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)
8th Overall: James van Riemsdyk, Boston Bruins (2)
9th Overall: Wayne Simmonds, San Jose Sharks (61)
10th Overall: Kevin Shattenkirk, Florida Panthers (14)
Despite his recent struggles, Shattenkirk still moves up four spots in our redraft and finishes out the top-10, taking the place of draft bust Keaton Ellerby who was originally selected by the Panthers in 2007. Though it took Shattenkirk a few years to make his way to the NHL, his debut there was outstanding in the 2010 season when he recorded 26 points in his first 46 games with the Colorado Avalanche. So good in fact that the Avalanche were able to flip him to the St. Louis Blues in a deal that landed them 2006 first-overall pick Erik Johnson.
Johnson was just 22 at the time and still considered a potential franchise defenseman who had put up 91 points in 203 games with the Blues. Though there were other assets included in the trade (top prospect Chris Stewart went with Shattenkirk for instance), the swap of defensemen would turn out to be the most important part. Johnson would never quite become that Norris-caliber defender in Colorado but is still with the team to this day as a solid contributor, while Shattenkirk became one of the most efficient offensive weapons from the blueline in the league.
Through parts of seven seasons with St. Louis, Shattenkirk recorded 258 points in 425 games and received Norris Trophy votes on three different occasions. His ability to quarterback a powerplay was outstanding, but it unfortunately rarely led to much playoff success for the Blues. In 2017 as he neared the end of his contract and approached free agency, he was flipped to the Washington Capitals for a solid package.
Shattenkirk was recently bought out of his contract with the New York Rangers after concerns with his commitment to defense and overall impact on the game. Signing a much cheaper deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning could allow him to recover some of that perceived value, though even if he doesn’t it has already been quite the career. Shattenkirk trails only P.K. Subban in terms of scoring among defensemen drafted in 2007, and comes in at 12th overall from that year. His climb into the top-10 is warranted, though a rebirth in Tampa Bay would only do more for his eventual legacy.
That takes us to pick number 11 from 2007, which originally belonged to the Carolina Hurricanes. After the Panthers went with a defender just ahead of Carolina, the team decided to reach a bit for a forward with a legendary hockey name. Brandon Sutter was ranked 28th among all North American skaters in 2007, but with bloodlines that included father Brent Sutter and uncles Brian Sutter, Darryl Sutter, Duane Sutter, Rich Sutter and Ron Sutter, it was easy to imagine him experiencing a long and successful NHL career.
The pick was certainly not unanimously praised, as Sutter had scored just 20 goals and 57 points in 71 games during his draft year with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL (who were incidentally owned, managed and coached at the time by his father and included his brother Brett Sutter as another top forward). There was obvious talent there, but some questioned the eventual offensive upside of the young forward. Those questions would be amplified during his first season in the NHL when Sutter registered only six points in 50 games with the Hurricanes, but seemed to be answered the following year. In 2009-10 Sutter recorded 21 goals and 40 points, establishing himself as a full-time NHL option that could contribute at both ends of the rink.
Unfortunately, that 40-point season would end up being the best of Sutter’s career to this point. He has just 32 points in his last 87 games in the NHL, a span that encompasses the last two full seasons thanks to injury. Now with two seasons left on his contract with the Vancouver Canucks it isn’t clear what kind of role he will have in 2019-20 and whether he can ever fulfill his draft (and family) pedigree.
If they had another chance knowing what we do now, you can bet the Hurricanes would pick someone else. But who would it be?
With the eleventh pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Carolina Hurricanes 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.