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:
Even though Kane held onto his top spot this redraft is already extremely different than how it actually went down. Two players from outside the first round have jumped up with Subban moving 40 spots. The Toronto native was a dynamic defenseman for the Belleville Bulls in 2007, coming off a 56-point campaign putting him fifth in team scoring among a group that included future NHL players like Shawn Matthias and Matt Beleskey. Subban’s puck-carrying nature was divisive even then, leading to a ranking of 102nd among North American skaters according to NHL Central Scouting.
You could conclude that the Canadiens reached to pick Subban in the second round given that ranking, but his infectious personality was immediately embraced by Montreal fans—especially because he had grown up one himself, despite being from Toronto. Subban would return to the Bulls in 2007-08 but made the World Junior team as the extra defenseman. In 2008-09 he would return to the tournament in a much bigger role and give everyone a glimpse of exactly what was coming. He led the tournament in points from a defenseman, was named to the tournament All-Star team and took home his second gold medal.
An NHL career followed soon after one year in the AHL, and Subban never looked back. An immediate presence on the Montreal blueline he would win a Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman in just his third season (though it was the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign). In 434 games for the Canadiens he registered 278 points, but would find himself traded on a day that lives in hockey infamy. On June 29th 2016 in the span of what felt like just a few minutes, Subban was traded for Shea Weber, Taylor Hall was traded for Adam Larsson and Steven Stamkos decided free agency wasn’t for him and re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. In a new career chapter in Nashville, Subban would once again become a Norris finalist and help the team to the Stanley Cup Final. This spring everything changed once again however, with Subban shipped off to the New Jersey Devils in a cap-saving move.
The 30-year old Subban leads all defensemen from the 2007 draft with 408 points and has been a legitimate top-pairing player for years. He comes in at No. 3.
After Phoenix came the Los Angeles Kings back in 2007 and though they too went off the board to pick a defenseman, it unfortunately wasn’t Subban. Instead the Kings picked Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman Thomas Hickey, who was coming off an impressive campaign in the WHL but was not nearly the highest-ranked blueliner on the board. Hickey was listed 26th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting behind other names like Karl Alzner and Ryan McDonagh, though there were several defensemen ahead of him on that list that barely scraped their way into the NHL at all.
That’s not the case for Hickey, who while not living up to his draft pedigree is still an effective enough player for the New York Islanders. The Islanders actually acquired Hickey off waivers from the Kings after he failed to crack the NHL lineup and was passed over on the depth chart by young defensemen like Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov. He has ended up playing in 449 NHL games for New York, recording 115 points.
Those numbers aren’t exactly what you want from fourth overall, meaning Hickey clearly won’t be the choice here in our redraft. The Kings would certainly like another chance to pick someone from the rest of the group.
With the fourth pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Los Angeles Kings 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.