The hype that surrounded the young players in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft was rather low compared to classes in other years. Although it seemed clear that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would be taken first overall by the Edmonton Oilers, no one could be certain that he’d become an elite player in the NHL. Fast forward four years and has still yet to earn that title. Nugent-Hopkins isn’t the only player out of this draft class who has yet to prove themselves in the “big leagues.” Take Tyler Biggs for example. The Toronto Maple Leafs took Biggs 22nd overall and he has yet to play an NHL game.
Now, this is not to say that there were no stars to be drafted in that year. A lot of them just flew under the radar and most of them were drafted in the later rounds. Look at Ondrej Palat for example. The winger is now a top six forward on a contending team in Tampa Bay, but it wasn’t until the seventh round when he was selected by the Lightening. Another sleeper in this draft class was Johnny Gaudreau. Drafted 104th overall in the fourth round, Johnny Hockey is now considered to be a huge part of the rebuilding Calgary Flames team. Some even compare him to the likes of Patrick Kane.
So, lets take a look at the new and improved top 20 picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and see who ended up where.
20 Edmonton Oilers – Gabriel Landeskog
The Edmonton Oilers would have been much better off with Gabriel Landeskog. Landeskog was originally drafted second overall by the Colorado Avalanche and he's led the draft class in points with 193 and is second in games played with 281.
He was also named the youngest captain in NHL history at the age of 19 in 2012. This is a huge quality that the Oilers are missing with some of there top players. The Oilers have yet to find a leader to lean and depend on and Landeskog would be it.
19 Colorado Avalanche – Ondrej Palat
Taking into consideration that the Colorado Avalanche would draft Nathan Mackinnon in the following draft, there's no need for them to go after another center like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Besides, the Avalanche already have Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly down the middle.
However, Palat is the best winger available after Gabriel Landeskog making him the better choice. Originally drafted 208th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightening, Palat turned out to be the biggest steal in the draft after scoring 122 points over his last two seasons. The Avalanche could have really used someone like this on the wing.
18 Florida Panthers – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
At the time, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was the clear favorite to go first overall, but there wasn’t a whole lot that separated him from the rest of the pack. After four seasons in the NHL, Nugent-Hopkins still hasn’t been able to become a true difference-maker and that is why he's no longer at the top of the list.
He would have been a pretty good pick at third overall though.
The Florida Panthers needed a top-line center. Nugent-Hopkins may not have turned out to be an elite player with Edmonton so far, but he is still a number one center nonetheless. Nugent-Hopkins’ 188 points total is still the second best in the draft class.
17 New Jersey Devils – Johnny Gaudreau
Johnny Gaudreau was undoubtedly one of the biggest sleepers to come out of this draft. Despite being drafted in the fourth round, the skilled winger had one of the best rookie seasons this year. He scored 24 goals and 64 points in 80 games with the Calgary Flames and played a significant part in his team making the playoffs.
The New Jersey Devils, a team with an abundance of veterans and a lack of star power up front, could have really used a little help from Johnny Hockey this season and going forward as well.
16 New York Islanders – Jonathan Huberdeau
The New York Islanders needed to draft a quality center to play behind John Tavares and Jonathan Huberdeau is the man for the job. Huberdeau, originally drafted third overall, faced the pressure of becoming a number one center. With the Tavares and the Islanders, however, that pressure would no longer be on him.
Although Huberdeau slid down two spots, he has still put up much better stats than Ryan Strome, who the Islanders originally drafted.
15 Ottawa Senators – Brandon Saad
Brandon Saad is starting to look like a real offensive force in the NHL, as he has managed to crack the first line on a rather deep roster in Chicago. Saad would also make a pretty good fit on the Sens’ first line. They really don’t have a truly competitive first-line or any better options on their left wing.
Ottawa’s original selection, Mika Zibanejad, does seem to be on the same path as Saad, but Saad is ultimately one step ahead of him to this point.
14 Winnipeg Jets – Mika Zibanejad
At this point in the draft, the Winnipeg Jets could have taken a defencemen but they needed a solid center. That’s why they pursued Mark Scheifele, but now that Mika Zibanejad is still available, things are different. Zibanejad has proven to be a valuable center thus far, taking on a bigger role in Ottawa and he's recorded more games and points than Schiefele since the draft.
13 Philadelphia Flyers – Dougie Hamilton
The Philadelphia Flyers simply went in the wrong direction when they drafted Sean Couturier, as the Flyers really didn’t need another center to go with Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn.
Originally drafted one spot later, Dougie Hamilton, a six-foot-five defenceman, has a bright future ahead of him and the Flyers could have used a blue-liner like him. Coming off of his best season so far, Hamilton scored 10 goals and 42 points for the Bruins. He also averaged just over 21 minutes of ice-time per game. With the Flyers desperately looking for elite defenders, they missed out on one with Hamilton.
12 Boston Bruins – Andrew Shaw
Andrew Shaw and the Boston Bruins are a perfect match. The Bruins are known for being a strong and physical team to play against. Likewise, Shaw plays an intense and “in your face” type of game. Both parties know how get under the skin of an opponent. However, Shaw isn’t your typical tough guy. At 5'11", he’s a good skater and he can play throughout your line up.
What ultimately puts Shaw ahead of some of the other talented players in this draft class is his ability to be a productive player at both ends of the ice. Although he is still developing, Shaw can help out defensively and put the puck in the back of the net.
11 Minnesota Wild – Jonas Brodin
Jonas Brodin was the Minnesota Wild’s original choice and there is no reason for them to change their mind. Brodin has been good enough remain to 10th overall but not quite good enough to jump higher on the list. The Swedish defenceman has taken on pretty big role with the Wild thus far, seeing about 24 minutes of ice-time per game. While he hasn't made a huge splash offensively with 47 points in 195 games, he's been a rock in his own end, with a rating of +24 for his career.
10 Colorado Avalanche – Adam Larsson
Adam Larsson is finally starting to get on track and it looks like he could be a solid top four defenceman next year. The Colorado Avalanche could sure use some of that. Of course in the real draft, Larsson was not available to the Avalanche at the 11th pick, as the New Jersey Devils took him fourth overall. After a decent rookie season, his production took a dip for two seasons, but he finally brought his numbers up in the 2014-15 season, where he had a career high of three goals and 24 points. So after falling to the 11th spot in the draft, he turns out to be a pretty nice fit in Colorado, who lacks some talent on the back-end.
9 Carolina Hurricanes – Sean Couturier
The Carolina Hurricanes’ top two centers, Eric and Jordan Staal, aren’t cutting it. Eric’s production is dropping as he’s getting older and Jordan is battling through injuries. So rather than drafting a defenceman here, we have the Hurricanes going after a potential top six center in Sean Couturier. He fell from eighth overall in this re-draft, as he hasn’t shown the offensive upside of the players that passed him on the list. Maybe he could get more opportunities in Carolina. However, Couturier has appeared in every game over the past two seasons with the Flyers but he’s yet to reach 40 points in a season.
8 Calgary Flames – Ryan Strome
The Calgary Flames are a rebuilding team and every rebuilding team needs a solid core down the middle. That’s what they can get out of Ryan Strome, who was initially picked 5th overall by the Islanders. Scoring 50 points in 81 games in his second NHL season, Strome can be an effective first or second line center going forward. Strome is also a big step up from the Flames’ original draft choice at 13th overall, where they picked Sven Baertschi who was later traded to the Vancouver Canucks for a second-round pick.
7 Dallas Stars – Nikita Kucherov
Nikita Kucherov was a little bit of a late bloomer with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he really hit full stride this season scoring 29 goals and 65 points this season. Kucherov, a speedy and crafty shooter, would fit in nicely with the Dallas Stars. While they have elite talent at the center position with Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza, outside of Jamie Benn, they lack elite scoring from the wing and Kucherov can supply that. Also, their current pick, Jamie Oleksiak, has 10 points in 59 career games and hasn't proven himself yet.
6 New York Rangers – Mark Scheifele
Since they are really one of the more deep teams in the league at this moment, when looking at this re-draft, the Rangers can simply take the best player on the board. In this case, that player is Mark Scheifele. Despite being a good fit in Winnipeg, Scheifele dropped from seventh to fifteenth overall in this re-draft as Scheifele still hasn’t found a way to become a first line center in the NHL. However, he makes for a solid second or third line player, who has the upside to move up the roster.
5 Buffalo Sabres – John Gibson
The Buffalo Sabres have gone without a reliable starting goalie since Ryan Miller was traded to the Blues in 2014 and John Gibson looks like a young goalie they can build a team around. The Anaheim Ducks originally took the 21-year-old in the second round, he shoots up the draft board in this re-draft, as he's been exceptional when called upon. He's played in 26 games thus far. Gibson holds a .919 career save percentage, 2.45 GAA and 21 wins. Though it's a small sample size, it's still much better than anything the Sabres have right now.
4 Montreal Canadiens – Nathan Beaulieu
This far into the draft, the Montreal Canadiens made a good decision in drafting defenceman Nathan Beaulieu. He wasn’t good enough to jump ahead in this re-draft, but he has proven to be a solid pick for the Habs at 17th overall. Finally expressing his potential in the NHL, Beaulieu played a career high of 64 games in the 2014-15 season. His offensive play is still developing, which is why he wasn’t quite good enough to move up in the re-draft, but he was solid enough to keep his position.
3 Chicago Blackhawks – Rickard Rakell
Rickard Rakell is a gritty winger who's difficult to play against and since Andrew Shaw was taken earlier in the re-draft, the Chicago Blackhawks will need to replace him without another imposing presence. Although Rakell didn’t emerge into the NHL level as quickly as Shaw, he has proven to be an effective player, helping out the Anaheim Ducks in the regular season and in the playoffs.
2 Edmonton Oilers – Oscar Klefbom
The Edmonton Oilers made a solid decision in drafting defenceman Oscar Klefbom. The Swedish blue-liner still has a lot of work to do in order to become a reliable player in the NHL, but it seems as though he’s earned his full time spot with the Oilers already. Klefbom played 60 games in his second season this year and though he was a terrible -21, he showed signs of improvement towards the end of the season. The Oilers need all the help they can get defensively, so it seems they've made the right choice in drafting Klefbom.
1 Arizona Coyotes – Tomas Jurco
Tomas Jurco jumped from 35th overall in the second round to 20th in this re-draft. The Slovakian right winger has really matured over the past couple of years with the Detroit Red Wings and he seems to be playing an important role in their rebuild, as the Wings have remained a playoff team with the help of young players like Jurco. The Arizona Coyotes, a rebuilding franchise, would definitely like to have a player like Jurco in their lineup.