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)
Now our biggest riser of the exercise, Paul Byron finding his way to Montreal seems inevitable. The third sixth-round pick in a row to be selected by our community, Byron didn’t always look like he’d be an impact player at the NHL level. In fact, if the game hadn’t turned considerably towards speed and skill over size, there’s a good chance he never would have.
Back in 2007, Byron was coming off his rookie season in the QMJHL where he had scored 21 goals and 44 points in 68 games for the Gatineau Olympiques. That just wasn’t impressive enough for a player that was listed at 5’8″ 135-lbs at the time. That led Byron to not even be ranked among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, overlooked completely as a draft prospect. The thing was, even at that tiny size, Byron didn’t play like a small, perimeter offensive talent. He was always willing to drive hard to the net and get underneath defenders on the forecheck, even if he wasn’t big enough to be all that effective at the time. The Buffalo Sabres decided to take a chance on him late in the draft, and it would pay off.
After growing a bit, Byron really showed what he could do at the junior level. In 2007-08 he scored 37 goals in the regular season before leading all QMJHL players with 21 playoff goals. His Gatineau Olympiques took home the league title that season and suddenly there was a glimmer of hope that Byron could become a professional after all. It would take until 2009—on the day his rights would have expired—for him to sign an entry-level contract with the Sabres, but it was worth it.
Byron would bounce between the NHL and AHL for several years until really catching on with the Calgary Flames during the 2013-14 season. His speed was a real difference-maker in the new NHL, and by the time he ended up in Montreal there was a real role for him. Over the last three seasons Byron has been one of the most efficient even-strength goal scorers in the league, lighting the lamp 51 times in 219 games even though he averages just over 15 minutes a game. That recent success is exactly why he finds himself in the first round of the redraft, given that he has climbed up to 23rd among all 2007 draftees in career points.
After the Canadiens made their pick, the Nashville Predators were on the clock back in 2007. Sitting there on the board was a player they were very familiar with from their scouting of another top prospect. Jonathon Blum was the 17th ranked skater by NHL Central Scouting, and happened to play for the Vancouver Giants alongside Predators prospect Cody Franson. The team had spent a third-round pick on Franson two years earlier and watched the two offensive defensemen lead their team to a Memorial Cup in 2007, combining for more than 100 regular season points.
Blum spent two more years in junior, winning WHL and CHL Defenseman of the Year in 2009 while also captaining Team USA at the World Juniors. The somewhat undersized defenseman seemed destined for a long NHL career, but that would never really come to pass. Instead, Blum spent most of the next several years in the minor leagues with the Milwaukee Admirals and Iowa Wild, playing just 110 games at the NHL level. He left for the KHL in 2015 and is playing this season in Sweden after ending up on the Olympic team in 2018 when the NHL chose not to go.
For some players it just doesn’t work out at the highest level, and that was the case for Blum. If they got another shot the Predators would likely pick someone else, but who? With the twenty-third pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Nashville Predators 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.