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.
We’re looking back at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and asking how it would shake out knowing what we do now. Will the first round remain the same, or will some late-round picks jump up to the top of the board?
Here are the results of the redraft so far, with their original draft position in parentheses:
1st Overall: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (1)
2nd Overall: Jamie Benn, Philadelphia Flyers (129)
3rd Overall: P.K. Subban, Phoenix Coyotes (43)
4th Overall: Logan Couture, Los Angeles Kings (9)
5th Overall: Max Pacioretty, Washington Capitals (22)
6th Overall: Jakub Voracek, Edmonton Oilers (7)
7th Overall: Ryan McDonagh, Columbus Blue Jackets (12)
Three different Montreal Canadiens draft picks have now moved up into our top-ten, with McDonagh joining Subban and Pacioretty. Amazingly none of the three are still with the team, and McDonagh didn’t even really get a chance. After his selection as the fourth defenseman off the board in 2007, McDonagh followed through on his commitment to attend the University of Wisconsin and immediately became a full-time player for the school as a defensive stalwart. After his sophomore season ended however his draft rights were included in a trade to acquire Scott Gomez from the New York Rangers, as the Canadiens were desperately looking for help at the center position. Gomez had just recorded 138 points over two years with the Rangers but was still owed quite a hefty salary. He would fall off the proverbial cliff in Montreal, scoring just 20 goals and 108 points in three seasons and ending up with a buyout in 2013.
McDonagh meanwhile quickly became a household name in New York, eventually ascending to the captaincy in 2014 after participating in the Olympics with Team USA. His presence as one of the premier two-way defensemen in the league was rarely questioned through the years with the Rangers, especially in the postseason where he suited up 96 times. In 2018 with McDonagh getting closer to unrestricted free agency and the Rangers starting the process of a rebuild he was flipped to the Tampa Bay Lightning where he set a new career-high with 46 points in 2018-19.
The 30-year old defenseman’s 287 regular season points put him behind only Subban among 2007 drafted defensemen (and 14th overall), while his leadership qualities and solid presence in the defensive zone continue to make him an extremely valuable player. His place at No. 7 comes as no surprise and the Blue Jackets certainly would have welcomed him to the organization if given the chance.
In hindsight, the team selecting after Columbus likely should have taken McDonagh instead. The Boston Bruins came up to the podium in 2007 with the eighth overall pick, and with it decided to select star WHL center Zach Hamill. Ranked ninth among all North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Hamill was coming off a 93-point season with the Everett Silvertips, breaking several franchise records and leading the entire WHL. Unfortunately, that’s really where his playing career peaked.
He returned to Everett the next season and didn’t have quite the same offensive production, before failing to really establish himself as a star in the AHL the following two years. Over three seasons from 2009-12, Hamill suited up 20 times with Boston but recorded just four points. He hasn’t played an NHL game since, instead finding himself in the German second league in 2018-19. Unless something incredible happens in the next few year Hamill will never score a single goal in the NHL, making him the first real draft bust of the 2007 group. The Bruins would obviously like a do-over, but who comes next in our draft?
With the eighth pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Boston Bruins select? Cast your vote below!
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*Tragically, 17th overall pick Alexei Cherepanov died at the age of 19 and would never get a chance to suit up in the NHL. He has not been included in this vote.