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.
Our look back at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft is now in full swing as we poll the PHR community to see who would have been selected in the first round and in what order knowing what we know now. Through the first eighteen picks, we’ve already seen potential Hall of Fame players switch teams, and multiple captains move up and down the draft board.
Here are the results of the redraft so far:
1st Overall: Jonathan Toews (St. Louis Blues)
2nd Overall: Claude Giroux (Pittsburgh Penguins)
3rd Overall: Nicklas Backstrom (Chicago Blackhawks)
4th Overall: Brad Marchand (Washington Capitals)
5th Overall: Phil Kessel (Boston Bruins)
6th Overall: Jordan Staal (Columbus Blue Jackets)
7th Overall: Milan Lucic (New York Islanders)
8th Overall: Kyle Okposo (Phoenix Coyotes)
9th Overall: Erik Johnson (Minnesota Wild)
10th Overall: Derick Brassard (Florida Panthers)
11th Overall: Bryan Little (Los Angeles Kings)
12th Overall: Nick Foligno (Atlanta Thrashers)
13th Overall: Semyon Varlamov (Toronto Maple Leafs)
14th Overall: Artem Anisimov (Vancouver Canucks)
15th Overall: Michael Grabner (Tampa Bay Lightning)
16th Overall: Patrik Berglund (San Jose Sharks)
17th Overall: Jeff Petry (Los Angeles Kings)
18th Overall: Jonathan Bernier (Colorado Avalanche)
19th Overall: Mathieu Perreault (Anaheim Ducks)
You can’t find many more underrated hockey players over the last two decades than Mathieu Perreault. Except perhaps for being the second overall in the 2005 QMJHL Entry Draft, there haven’t been many expectations that he hasn’t shattered. In his draft year and first season in junior, Perreault was an immediate force for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and led them deep into the playoffs with 21 points in 17 games. Despite that performance, he was passed on 176 times in the 2006 NHL draft before the Washington Capitals used a sixth-round pick on him. It proved to be one of the best picks of the draft, as Perreault went back to junior and proceeded to win a league MVP and then a scoring title in his final two years with the Titan.
After that, the undersized center went to the minor leagues where he was expected to just get by and continue to develop. Instead, he put up consecutive 50-point campaigns with the Hershey Bears and won back-to-back Calder Cup championships. Perhaps this kid had an NHL career ahead of him after all.
Perreault jumped into the NHL soon after and hasn’t looked back. He missed out on his fifth consecutive 40-point season in 2017-18 by just one point, despite missing time with various injuries every year of his career. There are few forwards with such versatility that are so consistent, but the Jets certainly know what they have. The Ducks, who selected Perreault in our experiment, could have desperately used that versatility over the years to help them contend for the Stanley Cup with their solid core. Even now they would likely love to have him on the roster to provide some more secondary scoring and fill in for their injured centers.
Now we’ll move on to the twentieth overall pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, which was originally held by the Montreal Canadiens.
One has to wonder how things would have turned out if the Ducks had picked someone other than Mark Mitera. Would the Canadiens have selected him with the next pick, given they were obviously impressed enough to trade for him just a few years later? Would they have been able to convince him to forego his senior season at Michigan, thus avoiding the major knee injury that altered his career trajectory? Instead, the Canadiens were left with David Fischer, another big-bodied American-born defenseman that was headed for the collegiate ranks.
Unfortunately, Fischer wasn’t the same kind of all-around talent that any of the other defensemen ahead of him were—even if only Erik Johnson really ended up panning out. The Canadiens pick was ranked 29th among North American skaters before the draft, and would end up failing to even live up to that ranking. Fischer would head to the University of Minnesota where he would fail to really stand out, before eventually turning down the Canadiens contract offer. Montreal would receive a compensatory draft pick, and Fischer would leave North American pro hockey in 2012.
Fischer is currently playing in Austria after spending a few seasons in the ECHL and DEL, but never even got close to a game in the NHL. He is one of only three players from the 2006 first round that can be said about, along with Mitera and Dennis Persson (who we’ll get to before long). If the Canadiens could do it again, it’s clear that they would pick someone other than the big defenseman from a Minnesota high school. But who would it be?
With the twentieth pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Montreal Canadiens select?
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