Hindsight is an amazing thing, and allows us to look back and wonder “what could have been.” Though perfection is attempted, scouting and draft selection is far from an exact science and sometimes, it doesn’t work out the way teams – or players – intended. For every Patrick Kane, there is a Patrik Stefan.
Starting this week, we’re looking back at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and asking how it would shake out knowing what we do now. Will the first round remain in much the same order, or will some late round picks jump to the top of the board?
On Monday we asked the PHR community to weigh in on who should have been selected first overall in 2006 and after more than 2,500 votes the decision is clear. Though he didn’t get quite the 88% that Sidney Crosby came away for the top honor in 2005, Jonathan Toews earned the majority of votes at nearly 57%. The Chicago Blackhawks legend was an easy choice for many readers, who noted his three Stanley Cups and decade of success in the NHL. Claude Giroux and Nicklas Backstrom both earned more than 10% of the vote, and are solid challengers for the second position.
In reality, the Pittsburgh Penguins held the second pick in 2006 and used it on a familiar NHL name. Jordan Staal, the younger brother of then-Carolina Hurricanes star Eric Staal ,was a big center for the Peterborough Petes and was in real contention for the top spot going into the draft. The older Staal had just cracked 100 points and led his team to the Stanley Cup, but it wasn’t just the family success that decided Pittsburgh’s selection. The NHL’s Central Scouting Service had Staal ranked only behind eventual first-overall pick Erik Johnson among North American skaters, and ahead of Toews who was already playing at the University of North Dakota. Staal already stood 6’4″ and well over 200-lbs, making him the prototypical first line center in the eyes of many.
Unfortunately perhaps for the Penguins, who passed on the chance to get Toews, Staal didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations. He did find early success with Pittsburgh, slotting in behind Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to win the Stanley Cup in 2009, but was eventually moved out of town as he got too expensive. He reunited in Carolina with his brother for a short time, and has put up a fine if unremarkable career since. Staal has failed to win any major individual awards, and likely wouldn’t be Pittsburgh’s pick if they got another chance at it today. Who would they take if given the benefit of more than a decade of hindsight?
With the second pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Pittsburgh Penguins select? Cast your vote below!
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