NHL.com will take a look back at the NHL drafts from five, 10 and 15 years ago this week, leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft in Newark, N.J. How would a redo of those drafts look today?
It has been 10 years and many of these players have yet to reach the second half of their NHL careers, but the 2003 NHL Draft already is considered one of the greatest of all time.
After the NHL resumed play in the 2005-06 season, it was Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin who garnered the majority of the attention as the new, young faces of the League. Though they are special players, a big reason the NHL is as vibrant today as it's ever been is the depth of this '03 draft.
The Class of 2003 provided the NHL a diverse crop of star-quality players. There are 24 players who have played in an NHL All-Star Game, even though there hasn't been a game four times since they were drafted because of work stoppages or Olympic breaks.
Franchises rose and fell because of this draft, and not just because of the players at the top. The first round was incredible: All 30 players have appeared in an NHL game and 27 of them in at least 240.
The draft is seven rounds now, but there were nine players taken in the eighth and ninth rounds in 2003 who have played at least 200 NHL games, and Matt Moulson, Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and Jaroslav Halak have been core players for teams.
Another way to measure the depth of this draft: Look at some of the players who didn't make the top 30. Brian Elliott, Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Brodziak would be easy first-round choices in other years, and talented but flawed players no longer in the NHL (Nikolay Zherdev, Andrei Kostitsyn) would be as well.
With most of these players around the midpoint of their careers, here's a look at how the Class of 2003 would shake out if the draft was redone in the present (actual draft spot in parenthesis):
Leading scorer for Stanley Cup winner at 21, 100-plus points clear of everyone
Achieved same feat as Staal a year later; prototype at position
League MVP in 2011, elite power forward, third-most goals in this class
Two-time Norris Trophy finalist; big shot, big minutes, small market
Five-time 30-goal scorer with Devils, maybe best two-way wing in League
Selke Trophy winner with more to come; underrated offensively
Drafted by Predators; great skater, running his own show now
Scores, hits everything; potential U.S. captain for U.S. at 2014 Olympics
Selke finalist with Flyers, two-time Stanley Cup finalist; seventh in points in this class
Olympic champion; maybe best passing defenseman in the League
Crazy highs (Cup, two-time Finalist) and lows (past two postseasons)
Great two-way player, great on faceoffs; can be top-line forward or third-line center
Selke winner; would be higher but needs to get -- and stay -- healthy
Top-five in almost any other class; second-most goals (250)
Sniper drafted by Flyers, became champion with Kings
Tough, responsible American forward; strong leader in St. Louis
Drafted by Flames; third in games in this class; big hitter, big shot
Down season with Stars; among most underrated players in game
Waited his turn in Detroit; was star in surprising 2013 playoff run
Picked by Panthers; nice 2013 playoffs after 2011 run cut short
Picked by Sharks; breakout season in 2011-12, injured this season
Didn't sign after drafted by Penguins; now Robin to John Tavares' Batman
Drafted by Wild; offense-first blueliner found new life this season as forward
Drafted by Blackhawks, won Cup; was forward, now offense-first defenseman
Drafted by Thrashers; steady second-pair defenseman; halfway to 1,000 games
Drafted by Canadiens; great playoffs and Olympics in 2010
Small defenseman, plenty productive when healthy
Drafted by Sharks; similar to Coburn but slightly more offense and less defense
Drafted by Blues; two seasons with 27-plus goals, likely bottom-six moving forward
Extreme late bloomer; could be halfway up this list in five years
Missing first-round picks: Nikolay Zherdev (4), Andrei Kostitsyn (10), Hugh Jessiman (12), Robert Nilsson (15), Steve Bernier (16), Eric Fehr (18), Mark Stuart (21), Marc Pouliot (22), Anthony Stewart (25), Brian Boyle (26), Jeff Tambellini (27), Patrick Eaves (29), Shawn Belle (30)
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