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)
24th Overall: Justin Braun, Calgary Flames (201)
25th Overall: Ian Cole, Vancouver Canucks (18)
26th Overall: Brandon Sutter, St. Louis Blues (11)
27th Overall: Karl Alzner, Detroit Red Wings (5)
28th Overall: Carl Gunnarsson, San Jose Sharks (194)
An exercise like this only goes to show how difficult the draft really is, especially if you are picking at the bottom of the round. Gunnarsson jumps up from the seventh round and joins our first-round group, even though he hasn’t been much more than a depth defender for his entire career.
Back in 2007, it would have been difficult to expect Gunnarsson to even ever suit up for an NHL contest though. He had already gone undrafted twice, but must have caught the eye of a Toronto Maple Leafs scout while playing in the Swedish Elite League. A big body with a good reach, Gunnarsson actually kept developing his defensive acumen to the point where the Maple Leafs put him into the NHL during the 2009-10 season.
Gunnarsson logged some big minutes for bad Toronto teams as a young player, but by the time he ended up with the St. Louis Blues he was being used more as a depth player. Carving out a 593-game career is nothing to sneeze at, but teams are certainly hoping for a little more upside when they pick in the first round.
Even with the 29th pick, the Ottawa Senators were hoping to get a piece that could help refill the prospect cupboards. They had just lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Anaheim Ducks and had a top line as good as any in the league. They decided to add to that forward depth by taking University of Minnesota center Jim O’Brien, who had held his own at the college level even as a teenager.
O’Brien was listed 38th among North American skaters, but had a big frame and could potentially give the team another option down the middle where they were already exceptional deep. Unfortunately, O’Brien would struggle to find much consistency at the NHL level.
Though his professional career has lasted more than a decade, O’Brien played just 77 games in the NHL before leaving for the DEL this offseason. He recorded 13 points during that time and spent most of his years in the AHL playing on various minor league rosters. To be sure, the Senators wish they would have picked someone else back in 2007.
While the options are thinning out, Ottawa still could have found more than 77 career games. With the 29th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Senators 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.