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Pacific teams have found draft-day success in net

Wednesday, 06.24.2009 / 9:00 AM / 2009 NHL Entry Draft

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Entry Draft remains the basis for building a team in the National Hockey League. A top-flight draft can set up a team for years to come. A bad one -- sometimes even just a bad pick or two -- can set a franchise back for a long time.

For the five teams in the Pacific Division, finding successful netminders has been a regular draft-day occurrence.

Every team has had its ups and downs since the draft began in 1963. Here's a look at the hits (and some of the misses) for the five Pacific teams on Draft Day.


ANAHEIM DUCKS


Best first-round pick: Paul Kariya (1993) -- The Ducks were ecstatic when Kariya fell to them at No. 4 in the first draft in franchise history. He turned pro for the 1994-95 season, was a 50-goal scorer the next season and is second all-time in franchise history in goals and points. He left the Ducks in the summer of 2003, after leading them within one victory of the franchise's first Stanley Cup, but he never scored anywhere else the way he did in Anaheim.
Honorable mention: Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry (2003), Bobby Ryan (2005)

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Matt Cullen (1996) -- The Ducks took Cullen, a Minnesota native who wasn't picked as an 18-year-old, with their second selection (No. 35) in '96, weeks before his 20th birthday. Cullen spent one more season at St. Cloud State, then stepped right into the Anaheim lineup and became a useful third-line center who could score a little. He had his best season (25 goals, 49 points) for Carolina in 2005-06, helping the Hurricanes to the only Stanley Cup in franchise history, and had 22 goals and 43 points for the 'Canes in 2008-09.
Honorable mention -- Jordan Leopold (1999), Ilya Bryzgalov (2000)

Best later-round pick: Trent Hunter (1998) -- Hunter has had a fine career for a sixth-round pick (No. 150) -- though not for the Ducks, who dealt him to the Islanders for a fourth-rounder in 2000. Hunter had 25 goals and 51 points as a rookie in 2003-04 and has become a solid two-way player on Long Island.
Honorable mention -- Martin Gerber (2001), Shane O'Brien (2003)

Biggest disappointment: Stanislav Chistov (2001) -- The Ducks grabbed Chistov with the No. 5 selection and brought him to North America a year later amid high expectations that never panned out. After scoring 12 goals and 30 points as a rookie, he slipped to 2 and 18 in 2003-04 before being sent to the Ducks' AHL affiliate in Cincinnati. He went home to Russia for the 2005-06 season, came back to North America, but was traded to Boston early in 2006-07 and went home again after going 5-8-13 in 60 games with the Bruins.
Honorable mention: Michael Holmqvist (1997), Alexei Smirnov (2000)


DALLAS STARS


Best first-round pick: Mike Modano (1988) -- The Stars, then based in Minnesota, took Modano No. 1 after a 47-goal, 127-point season with Prince Albert of the WHL. He put up 105 points in 41 games with the Raiders the following season, then turned pro and remains a valued contributor to the franchise. Modano's 543 goals and 1,329 points are the most by any U.S.-born player in NHL history. He'll be back for a 20th season in 2009-10.
Honorable mention -- Brian Bellows (1982), Derian Hatcher (1990), Brenden Morrow (1997)

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Jere Lehtinen (1992) -- The North Stars used a fourth-round pick (No. 88) on Lehtinen, a forward who had scored 32 goals in 43 games in Finland's second division. Lehtinen never has been a huge offensive producer, but he's won the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward three times, had two 30-goal seasons, seven 20-goal campaigns, and has not been a minus player in any of his 13 NHL seasons.
Honorable mention -- Neal Broten (1979), Jamie Langenbrunner (1993)

Best later-round pick: Marty Turco (1994) -- The Stars' patience in Turco has been rewarded. Dallas took the goaltender with a fifth-round choice (No. 124) but didn't bring him to the NHL until 2000-01, after he had spent four seasons at the University of Michigan and two more in the minors. Turco then spent two seasons backing up Ed Belfour before earning the starting job in 2002-03. He's had more seasons with a GAA under 2.00 (three) than over 2.50 (two), though 2008-09 was the worst of his career.
Honorable mention -- Arturs Irbe (1989), Roman Turek (1990)

Biggest disappointment: Jason Botterill (1994) -- Botterill was expected to turn into a star after Dallas drafted him at No. 20 following an excellent freshman season at the University of Michigan. Botterill stoked those expectations with 32- and 37-goal seasons for the Wolverines before turning pro, but the scoring touch he showed in college never made it to the NHL. He managed just 5 goals in 88 games during pieces of six NHL seasons with four franchises. He retired in 2004.
Honorable mention: David Quinn (1984), Warren Babe (1986)


LOS ANGELES KINGS


Best first-round pick: Larry Murphy (1980) -- Murphy was the best offensive defenseman in Kings history almost from the moment he stepped onto the ice for the first time after being chosen No. 4 in '80. He had 16 goals and 76 points as a rookie, 22 goals in his second season and 14 more goals in his third season. But after a slow start in 1983-84, the Kings traded him to Washington. He kept piling up points wherever he went, becoming a key part of Cup-winning teams in Pittsburgh and Detroit in the 1990s. He retired with 287 goals and 1,216 points in 1,615 games on the way to the Hall of Fame.
Honorable mention: Jay Wells (1979), Martin Gelinas (1988), Alexander Frolov (2000)

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Michael Cammalleri (2001) -- Cammalleri was chosen in the second round (No. 49) after a 29-goal sophomore season at the University of Michigan, then turned pro a year later after getting 23 goals and 44 points in 29 games for the Wolverines. A serious head injury cost him most of 2002-03, but after a 109-point season at AHL Manchester in 2004-05, Cammalleri had 26 and 34 goals in his first two full seasons with the Kings. After falling to 19 goals in 2007-08, he was traded to Calgary and responded with 39 goals and 82 points this past season.
Honorable mention: Mark Fitzpatrick (1987), Joe Corvo (1997)

Best later-round pick: Luc Robitaille (1984) -- Robitaille is the patron saint of low-round draft picks. He filled the net as a junior with Hull in the QMJHL, but wasn't taken until the ninth round (No. 171) -- five rounds later than future baseball Hall of Famer Tom Glavine. Much to everyone's surprise, Robitaille continued to score in bunches -- at least 44 goals in each of his first eight seasons before being traded to Pittsburgh in 1994. He returned to L.A. three years later and had three more seasons with at least 36 goals. He went to Detroit for two seasons, and then returned to L.A. for his final two seasons. He retired in 2006 with 668 goals, the most ever by a left wing.
Honorable mention: Billy Smith (1970), Garry Galley (1983)

Biggest disappointment: Jens Karlsson (2001) -- The Kings took Karlsson, a big left wing, with the 18th pick in '01. He's still active in Sweden, but never came to North America. Karlsson has spent most of his career in the Swedish Elite League, but also played in Germany and Denmark. He's reached double figures in goals just once in his career.
Honorable mention -- Craig Duncanson (1985), Dan Gratton (1985)


PHOENIX COYOTES


Best first-round pick: Teemu Selanne (1988) -- Winnipeg had to wait four long years for Selanne to make the trip from Finland to North America. When he did, though, it was memorable -- he shattered the NHL rookie record with 76 goals in 1992-93. He never got close to that total again and was traded in 1996, but he's continued to pile up goals -- his 27 in 2008-09 gave him 579 for his career, moving him into elite territory on the all-time list.
Honorable mention: Dale Hawerchuk (1981), Keith Tkachuk (1990), Shane Doan (1995)

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Teppo Numminen (1986) -- Numminen is one of those players who's not flashy but shows up for work every night and does his job, and he's been doing it since arriving in the NHL as a 20-year-old in 1988. A second-round pick (No. 29), Numminen spent 15 seasons with the Jets/Coyotes, earning three trips to the All-Star Game. He was traded to Dallas in the summer of 2003 and signed with Buffalo a year later. He's still playing after returning from open heart surgery that cost him almost all of the 2007-08 season.
Honorable mention -- Dave Christian (1979), Alexei Zhamnov (1990)

Best later-round pick: Nikolai Khabibulin (1992) -- The Jets took Khabibulin in the ninth round (No. 204) in '92, and three seasons later he was their starting goaltender. Khabibulin won 30 or more games in each of the franchise's first three seasons in Phoenix, but enjoyed more success after being dealt to Tampa Bay in 2001, where he helped the Lightning win the franchise's first Stanley Cup in '04. He's spent the last four seasons in Chicago; the best of those four was 2008-09, when he led the Hawks to the Western Conference Finals.
Honorable mention -- Thomas Steen (1979), Igor Ulanov (1991)

Biggest disappointment: Scott Kelman (1999) -- Kelman has seen a lot of the world while playing hockey -- but he's never played an NHL game. Phoenix took him with the 15th pick in '99, left him in junior and never brought him to the NHL. He's played with 13 teams since turning pro without putting up more than 15 goals or 47 points for any one team in a season.
Honorable mention: Patrick DesRochers (1998), Jakub Koreis (2002)


SAN JOSE SHARKS


Best first-round pick: Patrick Marleau (1997) -- San Jose's captain has spent every day of his pro hockey career as a Shark and has been a consistent producer -- though perhaps not at the level some fans might have expected from the second player taken in his draft year. Marleau appeared to get a lift from new coach Todd McLellan in 2008-09, scoring a career-high 38 goals while leading the Sharks to the Presidents' Trophy. He has 276 goals and 610 points in 871 games -- and doesn't turn 30 until September.
Honorable mention: Viktor Kozlov (1993), Jeff Friesen (1994), Brad Stuart (1998)

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Ray Whitney (1991) -- The one-time Edmonton Oilers' stickboy was the second player ever selected (second round, No. 23) by the Sharks -- and has long since outlasted No. 1 pick Pat Falloon. Whitney is a late bloomer who didn't really blossom until leaving San Jose -- he never scored 20 goals with the Sharks but has done it eight times since leaving in 1997. He just turned 37, but is coming off a career-best 77-point season with Carolina.
Honorable mention: Vesa Toskala (1995), Jonathan Cheechoo (1998), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (2005)

Best late-round pick: Evgeni Nabokov (1994) -- The Sharks found a late-round gem when they spent a ninth-round pick (No. 219) on Nabokov. He didn't come to North America until 1997 and then spent two full seasons in the AHL, but has been an NHL regular since 2000-01, when he won the Calder Trophy. Nabokov outlasted challenges from current NHL regulars Miikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala, finally becoming the undisputed starter in 2007 and winning 87 games in the last two seasons 
Honorable mention: Miikka Kiprusoff (1995), Joe Pavelski (2003)

Biggest disappointment: Teemu Riihijarvi (1995) -- The Sharks chose the Finnish left wing with the 12th pick in the '95 Draft, but he never came to North America. He played in Finland until 2003 and then spent two seasons in Sweden before retiring after five games back in his home country in 2005-06. Through it all, Riihijarvi never scored more than 8 goals or 18 points in any season.
Honorable mention: Jeff Jillson (1999), Mike Morris (2002)