One of my favorite things to do as a hockey fan is to go back and look at any given draft year, and simply dissect and critique the teams’ choices. That of course is much easier to do in hindsight, especially for drafts that occurred pre-1996, as pretty much every player who was selected in those drafts has retired (Jaromir Jagr—that freak who was drafted in 1989—notwithstanding).
Whenever I think about the 1993 draft, I think of what Alexandre Daigle said immediately following the draft. Daigle was considered a can’t-miss prospect, so the Senators called his name first overall. This was Daigle’s reaction:
“I'm glad I got drafted first, because no one remembers number two.”
What’s so funny about this? Well, the 1993 draft has produced one Hall-of-Famer to date (and that will be it), and that man is 2nd overall pick Chris Pronger. Not a lot of fans will forget him, but if you are a young hockey fan, it’s probable that you’ve never heard of Alexandre Daigle.
Today I took a peek at the 1993 draft and re-selected the top 20 picks from that year. It wasn’t the strongest year for sure, but nor was it the weakest. It ranks somewhere in the middle of the hierarchy of NHL drafts in history.
Without further ado, here are all 26 first round picks from the 1993 NHL draft re-selected (original draft position in parenthesis):
26 Chris Pronger (2nd) - Ottawa Senators
Needless to say, we had to kick the list off with Hall-of-Fame defenseman Chris Pronger. Though he was forced to retire a little earlier than he would have liked, there’s no denying that Pronger is fully deserving of a spot in hockey’s shrine. He struck fear into his opponents like no other, and at his best he was the most dominant player on the ice on a nightly basis.
Concussion issues forced him to retire at the age of 37, and it’s safe to say he had a few good years left in him had they not—he had 12 points in 13 games in 2011-12 before being forced to hang up the skates. Pronger’s resume is still hella-impressive, as his mantle features a Hart Trophy, a Norris Trophy, a Stanley Cup ring, and two Olympic Gold Medals. I think the Sens would have preferred him to Alexandre Daigle, but I can't be sure.
25 Paul Kariya (4th) - Hartford Whalers
Indeed, the two best players from the 1993 NHL Entry Draft were both forced into early retirement thanks to concussion issues. Paul Kariya struggled with them throughout most of his career before finally calling it in 2010, whereas Pronger’s came on just at the end. As a result, Kariya played in just 989 NHL games, scoring 989 points along the way.
The Hartford Whalers held the number two pick in 1993, and they actually got Pronger at that slot so they should have no regrets (except for trading him a few years later). That being said, nobody would have thought anything less of them if they went with Kariya, who leads all skaters from the ’93 draft in points. Had he been healthier, he’d surely be considered for the Hall-of-Fame as well.
24 Kimmo Timonen (250th) - Tampa Bay Lightning
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen represents the list’s biggest jump, as he was originally selected in the 10th round, 250th overall by the Los Angeles Kings. His first NHL game didn’t happen until 1998-99, as a member of the Nashville Predators rather than the L.A. Kings. From there, he never looked back, playing in 1,108 NHL games and finally winning a Stanley Cup in 2015 as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks in his final season.
The Finnish defender would have been Tampa Bay Lightning property if he was drafted where he should have been. The Lightning instead went with Chris Gratton, who wasn’t terrible but definitely had a lesser career than Timonen. Timonen’s boxcars prove he was good at both ends of the ice, a he compiled 117 goals and 454 assists before retiring in 2015.
23 Pavol Demitra (227th) - Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
The late Pavol Demitra goes fourth overall in our 1993 re-draft, meaning he would have been property of the Mighty Ducks. Things worked out even better for Anaheim though, as they grabbed Kariya at number four. Nonetheless, Demitra had a somewhat short but very productive NHL career, managing to score 768 points before choosing to play closer to home in the KHL.
Tragically, Demitra was one of the members of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv club that perished in the 2011 plane crash into the banks of the Volga River. He’d played the prior season with Yaroslavl, and led the club in scoring by notching 61 points in just 54 games. The 36-year-old was still a great hockey talent at the time of his death, and in my opinion he was the fourth best player from the 1993 draft class.
22 Miroslav Satan (111th) - Florida Panthers
Miroslav Satan comes in at number five on our list, and I was always a big fan of his so perhaps my bias is showing a bit. Nonetheless, the Slovakian had an incredible hockey career, playing in 1,050 NHL games before playing out the remainder of his career back in Europe (first for the Slovak league, then the KHL).
Satan was originally an Edmonton Oiler selection, picked in the fifth round. If things panned out as they should have, Satan would have ended up being a Florida Panther draft pick. Satan’s hallmark was consistent production and health; from 1998-99 to 2006-07, he missed just nine regular season games, and his season point totals ranged from 57 to 75 over that span. Satan won a Cup with the Penguins in 2009 near the tail-end of his NHL career, capping off a great journey for the sixth-highest Slovakian NHL player of all time.
21 Saku Koivu (21st) - San Jose Sharks
Saku Koivu just barely missed out on the top 20 when the names were called in 1993, but in our re-draft he’s situated comfortably in the top 20 at number six. Originally a Montreal Canadiens draft pick, Koivu would have ended up with the San Jose Sharks had things turned out the way they should have.
Koivu had an incredible career, becoming the beloved captain of the Montreal Canadiens in 1999 and holding the position for almost an entire decade. The Finnish center played five more seasons with the Ducks after departing Montreal, and he managed to put up 832 points in 1,124 NHL games. Koivu sits third in all-time scoring among Finnish-born NHL players, behind legends Teemu Selanne and Jari Kurri—not bad company to keep.
20 Todd Bertuzzi (23rd) - Edmonton Oilers
Todd Bertuzzi will unfortunately be mostly remembered for ruining Steve Moore’s career, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a pretty darn good hockey player in his day. He was one-third of the famous "West Coast Express" line from the early 2000s in Vancouver, and that was probably the best line in the NHL for a few seasons.
Skating with Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison, Bertuzzi put up seasons of 85 and 97 points before his career got derailed by that unfortunate incident near the end of the 2003-04 season. Who’s to say where Bertuzzi’s career could have gone if not for that dark cloud that followed him around after that fateful day, causing an endless distraction for the power forward. Perhaps his career would have taken a different turn in Edmonton.
19 Jason Arnott (7th) - New York Rangers
Jason Arnott, who was originally selected 7th overall by the Edmonton Oilers, leads the entire 1993 draft class with 417 goals, and he sits second in points with 938. He also played more games in the NHL than any other player from that draft class, skating in 1,244 regular season games. Needless to say, Arnott carved out quite a career for himself.
Although Arnott never won any of the major individual awards given out by the league, he does have a Stanley Cup championship ring, which he won as a member of the New Jersey Devils in 2000. He actually scored the game-winning goal in the deciding Game 6 of the series against the defending champ Dallas Stars. He broke into the NHL immediately after being drafted in ’93, and never looked back on his way through a stellar NHL career.
18 Andrew Brunette (174th) - Dallas Stars
Somehow, 173 players heard their name called before Andrew Brunette did at the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. The Washington Capitals took Brunette at 174 in the 7th round, and Brunette went on to play 1,110 games in the world’s best hockey league. He sits eighth in points out of all players selected in 1993, just behind Miro Satan and just ahead of Pronger.
Brunette’s career took some time to get going, as he didn’t become an NHL regular until 1998-99, five seasons after he was drafted. Once established, Brunette had an incredible run of productivity and health, amassing 733 points and playing no fewer than 77 games per season from 2000-01 to 2011-12. It’s rare to find a player who can stay that healthy in such a tough league.
17 Rob Niedermayer (5th) - Quebec Nordiques
The younger brother of Hall-of-Famer Scott Niedermayer, Rob (pictured left) perhaps struggled to escape the shadow cast by his older brother. Nonetheless, he was still one of the 20 best players selected in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, although we’ve bumped him to number 10 overall, five slots lower than his original spot of 5th overall.
Niedermayer was one of the game’s elite checking forwards throughout his career, drawing tough assignments on a nightly basis, especially during his time with the Anaheim Ducks. It was in Orange County that Rob was eventually joined by his brother Scott, and they would go on to win the Stanley Cup together in 2007. When his career came to an end in 2012 (after a brief stint in the Swiss league), Rob had 469 points in 1,153 regular season games.
16 Janne Niinimaa (36th) - Washington Capitals
Jumping into the top 20 of our re-draft all the way up from the 36th slot is defenseman Janne Niinimaa. The Finnish defender was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers, which is where he started his NHL career. He eventually made stops in Edmonton, New York (Islanders), Dallas, and Montreal before deciding to finish his pro career in Europe, closer to home.
Niinimaa was primarily known as an elite playmaking defenseman. He would provide a solid first-pass out of the D-zone, which is a quality most NHL teams are desperate for all the time. Niinimaa played 741 games in the NHL before making the move over to Europe, and in those games he managed 319 points and 733 penalty minutes. He also notched 24 points in 59 postseason games, but only made it out of the first round once (1997-98).
15 Bryan McCabe (40th) - Toronto Maple Leafs
Another defenseman shows up on our list at number 12, this one in the form of Bryan McCabe. McCabe was originally selected by the New York Islanders in the 2nd round, 40th overall. If the draft were held again today, he would have been a Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick, which just so happens to be where the defender had his best seasons in the league.
McCabe established himself as one of the NHL’s most dangerous offensive weapons from the blueline in 2005-06, when he had a career year, putting up 68 points in 73 games. He never came close to that level of production again, but he continued to have a relatively productive career the rest of the way through it, playing for the Panthers and the Rangers before calling it quits in 2011.
14 Viktor Kozlov (6th) - New Jersey Devils
At 13th overall in our re-draft of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Viktor Kozlov was the best Russian player selected out of that class. He actually falls seven spots from his original draft position of 6th overall, and if the draft were to be held again with what we know now, Kozlov would become a New Jersey Devils draft pick, which they’d probably have preferred to who they actually took, Denis Pederson.
Kozlov started his career with the Sharks, the team that drafted him 6th overall. Like many Russians, Kozlov chose to finish his pro career in the KHL, playing in that league from 2009-10 to 2014-15. His NHL numbers were respectable, notching 537 points in 897 games, which is solid second-line level production on any given team.
13 Vaclav Prospal (71st) - Quebec Nordiques
Vaclav Prospal was your typical NHL journeyman, playing in over 1,100 games spread out over seven different teams. It started in Philadelphia, which is the team that drafted him 71st overall in the 3rd round of the ’93 draft. He jumps up a hefty 57 spots in our re-draft after having a spectacular career, scoring 765 points before hanging them up after the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.
If the 1993 draft were to be held today, Prospal would become property of the Colorado Avalanche (or, more accurately, the Quebec Nordiques). What’s especially curious about Prospal’s career when you look back at it is the fact that he played for the Tampa Bay Lightning for three separate stints. He probably regrets leaving for the one season the first time, as he played for the Ducks in 2003-04 before returning to Tampa following the lockout. The 2003-04 season was of course the year the Lightning won the Cup.
12 Mike Grier (219th) - Winnipeg Jets
Former St. Louis Blues draft pick Mike Grier jumps all the way into our top-20 of the re-draft, which is no small feat considering that he was originally a 9th round pick (219th overall). The big winger never played a game with the Blues, but made his presence felt as a member of the Edmonton Oilers in 1996-97, as Grier finished playing college puck for Boston University in 1996.
If the draft were to be held again today, Grier would end up a member of the Winnipeg Jets, who selected Mats Lindgren instead (coincidentally, both Grier and Lindgren began their NHL careers as members of the Oilers). By the time Grier decided to hang up the skates for good, he had played 1,060 games (the 14th most from the draft class) and registered 383 points playing primarily third-line minutes throughout his career.
11 Chris Gratton (3rd) - Edmonton Oilers
Chris Gratton actually slides down 13 slots from his original draft position of 3rd overall, but he still manages to stay inside the top 20 and land at number 16. Gratton, originally a Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick, would have ended up a member of the Edmonton Oilers if the draft were done again today. The Oilers would have likely preferred Gratton to Nick Stajduhar, who played all of two NHL games.
Gratton was a top prospect because he absolutely lit the world on fire in junior, putting up 109 points in his draft year with the Kingston Frontenacs. Unfortunately for Gratton and the Lightning, he never became that elite producer at the NHL level, though he still had a long and respectable career. In his 1,092 career regular season games, Gratton notched 568 points.
10 Darcy Tucker (151st) - Washington Capitals
Maple Leafs fan favorite Darcy Tucker comes in at number 17 on our re-draft, which represents a jump of 134 slots from his original position in the 6th round (151st overall). The Montreal Canadiens had originally picked Tucker, which is somewhat ironic considering that he had his best seasons skating with the Leafs, the Habs’ biggest rival. Tucker would become a member of the Capitals in this hypothetical situation.
Tucker was that rare mix of skill and toughness, as he scored 476 points in his 947-game NHL career, and added 1,410 PIM in the process. Tucker played just a season and a half with the Canadiens before being dealt to Tampa Bay, where he spent about two seasons in total before landing in Toronto. He spent eight seasons there, where he enjoyed his best offensive seasons, highlighted by a 61 point campaign in 2005-06.
9 Jason Allison (17th) - Calgary Flames
If this were a ranking of the 20 most talented players to come out of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Jason Allison would place much higher than 18th overall. He actually drops one spot from his original selection slot of 17th, and in this hypothetical scenario Allison would have ended up as a Calgary Flames draft pick.
Rumors swirled about Allison’s personal life outside of hockey, and in addition to that he’d struggled to stay healthy in the latter part of his short 552-game career. Nonetheless, Allison put up 485 points in those games, and scored more than a point per game in four of his final seven NHL seasons, including a 95 point campaign in 2000-01 that was good for 4th in overall scoring.
8 Jamie Langenbrunner (35th) - Toronto Maple Leafs
Two-time Stanley Cup champion Jamie Langenbrunner slides up 16 spots from his original draft position into number 19 in our re-draft. Langenbrunner had a knack for showing up in the postseason when it matters, proven by his 17 points in 1999 on his way to a Cup with the Dallas Stars, coupled with his 18 points en route to capturing another one with the New Jersey Devils in 2003.
Langenbrunner enjoyed a long NHL career that saw him play 1,109 games in the regular season to go with another 146 playoff matches. He hung up the skates for good after the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season in which he played just four games for the St. Louis Blues. His career boxcars reflect that of a solid 2nd line forward in the NHL (243-420-663), which is pretty good for a 2nd round pick.
7 Brendan Morrison (39th) - Vancouver Canucks
Brendan Morrison squeaks into the top 20 of our re-draft, meaning that two-thirds of Vancouver’s famous “West Coast Express” were drafted in 1993. Morrison was originally picked in the 2nd round (39th overall) by the New Jersey Devils. Coincidentally, he would have ended up a Vancouver Canucks prospect if we did things again today—Vancouver is of course where he truly established himself as the ideal offensive-accoutrement to Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi.
Morrison finished his college career at the University of Michigan before debuting with the Devils in 1997-98. He enjoyed almost two full seasons of relative success in Jersey, but when he went to Vancouver his offense really picked up. He had three consecutive seasons of 60 points or more playing primarily in between Bertuzzi and Naslund.
6 Adam Deadmarsh (14th) - Montreal Canadiens
Adam Deadmarsh would have likely landed somewhere closer to where he was originally drafted if he stayed healthier throughout his career, but concussion issues ended his NHL days rather early. I what is perhaps one of the scarier concussion stories I’ve heard, Deadmarsh actually had to step away from his associate coaching duties with the Avalanche in 2012—almost 10 years after he retired—because the post-concussion symptoms were still too strong.
Deadmarsh was productive nonetheless, as he posted 373 points in his 567 career games. He won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996, just his second NHL season. If he had actually been selected 21st overall instead of 14th, the winger would have been a draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens, who are probably still happy they grabbed Koivu instead.
5 Todd Marchant (164th) - Detroit Red Wings
The speedy Todd Marchant played 1,195 games in the NHL, which is the second most of any player drafted in 1993. Originally a New York Rangers draft pick (164th overall), Marchant only played one game in New York before getting shipped to Edmonton in exchange for Craig MacTavish (who went on to win the Cup that season with the Rangers).
If Marchant had been drafted where we believe he should have, he would have ended up a draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings. We view Marchant as a slight improvement over who they picked, which was Swedish defenseman Anders Eriksson. Marchant’s career ended with him just two points shy of 500 for his career, and considering that he spent most of it as a third-liner, those are decent numbers for sure.
4 Tommy Salo (118th) - New York Islanders
Goaltender Tommy Salo’s life pretty much fell apart in 2002 after letting in that goal from center ice to the Belarusian Olympic team. He lost the game for his team, and that game is still one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Before that, however, Salo was a stellar goalie who was hailed as a national hero, having led the 1994 Olympic squad to its first Gold Medal.
Originally a New York Islanders draft pick, Salo spent the better part of three seasons there as the Islanders starter before making the move to Edmonton. He spent five seasons with the Oilers, including two where he posted at least 30 wins. Originally a 5th round (118th overall) selection, if the draft were done again today he’d go 23rd and become property of… the Islanders.
3 Hal Gill (207th) - Chicago Blackhawks
When you think of Hal Gill you think of a reliable journeyman defenseman who stuck around the league for longer than most players of his type manage. The rearguard wasn’t known for his offense to be sure, as in his 1,108 regular season games he scored a total of 36 goals. Gill was originally an 8th round draft pick (207th overall) of the Boston Bruins, but we figure he did enough in his career to crack the first round in our re-draft.
If Gill did get drafted 24th overall in 1993, he would have been property of the Chicago Blackhawks. Throughout his career Gill played for all six different teams (Boston, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Nashville, and Philadelphia). He won a Stanley Cup well into his career as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.
2 Patrick Lalime (156th) - Boston Bruins
Goaltender Patrick Lalime squeaks into the first round of our re-draft, coming in at 25th overall. Lalime enjoyed the best seasons of his career as a member of the Ottawa Senators, posting some impressive seasons—notably, his 39-win campaign in 2002-03. He was actually drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, 156th overall, in the 6th round of the ’93 draft.
If things happened the way we feel they should have, Lalime would have started off as a member of the Boston Bruins, who picked Kevyn Adams. Adams was fine, but he didn’t make the first round cut in the re-draft, so the B’s would have been better off going with Lalime in hindsight. Lalime finished his NHL career with exactly 200 wins, something only 81 goalies in history have done.
1 Jay Pandolfo (32nd) - Pittsburgh Penguins
From the mid-1990s through to the 2004-05 NHL lockout, the New Jersey Devils were probably the hardest team to play against during any of those given seasons. The racked up three Stanley Cups (in 1995, 2000 and 2003), and Jay Pandolfo played a key depth role on the latter two championship squads. Originally a 2nd round, 32nd overall pick, Pandolfo hops up six spots in our re-draft to squeak into the first round.
Mostly a fourth line grinder throughout his NHL days, Pandolfo’s career boxcars reflect that. In 899 regular season games the winger posted 100 goals and 126 assists for 226 points. If the draft shook out the way we here at The Sportster think it should have, Pandolfo would have become property of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who would have surely preferred that to who they actually drafted (Stefan Bergkvist).