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)
17th Overall: Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers (168)
18th Overall: Lars Eller, St. Louis Blues (13)
19th Overall: Alex Killorn, Anaheim Ducks (77)
Another mid-round pick jumps up in Killorn, showing just how hard it is to predict the outcome of an 17-year old prospect at the time of the draft. Born just before the cutoff that would have made Killorn a 2008 draft eligible player, he was one of the youngest available at the time and had only played 25 games of high school hockey in Massachusetts. Still, the Tampa Bay Lightning saw something in the young forward and he ended up being easily their best selection that year. His eventual NHL success wouldn’t come for quite some time however, as Killorn took a long path to the professional ranks.
After spending another year playing high school hockey, the Halifax native ended up heading to Harvard to play for one of the most prestigious and successful programs in the NCAA. By senior year Killorn was a dominant offensive presence for the school, scoring 23 goals and 46 points in 34 games and being named an All-Ivy Leaguer and All-American. That 2011-12 season was already a success, but Killorn jumped into the AHL at the end of the year and helped the Norfolk Admirals all the way to a Calder Cup, scoring 12 points in 17 playoff games. It was clear then that he wouldn’t be long for the minor leagues, and by the end of the following season Killorn was a regular in the Tampa Bay lineup.
In the time since, Killorn has put up consistent offensive production while being a physical presence and moving up and down the roster. It’s his impact in the playoffs that has never wavered from that first season in Norfolk. Through 68 NHL playoff contests, the 30-year old winger has scored 21 goals and 41 points, while being a grinding, frustrating presence for Tampa Bay. Though it hasn’t yet resulted in a Stanley Cup, he’s still an important part of a unit that is one of the best in the NHL.
Back in 2007, the Pittsburgh Penguins were next on the board and had just watched Angelo Esposito drop to them. The QMJHL star had long been a top prospect for the NHL draft and was even ranked the eighth best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. Still, there were questions about Esposito after he had taken a slight step backwards in his second year of junior hockey (though he still put up 79 points in 60 games for the Quebec Remparts) and those doubts proved correct in the long run, though it wasn’t exactly for reasons within his control.
Two major knee surgeries and several other injuries derailed a promising career, and Esposito barely even played professional hockey, never even sniffing the NHL. His best pro season came in 2011-12 when he recorded 21 points in the AHL, but after bouncing around Europe his playing career ended in 2016. A pick that they would like back, there was still a lot of talent left on the board.
Needless to say, they’ll wind up with a better pick this time around. With the twentieth pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Pittsburgh Penguins 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.