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?
Earlier in the week, we kicked off the 2009 Take Two series by polling PHR readers on their pick for first overall with the benefit of hindsight. Defenseman Victor Hedman jumped up to claim the number-one spot by a comparatively slim margin, capturing 53% of the vote. In past years, the choice has been rather clear, with PHR voters settling on the draft class’ best player by scores of 70% or more.
Now with Hedman off the board to the New York Islanders at first overall, John Tavares remains on the board, with the Tampa Bay Lightning picking at number two. At the time of the draft, there was no question about whether Tavares would fall. He was one of the few players granted exceptional status into the OHL as a 15-year-old and, given he was only five days away from being eligible for the 2008 draft, Tavares already had four full seasons of junior hockey under his belt with two 100-plus point seasons to show for it.
While the circumstances of Tavares’ departure in free agency from the Islanders for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2018 have soured the fanbase’s opinion on his time with the team, he’s inarguably one of the most talented players in team history and was the cornerstone behind their first-round playoff win in 2016, ending a decades-long streak without a series victory. The team’s captain for five seasons ended up with 621 points in 669 games as an Islander and ranks fifth in team history in Hockey Reference’s point shares system.
Among his 2009 peers, he currently sits as the all-time leader in goals, assists and points and is the only one with more than 1,000 career NHL games under his belt. Despite that, Tavares hasn’t taken home any major awards like Hedman – although Tavares was a Hart Trophy finalist in 2013 and 2015 at just 22 and 24 years old. If he had fallen to Tampa for whatever reason, may they have won more Stanley Cups with this core with Tavares in the fold along with Steven Stamkos?
That’s what we’re asking you today, PHR readers. Will Tavares fall yet another spot in your hindsight-influenced 2009 draft ranking, or will the Lightning select a second franchise center to complement Stamkos, who they selected first overall just one year prior? Vote in the poll below:
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