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)
While the Rangers were looking for a defenseman to pair with Marc Staal for the next decade, perhaps they should have been looking at a breakout winger in the OHL instead. During the 2005-06 season the Oshawa Generals gave feisty Cal Clutterbuck a chance to play a bigger role and he immediately paid dividends with 35 goals and 68 points in 66 games. The Generals were one of the worst teams in the league, but had a future superstar in 15-year old John Tavares who was already dominating the league.
Clutterbuck, a slightly older and much more physically mature winger, was given the job to skate alongside the Generals’ prized youngster and keep the other team from inflicting too much damage. He’d put up 139 penalty minutes that season but still came third in team scoring thanks to his talented centerman.
In the draft though, Clutterbuck wasn’t seen as a player who could drive a line himself and slipped all the way to the third round. The Minnesota Wild snatched him up with the 72nd pick, but by then all 30 teams had passed on him at least once. It was clear that people considered him a long shot even to make the league, let alone become the consistent bottom-six presence he is today. Clutterbuck made his NHL debut in the 2007-08 season, and then became a full-time player the next season. He’s never looked back, playing in 721 career games and scoring 207 points including a career-high 34 in 2010-11.
The Wild eventually traded Clutterbuck for Nino Niederreiter, squeezing even more value out of their third-round pick. It would turn out to be an incredible selection for them, and one the Rangers could have made late in the first round.
Now we’ll move on to the twenty-second overall pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, which was originally held by the Philadelphia Flyers.
There’s not much to say about the Flyers pick, other than it was arguably one of the best of the entire draft. Despite picking in the back third of the first round, Philadelphia picked their future captain and MVP candidate Claude Giroux, at the time an undersized forward out of the QMJHL.
Giroux had just scored more than 100 points as a CHL rookie for the Gatineau Olympiques, but was measured at just 169-lbs and ranked outside of the first round entirely by the NHL Central Scouting. In fact, Giroux was 38th among North American skaters in the final list and wouldn’t have been a surprise to see available in the second round.
The Flyers would have none of that though, and snatched up the extremely talented forward wit their first pick. He currently has 688 points through 747 career games, and was picked second overall in our redraft.
Philadelphia is maybe the biggest loser in this experiment, as they needed no hindsight to know Giroux was the right pick. If he wasn’t available though, they’d have to make a decision on one of the others. With the twenty-second pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Philadelphia Flyers select?
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