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)
20th Overall: Nick Bonino, Pittsburgh Penguins (173)
21st Overall: Pat Maroon, Edmonton Oilers (161)
22nd Overall: Paul Byron, Montreal Canadiens (179)
23rd Overall: Sam Gagner, Nashville Predators (6)
Despite currently being in the AHL, Gagner managed to hold onto his status as a first-round pick in our 2007 redraft and goes to Nashville. Originally Edmonton’s first of three picks in that round, the London, Ontario native carved out quite the early career for himself in the NHL, even if it has quickly evaporated.
Back then, Gagner was an easy pick at the top of the draft. The somewhat undersized forward had just combined with Patrick Kane and Sergei Kostitsyn for the London Knights to make one of the most dynamic offensive attacks in the OHL, recording 118 points of his own in 53 games. Gagner’s 83 assists tied him with Kane for the most by any OHL rookie, and got him onto the CHL All-Rookie squad. Even at his young age he landed a roster spot on Canada’s World Junior team, something he’d never have another opportunity to do.
That’s because after he was drafted, Gagner stepped right into the NHL and became an impact player for the Edmonton Oilers. Unfortunately, the 49 points in 2007-08 as a rookie would be his highest total until many years later, as the talented center faced injury after injury that kept him out for various stretches. In fact, Gagner has never played all 82 games in a single season, only ever failing to miss time in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. Still, it’s hard to argue with his offensive consistency for the Oilers. Scoring at least 41 points in each of his first five seasons, he would finish his first stint in Edmonton with 295 points in 481 games. Just that total would make him the 14th-highest scoring player from the 2007 draft, but Gagner wasn’t done quite yet.
After a few more seasons bouncing around the NHL—playing for the Arizona Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Vancouver Canucks—Gagner has found his way back to the Edmonton organization and is now playing with the Bakersfield Condors. In 802 career games he has 446 points, making him the eighth-highest scoring player from the 2007 draft. You can bet if the Predators received that kind of production from this spot they’d be extremely happy.
In 2007, the Calgary Flames were up next and picked their own steal late in the first round. Mikael Backlund was ranked second among all European skaters by NHL Central Scouting coming into the draft, but he ended up falling thanks to a strong North American contingent. The Flames had actually traded back from their spot at No. 18, gaining a third-round selection in the process, and still got the two-way center.
It took a while for the move to really pay off though, as Backlund was a project that needed to be developed correctly. After spending another season in Sweden, Backlund split the 2008-09 season between his Swedish team, the Flames and the Kelowna Rockets, making quite the impression as a late addition to the WHL squad. The Rockets would actually take home the WHL title that season, thanks to a playoff-leading 13 goals from Backlund. It still would be another several years before he really broke out in the NHL, scoring 18 goals and 39 points in 2013-14. Since then he has been quite the consistent presence for the team, and even recorded three 20+ goal seasons.
Unfortunately for Calgary, Backlund already went to Colorado in our redraft and they’ll have to pick another name. The talent is starting to really thin out, showing just how difficult it is to even get an NHL regular out of the draft. With the twenty-fourth pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Calgary Flames 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.