2003 re-draft would have Staal, not Fleury, at No. 1

Wednesday, 06.26.2013 / 11:00 PM
Corey Masisak  - NHL.com Staff Writer

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):

1. Eric Staal, C, Carolina Hurricanes (2)

Leading scorer for Stanley Cup winner at 21, 100-plus points clear of everyone

2. Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim Ducks (19)

Achieved same feat as Staal a year later; prototype at position

3. Corey Perry, RW, Anaheim Ducks (28)

League MVP in 2011, elite power forward, third-most goals in this class

4. Shea Weber, D, Nashville Predators (49)

Two-time Norris Trophy finalist; big shot, big minutes, small market

5. Zach Parise, LW, Minnesota Wild (17)

Five-time 30-goal scorer with Devils, maybe best two-way wing in League

6. Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston Bruins (45)

Selke Trophy winner with more to come; underrated offensively

7. Ryan Suter, D, Minnesota Wild (7)

Drafted by Predators; great skater, running his own show now

8. Dustin Brown, RW, Los Angeles Kings (13)

Scores, hits everything; potential U.S. captain for U.S. at 2014 Olympics

9. Mike Richards, C, Los Angeles Kings (24)

Selke finalist with Flyers, two-time Stanley Cup finalist; seventh in points in this class

10. Brent Seabrook, D, Chicago Blackhawks (14)

Olympic champion; maybe best passing defenseman in the League

11. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pittsburgh Penguins (1)

Crazy highs (Cup, two-time Finalist) and lows (past two postseasons)

12. Joe Pavelski, C, San Jose Sharks (205)

Great two-way player, great on faceoffs; can be top-line forward or third-line center

13. Ryan Kesler, C, Vancouver Canucks (23)

Selke winner; would be higher but needs to get -- and stay -- healthy

14. Thomas Vanek, LW, Buffalo Sabres (5)

Top-five in almost any other class; second-most goals (250)

15. Jeff Carter, C, Los Angeles Kings (11)

Sniper drafted by Flyers, became champion with Kings

16. David Backes, C, St. Louis Blues (62)

Tough, responsible American forward; strong leader in St. Louis

17. Dion Phaneuf, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (9)

Drafted by Flames; third in games in this class; big hitter, big shot

18. Loui Eriksson, LW, Dallas Stars (33)

Down season with Stars; among most underrated players in game

19. Jimmy Howard, G, Detroit Red Wings (64)

Waited his turn in Detroit; was star in surprising 2013 playoff run

20. Nathan Horton, RW, Boston Bruins (3)

Picked by Panthers; nice 2013 playoffs after 2011 run cut short

21. Milan Michalek, LW, Ottawa Senators (6)

Picked by Sharks; breakout season in 2011-12, injured this season

22. Matt Moulson, LW, New York Islanders (263)

Didn't sign after drafted by Penguins; now Robin to John Tavares' Batman

23. Brent Burns, D, San Jose Sharks (20)

Drafted by Wild; offense-first blueliner found new life this season as forward

24. Dustin Byfuglien, D, Winnipeg Jets (245)

Drafted by Blackhawks, won Cup; was forward, now offense-first defenseman

25. Braydon Coburn, D, Philadelphia Flyers (8)

Drafted by Thrashers; steady second-pair defenseman; halfway to 1,000 games

26. Jaroslav Halak, G, St. Louis Blues (271)

Drafted by Canadiens; great playoffs and Olympics in 2010

27. Tobias Enstrom, D, Winnipeg Jets (239)

Small defenseman, plenty productive when healthy

28. Matt Carle, D, Tampa Bay Lightning (47)

Drafted by Sharks; similar to Coburn but slightly more offense and less defense

29. Lee Stempniak, RW, Calgary Flames (148)

Drafted by Blues; two seasons with 27-plus goals, likely bottom-six moving forward

30. Corey Crawford, G, Chicago Blackhawks (52)

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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