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 2009 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?
The results of our redraft so far are as follows, with their original draft position in parentheses:
1st Overall: Victor Hedman, New York Islanders (2)
2nd Overall: John Tavares, Tampa Bay Lightning (1)
3rd Overall: Ryan O’Reilly, Colorado Avalanche (33)
4th Overall: Matt Duchene, Atlanta Thrashers (3)
5th Overall: Chris Kreider, Los Angeles Kings (19)
At fifth overall, PHR voters elected to take one of the draft’s better goal-scoring specialists in Kreider, who received 25% of the total votes. Selected straight out of high school, Kreider was drafted as a center but would end up on the wing for the New York Rangers, who took him in the mid-first round. It took him a few years to make the NHL, but he quickly became a dependable middle-six winger once he did, posting solid two-way numbers and routinely scoring over 20 goals. The last two seasons have done wonders for Kreider’s legacy, though, posting 88 markers over 160 games.
Coming up to the podium at sixth overall is the Phoenix Coyotes. The era of Wayne Gretzky behind the bench is now over after four underwhelming seasons, and the franchise is still looking to return to postseason play for just the third time since the year 2000.
They selected Swedish defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who had spent the entire 2008-09 campaign playing pro hockey with Leksands IF in the Swedish second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan. He posted a massive two-way season there, recording 17 points in 39 games and a +44 rating. Few argued with the pick at the time, and given his peak with the Coyotes, it’s hard to argue they truly made the wrong selection.
He played one more season in Sweden before coming over to the Coyotes in 2010, splitting his rookie year between the NHL and AHL but getting decent NHL action with 48 games, albeit in a bottom-pairing role. He broke into a top-four role during his sophomore season and never looked back, routinely earning Norris Trophy votes and was eventually named the team’s captain in 2018 after the retirement of Shane Doan.
His all-around game began to decline significantly beginning with the 2019-20 season, though, and in the summer of 2021, the Coyotes were able to offload his contract on the Vancouver Canucks in a deal that’s turned out quite well for Arizona, in retrospect. That doesn’t change the fact he provided the Coyotes with solid top-pairing performance for the better part of a decade, however, finishing his stint in the desert with 388 points and averaging 23:26 per game across 769 games.
He didn’t last particularly long in Vancouver, either, and the Canucks executed the largest non-compliance buyout in NHL history this summer to get out of the remaining four years of his massive eight-year, $66MM extension signed with the Coyotes that kicked in just as his decline began in 2019. He’ll suit up for the Florida Panthers next season, looking to prove he can turn things around on a one-year deal.
Ekman-Larsson trails only Hedman and Nick Leddy in total games played for a defenseman from the 2009 class with 902, and he’s third in career points behind Hedman and Tyson Barrie with 439. Despite his solid tenure as a member of the Coyotes, though, should the team have gone in a different direction? Let us know who you think the Coyotes should have selected below:
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