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. Throughout this first round, we’ve 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)
20th Overall: Michael Frolik (Montreal Canadiens)
21st Overall: Cal Clutterbuck (New York Rangers)
22nd Overall: James Reimer (Philadelphia Flyers)
23rd Overall: Leo Komarov (Washington Capitals)
24th Overall: Steve Mason (Buffalo Sabres)
25th Overall: Michal Neuvirth (St. Louis Blues)
26th Overall: Chris Stewart (Calgary Flames)
27th Overall: Andrew MacDonald (Dallas Stars)
28th Overall: Viktor Stalberg (Ottawa Senators)
29th Overall: Nikolay Kulemin (Phoenix Coyotes)
After being originally selected in the middle of the second round (44th overall to Toronto), Kulemin jumps to the bottom of the first round in our redraft and is the second straight player originally drafted by the Maple Leafs to come off the board.
Kulemin spent two post-draft seasons back home in Russia, playing with Magnitogorsk of the RSL (now the KHL) before crossing the pond in 2008. He made an immediate impact with Toronto, cracking their lineup as a 20-year-old and tallying a respectable 31 points in 73 games in his rookie season.
While his numbers were largely the same in his sophomore campaign, he became one of their top scorers in 2009-10, tallying 30 goals along with 27 assists (numbers that remain his career high), providing the team with exceptional value in the first season of his two-year bridge deal. His second season wasn’t anywhere near as productive though as his point total was cut in half and as a result, Toronto opted to again give him a short-term deal that only covered his remaining RFA years instead of locking him up long-term. That turned out to be a prudent decision.
Following another stint in Russia during the lockout in 2012-13, Kulemin’s numbers rebounded slightly that season as he approached the half a point per game mark. Unfortunately for Toronto, he struggled the following season, posting just 20 points and ending any thought of another contract with them in the process.
Despite his drop off in production, the Islanders surprisingly stepped up with a four-year, $16.75MM contract that didn’t make a lot of sense at the time and didn’t work out as well as they hoped. While he had a decent run over the first three seasons (averaging just over 25 points per year in that span), that’s not a good return for that cap hit. Last season was even rougher for him as he missed 69 games due to injuries including the final 67 games due to shoulder troubles.
Not surprisingly, that didn’t help his case for another contract in the NHL but he was able to land a three-year deal with Magnitogorsk and he’s off to a good start there with 10 goals through 25 games. Considering he’ll be entering his age-35 season when that deal expires, there’s a good chance that he’s played his final NHL game.
While Kulemin never really became an impact scorer in the NHL aside from his third year in Toronto, he still carved out a nice career for himself. He sits 14th in games played among players from this draft class and 16th in points, not bad for a player picked in the middle of the second round.
We now move to the thirtieth and final pick of the round which was held by the New Jersey Devils. They opted for a physical, stay-at-home defenseman in Matt Corrente, a pick that didn’t pan out too well. He played in 34 games with the Devils before bouncing around the minor leagues. He retired following the 2015-16 season where he spent some time in the ECHL. They’re clearly going to wind up with a better player in this draft than Corrente but who should they pick? Have your say by voting in the poll below.
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