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)
11th Overall: Jake Muzzin, Carolina Hurricanes (141)
12th Overall: Kyle Turris, Montreal Canadiens (3)
13th Overall: David Perron, St. Louis Blues (26)
14th Overall: Mikael Backlund, Colorado Avalanche (24)
Narrowly edging out the competition for 14th is Mikael Backlund, who jumps up ten spots from his original draft position with the Calgary Flames. In 2007 he had just been ranked the second best European skater by NHL Central Scouting, but given his three-point draft year output in the Swedish second league there was a level of unfamiliarity with Backlund at the time. For fans in Western Canada that unfamiliarity would quickly disappear. In 2008-09 after starting the year in Sweden, Backlund would attend the World Juniors in Ottawa and dominate en route to a silver medal. He would then play a single game with the Flames before joining the Kelown Rockets of the WHL, where he put up 53 points in 47 games and won a league championship.
Unfortunately through the first few seasons of his NHL career, it appeared as though his offense would never materialize. Recording just 62 points through his first 170 games, Backlund finally broke out in 2013-14 with a strong 18-goal campaign. That offense would continue to pour out of the forward to the point where he is now an integral part of the team’s attack and locked in as their second-line center. In 2018, Calgary signed Backlund to a six-year extension worth a total of $32.1MM, showing just how important they believe him to be.
Even with the slow start, Backlund ranks 13th in points among all players drafted in 2007 (11th among forwards) and seems to be just getting stronger as a two-way option for the Flames. On a list that doesn’t include many players who have spent their whole careers with the team that drafted them, he clearly deserves to be in the top half of the first round.
When the Edmonton Oilers strode to the podium in 2007 with the 15th pick, they should have taken Backlund or any of the other players who have jumped up our board. Instead, with the second of three first round picks (Sam Gagner went sixth overall), they decided to take Alex Plante. Perhaps it was because they held so many picks, but Plante was a reach of immense proportion. The 6’3″ defenseman had been ranked 72nd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting but a strong playoff with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL had turned some heads. Unfortunately, things quickly went downhill.
In his first year after being drafted, Plante dealt with injuries and tried to force his way out of the Hitmen organization—a move that would ultimately backfire—while recording just six points in 51 games. Upon turning pro it was obvious that Plante would never be able to contribute offensively, and his footspeed was questioned at every level. He did end up playing in ten games over three years with the Oilers, but parted ways with the organization in 2013 before playing in Austria and South Korea (in fact, he played for South Korea at the Olympics and World Championship in 2018 after getting his citizenship.)
Plante was not the right pick at the time and comes in as the second real bust of the draft so far. If given the chance to do it again, the Oilers would certainly pick someone else.
With the fifteenth pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Edmonton Oilers 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.