last two years with the Ottawa Senators. His wicked wrist shot and pure goal-scoring abilities have made him the forward that the offensive-starving Leafs could have used for a long time.
In the long-term, Hoffman would have been a better pick than Kadri. But then again, Kadri still has time to get better.
23 Dallas Stars - Evander Kane
Evander Kane went fourth overall in the 2009 draft, but he hasn't been able to find the potential and stardom that he seemed likely to achieve.
After a respectable 33 goals and 69 points in his first two NHL seasons, Kane broke out in 2011-12, posting 30 goals and 57 points. Ever since then, his best season was 2013-14, when he had 19 goals and 41 points.
He then became a distraction in the locker room and was traded to the Buffalo Sabres last year. In his first season with the Sabres, he scored 20 goals and 35 points, discovering some of his potential again.
Now, imagine Dallas' offense with Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin, Jason Spezza, and Kane. There are 29 other NHL general managers are thrilled this selection never happened.
22 Ottawa Senators - Ryan Ellis
So far, the man who helped Team Canada win the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships hasn't become the franchise superstar the Nashville Predators had hoped for.
Such is life when you have to play with Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and Roman Josi taking up most of the minutes. The Ottawa Senators took giant blueliner Jared Cowan with this pick, but he's no longer with the team.
With Ryan Ellis, he'd have the full chance to grow, learn, and log crucial minutes right away. This would have been a gamble on Ottawa's part, but given their need for defense and not offense, Ellis would surely have panned out better than Cowen.
21 Edmonton Oilers - Tomas Tatar
Here's a rundown of who the Oilers have selected in the top-1o over the years: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl, and Connor McDavid.
A friendly reminder they've gotten nowhere near the playoffs, while the Detroit Red Wings, fresh off of their second-straight Stanley Cup Final appearance, took Tomas Tatar 60th overall.
In his last three seasons with the Red Wings, Tatar has notched 69 goals and 140 points, and looks ready to be one of the stars that takes over for the soon-to-be-retired Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
Edmonton could have used his offensive skills over Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, who became a huge bust and was traded to the St. Louis Blues several years ago.
20 Nashville Predators - Chris Kreider
The Predators wound up taking Ryan Ellis with this pick, but he's failed to show his full potential in the Music City and he's already off the board here. For a team that's traditionally had problems scoring, the talents of Chris Kreider could have changed that.
Chris Kreider, a speedy left winger who was selected 19th overall, just capped off his second straight 20-goal season, scoring 61 goals and 129 points in 248 career games. Looking at Nashville's offense now, imagine this scorer with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg.
19 New York Islanders - John Moore
The Islanders main issue, seven years later, remains defense. They did take Calvin de Haan with this pick, and although he still has lots of time to become the star blueliner the Isles had hoped for, John Moore has established himself much quicker.
Moore has been a solid stay at home defenseman, with 13 goals and 59 points in 303 games. Those numbers aren't great, but the only good team he played for was the New York Rangers, who have been loaded on defense, thus not giving Moore the chance to develop.
With the Isles, he'd probably emerge much better as a puck-moving defenseman and would mesh well with John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Brock Nelson and co.
18 Buffalo Sabres - Nazem Kadri
The Sabres took Zack Kassian and. sadly, he's had off-the-ice issues and will probably not be a superstar like they (and later Vancouver Canucks fans) hoped for.
Nazem Kadri has been a well-rounded player with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but hasn't had the linemates to work with. Imagine him with the Sabres now, playing with Jack Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, and Sam Reinhart.
Buffalo wound up trading Kassian for Cody Hodgson, who also failed to develop his game with the team.
17 Florida Panthers - Brayden Schenn
Brayden Schenn was one of the most highly-touted prospects when the Los Angeles Kings took him fifth overall in 2009. He was packaged in the aforementioned Mike Richards trade and has become a solid player in Philadelphia.
The star forward posted a career high 26 goals and 59 points this past season, and would surely be a nice fit in Florida with Jaromir Jagr, Vincent Trochek, Jonathan Huberdeau, Reilly Smith, and Aaron Ekblad.
His great play at both ends of the ice would be perfect in Florida, but they ended up with Dmitri Kulikov, who has been solid, but not a superstar.
16 Anaheim Ducks - Cody Eakin
Anaheim had what appeared to be a luxury draft pick as compensation for being one game away from the Western Conference Final. After upsetting the President's Trophy-winning San Jose Sharks in the first round of 2009, they wound up selecting center Peter Holland.
Holland has been far from an effective NHL player, while Cody Eakin has flourished with the Dallas Stars, becoming a consistent 20-goal scorer. One can point out that such is life with Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza.
But playing with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf doesn't sound half bad, either. To be fair to Anaheim, Eakin didn't go until 85th overall, so the other 28 teams who passed up on him can also yell at themselves.
15 Minnesota Wild - Robin Lehner
To be fair to the Wild, nobody would have supported the decision to draft a goaltender at the time, when superstar goalie Niklas Backstrom came out of nowhere and posted three-straight excellent seasons.
But he declined rather quickly and they didn't find another franchise goalie until they added Devan Dubnyk in the 2014-15 season.
Robin Lehner, originally selected 46th overall, could have been a star in Minnesota. He showed early flashes with the Ottawa Senators, but the last couple of seasons saw him hampered by injuries and playing with porous teams in front of him. We'll bet that he would have been a solid goalie in Minnesota and a better pick than solid defenseman Nick Leddy.
14 St. Louis Blues - Anders Lee
The Blues opted for David Rundblad, the slick, puck-moving Swedish defenceman. That's at least what he was before he turned pro.
Instead, he was traded to the Ottawa Senators for the 16th overall pick in 2010. That pick turned out to be Vladimir Tarasenko. So Blues fans are probably just fine with how this pick went.
Still, let's just pretend Tarasenko didn't pan out. Then, Anders Lee, selected 152nd, would be the next best option with this pick. He's not even the Islanders' top center and he's still scored 30 goals and 77 points in his last two seasons.
13 Montreal Canadiens - Marcus Johansson
Few teams have drafted as poorly in the past decade in the first round than the Montreal Canadiens. Taking forward Louis Leblanc 18th overall will add evidence to that claim.
If they had a do-over, the best pick here would be Marcus Johansson, who went 24th overall initially. The center doesn't get to shine as much with the Washington Capitals, because of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Still, his 78 goals and 232 points in 419 career games would be valuable to a Habs' team that's missed out on the Stanley Cup thanks to a lack of scoring throughout the years.
12 New York Rangers - Jakob Silfverberg
The Rangers could have had themselves a potential star in Jakob Silfverberg, but they ended up with Chris Kreider, who has done just fine.
Fortunately for them, this re-draft won't happen, but if it did, Silfverberg (originally drafted 39th overall) would be the logical choice. He just finished his first 20-goal season on an Anaheim Ducks team that transitioned into a more-defensive unit.
With back-to-back 39-point seasons on the second-line of a team that doesn't score much, those numbers could be much better on a stacked Rangers squad.
11 New Jersey Devils - Reilly Smith
The Devils would take almost anybody in this re-do, as they took Jacob Josefsen, who didn't do a whole lot with the franchise, to say the least.
Reilly Smith didn't actually go until 69th overall to the Dallas Stars and just completed a career-high 25 goal season with the Panthers, which saw him reach the 50-point mark for the second time in three years.
There's no doubt Smith would have been a much better for Lou Lamoriello today.
10 Columbus Blue Jackets - Calvin de Haan
With a defense that features Seth Jones, Jack Johnson, and Ryan Murray, it's easy to stop and hesitate about this pick.
But considering they took John Moore, who is no longer on the team, taking Calvin de Haan would have done a lot more wonders for their defense. De Haan is still developing his game, but the 24-year-old would have been more helpful for the Jackets than just about anybody else selected after this.
9 Vancouver Canucks - Nick Leddy
Coming off a disappointing playoff exit at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, it appeared as though this team needed offense more than anything else. After all, Sami Salo, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler, and eventually Christian Ehrhoff make your blueline look slick.
But the Canucks took forward Jordan Schroeder, who was supposed to be an early pick, but was passed on for his size. Let's put it this way: His most memorable part of being a Canuck was when Roberto Luongo announced the pick and mispronounced the name "Schroeder."
Nick Leddy, originally drafted 16th overall, hasn't reached his stardom, but the young defenseman could have developed quickly by learning from the Canucks veterans. Either way, he'd be more helpful than Schroeder.
8 Calgary Flames - Brandon Pirri
At the time, nobody could have complained about the Flames selecting blueliner Tim Erixon, who had limitless potential in the NHL. But he's bounced around multiple teams and the Flames surely would have re-done this pick.
Brandon Pirri, originally selected 59th overall, scored 22 goals and two assists in his 2014-15 season, and though 2015-16 was a struggle, he should get his career back on track, playing with the Anaheim Ducks now. But imagine him with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan in Calgary today. He'd be an ideal fit for the Flames now.
7 Washington Capitals - Dmitry Kulikov
Their original pick in this draft, Marcus Johansson, is already off the board, so we'll switch our attention to defense.
While Dmitry Kulikov hasn't become the offensive-minded defenseman many were expecting when the Florida Panthers took him 14th overall, he's still been a very solid stay-at-home defenseman in the Sunshine State.
The Russian standout has seen his offense decline over the last few seasons, but his plus/minus rating of +8 was a career high this year. With the Capitals playing in a heavy defensive system under Barry Trotz, he'd be perfect with Washington.
6 Boston Bruins - Simon Despres
The Bruins defense is one of the worst all-around in the NHL and it cost them big time in their push for the playoffs. Trading away Dougie Hamilton and Johnny Boychuk while seeing Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg rapidly age has done no favours for the team.
They used the pick to select forward Jordan Caron, who failed to develop his game. However, Simon Despres could have been a well-rounded defenseman to help the Bruins find their old identity that won them the 2011 Stanley Cup.
As such, Despres fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins 30th overall. His overall game has taken a while to develop, but like many others on this list, Boston would have been better off taking almost anyone else in Round One over Caron.
5 Anaheim Ducks - Marcus Foligno
The Ducks wound up taking forward Kyle Palmieri with this pick and it never panned out. Looking back now, the talent in this re-draft has started to quiet down, so Marcus Foligno, originally selected 104th overall, would have been their best option.
Foligno has been a solid forward on a struggling Sabres club, where he's coming off a career-high in goals (10) and points (23). Given all the star power on Buffalo, we wouldn't be shocked to see him emerge as a 20-goal scorer in the next few years.
He surely would have with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
4 Carolina Hurricanes - Kyle Palmieri
The Carolina Hurricanes had the chance to build off a trip to the Eastern Conference Final by selecting a future star. They wound up with Philippe Paradis, but as 2015-16 shows us, Kyle Palmieri, who originally went a pick earlier, would have worked out better.
Palmieri didn't develop well in Anaheim, but he did notch a 30-goal and 57-point campaign with the New Jersey Devils this season. Palmieri may just end up being a rather late bloomer and Carolina would have taken a chance on him.
3 Chicago Blackhawks - Jordan Schroeder
One of the most hyped up picks of the draft, Jordan Schroeder (who went 22nd overall), didn't turn out well in Vancouver, where he's struggling to earn a full-time roster spot on the Minnesota Wild roster right now. But perhaps it'd be different in Chicago.
With Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Andrew Shaw and other elite players on the 'Hawks offense, Jordan Schroeder would have been able to develop his game much better, as compared to Vancouver.
He surely would've been a better pick than Dylan Olson, who wasn't found his NHL game yet.
2 Tampa Bay Lightning - Anders Nilsson
The Lightning took a long time to find a suitable goalie. After Nikolai Khabibulin led them to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2004, they really didn't find anybody until Ben Bishop came along in 2013.
But perhaps selecting Anders Nilsson, selected 62nd overall, would have been the solution. Especially considering their initial pick of Carter Ashton didn't pan out. The towering 6-foot-5 netminder is coming off a 10-12-2 season with the porous Edmonton Oilers (traded to St. Louis at the deadline, saw minimal action). His goals-against average and save percentage aren't great by any means, but no goalie has been able to play well in front of that defense.
Perhaps it would have been different in Tampa, though.
1 Pittsburgh Penguins - Kyle Clifford
With their initial pick already off the board in Simon Despres, the Penguins would've went with a forward here. Kyle Clifford has made a name for himself as an energy guy you need in the playoffs. He's a gritty checker and has been a key role player for the Los Angeles Kings, who have won two Stanley Cups with him.
The Pens haven't been able to reach the Stanley Cup Final since winning it all in 2009, thanks to a complete lack of depth for bottom-six forwards. Clifford would be ideal for protecting guys like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Patric Hornqvist.
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