Each of the four major professional sports hold an annual Entry Draft each year, where a franchise can only hope that it selects a player who will make a considerable impact towards achieving a club's goal going forward.
The key word in the sentence above is -- hope.
For starters, it doesn't matter how experienced an NHL team's scouting department or front office is, or was in this article's case because history has shown in the past that 'we'll just never know...'
We'll never know if an NHL player will live up to his draft status whether he was drafted in the first-round, or not. The jump from Junior Hockey or the collegiate level to the NHL is a greater obstacle than one might think. Outside variables, aside from skill level, come into play once a player is drafted into the NHL. A vast number of NHL skaters are natives of numerous European countries, and a culture shock can impacts a player's performance on the ice, no?
The pressures and large contracts that entail a top draft pick's status can also tease a skater's mind; and perhaps the youngster may not fit in with his new team, which would be a roster full of professionals, veteran skaters, and perhaps former first-round draft picks, too.
The first-round of the 2001 NHL draft panned out to be a selection that can best be described as forgettable. Yet, let's reflect and re-draft the first-round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
31 Jason Spezza - Atlanta Thrashers
Center Jason Spezza was originally drafted second overall and by the Ottawa Senators during the 2001 draft. To date, Spezza has proven that the Ontario native is the most valuable player from this draft class.
The 6-foot-3 forward totaled 687 points in 11 seasons with Ottawa and was an inaugural part of the club's 2007 Stanley Cup Final run. Spezza ranks at number two on the Senators' all-time leaderboard for goals, assists and points, where he sits behind hockey great, Daniel Alfredsson. The two-way player has posted 80 points in a season on four different occasions and has reached the 30 goal plateau five times in his 14-year career. Spezza was traded to the Dallas Stars during the 2014 offseason and has since posted back-to-back seasons of 60-plus points.
30 Ilya Kovalchuk - Ottawa Senators
At the age of 18, winger Ilya Kovalchuk was drafted number one overall by the Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets) at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Yet, unlike Spezza, Kovalchuk's NHL career was cut short by his own doings, as the Russian native retired from the league in 2013 to play in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). At the time of his retirement, the sniper was only in his third year of a 15-year contract with the New Jersey Devils and was 29 years old.
So, the term "quitter" is often associated with the former first overall draft pick. Sure, Kovalchuk averaged a point-per-game in his NHL career, and the six-time 40 goal scorer would have gone down as one of the top NHL points leaders, ever. Yet, Kovalchuk's lack of defensive efforts cannot go unnoticed, and the former Thrasher was often labeled as selfish on the ice.
29 Patrick Sharp - Tampa Bay Lightning
Imagine the Tampa Bay Lightning getting a mulligan on Alexander Svitov and instead drafting Patrick Sharp? Sharp was undoubtedly the steal of the 2001 draft, going 95th overall to the Philadelphia Flyers. Unfortunately, the steal never paid dividends for the Flyers, who traded Sharp to Chicago before he could break out.
Sharp has grown to be one of the more reliable goal scorers in the NHL. While his best years may be behind him, Sharp helped the Blackhawks build a modern day dynasty, as he constantly produced in Chicago and became a valuable playoff performer. With all the young talent Tampa Bay has today, having an experienced scorer like Sharp would really be icing on the cake. He may even be Tampa Bay's current captain had they taken him back in 2001.
28 Dan Hamhuis - Florida Panthers
Defenseman Dan Hamhuis was drafted 12th overall in the 2001 draft by the Nashville Predators, and British Columbia native panned out to be one of the NHL's best defensemen since he began playing in 2004. Since that time Hamhuis has proven he was more than worthy for a club to select him with the number four pick at the 2001 draft.
The d-man has collected 305 career points in 868 games played to date (as of this writing), and has only finished the regular season with a minus rating on four occasions. Hamhuis has been valued as an offensive defenseman, but the 33-year-old can still hold his own when it comes down to being defensive minded too. The 6-foot-1 defenseman turned out to be the type of player a team can build its blue line around. Additionally, Hamhuis has played in the most career NHL games in comparison to the other 29 players selected in the first-round of the 2001 draft (877).
27 Mikko Koivu - Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Forward Mikko Koivu was selected into the top 10 for the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, but the Finnish forward should have been chosen higher and by the Florida Panthers. The Minnesota Wild took Koivu with the number six pick at the draft, and Koivu still plays in the State of Hockey, plus serves as the Wild's captain.
Koivu's two-way play has been appreciated by Minnesota since his rookie year in 2005-06, and the Wild captain has earned 559 career points in 770 games played. One would have to figure that the younger brother of hockey great Saku Koivu would entail the potential to be an all-star caliber player; but the Panthers, and two other clubs apparently did not. Keep in mind, the younger Koivu panned out to be a top two center and has helped the Wild become a constant playoff contending team.
26 Ales Hemsky - Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild selected a player with the number six overall pick that went on to become their captain and perhaps their franchise's best player in Koivu. However with Koivu off the board here, we must give them Hemsky.
Hemsky played some great hockey with the Oilers, and the talented forward was often rumored to be traded from time to time around the NHL Trade Deadline; where a Cup contending team would usually be rumored to want to acquire Hemsky. Now, the six-foot forward playing for the Dallas Stars and could find himself playing in the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals come June. Picture if Hemsky was drafted by the Wild; would he still be playing in Minnesota? Who knows, but he's probably the best option in this thin draft.
25 7. Mike Cammalleri - Montreal Canadiens
Habs fans would have loved this. Mike Cammalleri spent a few seasons with the Canadiens in the late 2000s and immediately became a fan favorite. For all his faults, Cammalleri has always been a point producer when healthy. Back in 2001, Cammalleri went to the Kings in the second round at 49th overall. Cammalleri enjoyed an 80-point season in 2006-07 but was traded to the Flames in 2008.
Alongside Jarome Iginla, Cammalleri had an amazing year in 2008-09, scoring 39 goals and recording 82 points. He cashed in on a big contract with the Canadiens and had an amazing 2010 playoff run, scoring 13 goals in Montreal's miracle run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Even in the twilight of his career in New Jersey, Cammalleri has continued to be a point producer.
24 Jason Pominville - Columbus Blue Jackets
Jason Pominville's production has declined in recent years, but at one time, he was one of the more consistent point producers in the NHL. The Blue Jackets have had trouble scoring goals throughout their history and grabbing Pominville back in 2001 would have helped. As of this writing, Pominville has played 838 games, scoring 250 goals and totaling 620 points. He's also been a good playoff performer, with 50 points in 76 postseason games.
He even had an 80-point season with the Sabres back in 2007-08 following the departures of Danny Briere and Chris Drury. He was quite a steal at 55th overall in 2001 and the Jackets could have formed a formidable pairing with Pominville and Rick Nash, who they would draft a year later.
23 Stephen Weiss - Chicago Blackhawks
Forward Stephen Weiss had originally been drafted at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers with the fourth overall pick. Weiss has established what could be considered a solid NHL career, and the Toronto, Ontario native transformed into one of the Panthers' more memorable leaders in franchise history.
However, after reflecting back on this specific draft, we have Weiss being selected at number 9 overall. The 5-foot-11 forward has totaled 432 points in 732 career NHL games, to date. At the time, the Panthers (who originally selected Weiss) were a struggling franchise, and one could imagine that Florida was hoping for more of a superstar caliber player. After playing 11 seasons in South Florida, Weiss went on to play two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings (2013-15), where his contract was later bought out by Hockeytown.
22 Colby Armstrong - New York Rangers
With the 21st overall pick the Pittsburgh Penguins selected winger Colby Armstrong at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Yet, in a weak draft class, Armstrong should have been drafted higher in comparison to the skaters that were drafted before the 6-foot-2 forward.
Armstrong had a string of successful seasons with the Penguins, while serving as a key depth forward with Sidney Crosby and company (2005-2008). In parts of three seasons with Pittsburgh the former first-round draft-pick recorded 30-plus points in all, before being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in the spring of 2008. In Armstrong's first full season with Atlanta he scored a career high 22 goals, and tied a career high while earning 40 points. The former Penguin went on to dress for the Toronto Maple Leafs for two seasons, and later finished his career playing one season with the Montreal Canadiens (2012-13).
21 Tuomo Ruutu - Phoenix Coyotes
Yes, believe it or not, but Tuomo Ruutu was a former first round draft pick at the 2001 NHL draft. Ruutu was originally drafted one spot lower than number eight, at number nine. The forward was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks and began his NHL playing days during the 2003-04 regular season with the Hawks.
Still, Ruutu is most remembered for his time spent with the Carolina Hurricanes organization, where he posted two 50 point seasons (57 points in 2011; 54 points in 2009). The Finnish native panned out to be a pesky and physical type of player, but proved he could add an offensive presence to a club too. Ruutu has earned 346 career points in 735 games played to date, and is currently an unrestricted free agent. Ruutu spent the parts of the past three seasons with the New Jersey Devils, where he only collected 22 points in 129 games played.
20 R.J. Umberger - Nashville Predators
Forward R.J. Umberger was originally drafted by the Vancouver Canucks with the 16th overall pick at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. While he never dressed in a game for the Canucks, Umberger ended up joining the Philadelphia Flyers and began his NHL career in the 2005-06 regular season. It appeared that the former Ohio State Buckeye would be a good fit for the Broad Street Bullies; he brought size, physicality and could chip in some offense.
In 2008, Umberger recorded a his first 50 point season and with the Flyers. The former first round draft pick then earned an additional two 50-plus-point seasons while dressing for the Columbus Blue Jackets (55 points in 2010; 57 points in 2011). However, after those back-to-back career high seasons Umberger never reach the 50 point plateau again. Philadelphia re-acquired the depth forward during the 2014 offseason.
Umberger would have been better served in the Music City, in a more low pressure situation.
19 Chuck Kobasew - Edmonton Oilers
Fans may not remember this name, but forward Chuck Kobasew played in the NHL for over a decade and for five different teams. Kobasew was drafted by the Calgary Flames in 2001 with the 14th overall pick. Here we have their rivals, the Oilers snatching him one pick before. The British Columbia native played in parts of four seasons with Calgary, where he racked up 160 penalty minutes and earned 71 points in 210 regular season games played.
The forward was traded to the Boston Bruins in 2006-07 and spent parts of the next three seasons in Boston. Kobasew posted a career high 42 points in 2009 with the Bruins, but failed to record at least 20 points during his next five seasons. He last played for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013-14, where he played in just 33 games and recorded two goals.
18 Marcel Goc - Calgary Flames
In 2001, center Marcel Goc was drafted by the San Jose Sharks with the 2oth overall pick. Goc's rookie season came after the lockout in 2005-06, and the German Olympian went on to play in 10 NHL seasons. In his first four seasons with the Teal, he failed to record more than 22 points and Goc was later acquired by the Nashville Predators in 2009-10.
In the forward's first season with the Preds, Goc posted 12 goals and 18 assists for a career high 30 points. He would play one more season in the Music City, before being acquired by the Florida Panthers in 2011, playing in Sunrise from 2011-2014. Then, Goc would dress for the Penguins and Blues in the span of just two years. Overall, he played in 636 career NHL games which is the 10th most from the 2001 draft class.
17 Tim Gleason - Carolina Hurricanes
Forward Tim Gleason wasn't selected until later in the first round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, where he was originally chosen at number 23 by the Ottawa Senators. The Clawson, Michigan native never dressed for the Senators, but Gleason did play in 13 NHL seasons.
The former first round draft pick skated for the Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals. Gleason is most remembered as a Hurricane, where he spent a total of nine seasons and racked up 537 penalty minutes in 546 games. According to us, the Canes should have just saved time and drafted Gleason at no.15.
The grinder finished his NHL career with 142 points while dressing in 727 games. Gleason only made the Stanley Cup Playoffs twice, which was with the Hurricanes in 2008-09 and then most recently with Washington during the 2014-15 campaign.
16 Carlo Colaiacovo - Vancouver Canucks
To date, defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo still plays in the NHL for the Buffalo Sabres. Colaiacovo originally dressed for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2002-03 regular season after he was drafted by the Leafs in the first round with the 17th pick overall.
The Toronto, Ontario native has played in 470 games while also dressing for the St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers. He currently owns a career plus-minus rating of a minus-6, and has earned 157 career points in the NHL. Colaiacovo posted a career best 32 points, while dressing for the Blues in 2008-09, when he found the back of the net on seven occasions and posted 25 assists. The former first round draft pick has played in 20 career Stanley Cup playoff games between the Blues and Red Wings, and is a plus-5, overall.
15 Fredrik Sjostrom - Toronto Maple Leafs
With the 11th overall pick at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft the (then) Phoenix Coyotes selected Swedish native, Fredrik Sjostrom. Yet, Sjostrom should have dropped in the draft to number 17 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Sjostrom played in nine NHL seasons, and one of which was with the Flames during the 2009-10 campaign. Additionally, the forward played in parts of four seasons with the Coyotes, two with the New York Rangers and two with, ironically, the Toronto Maple Leafs. He only collected 104 points in 489 career NHL games. Sjostrom's career best season came during his sophomore NHL season, with the Yotes, when he posted 23 points in 75 games played. Sjostrom made the Stanley Cup Playoffs twice, 2007-08 and 2008-09, with the Rangers, while playing in a total of 17 playoff games.
14 Cristobal Huet - Los Angeles Kings
You know it's a sad draft class when the best goaltender of the bunch is Cristobal Huet. The Frenchman became the first French-born goaltender to really have a significant impact in the NHL. Huet originally went 214th overall to, ironically the Kings, but they could have taken him far earlier and it would have surpassed their actual first round draft choice that year.
For all intents and purposes, Huet didn't have a bad NHL career, as he played 272 games, recorded a 2.46 GAA and a .913 SV%. He was even a capable starter at one point with the Canadiens and Blackhawks. As we have mentioned, this was an incredibly weak class for goaltenders, so Huet really was the only logical choice for our first goalie to go off the board.
13 Dave Steckel - Boston Bruins
Center Dave Steckel probably isn't happy with what he's most remembered for...which is injuring and "accidentally" kneeing Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby in the head, while skating by Crosby who was laying on the ice, in the 2010 Bridgestone Winter Classic at Heinz Field.
The former first-round draft-pick was originally drafted with the last pick in the round by the Los Angeles Kings. Yet, the Boston Bruins should have drafted Steckel with the 19th pick overall instead. While Steckel was nothing more than a third or fourth line center, he was an above-average center when it boiled down to taking face-offs. Aside from playing for the Washington Capitals, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin native dressed for the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Anaheim Ducks.
12 Mike Komisarek - San Jose Sharks
Defenseman Mike Komisarek was drafted early in the first-round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens with the seventh overall pick. Yet, Komisarek should have been chosen later at the 2001 draft, and with the 20th pick which belonged to the San Jose Sharks.
Komisarek's performance on the ice was nowhere near that of a seventh overall pick, as the d-man has only played in 70-plus regular season games in three out of 11 career seasons. The West Islip, New York native finished his NHL playing days as a career minus-19 player, while posting 81 points in 551 career games played. Additionally, Komisarek went on to dress for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes. His career best season was with the Canadiens in 2006-07, when he earned 19 points and finished the year as a plus-seven.
11 Shaone Morrisonn - Pittsburgh Penguins
If the 2001 NHL Entry Draft could be re-drafted then Shaonne Morrisonn's draft status wouldn't have changed that much, at all. Morissonn was originally drafted by the Boston Bruins with the 19th overall pick.
Considering how bad the draft turned out to be, Morrisonn wasn't worth moving down too much in a re-draft. The Vancouver native finished his NHL career with 75 points in 480 games played, while dressing for the Bruins, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres. Morrisonn skated in the NHL for nine seasons and even finished as a career plus player, plus-34. His career best season was with the Washington Capitals in 2005-06, when he posted one goal and 13 assists for 14 points in 80 games played.
10 Stanislav Chistov - Buffalo Sabres
Anaheim Ducks fans are probably the only fan base who may be able to recall the name, Stanislav Chistov. The (then) Mighty Ducks of Anaheim selected the Russian native with the fifth-overall-pick during the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
Chistov only played in parts of three seasons with the Ducks, while recording 48 points in 136 regular season games with the club. Yes, this is one of the weakest draft classes in recent memory, but there were still a handful of picks that would have better suited Anaheim; as noted earlier, Ales Hemsky. Chistov would end his NHL career in Boston, where he dressed for the Bruins in 2006-07 when he posted 13 points in 60 games. His season in Beantown would be his only season with the Bruins and his final NHL campaign.
9 Pascal Leclaire - Ottawa Senators
At a time when the Ottwawa Senators were struggling to find a legitimate starting netminder, (remember Patrick Lalime?)the Sens may have ended up with goaltender Pascal Leclaire if there was a re-draft. Leclaire was originally drafted with the eighth overall pick at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft and by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Sure, the Jackets were a miserable team during Leclaire's time spent in Columbus, but the former first round pick only played in seven NHL seasons while recording two winning seasons and posting a career .907 save-percentage. Leclaire didn't pan out to be the type of caliber goalie most assumed he would be, but perhaps if he dropped to the number 23 pick with the Sens-- things could have been different. Ironically, he actually did play for the Ottawa Senators where he finished his NHL career in 2010-11.
8 Jiri Novotny - Florida Panthers
Considering what is left in this very thin draft class, the Florida Panthers would end up selecting Jiri Novotny in a do-over. The center was originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres with the 22nd pick overall. So, Novotny would have been bumped down two spots on the board.
Novotny didn't begin his NHL playing career until the 2005-06 regular season with Buffalo, where he posted three points in 14 games played and was a minus-five. The Czech Republic native only played in three more NHL seasons, while splitting time with the Sabres, Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets. He finished his NHL career with 51 points in 189 games played. Novotny only finish with a plus-rating once during his short tenure in the NHL, which was during the 2008-09 campaign with the Blue Jackets (plus-four).
7 Dan Blackburn - Montreal Canadiens
For starters, it would not have been fair to have former NHL goaltender Dan Blackburn lower on this list. Blackburn was selected with the 10th overall pick at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers, and his professional hockey career was cut short due to injury.
There were high hopes for the Montreal, Quebec native, and for him to replace the great Mike Richter on Broadway. Blackburn was only able to play in two seasons for the Rangers, where he played in 31 and 32 games, respectively. At this point in the draft, why wouldn't a club have taken a chance on a promising local netminder, instead of what was left in the pool? Yes, the Montreal Canadiens were deep in the goaltending department at the time, but adding Blackburn to a list with an unproven (at the time) Jose Theodore and Jeff Hackett would have been nice, too.
6 Lukas Krajicek - Dallas Stars
More often than not, it seems that a defenseman that gets drafted in the first round of an NHL Entry Draft pans out to be a top two d'man for an NHL franchise. And, a player that transforms into a franchise caliber skater. Yet, that was not the case for defenseman Lukas Krajicek when the Florida Panthers drafted him 24th overall at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
However, due to the stature of the 2001 draft, Krajicek still should have been drafted with the 26th overall draft pick. That would have had the Czech Republic native going to the Dallas Stars, instead.
Krajicek only lasted three seasons in South Beach, and never finished a season with a plus-rating either. The former first round draft pick then went on to dress for the Vancouver Canucks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers. His NHL career lasted a total of seven seasons.
5 Alexander Perezhogin - Philadelphia Flyers
The Montreal Canadiens originally selected winger Alexander Perezhogin with the 25th overall pick in 2001. And, like other players who were selected in the later half of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Perezhogin moves up one spot for this specific list. Though, there's not much to discuss here either...
The six-foot-forward only played in two seasons for Montreal's beloved Habs, when he dressed in 61 and 67 regular season games. His rookie season came during the 2005-06 campaign. The skater who was originally passed over by the Panthers recorded 19 points in 2006 and 15 points in his second and final NHL season a year later. During the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs the forward actually posted one goal plus one assist in six games. Perhaps Perezhogin would have been a more reliable player come playoff time if his NHL career lasted more than two seasons.
4 Jeff Woywitka - New Jersey Devils
Defenseman Jeff Woywitka was selected with the 27th pick overall at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. Woywitka never skated for the Broad Street Bullies, and was eventually acquired by the St. Louis Blues. The Canadian draft-pick's rookie season came in 2005-06 with St. Louis, when Woywitka dressed in 26 games and finished the season with a minus-12 rating.
He played for the Blues for an additional three seasons, before he was acquired by the Dallas Stars in 2009-2010. The most amount of games Woytika ever skated in during an NHL regular season would be 65 and 63 games. The d-man only played in more than 30 games in four of his seven total NHL seasons. Woywitka finished his NHL career with the New York Rangers during the 2011-12 campaign.
On a team like the Devils of the early 2000s, known for its defense, perhaps Woywitka could have developed better.
3 Jens Karlsson - Chicago Blackhawks
Winger Jens Karlsson never played in a single minute of NHL hockey. Though, Karlsson was selected in the first-round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft and with the 18th overall pick by the Los Angeles Kings. Still, in the 2001 draft were to be re-drafted, the forward wouldn't have dropped past number 29.
Karlsson went on to play professional hockey over seas, and for 11 years. While that's not impressive by any means, especially for a former first round draft pick, it's still better than what's left for this list. Karlsson recorded a career high of 21 points (professional hockey) while skating for the Iserlohn Roosters of the Deutsche Eishockey League (Germany). Chances are that Karlsson still wouldn't have panned out to play in the NHL with the Stars, too.
2 Alexander Svitov - Los Angeles Kings
The Tampa Bay Lightning were in a position to draft the number three overall pick at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. The Bolts passed over players such as Dan Hamhuis and Ales Hemsky and selected forward Alexandr Svitov instead. Svitov ended up posting the least amount of points in comparison to the other top 10 picks from 2001 (excluding goaltenders) and by totaling 37 career points in 179 NHL regular season games.
Due to the fact that Svitov was originally drafted so high, his status for the first round falls all the way to the bottom and to the Los Angeles Kings with the 30th pick. Other then the Lightning, the Russian forward dressed for the Columbus Blue Jackets where he posted his career high of 18 points during the 2006-07 campaign. Perhaps Svitov would have done better with lower expectations as a 30th overall pick.