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 fifteen 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)
There are few forwards in this draft that have experienced as varied a career as Grabner, who had to fight through several seasons in the minor leagues before even ever getting a sniff of the NHL. The speedster was just never really a fit in Vancouver after they selected him 14th overall, and ended up experiencing his breakout with the New York Islanders instead, scoring 34 goals in his first season with the club. That 34-goal campaign is still his best, though now coming off back-to-back seasons in which he has recorded 27 tallies there was still a healthy market in free agency.
Tampa Bay originally selected Finnish goaltender Riku Helenius with this pick, but would have obviously been happy with adding the talented goal scoring ability of Grabner instead. By the time he was ready to really contend in the NHL, Guy Boucher was taking the Lightning to the Eastern Conference Finals. That team could have used some more firepower beside Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, and perhaps could have overcome the Bruins in that 2011 Game 7 that they lost 1-0.
Now we’ll move on to the sixteenth overall pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, which was originally held by the San Jose Sharks.
It’s hard to blame the Sharks for their pick, but in hindsight they likely would have taken someone else entirely. Ty Wishart was a massive, gifted defenseman from the WHL who had taken over from Dustin Byfuglien as the best offensive threat on the Prince George Raiders blue line. After Erik Johnson had been selected first overall, there wasn’t another defenseman taken in the top half of the first round, but San Jose would change that. Passing on other more highly ranked smaller defenders like Bobby Sanguinetti and Ben Shutron, the Sharks went all in for the 6’4″, 205-lbs Wishart.
If you’re a Tampa Bay fan, and you recognize the name it’s because Wishart would eventually make his debut for the Lightning instead of the Sharks. That’s because just two years after being picked, the young defenseman was shipped east along with Matt Carle and some draft picks to secure future Olympic gold medalist Dan Boyle. Boyle would become the puck-moving defenseman that the Sharks needed, and play six years in San Jose. Wishart meanwhile would later be flipped to the New York Islanders for Dwayne Roloson, before ending up in Europe trying to make a name for himself.
Playing currently for Pardubice HC in the Czech Republic, Wishart has just 26 NHL games under his belt and never could quite use his size to full advantage. The Sharks did well to sell on his draft stock quickly, but they likely would have just picked a betting player if given another chance.
So who would they take instead? The first round is already starting to thin out, and there isn’t a clear option for the Sharks. Do they add some more forward depth, or take the next best defenseman on the list? With the sixteenth pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, who should the San Jose Sharks select?
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