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)
15th Overall: Evgenii Dadonov, Edmonton Oilers (71)
16th Overall: Alec Martinez, Minnesota Wild (95)
As the back half of the first round gets underway, the Wild snatch up a solid and perhaps underrated defenseman in Martinez. That’s a huge raise for a player who wasn’t even selected in his first two years of eligibility or ranked at all by NHL Central Scouting. Martinez, who was set to turn 20 the month following the draft, had already played two seasons at Miami University (Ohio) and showed he could be a reliable two-way presence. Though there is obviously risk in drafting a player already deep into his college years—the Kings could have lost him to unrestricted free agency just two summers later—they ended up convincing him to sign in 2008 and he quickly became a rising star in the organization.
Making his debut during the 2009-10 season, it would be just a couple of years before he was a huge part of the team’s 2012 Stanley Cup championship. A few years after that he would scoring the Cup-winning goal in the Kings’ second title—in double overtime to boot—cementing him in franchise lore. Jumping up into the rush wasn’t something Martinez made a habit of, but it is well within his capabilities. Through a decade with the Kings he has played 556 regular season games, scoring 61 goals and 190 points. That puts him fifth among all defensemen selected in the 2007 draft, despite almost slipping out of the top-100 picks.
The New York Rangers, who selected 17th in 2007, will never know if they made the right choice. Only one player to that point—Lars Eller at 13th—had been selected from outside of North America, so the Rangers decided to test their luck with the supremely skilled Russian forward Alexei Cherepanov. The young winger had just recorded 36 points in 57 games at the highest level of Russian hockey, won gold at the U18 and silver at the U20 World Juniors while being named the tournament’s best forward. Cherepanov was the highest ranked international skater by NHL Central Scouting, and looked like a lock to be a top-line player in the NHL if the Rangers could convince him to come over.
Tragically however, just 16 months later in the first official KHL season, Cherepanov would collapse on the bench. He was pronounced dead at hospital later that day while he was still just 19 years old. Playing on a team with Jaromir Jagr, Cherepanov was off to a blazing start with eight goals and 13 points in 15 games. His potential seemed boundless, but the Rangers never got to find out what he could do at the highest level of hockey. The KHL has since named their Rookie of the Year trophy after Cherepanov, while Avangard retired his jersey number.
If you gave the Rangers front office the pick over again, you can bet they would select Cherepanov again. We have chosen to exclude him from this exercise, meaning someone else will have to take his place on the list.
With the seventeenth pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the New York Rangers select? Cast your vote below!
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