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)
24th Overall: Steve Mason (Buffalo Sabres)
Mason gets a strong boost from his original draft position of 69th overall (to Columbus). He made quite the impact as a 20-year-old in Columbus, ascending to the number one role with the Blue Jackets without spending much time in the minors (just three games). He played in 61 games in 2008-09 (tied for a career high), winning 33 (also tied for a career high) while posting a league-best ten shutouts (a career high as well). That earned him the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year and he looked like the next elite goalie in the league.
Things didn’t go so well after that, however. He struggled in the next three years as their starter, posting save percentages between .894 and .901, well below the league average. That helped pave the way for his departure to Philadelphia in April of 2013 where the Flyers hoped he could become their starter of the future.
For a time, he was able to somewhat live up to that expectation. In his first three seasons there, he posted the best three full-season save percentages of his career but had a losing record in that span as well. He stayed with them through the 2016-17 campaign before moving on to Winnipeg in free agency.
His first (and only) season with the Jets didn’t go well as concussion troubles limited him to just 13 games and he didn’t fare particularly well in those appearances. As a result, Winnipeg dealt away Joel Armia to Montreal as an incentive to take on the final year of Mason’s contract which they subsequently bought out. While Mason has had a couple of offers to be a short-term backup, he has turned those down and is content with being at the end of his career if he can’t land more of a regular position.
As things stand, Mason leads all goaltenders from the 2006 draft class in games played (476) while posting a 2.70 GAA and a .911 SV%. If he is indeed at the end of his career, he’s had a good run.
It would have been interesting to see how Mason would have fared in Buffalo where he would have been behind Ryan Miller for several years to start his career. That would have given him the opportunity to develop at the minor league level at a slower pace instead of being thrown into the fire but would he have had as successful of a run?
We now move to the twenty-fifth selection which was held by St. Louis. They made a good pick initially, selecting center Patrik Berglund who went to San Jose at the number sixteen slot in this series so they’ll have to take someone else here. Who should they take? Have your say by voting in the poll below.
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