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)
It’s hard to eclipse Benn’s 127-spot jump in our redraft series, but Muzzin has done just that. Rising an amazing 130 selections, the Woodstock, Ontario defenseman has certainly put together quite the career for himself so far. Every team passed on Muzzin before the Pittsburgh Penguins eventually snapped him up in the fifth round, and it’s easy to see why. In 2007 Muzzin was coming off just one half-season of play in the Ontario Hockey League after suffering a herniated disc as a 16-year old and missing an entire year of hockey thanks to surgery. Scoring just eight points in 50 games that season for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, he wasn’t even listed on the NHL Central Scouting’s list of top draft eligible players from North America—a list that includes 200 names.
The Penguins saw something though in order to draft him, but it would never actually pay off for them. Muzzin would never sign with the Penguins and instead returned for three more full seasons with the Greyhounds. That’s where he learned to become an ultra-efficient puck-moving defenseman even without any real standout skills. His decision making and size allowed him to play in basically every situation however and he eventually would earn the OHL Most Outstanding Defenseman award in 2010. That 2009-10 season was enough to catch the eye of the Los Angeles Kings organization who signed him in January 2010 to an entry-level contract.
It still wasn’t a totally smooth road for Muzzin with the Kings, but within three years he had established himself as a full-time NHL player. His second full season in the NHL the Kings would win the Stanley Cup and Muzzin would lead all defensemen in playoff goals with six. Muzzin would remain a rock solid option for the Kings for several more seasons and represent Canada by winning gold at both the World Championships and World Cup—his first two international competitions.
At the deadline last season the Toronto Maple Leafs paid a hefty price to acquire the now-veteran defenseman, and he’ll suit up again for them this season on the final year of his contract. Muzzin ranks fourth among defensemen from the 2007 draft with 229 points and certainly deserves his place in the first half of the first round.
You can bet that Montreal would have been happy picking Muzzin 12th the way his career turned out, but back in 2007 they made an even better pick. Ryan McDonagh, who came in at pick number seven in our redraft originally went to the Canadiens, in one of the best draft classes we’ve seen in some time. McDonagh would never actually pull on the bleu blanc et rouge, but went on to have an excellent career with the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning so far.
Unfortunately for Montreal, McDonagh isn’t available this time around. There’s still plenty of talent on the board, but who should they pick?
With the twelfth pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, who should the Montreal Canadiens 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.