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:
After seeing the second and third picks going to players that weren’t even picked in the first round, Couture’s bump is only a small one from the ninth slot but it’s certainly a well-deserved one as he has emerged from one of the top scorers from this draft class.
Interestingly enough, Couture didn’t exactly get off to a great start. His post-draft year was underwhelming as his production dipped by 20 points while he failed to show much progression in his development. That took him off the radar of making the big club for the following year and it turned out that one more year in junior was great for him. His production jumped back to a level where it should be for a top prospect in his second post-draft year and with his team being ousted from the playoffs early, he was able to get a head start on his pro career, joining AHL Worcester for their postseason.
That experience certainly made a difference as in 2009-10, his first full pro campaign, he averaged well over a point-per-game with the Baby Sharks and earned two stints with the big club. The second came about a month before the playoffs and Couture was there to stay.
While his offensive numbers weren’t eye-popping in that first year, Couture made a big leap in his first full NHL season with 32 goals and 24 assists in 79 games. Since then, he has been the model of consistency, ranging between 0.69 and 0.86 points per game in the eight seasons since then on his way to becoming the fourth-leading point-getter in this draft class. The high mark actually came in 2018-19. Even more impressive is that Couture has been more productive in the playoffs over the years relative to his regular season production which is something that can’t be said for a lot of players. He’s entrenched as a core piece in San Jose and it’s hard to imagine they’re not anything but thrilled with how his selection turned out.
Let’s shift our attention to the next pick now which was held by the Washington Capitals. A decade ago, stay-at-home defensemen were still in demand and Washington opted to go in that direction with the selection of Karl Alzner from Kelowna. While he had shown some offensive upside in his draft year, his ceiling was viewed as a shutdown defender.
For the most part, he has lived up to that reputation as he logged an average of over 20 minutes a night over parts of nine seasons with the Capitals which isn’t necessarily a bad outcome from a first-round selection.
Things haven’t gone quite as well since he left to go to Montreal, however. He has not adapted well to the requirements for a defender in the current NHL which prioritize mobility and puck-moving skills. While the Canadiens played him in every game in 2017-18, he saw just nine games of NHL action last season and cleared waivers twice. With three years left on his contract with a $4.625MM AAV, his contract is going to be an anchor on Montreal’s books for a while. Needless to say, Alzner worked out a whole lot better for the Capitals than he has for the Canadiens and he currently sits tenth in games played from this draft class.
With the fifth pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Washington Capitals 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.