I am going to look back at previous drafts and re-draft the top ten with the hindsight we have now. This will value their entire body of work over the years not just where they are in the present moment. I'm looking for who would provide the most value over their careers to this point even if they may be in decline (spoiler the players today are all ~27 years old). Today is going to focus on the 2009 Entry Draft.
This was the draft that had John Tavares go #1 overall so these players are just exiting their prime years. These are going to be players who are still valuable to have on your roster. The theme I found with this draft is how much better could some of these players' numbers looked if they didn't have to spend the majority of their time on teams that never got better.
I thought there were a lot of close calls on this list between the players who actually made the list and ones that did not.
Here is the original top ten:
Pretty decent first seven overall picks. Here are mine.
1. Victor Hedman (2)
Why did I do this? I think Victor Hedman is better at what he does than John Tavares. Hedman is one of the very best at generating offense from the back end and his passing skills are among the best in the league. I will usually lean towards drafting a forward over a defenseman, but Hedman is just too good in this case. He is definitely a top 5 player at his position while I can't say the same for Tavares.
2. John Tavares (1)
This isn't some ridiculous fall from grace for Tavares. He dropped one spot . He's still an amazing player and has done a great job despite his original landing spot in the NHL. I dropped him from #1 overall mostly because of his 2.01 points per 60 at even-strength. It's a great number, but among players who have played at least 5,000 minutes he sat 31st among forwards while Hedman was only behind Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, and John Klingberg among a defense only search.
John Tavares, still great even at #2 overall.
3. Oliver Ekman-Larsson (6)
This was tougher choice for me than flipping the other two players ahead of Ekman-Larsson. I always find it difficult to evaluate players who have played on really bad teams for an extended period of time. He's been Arizona's bonafide #1 defenseman for a while and during that time period the team has been junk. He's being placed in this draft position because in a different dimension where he doesn't play on Arizona he would live up to the third overall selection in this draft.
4. Matt Duchene (3)
Duchene falls one spot from his original draft placement. No shame in being behind the other three ahead of him here. Duchene has great puck skills and is able to produce offense at a first line rate. He has some positional flexibility where he can play winger or center which is always a nice bonus.
5. Ryan Ellis (11)
It might look crazy to see Ellis this high up on the list, but you can't argue with his evidence. He's a 1.01 points per 60 defenseman at 5v5 which is great. He drives play and he's great at getting the puck to his forwards. I really contemplated putting him ahead of OEL on this list, but ultimately held quality of teammate against Ellis compared to what OEL was working with. Ellis is that good.
6. Mike Hoffman (130)
He's a great scoring winger who was a little bit of a late bloomer. Consistently put up top line offensive spreads with the Ottawa Senators. If you lose track of him on the right side of the ice chances are he's going to bury the puck. He has a really nice shot.
7. Ryan O'Reilly (33)
I feel guilty putting him this low because I think he's a complete player that can play in all situations. His numbers look bad in Buffalo until you realize he was given the toughest minutes possible on one of the worst teams in the league and still managed to muster up 60, 55, and 61 points his three years there.
8. Nazem Kadri (7)
Kadri is a well rounded center who gives you a quality amount of offense regardless of the role you throw him in. He can put the puck in the net a bunch of different ways. He has the finesse game, he will play in the tight areas, he will cheat up the ice when he needs to. I've always liked how he plays.
9. Tyson Barrie (64)
Offensively minded defenseman who is adept at moving the puck to his forwards. He's played through some really bad Colorado teams and his name has come up in trade rumors quite a bit, but the Avalanche to this point have made the right decision in keeping him. You want the players who can create and Barrie is one of them.
10. Brayden Schenn (5)
He's not quite top five worthy, but he's still a top ten for me. The reason he's here and not somebody like Evander Kane is because he is more well rounded as a player. I think Schenn does more things that help the team when he isn't putting the puck in the net. When Kane runs dry you are left with bad angle shots and not pass building plays to help others.
Honorable mentions: Evander Kane, Reilly Smith, Chris Kreider, Marcus Johansson, Jakob Silfverberg, Dmitry Orlov, Brian Dumoulin, Tomas Tatar, , Matias Ekholm, Sami Vatanen, Erik Haula
Thanks for reading!