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.
Our look back at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft is now in full swing as we poll the PHR community to see who would have been selected in the first round and in what order knowing what we know now. Through the first ten picks, we’ve already seen potential Hall of Fame players switch teams, and multiple captains move up and down the draft board.
1st Overall: Jonathan Toews (St. Louis Blues)
2nd Overall: Claude Giroux (Pittsburgh Penguins)
3rd Overall: Nicklas Backstrom (Chicago Blackhawks)
4th Overall: Brad Marchand (Washington Capitals)
5th Overall: Phil Kessel (Boston Bruins)
6th Overall: Jordan Staal (Columbus Blue Jackets)
7th Overall: Milan Lucic (New York Islanders)
8th Overall: Kyle Okposo (Phoenix Coyotes)
9th Overall: Erik Johnson (Minnesota Wild)
10th Overall: Derick Brassard (Florida Panthers)
The Panthers round out our Top 10 by selecting Brassard out of Drummondville in the QMJHL. Dropping four spots from where he actually went, Brassard still is an excellent option for a team looking to upgrade at the forward position. A former 27-goal man with the New York Rangers, Brassard enters this season as an excellent role player behind the other stars in Pittsburgh and will try to bring home the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career. Florida, who picked Michael Frolik in real life, get a chance to add a center to their other upcoming young forwards like Stephen Weiss, David Booth and Nathan Horton. Perhaps things would have gone differently if they’d had Brassard in the mix.
Now we’ll move on to the eleventh overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, which was originally held by the Los Angeles Kings.
In 2006 the Kings were right in the middle of what would end up being the longest playoff drought in franchise history, and had just fired head coach Andy Murray near the end of the season. Their star prospect Anze Kopitar, selected in the eleventh spot a year earlier, had impressed in Sweden and was due to make his debut in the NHL the following season. The team believed he could be the answer at center, and decided to look to the crease for their next big pick.
Jonathan Bernier was the first goaltender taken in 2006, taken by the Kings after a huge workload in the QMJHL. Bernier had started 54 games for Lewiston and recorded a .908 save percentage, but showed enough athleticism and poise to be considered a top prospect in the draft. He was ranked as the top North American goaltender by CSS, and projected to have a long career in the NHL. Little did the Kings know that the third-round goaltender they’d taken a year earlier would go from a backup at UMass-Amherst to winning a Conn Smythe trophy in just a few seasons. Jonathan Quick stole the starting role in Los Angeles by 2008-09, and still hasn’t looked back.
Bernier’s career perhaps hasn’t gone exactly as planned, but he still has proven to be a legitimate NHL talent. In 288 career regular season games for the Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche he has a 128-108-30 record and has registered a .914 save percentage. He was signed by the Detroit Red Wings this offseason as a potential replacement for Jimmy Howard, and still likely has several years of high quality play in front of him.
But was that the right selection for the Kings to make? Knowing what we know now about Quick’s ascension to star goaltender the team likely wouldn’t have made the pick, but is there an obvious candidate to replace Bernier at the number 11 spot? With the eleventh pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Los Angeles Kings select? Cast your vote below!
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