I am hoping the Leafs will be bad enough this year to have a legitimate shot at getting the #1 pick (i.e. Stamkos).
Since I apparently don’t have better things to do, here’s a brief look at how this isn’t rocket science. Here are some recent #1s and how they’ve turned out.
2007: Patrick Kane, CHI
So far, so good. Looks like the right choice, at least after half a season. But it’s way too early to tell. Probably this year’s rookie of the year.
2006: Erik Johnson, STL
I’m not one who really supports taking a D this high, but I’ve heard good things about the guy (haven’t seen him play really). Can’t imagine he’s so good he’s their franchise, but how knows? Possible long-shot for rookie of the year.
2005: Crosby, PIT
No question. Future hall of famer if things keep up. Already some trophies
2004: Ovechkin, WAS
Will soon be the first guy to score 60 in the league in ages, provided he doesn’t get hurt. A friend of mine thinks he’s currently the best player in the league (think of the team he’s on…). Will win the Richard this year, unless he gets hit by a bus.
2003: Fleury, PIT
The jury is still out, but taking a goalie at this spot is usually silly. They take so much time it’s hard to know.
2002: Rick Nash, CBJ
Well, he’s awesome. But I’m not sure he’s franchise-player awesome. It was a weak year (I think) so I guess it was a good choice. Has won a Richard (I think he tied for it, right?).
2001: Kovalchuk, ATL
Obviously a good choice. One of the elite goal scorers. Has won a Richard, or more than one (can’t remember).
2000: Rick Dipietro, NYI
Starting to look like a better decision (#2 was Heatley!!!) but I still think the guy is overrated, but then I don’t really watch Isles games much. When he takes them deep in the playoffs on his shoulders, it will have been a good choice.
1999: Stefan, ATL, now “retired”
The biggest draft bust in recent history (that I can think of). This guy once played on a line with Kovalchuk and Heatley and still managed to suck. It just goes to show that it isn’t given that the number one is any good, despite scouting.
1998: Lecavalier, TB
Some questioned this for a while but now I think everyone’s pretty sure it was the right move. Already has a cup. Might get the scoring title this year. A quick glance at this year’s top 10 tells you the Lightning got the best player. By a long shot.
1997: Thornton, BOS, now on SJ
Not much needs to be said. Probably the best set-up guy in the league. What am I saying? The best.
1996: Phillips, OTT
Well, not amazing. That’s problem with drafting D this high. He’s got a final appearance. He’s reliable. It was a weak year though.
1995: Berard, OTT, now with Isles
Far from amazing, though some people like him. Hard to really fairly assess after his eye injury. I mean, anything is good after that.
1994: Jovonovski, FLO, now with PHO
Never been a huge fan of the guy. Not the greatest year anyway. But I reiterate: don’t draft D number 1 unless you really have to. I think the record speaks for itself so far.
1993: Daigle, OTT
Ah, here we go. The infamous bust. He once scored 26 goals. Once. He was drafted over Pronger (I know what I said about D, but it’s Pronger), Kariya, and some other good but not great players who still play in the NHL. Apparently, he really was the consensus #1. He probably hurts more than Stefan, if only because Stefan’s draft was weaker (I believe).
1992: Hamrlik, TB, now playing on MON
Solid player. Hardly a franchise, but it was a weak year.
1991: Lindros, QUE, now retired
Never lived up to the expectations because of injuries, but he was still dominant for a while, and went to the final. Oh yeah, got a gold metal too. Still, he was part of the most ridiculously lopsided trade in NHL history, which gave Colorado a Cup. But that’s only half his fault and half Philly’s.
1990: Nolan, QUE, now on CAL
Solid, though injuries have slowed him down. Draft wasn’t remarkable, Tkachuk being the best (probably) of the first round at 19. Won a gold.
1989: Sundin, QUE, now on TOR
Gold medal. 3rd highest scoring Euro though on a fairly mediocre team. Yada, yada, yada.
Never totally lived up to his hype and he has lost a few steps with age, but he won a cup.
I think that’s 20. So two busts, a a few not-so-greats (mostly D) and a few easy no-brainers. Not an exact science. If you looked at top 10 point leaders for the past few years, I’m sure you’d see a sprinkling of both #1s and off-the-boards.