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 dozen picks, we’ve already seen potential Hall of Fame players switch teams, and multiple captains move up and down the draft board.
Here are the results of the redraft so far:
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)
11th Overall: Bryan Little (Los Angeles Kings)
12th Overall: Nick Foligno (Atlanta Thrashers)
13th Overall: Semyon Varlamov (Toronto Maple Leafs)
14th Overall: Artem Anisimov (Vancouver Canucks)
Anisimov gets a nice boost from his initial selection of 54th overall and justifiably so as he has been a reliable middle-six center for the better part of a decade. He would have made for a nice complement behind the recently-retired Henrik Sedin down the middle in Vancouver which would have given them a capable one-two punch.
Now we’ll move on to the fifteenth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, which was originally held by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tampa Bay identified that they wanted to strengthen their depth between the pipes so they turned to an up-and-coming goaltender out of the Finnish junior system in Riku Helenius. Suffice it to say, they’d like a do-over on this pick.
After playing just two games in his post-draft year, Helenius came to North America where he joined Seattle of the WHL and played relatively well. That convinced the Lightning to give him an entry-level deal and in the first year, things weren’t looking too bad as he posted a respectable 2.72 GAA with a .918 SV% in 25 AHL games while also making one NHL appearance. It pretty much went downhill from there, however, as midway into the second year, his playing time was so limited that he was loaned to the Swedish league for the final year and a half of the contract.
Helenius went back home for the 2011-12 season and played quite well with JYP, earning himself Goalie of the Year honors and getting him back on the NHL radar. Tampa Bay decided to give him another chance, inking him to a two-year deal in 2012. Once again, his first season wasn’t too bad as he got into 32 AHL games but the second season saw him play just nine times between the AHL and ECHL levels, ending any hopes of him being a contributor at the NHL level. Since then, he has bounced around Finland, playing in Jokerit, KalPa, and Ilves, with the latter city being his team for the 2018-19 season. All in all, Helenius gave the Lightning seven minutes of NHL action which is anything but a good return on a first-rounder.
We’re going to give them the do-over that they desire. Who should they have taken? Have your say by making your pick for the fifteenth selection in the poll below:
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