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History Of The No. 17 Overall Selection

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche selected defenseman Martin Skoula with the No. 17 overall pick at the 1998 NHL Entry Draft

The Colorado Avalanche owns the No. 17 overall selection at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, which begins Friday, June 25 in Los Angeles. Barring a trade, it will be the second time in both Avalanche and franchise history that the organization has picked in the No. 17 overall spot.

The only other occurrence came in 1998, when Colorado tabbed defenseman Martin Skoula from the OHL’s Barrie Colts with the 17th overall pick. Skoula was the second of four first-round choices by the Avalanche that June.

The defenseman made his NHL debut with Colorado during the 1999-2000 campaign and went on to play four and a half seasons with the Avalanche – totaling 113 points (27g/86a) in 383 games – before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks in February of 2004.

Several notable names have been selected 17th overall during the past 30 years. Some of the following players were known for their offensive prowess, while others distinguished themselves by enjoying lengthy NHL careers. In addition, some of the more recent No. 17 selections have shown the potential to be classified into one of those two categories through their first few NHL seasons.

The following is a look at some of the more notable No. 17 overall selections.

2005 – Phoenix Coyotes – Martin Hanzal
The big (6-foot-6, 228-pound) forward has suited up in 227 games during his first three NHL seasons, totaling 99 points (30g/69a). This past season, Hanzal notched 33 points (11g/22a) while setting career-highs in penalty minutes (104) and games played (81).

2003 – New Jersey Devils – Zach Parise
Already an established NHL star, the University of North Dakota product has topped the 30-goal mark in four of his five NHL seasons. Parise, who helped lead the United States to a silver medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, has totaled 335 points (160g/175a) in 407 games.

2002 – Washington Capitals – Boyd Gordon
While his numbers haven’t been eye-popping (and may never be), Gordon has proven himself to be the type of player every team needs. Injuries slowed him down this year, but Gordon is a grinder who does his best work between the faceoff circles and on the penalty kill. In 303 career NHL games, Gordon has notched 76 points (24g/52a).

2001 – Toronto Maple Leafs - Carlo Colaiacovo
Colaiacovo, who made his NHL debut in 2002-03 with Toronto, didn’t begin to blossom until he was traded to the St. Louis Blues in 2008-09. This past season, he ranked second among Blues defensemen with 32 points (7g/25a) in 67 contests.

1999 – St. Louis Blues – Barret Jackman
Jackman earned the Calder Trophy following the 2002-03 campaign (beating out Rick Nash and Henrik Zetterberg) after recording 19 points (3g/16a) and 190 penalty minutes while skating in all 82 games for the Blues. The 29-year-old blueliner has already appeared in 457 NHL contests with the Blues, totaling 113 points (19g/94a).

1994 – Buffalo Sabres – Wayne Primeau
Primeau has appeared in 774 NHL games since making his debut during the 1994-95 season. The forward, who appeared in 59 games with Toronto in 2009-10, has totaled 194 points (69g/125a) during his NHL career.

1993 – Washington Capitals – Jason Allison
Allison, who last played in the NHL during the 2005-06 season, notched 485 points (154g/331a) in 552 contests. After battling injuries that forced him to leave the game, Allison made an ultimately unsuccessful comeback attempt with the Toronto Maple Leafs in September of 2009.

1987 – Montreal Canadiens – Andrew Cassels
A gifted playmaker who perennially flew under the radar during his playing days, Cassels carved out a solid 16-year NHL career. The forward totaled 732 points (204g/528a) while appearing in 1,105 contests with the Montreal Canadiens, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals.

1986 – NY Islanders – Tom Fitzgerald
One of the leaders during the Florida Panthers’ run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals, Fitzgerald was known as a defensive forward who finished his career with 329 points (139g/190a) in 1,097 contests. Fitzgerald actually played 11 games with the Avalanche at the tail end of the 1997-98 season before being signed by the Nashville Predators the following summer.

1984 – Washington Capitals - Kevin Hatcher
A five-time All-Star defenseman, Hatcher scored 34 goals from the blue line during the 1992-93 season for the Washington Capitals. After a decade spent in Washington, Hatcher finished his 17-year career by playing for the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes. All told, Hatcher recorded 677 points (227g/450a) in 1,157 NHL contests.

1982 – Detroit Red Wings – Murray Craven
A veteran of 1,071 NHL games, Craven hit the 30-goal plateau while skating for the Philadelphia Flyers in 1987-88. The center finished his career with 759 points (266g/493a) and scored at least 20 goals in six different seasons.

1980 – NY Islanders - Brent Sutter
One of the six Sutter brothers to play in the NHL, Brent recorded 829 points (363g/466a) in 1,111 career games. He has also gone on to experience a good amount of success behind the bench. Sutter, the current head coach of the Calgary Flames, previously led the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels to the Memorial Cup in 2001, coached Team Canada to gold medals at the 2005 and 2006 World Junior Championships and spent the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons behind the New Jersey Devils’ bench.
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