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 21 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)
19th Overall: Mathieu Perreault (Anaheim Ducks)
20th Overall: Michael Frolik (Montreal Canadiens)
21st Overall: Cal Clutterbuck (New York Rangers)
22nd Overall: James Reimer (Philadelphia Flyers)
23rd Overall: Leo Komarov (Washington Capitals)
Komarov winds up with a very nice boost from his original draft slot as he was a sixth-round pick (180th overall) by Toronto. It took him quite a while to make it to North America as he spent his first three post-draft seasons in Finland before spending three more full years in the KHL.
He finally crossed the pond in 2012-13 where he split the year between the KHL, AHL, and NHL. His time with Toronto was short-lived as instead of re-signing with Toronto in the 2013 offseason, he opted to return to the KHL. While that raised a few eyebrows at the time, it turned out to be the right decision. He had a career year while he was eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2014.
Toronto handed him a four-year, $11.8MM contract and while he wasn’t the most productive player, he still played an important role on the Maple Leafs, logging 16:24 per game in that span while collecting 113 points in 285 games. However, his physicality set him apart as he had a staggering 984 hits, just shy of 3.5 per contest.
However, with the Maple Leafs needing to cut some of their veterans this summer with big contracts on the horizon for their young core, the Estonia native had to move on. He fared surprisingly well on the open market, landing a four-year, $12MM deal with the Islanders in July where he is off to a decent start with four points and 29 hits through his first ten games.
Given how much time he spent overseas, Komarov isn’t close to the leaders in this draft class when it comes to production or even games played but he has still carved out a nice career for himself as a physical bottom-six forward. That’s a far cry from Washington’s original pick in Varlamov but given how much the Caps have relied on quality veterans in their bottom six in recent years, Komarov certainly would have fit in well with them.
Now, we move onto the 24th selection in the draft which was held by Buffalo. To say that the Sabres didn’t do well with this pick would be an understatement. They chose Swedish defenseman Dennis Persson who was one of just three players picked in the first round to not play in a single NHL game.
Persson spent three years after being drafted in Sweden where he split time between the Elitserien and Allsvenskan. He then joined Buffalo’s farm team for three seasons (Portland and Rochester) but was never more than a depth player at that time. Following the conclusion of the 2011-12 campaign, he headed back home, signing with Brynas for three years followed by MODO for two, the last of which came in 2015-16. and he hasn’t played since then.
Clearly, the Sabres are going to fare better in our redraft than they did the first time around. Who should they take with the twenty-fourth selection? Have your say by voting in the poll below.
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