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Every NHL team's best draft pick

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May 20th, 2020

The NHL Draft will look markedly different this year, because of the COVID-19 crisis. As we await plans for the rest of the season and the draft to come together, let’s review the greatest draft picks in each team’s history.

Anaheim Ducks: Paul Kariya

The prize of the Mighty Ducks' first draft class, Kariya (fourth overall, 1993) made an instant and long-lasting impact on the NHL.

He played in seven All-Star Games and was a two-time Lady Byng winner over a 15-year, Hall of Fame career.

Arizona Coyotes: Teemu Selanne

Selanne (10th overall, 1988) was never a Coyote but was part of the original Winnipeg Jets franchise that relocated to Phoenix in 1996.

He won the Calder Trophy in 1993, on the strength of a 76-goal campaign. Selanne added 608 more goals over the next 20 seasons and is 12th on the all-time list.

Boston Bruins: Ray Bourque

One of the greatest defensemen in NHL history, Bourque (eighth overall, 1979) won five Norris Trophies over 21 seasons with the Bruins. Bourque never missed an All-Star Game and entered the Hall of Fame in 2004.

Buffalo Sabres: Gilbert Perreault

Centering Rick Martin and Rene Robert on the vaunted “French Connection” line, Perreault (first overall, 1970) carved out a Hall of Fame career over 17 years in Buffalo.

Perreault was Rookie of the Year in 1971 and added a Lady Byng Trophy to his mantle two years later. He played in eight All-Star Games and amassed 1,326 points in 1,191 contests.

Calgary Flames: Al MacInnis

MacInnis (15th overall, 1981) was one of the great defensemen of his day.

He compiled 1,274 points over 23 seasons, and 822 were tallied over 13 years in Calgary. MacInnis won Conn Smythe honors when the Flames upset the Canadiens in the 1989 Stanley Cup Finals and won a Norris Trophy later in his career with the Blues.

MacInnis was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.

Carolina Hurricanes: Ron Francis

Francis (fourth overall, 1981), who went into the Hall of Fame in  spent 16 of his 23 seasons with the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise and notched 1,175 points in that span. He also contributed to two Stanley Cup-winning teams in Pittsburgh.

Francis won three Lady Byng Trophies, including one with Carolina in 2002 at age 38.

Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane

Kane has lived up to the hype as the first overall pick from 2007.

He’s already eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau at age 31 and has won the Calder, Smythe, Hart, Pearson, and Ross trophies, to go with three Stanley Cup championships.

Colorado Avalanche: Joe Sakic

Taken 15th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1988, Sakic was an integral part of what became an elite Avalanche squad in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

In 1995-1996, the season of Colorado’s first Stanley Cup victory, Sakic scored 120 points and took home Conn Smythe honors in the postseason. In 2000-2001, the Avs other championship season, Sakic won the Lady Byng, Hart, and Pearson trophies.

He made the Hall of Fame in 2012 and currently serves as Colorado’s general manager.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Rick Nash

Nash (first overall, 2002) was a rare hit for the Blue Jackets, who haven’t had much luck in the NHL Draft since they entered the league in 2000.

Nash won the Richard Trophy, in just his second year in the NHL, at age 19. Of his 437 goals, 289 came in Columbus. His career ended at age 33 because of concussions.

Dallas Stars: Mike Modano

Modano (first overall, 1988) was one of the greatest American players to lace them up.

He scored 1,359 points with the North Stars/Stars franchise and notched 23 points in 23 playoff games, en route to a Stanley Cup victory in 1999.

Detroit Red Wings: Steve Yzerman

Currently serving as the franchise’s general manager, Yzerman (fourth overall, 1983) was one of the greatest Red Wings.  

“Stevie Y” led Detroit to three Stanley Cup victories and took Conn Smythe honors in 1998. He also won a Pearson Award (1989), a Selke Trophy (2000), and a Masterson Trophy (2003) during his 22-year career (1,755 points).

Edmonton Oilers: Mark Messier

In the 1979 and 1980 drafts alone, the Oilers found the heart and soul of their 1980s dynasty. Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, and Jari Kurri were all fantastic selections, but Messier (48th overall, 1979) trumps them all.

Messier won the Conn Smythe for the first of those four Edmonton Stanley Cups with Wayne Gretzky in 1984. With Gretzky no longer casting a shadow over “The Moose” in 1990, Messier led the Oilers back to the promised land, and earned the first of two Hart Trophies and Pearson Trophies in his decorated career.

“The Captain” led the New York Rangers to a Stanley Cup victory in 1994, the first in 54 years for the franchise and Messier’s sixth overall.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.

Florida Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau

Huberdeau (third overall, 2011) is well on his way to being the highest-scoring Panthers draft pick, with 437 points through eight seasons. Radek Dvorak holds the record, with 590 points.

Los Angeles Kings: Luc Robitaille

One of the greatest left wingers, Robitaille was a coup for the Kings when they took him in the ninth round (171st overall) in 1984.

Robitaille played in eight All-Star Games and scored 668 goals, 13th on the all-time list.

Minnesota Wild: Marian Gaborik

Gaborik (third overall, 2000) was the first player — and best player — the Wild ever drafted.

He accumulated 815 points during his 17-year career and tallied 437 for Minnesota. He scored a team-high 14 goals during the Kings’ 2014 Stanley Cup push.

Montreal Canadiens: Guy Lafleur

Guy Lafleur (first overall, 1971) was the most dominant player in the NHL for most of the 1970s.

“Le Démon Blond” used his blinding speed to lead the league in scoring three straight seasons (1975-1976 through 1977-1978), and earned three straight Pearson Awards and two Hart Trophies in the process. Lafleur brought five championships to Montreal.

Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne

The Predators found their franchise goaltender in the eighth round (258th overall) in 2004.

It took him some time to develop, but Rinne established himself as one of the best netminders in the game in his rookie year (2008-2009). He went 29-15-4 with a .917 save percentage and 2.38 goals-against average.

He finally won a much-deserved Vezina Trophy in 2018, when he went 42-13-4 with a .927 save percentage, a 2.31 GAA, and eight shutouts.

New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur

Regarded by some as the greatest goaltender, Brodeur (20th overall, 1990) is the greatest draft pick the Devils ever made.

He helped lead New Jersey to three Stanley Cups and won four Vezina Trophies. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018.

New York Islanders: Mike Bossy

Bossy (15th overall, 1977) was the driving force behind the Islanders dynasty of the early 1980s that won four straight Stanley Cups.

The 1982 Conn Smythe winner garnered Lady Byng honors three times and a Calder Trophy in his rookie season.

Bossy led the league in goals twice and retired with an average of 1.497 points per game, third only to Mario Lemieux (1.883) and Wayne Gretzky (1.921).

New York Rangers: Brian Leetch

One of the greatest defensemen in NHL history, Leetch (ninth overall, 1986), was an outstanding selection by the Rangers.

The two-time Norris Trophy winner was an integral part of New York’s 1994 Stanley Cup championship team.

Ottawa Senators: Daniel Alfredsson

Alfredsson (133rd overall, 1994) was one of the greatest — and most respected — Senators and was found in the sixth round.

He tallied 61 points during his rookie season, which earned him a Calder Trophy. He went on to win the King Clancy Trophy and the Mark Messier Leadership Award as team captain later in his career. He retired as Ottawa’s all-time points leader (1,108).

Philadelphia Flyers: Bobby Clarke

Clarke (17th overall, 1969) is the Flyers’ all-time points leader (1,210) and captained consecutive Stanley Cup championship teams in 1974 and 1975.

He also won the Hart Trophy three times, along with a Masterson, a Selke, and a Pearson over 15 seasons.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Mario Lemieux

Mario Lemieux (first overall, 1984) was the one of the greatest to ever grace the ice, and it’s equal parts awe-inspiring and disappointing to think about what else he could have done but for various injuries and maladies.

As it stands, Lemieux won three Harts, four Pearsons, six Art Rosses, and two Stanley Cup rings. He accumulated 1,723 points in just 915 games.

San Jose Sharks: Patrick Marleau

Marleau (second overall, 1997), one of the last players drafted in the 1990s still playing in the NHL, scored 1,102 points in 1,551 games as a Shark. His 562 goals rank 25th on the all-time list.

St. Louis Blues: Doug Gilmour

Gilmour was found in the seventh round by the Blues in 1982 (134th overall) and played his first five seasons in St. Louis.

The tough and talented centerman joined the Calgary Flames during their 1988-1989 Stanley Cup-winning season. He later won the Selke Trophy with the Maple Leafs in 1993.

Gilmour retired with 1,414 points in 1,474 games.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Vincent Lecavalier

Lecavalier (first overall, 1998) was an integral part of the Lightning’s 2004 Stanley Cup-winning team and won a Richard Trophy in 2007, with 52 goals.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Lanny McDonald

McDonald played his first seven seasons in Toronto, where he earned three of his four All-Star Game nods. His career-high 98-point season came with Calgary in 1983 (also the year he won the Masterson Trophy), as did his lone Stanley Cup in 1989.

McDonald retired with 500 goals.

Vancouver Canucks: Pavel Bure

The legendary Pavel Bure, aka “the Russian Rocket,” was drafted 113th overall by the Canucks in 1989.

Although he was hampered by injuries for most of his career, Bure led the NHL in goals three times.

Vegas Golden Knights: Nick Suzuki

The most impactful player the Golden Knights have drafted since their first go in 2017 isn’t in their system anymore.

Suzuki, part of the trade for Max Pacioretty, has 41 points through 71 games in his rookie season for Montreal.

Washington Capitals: Alexander Ovechkin

The greatest goal scorer of his generation, and arguably the greatest Russian-born NHL player, Ovechkin has not disappointed as the first-overall draft pick for the Capitals in 2004.

The eight-time Richard Trophy winner helped bring a starved franchise its first Stanley Cup in 2018.

Winnipeg Jets: Ilya Kovalchuk

Kovalchuk (first overall, 2001) never played a game in Winnipeg but was a dominating presence back when the franchise was known as the Atlanta Thrashers.

He scored no fewer than 41 goals from 2003-2004 (when he won the Richard Trophy) to 2009-2010. Thirteen seasons and 876 points since being drafted, Kovalchuk is still making an impact in the league at age 36. 


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