As the saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20.” It’s too bad that NHL general managers don’t have access to a crystal ball when selecting players in the annual NHL Draft. The process is generally a crapshoot since it’s hard to predict how players will adapt to the big league, but some players are a sure thing. We’re going to head into the time machine and re-visit the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and do the first round all over again, based on what we know now.
To be eligible for the re-draft, players still need to be in the NHL today. Some players who were originally taken in 2005 have moved up the rankings while others have dropped based on their play. Several of the original draftees have left the league or the game entirely as they apparently weren’t cut out for a career as an NHL player. The draft is based on the best player available at the time of selection, not his specific position. However, in several instances a player of the same position has replaced the original draft pick, but that’s just by coincidence.
Some of the 2005 draftees have lived up to their pre-draft reputations while others were busts and some late-round picks have proven to be hidden gems. Sidney Crosby was the main man heading into the draft in the summer of 2005 and he’s still the top dog 11 years later. Some of the players from the class of 2005 will end up in the Hall of Fame while others never played a second in the NHL. The following is a re-draft of the 2005 first round with selections based on the players’ performances over the past decade. All stats were accurate as of March 15th, 2016.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins – Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby was taken first overall by the Penguins back in 2005 and the majority of experts and fans agree this was the right choice. There are some who feel Carey Price may have been a better option, but they’re few and far between. Crosby has led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup since debuting and his 1.33 points per game ranks number five all time in the NHL. He had 922 points after 694 games and is a two-time Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner.
2. Anaheim Ducks – Jonathan Quick
The Ducks took right-winger Bobby Ryan with the second pick, but goaltender Jonathan Quick was still available. In fact, Quick didn’t go until the third round when Los Angeles chose him with the 72nd selection. Since then, Quick has become one of the best goaltenders on the planet and has led Los Angeles to a pair of Stanley Cups. Quick has also won a Conn Smythe Trophy and been a finalist for the Vezina. In addition, his 2011-12 goals-against average in the playoffs was just 1.41, which is absolutely terrific.
3. Carolina Hurricanes – Carey Price
Carolina picked defenceman Jack Johnson third from the U.S. national junior squad rather than Carey Price, who is now arguably the best netminder in the world, let alone the NHL. Price was taken by Montreal with the fifth pick and he’s easily the Habs most valuable player. The Canadiens have fallen apart without an injured Price this season and that’s easy to understand considering he has a 2.43 career goals-against average along with a .920 save percentage and 233 wins in 447 games. Price led the NHL in save percentage, GAA and wins last season and took home the Vezina, Hart, and Ted Lindsay Trophies.
4. Minnesota Wild – Anze Kopitar
The Wild announced left-winger Benoit Pouliot with the fourth overall pick, but would have been better off with centre Anze Kopitar who was chosen 11th out of Sweden by Los Angeles. The Slovenian native has won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Kings and his 670 points in 750 games ranks only second to Sidney Crosby in the class of 2005. Kopitar has also improved tremendously in his own end and is a plus 73 for his career. He’s rightly regarded as one of the best two-way players in the league.
5. Montreal Canadiens – Paul Stastny
With Carolina taking Carey Price, Montreal would have had a shot at centre Paul Stastny out of the University of Denver. The Stastny name should be familiar with hockey fans since Paul is the son of former NHL great and Hall of Famer Peter Stastny. Paul is third in scoring from the draft class of 2005 with 541 points in 665 games, but he wasn’t chosen until the second round when Colorado took him with the 44th pick. Stastny cracked the 20-goal barrier half a dozen times in his first eight campaigns, but his output has dropped off over the past two years with the defensive-minded St. Louis Blues.
6. Columbus Blue Jackets – Bobby Ryan
The Blue Jackets chose center Gilbert Brule sixth but Bobby Ryan, who was taken second overall by Anaheim, would still be available. Ryan may not be the offensive force he once was, but the big winger is bouncing back this season with Ottawa and had 51 points after 69 games. He racked up 54 last season and 48 the year before. Still, the big winger has racked up four 30-goal seasons and another pair of 20-goal campaigns. Ryan’s 442 career points in 595 games ranks him fourth from the class of 2005. Brule scored 95 points in 299 NHL games and has been playing in the KHL for the past two seasons.
7. Chicago Blackhawks – James Neal
The Blackhawks picked next at number seven and took a right-winger named Jack Skille. However, Skille doesn’t have as much skill as fellow forward James Neal and that’s who the Hawks could have had. Skille has played with Chicago, Florida, and Columbus and is now with Colorado. He’s bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL since being drafted and has just 74 points in 303 big-league outings. Unfortunately, Skille proved to be a bust while Neal has chipped in with 396 points in 550 games and ranks fifth in the scoring parade from 2005 after being chosen 33rd overall by Dallas.
8. San Jose Sharks – Tuukka Rask
Tuukka Rask has been a franchise goalie with Boston ever since the Bruins fleeced the Maple Leafs by trading Andrew Raycroft for him. Rask was originally drafted 21st overall by Toronto while San Jose took right-winger Devin Setoguchi in the eighth spot. Setoguchi ended up having some personal problems and is now playing in Switzerland after being cut by the Maple Leafs while trying out for them at training camp. He put up some decent numbers with 249 points in 471 games to rank 13th in scoring from 2005. Rask has won a Stanley Cup and Vezina Trophy with Boston and remains one of the league’s best puckstoppers.
9. Ottawa Senators – Keith Yandle
The Senators picked ninth and took defenceman Brian Lee, who turned out to be a bust. Lee scored 36 points in 209 NHL games with Ottawa and Tampa and has been out of pro hockey since 2012-13 when he split the season between Tampa and the AHL. He was also a minus 37 in those games. Ottawa could have taken defenceman Keith Yandle in this re-draft scenario, since he wasn’t taken until the fourth round with the 105th overall pick by the Phoenix Coyotes. Yandle has scored 362 points in 648 contests with Phoenix and the New York Rangers and has 30 points in 46 postseason outings. He currently ranks sixth in overall points from the class of 2005.
10. Vancouver Canucks – Kris Letang
The Canucks used the 10th overall pick by taking defenceman Luc Bourdon out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Bourdon played a total of 36 NHL games with two goals and points to his name and had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, he lost his life while riding his motorcycle at the age of 21 in May of 2008. Fellow defenceman Kris Letang was still available as he didn’t go until Pittsburgh took him in the third round with the 62nd pick. He won the Stanley Cup in his second season and Letang has scored 338 points in 549 career games to rank eighth from the class of 2005. While many would believe Letang to be a better player than the player we chose before him, Keith Yandle, we based the decision on durability, as Yandle has missed very few games while Letang has been unlucky with injuries.
11. Los Angeles Kings – Ben Bishop
With Jonathan Quick being scooped up second overall by Anaheim and Tuukka Rask and Carey Price also being taken by now, the Kings could still take goaltender Ben Bishop 11th overall in this re-draft. Bishop was taken by the St. Louis Blues in the third round with the 85th pick while the Kings took Anze Kopitar, who was now taken fourth overall by Minnesota in this exercise. Bishop has played with the Blues, Senators, and Lightning and led the Lightning to Stanley Cup Final last season. Bishop has been stellar between the pipes with a career goals-against average of 2.29 to go along with his .920 save percentage. He has a career record of 124-62-20 and has a 2.02 average this campaign with a .929 save percentage, which ranks number one and four respectively this year.
12. New York Rangers – T.J. Oshie
The New York Rangers chose defenceman Marc Staal 12th overall in 2005, but while he’s been just a bit better than average, they could have taken right-winger T.J. Oshie to add some scoring punch. Oshie is a solid winger who has 353 points in 511 career NHL outings to rank seventh in scoring from the 2005 draft class. Oshie is a consistent producer of points who averages about 20 goals and 50 points per year. After 68 games this season, he had 21 goals and 22 assists. Staal has 144 points in 604 games, but is slightly overrated.
13. Buffalo Sabres – Patric Hornqvist
The Sabres more or less wasted their first round pick by taking centre Marek Zagrapan from Chicoutimi of the Quebec junior league. Zagrapan, who hails from Slovakia, has never played an NHL game and likely never will. He played a couple of seasons in the AHL before heading back to Europe and is currently playing in Austria. Meanwhile, Patric Hornqvist of Sweden ranks ninth in scoring from the 2005 draft with 311 points in 495 games with Nashville and now Pittsburgh. He’s hit the 20-goal mark four times and reached 30 once. He’ll hit 20 again this year as he had 18 goals and 26 assists after 68 contests.
14. Washington Capitals – Marc-Edouard Vlasic
The Capitals also wasted their top pick in 2005 by selecting defenceman Sasha Pokulok out of Cornell University. Pokulok of Quebec played several seasons in the minors down in the AHL and ECHL before heading over to Europe. He then returned to play with the Cornwall River Kings of the LNAH. Fellow defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is still available and Washington will go with him. The Montreal native was originally chosen in the second round with the 35th pick by San Jose. He’s still with the Sharks and has been a solid performer with 226 points in 735 games to rank fifth in defenceman scoring from 2005. He’s also an impressive +123 and an Olympic Gold Medal winner.
15. New York Islanders – Andrew Cogliano
Centre Ryan O’Marra was taken by the Islanders in 2005, but he didn’t pan out as hoped. The former Erie Otter, who was born in Japan and scored seven points in 33 career NHL outings with Edmonton and Anaheim. O’Marra spent several years in the minors before moving to Europe in 2012-13. A better choice would have been centre Andrew Cogliano who was taken 25th by Edmonton. Cogliano has played 690 games with Edmonton and Anaheim and his 289 points rank 10th from the draft class of 2005.
16. Atlanta Thrashers – Martin Hanzal
The Atlanta Thrashers, who are now the Winnipeg Jets, took high-scoring right-winger Alex Bourret out of Quebec with the 16th pick and obviously wish they hadn’t. Bourret never cracked the NHL and has spent his entire career in the minors and Europe. A far better choice would have been centre Martin Hanzal, who is now the 11th top scorer from the 2005 draft. Hanzal originally went to the Phoenix Coyotes with the 17th pick. The Czech Republic native has racked up 280 points in 549 NHL games with the Coyotes and is a consistent and dependable centre.
17. Phoenix Coyotes – Anton Stralman
The Coyotes took centre Martin Hanzal 17th in 2005, but he was just taken with the 16th pick by Atlanta in the re-draft. This time around the Coyotes will take solid Swedish defenceman Anton Stralman, who originally went in the seventh round with the 216th pick to Toronto. The Leafs found a late gem, but as usual wasted their pick by trading him. Stralman has racked up 1833 points in 542 games with Toronto, Columbus, the Rangers and Tampa. He was one of Tampa’s best performers in their run to the Stanley Cup Final last season and is a +27 for his career.
18. Nashville Predators – Matt Niskanen
The Predators took Ryan Parent of the Guelph Storm 11 years ago, but things didn’t work out. Parent appeared in 106 NHL games with the Flyers and Canucks and chipped in with seven points. Parent spent most of his career in the minors and is currently with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. If we could turn back time, Nashville can select steady defenceman Matt Niskanen who was originally drafted 28th by Dallas. Niskanen is now with Washington after stints with Pittsburgh and Dallas and has contributed 227 points in 641 career games to rank fourth for 2005 defencemen. He’s a +60 for his career and has chipped in with some big goals this season while scoring 29 points in 68 games.
19. Detroit Red Wings – Jack Johnson
The Red Wings chose defenceman Jakub Kindl from the Kitchener Rangers in 2005 and likely wouldn’t do the same now. The native of the Czech Republic has posted 68 points in 277 games and is now with the Florida Panthers after spending half of his career in the minors. In hindsight, the Red Wings could have taken defenceman Jack Johnson from the U.S. Junior National Team. Johnson went third overall to Carolina and had racked up 244 points in his first 629 career games with Los Angeles and Columbus. He ranks third in scoring for defencemen from the 2005 draft, but has struggled with a career mark of – 126.
20. Florida Panthers – Ondrej Pavelec
Left-winger Kenndal McArdle was taken by Florida in 2005 out of Moose Jaw, but his NHL totals read three points in 42 career games with Florida and Winnipeg. He headed to Sweden in 2013 after spending most of his career in the minors. Fast forward to 2016 and the Panthers will take goaltender Ondrej Pavelec who was selected 41st overall by Atlanta in 2005. The Czech Republic native is still with the franchise in Winnipeg. Pavelec has played 363 career games with a 2.86 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.
21. Toronto Maple Leafs – Justin Abdelkader
The Leafs drafted well in 2005 by taking goaltender Tuukka Rask, but then gave him away to the Bruins for Andrew Raycroft. Rask is long gone this time around as San Jose took him with the eighth pick. The best player left at number 21 right now is left-winger Justin Abdelkader who was taken 42nd by Detroit originally. Abdelkader has improved year after year and has 169 points in 467 games with the Wings. He scored 23 goals last season and had 17 after 69 outings this campaign. He’s a pretty reliable defensive forward and adds some grit to the lineup.
22. Boston Bruins – Marc Staal
The Bruins spent their pick on Matt Lashoff in 2005 and this time they’ll be taking fellow blue liner Marc Staal, who has slipped down the draft. Staal was originally taken 12th by the Rangers, but is still available in 2016. He’s been more steady than spectacular with 144 points in 604 career games on Broadway. Even though he’s in the Big Apple, Staal has a lower profile than his brothers Eric and Jordan. Marc is a +32 for his career while Lashoff ended up playing 74 NHL games with Boston, Tampa, and Toronto while scoring 16 points. He’s now playing in Europe.
23. New Jersey Devils – Benoit Pouliot
Left-winger Benoit Pouliot as also slipped down the draft from fourth overall to 23rd. He was originally taken with the fourth pick by Minnesota from the Sudbury Wolves. He’s played with Minnesota, Montreal, Boston, Tampa, the Rangers and is now with Edmonton. He’s spent a little time in the minors, but has a respectable 230 points in 484 NHL games. However, he hasn’t hit the 20-goal mark yet with 19 being his career high. Pouliot ranks 15th in scoring from the class of 2005 and replaces the Devils original 2005 pick Nicklas Bergfors. The Swedish centre Bergfors scored an impressive 83 points in 173 NHL games with New Jersey, Atlanta, Florida, and Nashville, but returned to Europe in 2011-12.
24. St. Louis Blues – Kris Russell
The Blues original pick was winger T.J. Oshie, but he was taken 12th by the Rangers in this re-draft. That leaves defenceman Kris Russel up for grabs. Russell was originally taken 67th overall by Columbus. He has played 568 career NHL games with Columbus, St. Louis, and Calgary and was traded by the Flames to Dallas at the recent trade deadline. Russell has 177 points and is regarded as a steady and dependable blue liner who can chip in offensively. He had a career-high 34 points last seasons.
25. Edmonton Oilers – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson was originally taken by Chicago in the fourth round with the 108th pick. He’s won three Stanley Cups with the team since and is well known for his shot-blocking skills. The durable native of Sweden has 121 points in 539 career games and is a +94 for his career. The Oilers originally selected well in the draft as they took Andrew Cogliano with the 25th pick, but he went to the Islanders with the 15th selection in this re-draft.
26. Calgary Flames – Cody Franson
Defenceman Cody Franson is known for his offensive skills, but he’s more physical than many fans realize. He was originally taken with the 79th pick by Nashville and has scored 186 points in 459 regular-season contests with Nashville, Toronto, and Buffalo. He’s a big guy who can handle as many minutes that are thrown his way. The Flames originally took right-winger Matt Pelech of the Sarnia Sting in 2005, but he played just 13 NHL games with Calgary and San Jose and scored four points. He’s now playing in Germany.
27. Washington Capitals – Darren Helm
This is Washington’s second pick in the re-draft and they took defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic 14th overall earlier. In 2005, they drafted defenceman Joe Finley with the 27th selection and he ended up scoring just one assist in 21 career NHL games with Buffalo and the Islanders. Finley is skating in the AHL with Iowa this season. This time around the Capitals will take speedy forward Darren Helm, who was taken 132nd by Detroit in 2005. Helm is a good checker and has chipped in with 157 points in 430 contests with the Wings.
28. Dallas Stars – Nathan Gerbe
Centre Nathan Gerbe is the smallest player in the NHL at five-foot-five, but he plays a lot bigger. Gerbe has 136 points in 381 games after being drafted originally by Buffalo with the 142nd pick. He’s now with Carolina after four seasons with the Sabres. Gerbe has scored 16 goals in a season twice in his career and is a useful player. Dallas had a better pick in 2005 though with Matt Niskanen, but the defenceman went to Nashville with the 18th pick in this re-draft.
29. Philadelphia Flyers – Steve Downie
The Flyers originally took Steve Downie in 2005 and will once again take the bad boy with the same pick. Downie has pretty good hockey skills when he concentrates on the game instead of gooning the opposition. The former Windsor Spitfire has 196 points in 434 career games with the Flyers, Tampa, Colorado, Pittsburgh, and Arizona, where he is now. Downie has 1,057 career penalty minutes, but proved he can play the game as he had 22 goals and 24 assists with Tampa in 2009-10. He’s the 18th leading scorer from the draft of 2005
30. Tampa Bay Lightning – Adam McQuaid
Defenceman Adam McQuaid was taken with the 55th pick by Columbus in 2005 while Tampa took Slovakian defenceman Vladimir Mihalik from the Western Hockey League. Mihalik played just 15 NHL contests with Tampa and chipped in with three assists before being sent to the AHL and then heading to the KHL. McQuaid has managed to play 335 NHL games with Boston and has contributed 51 points and 502 penalty minutes. He’s pretty dependable in his own end which can be seen by his career mark of +58.
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