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 eighteen 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)
15th Overall: Michael Grabner (Tampa Bay Lightning)
16th Overall: Patrik Berglund (San Jose Sharks)
17th Overall: Jeff Petry (Los Angeles Kings)
18th Overall: Jonathan Bernier (Colorado Avalanche)
With a solid 23% of the vote, Bernier skips the first portion of his career with the Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Anaheim Ducks and goes right to the club that gave him a chance to earn his current multi-year deal. The Avalanche picked Chris Stewart in real life, but could have used a goaltender like Bernier to fill the pipes and help them avoid giving up assets for the rights of Semyon Varlamov. That trade ended up costing them the first-round pick that Washington used to select Filip Forsberg, who could have been an excellent addition to the center-heavy forward group they had in Colorado for several years.
Bernier in his own right could have benefited from being selected by Colorado instead of Los Angeles, as he wouldn’t have been stuck behind a young Jonathan Quick during their Stanley Cup runs. With the Avalanche, perhaps the small, reflexive Bernier could have grown into an even more talented netminder and established himself as a real elite option.
Now we’ll move on to the nineteenth overall pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, which was originally held by the Anaheim Ducks.
If you don’t remember the name Mark Mitera, you’re probably not alone. One of the forgotten first round picks from 2006, the Ducks certainly would like a do-over when it comes to their selection—though fans were ecstatic at the time. The big 6’3″ defenseman had already played one season at the University of Michigan and looked like a prototypical NHL defenseman at the time, capable of defending physically and making a quick pass when necessary. The Ducks were just about to enjoy the exploits of another big defenseman named Chris Pronger, and Mitera looked like the perfect player to complement some of their other offensive-minded weapons.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go exactly as planned. In his senior season at Michigan, Mitera, the newly-named team captain, tore the ACL in his left knee and missed all but eight games. The Wolverines would be knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the first round even after he rejoined them, pushing Mitera into the Ducks system and professional hockey. His first full season would be spent mostly in the ECHL, and his game never really rebounded. In 2011, just a few years after he entered Anaheim’s development system, they would trade him to Montreal. In 2013, he was out of hockey altogether.
Every team has first round misses like Mitera in their history, but for the Ducks it was a painful one. The team was right in the middle of an incredibly competitive window, and though they won the Stanley Cup in 2007, wouldn’t be able to climb the mountain again despite a tremendously talented core. Claude Giroux was taken just a few picks later, and several other stars later in the draft. If they’d been able to foresee Mitera’s injury and subsequent decline, there’s no doubt they would have picked someone else.
With the nineteenth pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Anaheim Ducks select?
[Mobile users click here to vote]