What NHL Teams Drafted Best Each Draft (2000-2003)

Via Ryan Remiorz

This piece will focus more on the scouting staff drafting players whether they hit where they needed, or well in the later rounds, not much of what happened afterwards, like if the player was involved in a lopsided trade, or lost rights.

2000 – Tie Between New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild

When I’d decided to do this, I wasn’t anticipating much of any ties, yet here we are with the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild. Overall, the draft wasn’t amazing, with Rick DiPietro being the first overall pick going to Long Island, and no player hit the 900 point plateau.

We’ll start with the Rangers, who went quality over quantity. Out of nine picks they had in the nine-round draft, only three would actually play a game in the NHL, and two more than 18. The two players who played more than 18 games have had more than a cup of tea in the NHL.

Dominic Moore was picked in the 3rd round, 95th overall. He ended up playing a hair under 900 games, playing 897, and putting up a total of 282 points, 106 of them being goals. Moore played 101 playoff games, scoring 12 goals and totaling 29 points. Mostly a bottom-6 guy, he was reliable when needed, putting defense first, not a bad find in the 3rd round.

The Ranger also got a fairly decent player in the 7th round, only future Hockey Hall of Fame goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, 205th overall. Lundqvist was arguably the most dominant goalie in the 2010s, where in 887 total games, all with the Rangers, he posted a 459-310-96 record, averaging a .918 Sv% and a 2.43 GAA. In the 2011-12 season, Lundqvist won the Vezina trophy, awarded to the best goalie that season. He was the backbone of the Rangers team for 15 seasons, a pretty solid get in the 7th round, could be one of the best draft steals of all time.

On the other hand, the Minnesota Wild had two home run hits with their first two picks. Outside of those two picks, not much coming from them, but more than the Rangers.

With their first round pick, 3rd overall, they would pick a winger from the Slovak league named Marian Gaborik. Gaborik would go on to play in 1,035 games in the NHL, and lead the draft class in points with 815, 407 of them being goals. He scored 30+ goals in seven different seasons, three of them being 40 or more. In the 2013-14 campaign, he won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings, and in that run, Gaborik scored 14 goals, totaling 22 points in 26 games.

Marian Gaborik being drafted (via John Doman)

In the 2nd round, 33rd overall, Minnesota went with a defenseman out of the WHL named Nick Schultz. Never really known for his offense, Schultz would only have one 20 point season, and only had 175 points in his career. Granted, most likely more than you. He was more known for his defense-first style of play, which is how he eclipsed 1,069 total games played over 17 seasons. He never won any trophies, but getting a defenseman this quality in the 2nd round was a steal.

Outside of those two players, nothing super special, except in the 8th round, 232nd overall, they chose defenseman Lubomir Sekeras, who had 213 games played in the NHL, not terrible value.

The only other team worth mentioning are the New Jersey Devils for this draft, who drafted the likes of Paul Martin in the 2nd round, who was a great defenseman for a long time, playing in 870 regular season games, Mike Rupp who played a crucial part in their 2003 Stanley Cup win, who played 610 games in a tough-guy role, and Deryk Engelland in the 6th round, who many forget was drafted by New Jersey, played in 671 regular season games, known for his role in the Vegas Golden Knights’ inaugural season.

2001 – Ottawa Senators

The 2001 Entry Draft was highlighted by guys like Ilya Kovalchuk, Mikko Koivu, and Jason Pominville. Much better than the 2000 draft, the team that did the best was no doubt the Ottawa Senators.

The Senators had the 2nd overall pick, and they made no mistake with that. They chose Jason Spezza, from the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. Spezza would have a fantastic NHL career, playing 1,248 regular season games, scoring 363 goals, and adding 632 assists, for 995 points. Without Covid, he’d no doubt be a member of the 1,000 point club. Playing 19 seasons, most of which with Ottawa, but also with the Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs, he never won anything at the NHL level, but he’s consistently been a great player. He set an Ottawa Senators record for assisting on 71 goals back in the 2005/06 season.

They had a second pick in the first round, 23rd overall, where they picked a defenseman out of Windsor, Tim Gleason. Not as well known as Spezza, but Gleason’s had more than a cup of coffee in the NHL. Playing in 727 regular season games, Gleason scored 142 points. Never known for his scoring, Gleason played a solid defensive game, being a reliable player for a long time. He never signed a contract with the Senators, signing an ELC with the Los Angeles Kings back in 2006, and was a part of bringing Jack Johnson to LA. Currently, he’s a coach in the Carolina Hurricanes organization.

In the 4th round, the Senators had two picks. Their first of the two picks was 99th overall, goalie Ray Emery. Emery played 287 games in the regular season, with the Sens, Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks, and Chicago Blackhawks. Most know him as being a hot head, and fighting Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. In the 2012-13 season with the Chicago Blackhawks, Emery won the William M. Jennings trophy, and the Stanley Cup. His record stood at 145-86-28, with a career .906 Sv%. Sadly, Emery died back in 2018 after drowning at the age of 35. May he rest in peace.

Ray Emery vs Braden Holtby (via Bruce Bennett)

The other 4th round pick isn’t super memorable, but 127th overall, they selected Christoph Schubert. Schubert, a 6’3″ defenceman coming from the German league, played four of his five seasons with the Senators (Atlanta being the other team). He played in 315 games, which isn’t nothing. Never much of a point producer, only 72 total. Not terrible value in the 4th round.

The last notable player that Ottawa drafted came all the way in the 6th round, 193rd overall, Brooks Laich. Laich was never a star, as a center he only hit the 50 point plateau twice. Playing in 776 regular season games, he was always a glue guy, someone who you’d be able to stick anywhere in the lineup, he always did his job and won puck battles. In the playoffs, he always showed up, yet never winning the Stanley Cup. Laich played in 65 playoff games, and scored 10 goals and 32 points, nearly a half a point-per-game.

The only two other players the Senators drafted that played some games were Brandon Bochenski (7th round, 223rd), a winger who played 156 games scoring 68 points, who is actually the mayor of Grand Forks, ND, fun fact, and Toni Dahlman, a Finnish winger who only played in 22 games, picked in the 9th round, 286th overall.

2002 – Detroit Red Wings

In a draft that saw the Columbus Blue Jackets take Rick Nash first overall, this wasn’t a hard draft to do research on, but it came down to two teams, and the other one I will touch on later on.

Their first pick was in the second round, 58th overall, where they selected Jiri Hudler. Many forget about Hudler, he played in 708 total games, scoring 428 points in that span. Most remembered for his 76 point season, and winning the Lady Byng as a member of the Calgary Flames in the 2014-15 campaign, then falling off hard. He helped Detroit win a Stanley Cup in 2008 where he had 14 points, five of them being goals, in 22 games.

Jiri Hudler with Lady Byng Trophy (via Yahoo Sports)

Five picks later, the Red Wings chose Tomas Fleischmann. Fleischmann never played a game with Detroit, instead he was packaged with two picks to the Washington Capitals, one of those picks ended up being Mike Green, for Robert Lang. Fleischmann played in 657 games, putting up 335 points. In 14 seasons, he only had two where he ended up with over 50 points, one of them he scored 61. He found himself mostly playing on the 3rd line, but he prolonged his career by doing the right things.

Their next pick came in the 3rd round, 95th overall, which was Valtteri Filppula. Filppula was a great player his whole career, one of my personal favorites. Hes played in 1,056 games so far, scoring 197 goals, and totaling 530 points. Currently, he’s an unrestricted free agent, and he still may have a shot from teams. He’s meshed well most of his career in the top-9, and the later stages of his career being in the bottom-6. He was another member of this draft winning a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008. In that run, Filppula scored five goals and 11 points. A solid get in the late 3rd round.

The last pick of the draft, the Red Wings picked up Jonathan Ericsson. Mostly a defensive player, Ericsson battled it out every night for a long time. Playing in 680 games, he only had a total of 125 points, with a season high point total of 15, which he hit three times. His career was filled with injuries, and as time went on, he got slower and slower as the game picked up in pace fast. He was a good player for a while, and had a lot of value being the last pick in the 2002 draft.

The other team I hinted to before was the Toronto Maple Leafs. They drafted two 1,000 game players, Alexander Steen and Matt Stajan. Both great defensive players, and great teammates. In the later stages in the draft, they picked up Ian White, who played 503 games in the NHL, more than a cup of tea. I went with Detroit because their guys had hardware, and made the most out of not having a 1st round pick.

2003 – Tie Between Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks

Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf (via Getty Images)

To wrap up this edition of what team drafted best each year, we go to what most know as the best draft class in NHL history, 2003. Another tie, something I don’t love, but I don’t have the heart to put one over the other.

The Anaheim Ducks won the 2007 Stanley Cup because of this draft. They had two 1st round picks, and they hit grand slams with both of them.

First off, 19th overall they selected then future captain, Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf was an elite player his whole career up until he retired this past season, in 2021-22. Playing in 1,157 regular season games, he was known as one of the best passer playmakers of the 2010s. He scored 282 goals, but had 737 assists, for a total of 1,019 points. While he never won an individual award, he won the Stanley Cup like I’d previously stated, in 2007. In that run, Getzlaf had 17 points in 21 games, a big difference maker. He was a three time NHL all star, and won two gold medals for team Canada internationally.

Their second first round pick came nine picks later, where they selected Corey Perry. Still active in the NHL, Perry was another difference maker in the 2007 Stanley Cup win for the Ducks, where in 21 games, he put up 15 points. In 1,176 games, Perry scored 405 goals, 453 assists, for 858 points. He has some more personal hardware than Getzlaf, as in the 2010-11 season, he won both the Maurice Rocket Richard trophy, and the Hart Memorial trophy, in which he played a full 82 game season, scored 50 goals, and had 98 points. More recently, Perry hasn’t been a stranger to the Stanley Cup Final, where he’s made it the past three seasons, except lost in all three visits.

It wasn’t until the 6th round where Anaheim would draft another impact player. They took winger Drew Miller, brother of goaltender Ryan Miller. Miller played 571 games across 11 seasons where he scored 122 points. He mostly found himself in the bottom-6 portion of the lineup, as he was more of a gritty defensive guy. He did win the Stanley Cup with Anaheim, but only played three games and recorded no points then.

The last notable player from Anaheim’s portion of this draft is Shane O’Brien. O’Brien was a defender drafted from the OHL. Drafted in the 8th round, he played in 537 games, scoring 13 goals and totaling 92 points. O’Brien was a big guy when he played, another gritty, Brian Burke esk player, that prolonged his career by gaining the trust of his coaches,

Now, for the Chicago portion of 2003. Anaheim made a Stanley Cup team out of this draft, Chicago made a dynasty out of this draft. To keep it short, we’ll talk about three players.

14th overall the Blackhawks would take defender Brent Seabrook. Nowadays, Seabrook is just known as a contract, but back then, he was a great defender. He’d play in 1,114 games in the regular season, scoring 103 goals and 464 points overall. As a part of the Blackhawks’ anchor of a defensive core, Seabrook helped lead them to three Stanley Cups.

Brent Seabrook (via NBC Sports)

In the 2nd round, 52nd overall, the Blackhawks took a goalie from the QMJHL named Corey Crawford. Crawford would be the backbone of the Blackhawks legacy. Playing in 488 games, he would go 260-162-53 in that span, with a .918 Sv% overall. Adding to his Stanley Cups, Crawford would win the William M. Jennings trophy in the 2012-13 season, and the 2014-15 season. He was a two time all star, and led the NHL in shutouts in 2015-16 with seven. He would sign a free agent deal in New Jersey, but retire before he would play a game for the club.

Finally, in the 8th round, the Chicago Blackhawks took a chance on a forward at the time from the WHL, Dustin Byfuglien. The 6’5″, 260 lbs. at-the-time forward was a scary foe to line up against. Known for his fierce play, superhuman strength, and big hits, Byfuglien was a main contributor on the Blackhawks in their cup win in 2010. He scored 11 goals in that run. Over his career, he played 869 regular season games, scoring 525 points before quietly retiring after dealing with injury.

The next edition will be much shorter, and depending on the numbers, should be out next week.

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