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)
The Montreal Canadiens have now lost two players to the redraft top five, but amazingly neither of them were their first pick that year. Pacioretty was selected well ahead of Subban however, and he deserved it. Coming into the 2007 draft, the USHL star was already listed at over 6’1″ and weighed in at 203 pounds. He was a grown man already, ready to take on the next level of hockey at the University of Michigan. The goal-scoring forward ended up registering 39 points in 37 games as a freshman and won the CCHA Rookie of the Year award. He would also suit up for Team USA at the World Juniors, though he was held scoreless in the tournament.
Scoreless wasn’t something said to describe Pacioretty for long. Jumping to the AHL following just one year in college, he recorded 29 points in 37 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs and got into 34 contests with Montreal. After bouncing back and forth the next two years he broke out in his first full NHL season with 33 goals and 65 points in 2011-12, establishing himself as one of the premier goal-scoring wingers in the league. Though the next season was shortened by a lockout, Pacioretty would go on to record four more 30+ goal seasons between 2013-2017, taking on the Canadiens’ captaincy in the process.
Traded to the Vegas Golden Knights prior to last season, Pacioretty trails just Kane and Benn in goals from the 2007 draft class. His 488 points put him sixth in the group. In 45 career playoff games he has 15 goals and 30 points, and has routinely done most of his damage at even-strength. Though he may not have the high ceiling that players like Kane and Benn bring, Pacioretty has been a consistent top-six forward in the league for quite some time and is still an effective option. Not bad from a pick in the last third of the first round.
In hindsight, the Edmonton Oilers may have rather used the sixth pick on Pacioretty. Instead they decided to go with Sam Gagner, who was ranked sixth among all North American skaters after a simply incredible season for the London Knights of the OHL. Coming from the USHL himself, Gagner put up 118 points in 53 games centering a line with Kane and Sergei Kostitsyn. Unlike Kane however he also took home the gold medal as part of Team Canada at the World Junior, despite not even being drafted yet.
There was little doubt that Gagner was going to be an NHL talent. While some may have wondered if his offense would be good enough without Kane alongside him, he quickly put that thought to rest stepping directly into the NHL with the Oilers. Gagner put up 49 points in that 2008-09 season, finishing seventh in Calder Trophy voting. Unfortunately the 79 games he played that season would be the most he ever had in a single year with the Oilers as nagging injuries took away small chunks of playing time regularly throughout his career in Edmonton. Still he recorded at least 37 points in every season before bouncing around the league the last several years.
Gagner’s NHL career may be almost over at this point after spending the majority of the 2018-19 season in the minor leagues, but that doesn’t mean it has been a disappointment. In 802 career games the 30-year old has 446 points, which actually puts him eighth among all 2007 draftees. Sure, the Oilers may have had better options but Gagner was far from a bust. That doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily be the pick in our redraft though!
With the sixth pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Edmonton Oilers select? Cast your vote below!
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