Top 30 Most Impactful Selections of the Last 10 NHL Drafts

For most of us, the film Back to the Future is an epic sci-fi movie. For NHL GMs, it's a movie that probably makes them sad, because time travel just isn't possible.

Nothing is more frustrating for a team or GM who knows they made a terrible mistake when it comes to the draft. Whether it's selecting a complete bust or passing on a player who became a major star, it's just something they'll never be able to live down fully.

At the end of the day, nobody is perfect and every team plays the "what if card." When it comes to the NHL Draft, we always get the opportunity to look back and wonder how teams and players could have fared out differently. How did the Ottawa Senators get Erik Karlsson 15th overall in 2009 when he's a once-in-a-generation player?

We can sit back and critique past draft picks all we want, but again, it isn't possible to just change a pick at the snap of a finger. But what we can do is look back on recent drafts and see which players have been the best and stood out compared to the hundreds of other guys taken in the same class.

This is going to be a tough list for some teams to read. I mean, what if the Pittsburgh Penguins took Jonathan Toews over Jordan Staal? Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Toews as your top three centers? Yes please.

It's time to look back on the top 30 picks of the last 10 NHL Drafts who have had the most impact on their respective teams.

30 Noah Hanifin (Fifth Overall, Carolina Hurricanes, 2015)

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes haven't done much of anything since winning the 2006 Stanley Cup, but there is plenty to be excited about on their blueline.

29 Tomas Hertl (17th Overall, San Jose Sharks, 2012)

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports. The Sharks won 6-1.

Tomas Hertl is good, but not quite a star. It goes to show how disappointing his 2012 draft year was.

28 Leon Draisaitl (Third Overall, Edmonton Oilers, 2014)

Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

Leon Draisaitl burst onto the scene in 2015-16, stepping up for the Edmonton Oilers as they dealt with injuries to Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall, and others. He managed to score on a bottom-feeding team and he's going to become a major superstar any time now.

27 Dylan Larkin (15th Overall, Detroit Red Wings, 2014)

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Dylan Larkin wasn't even a top-10 pick, but he's developed quickly under his hometown team, the Detroit Red Wings. The speedster played hard this past season and contributed to the Red Wings once again making the playoffs.

26 Aleksander Barkov (Second Overall, Florida Panthers, 2013)

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers needed a forward to start carrying the load for a frustrating team that couldn't fully develop. Aleksander Barkov has answered the call and stepped onto the ice in a major way.

25 Connor McDavid (First Overall, Edmonton Oilers, 2015)

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are rising stars and they're going to start the next Sidney Crosby/Alex Ovechkin rivalry. With the talent they both showed last year, that could come as soon as next year.

24 Jack Eichel (Second Overall, Buffalo Sabres, 2015)

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Jack Eichel should win the Calder Trophy, as he turned the awful Buffalo Sabres into a competitive and exciting team. Putting up strong numbers (which Eichel did) in a rookie season is impressive in this day and age.

23 Matt Duchene (Third Overall, Colorado Avalanche, 2009)

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

22 Aaron Ekblad (First Overall, Florida Panthers, 2014)

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

It takes a while for defencemen to develop and reach their full potential, but Aaron Ekblad is already scary-good and he's got plenty of room to left to continue that growth.

21 Gabriel Landeskog (Second Overall, Colorado Avalanche, 2011)

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to argue the talents of Gabriel Landeskog. He hit the 20-goal mark three times in his first four seasons and became the youngest captain ever at 19 years and 286 years of age. The Avs haven't been able to take full advantage of his talents, but he remains a force.

20 Alex Galchenyuk (Third Overall, Montreal Canadiens, 2012)

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 Draft wasn't a particularly great draft, but, last year, Alex Galchenyuk made the Canadiens look like they took the only bonafide superstar of the top five picks.

19 Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Sixth Overall, Arizona Coyotes, 2009)

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Ownership and attendance issues in a non-traditional hockey market has left the city of Arizona a questionable place to run an NHL team.

18 Johnny Gaudreau (104th overall, Calgary Flames, 2011)

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

In his first full NHL season during 2014-15, Johnny Gaudreau brought the playoffs back to Calgary for the first time in six years, notching 24 goals and 64 points. This season, Johnny Hockey continued to look like a franchise player, scoring 78 points in 79 games.

17 Filip Forsberg (11th overall, Washington Capitals, 2012)

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Predators have always been a defense-first team, often not being able to score all that well. But one major trade made everything worth it.

16 Sean Monahan (Sixth Overall, Calgary Flames, 2013)

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames had a tough time replacing Jarome Iginla when it came to skill, fan appreciation, and leadership. However, it seems like they might've found some of that with Sean Monahan, who was taken with their top pick in 2013 and fit the bill immediately.

15 Nathan MacKinnon (First Overall, Colorado Avalanche, 2013)

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan MacKinnon became a rookie sensation in his first year with the Avs, leading them to the Central Division title after posting 24-39-63 in 82 games. His second season was a disappointment with 14-24-38, but he's rebounded with another 20-goal and 50-point campaign in 2015/16.

14 Dougie Hamilton (Ninth Overall, Boston Bruins, 2011)

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs were a non-Phil Kessel trade away from potentially having franchise stars Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, but they instead saw both men develop with their rivals, the Boston Bruins, though those two are no longer part of the Bs.

13 Phil Kessel (Fifth Overall, Boston Bruins, 2006)

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The winger has one of the most dangerous shots in the league, as few wingers can score like Phil "The Thrill" Kessel.

12 Taylor Hall (First Overall, Edmonton Oilers, 2010)

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

With Taylor Hall, the Oilers have won the Draft lottery three times, yet they still can't seem to go anywhere. Still, with limited talent around him, he's been one of the best scoring wingers and constantly hits 20 goals.

11 Vladimir Tarasenko (16th Overall, St. Louis Blues, 2010)

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

On a team that usually relies on every forward to play a two-way game and lean more on defense, Vladimir Tarasenko has been able to step up as the team's first true superstar forward in ages.

10 Claude Giroux (22nd Overall, Philadelphia Flyers, 2006)

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

9 P.K. Subban (43rd Overall, Montreal Canadiens, 2007)

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

P.K. Subban was a steal for the Montreal Canadiens at 43rd overall in 2007 and has emerged as the cornerstone of the franchise, at least when it comes to guys not named Carey Price. Subban became a full-time regular and turned an awful 2011-12 Habs squad into a perennial playoff contender.

8 Jamie Benn (129th Overall, Dallas Stars, 2007)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jamie Benn somehow fell to 129th overall in the NHL Draft and he has teamed up with Tyler Seguin to form the most deadly duo in the league. He had three 20-goal seasons to start his career and has already reached the 30-goal and 60-point mark three times. He's going to be a force for years.

7 Tyler Seguin (Second Overall, Boston Bruins, 2010)

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The 2010 NHL Draft was hyped up as "Taylor or Tyler," and even though both men have had great careers, the Edmonton Oilers could have used Tyler Seguin's talents more than Taylor Hall's, at least up until this point.

6 John Tavares (First Overall, New York Islanders, 2009)

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Though John Tavares is still trying to guide the New York Islanders to the Cup and his first piece of NHL Hardware, he's still helped an awful team on the brink of relocating become an exciting playoff contender, leading the young squad and succeeding with many linemates.

5 Drew Doughty (Second Overall, Los Angeles Kings, 2008)

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Doughty is the best all-around defenceman in the league, as evidenced by his two Stanley Cup championships and two Olympic gold medals. He's a force at both ends of the ice and is responsible for making the Kings a bonafide Cup contender.

4 Steven Stamkos (First Overall, Tampa Bay Lightning, 2008)

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Stamkos took an awful Lightning team and became a constant 40-plus goal scorer, including a 2011-12 campaign where he lit the lamp 60 times. The Lightning made the Cup Final in 2015 thanks to his hot stick. He's a top-five NHL player and the league's top goal-scorer not named Alex Ovechkin.

3 Erik Karlsson (15th Overall, Ottawa Senators, 2008)

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

In a ridiculously low-scoring era, he's putting up 20 goals a season and sometimes even 70-plus points a season. How much more dominant does that get? No NHL defenceman has been more exciting to watch in the last 20 years than Erik Karlsson.

2 Patrick Kane (First Overall, Chicago Blackhawks, 2007)

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Kane, like Jonathan Toews, is a pure winner who scores ridiculously clutch goals, has a Conny Smythe Trophy and is on his way to winning his first Art Ross and Hart Trophy. He also has three Stanley Cup rings with the Blackhawks.

1 Jonathan Toews (Third Overall, Chicago Blackhawks, 2006)

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

There is no questioning that Jonathan Toews is the top man on this list. He's emerged as the league's best two-way player, the best leader, and literally the biggest champion in the NHL right now.

He's won three Stanley Cup Championships with the Chicago Blackhawks and led Canada to Olympic gold medal championships in 2006 and 2010, scoring in both of the final games those years. Toews also won the Conn Smythe in 2010 and the Selke Trophy in 2013 and always comes through in the clutch.

Give TheSportster a Thumbs up!

Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?

Get Your Free Access Now!

More in NHL

Top 30 Most Impactful Selections of the Last 10 NHL Drafts