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11th Pick Highs, Woes

by Brad Boron / Chicago Blackhawks
In the NHL Draft, sometimes great players are passed by for lesser ones, and bargains are found in unlikely places. Below is a list of every player picked 11th overall in the NHL Draft over the past 25 years, along with a player who might have realistically been a better choice for the pick. As you will see, Dale Tallon and company will have their work cut out for them in Ottawa as the 'right' pick at #11 was often elusive.

#11 Pick Overall
But They Should Have Picked...
Brandon Sutter
Wait and see 
Carolina Hurricanes
The jury's still out on this pick; few players drafted after Sam Gagner (#6 overall) were regulars on an NHL team in 2007-08.
Jonathan Bernier
Jiri Tlusty
(TOR #13 Overall)
Los Angeles Kings
Why That's The Better Pick: Bernier went 1-3 with a GAA of 4.03 this year, while Tlusty had 10 goals and 6 assists in 58 games with the Maple Leafs this season. It's still early, but the early returns point favorably to Tlusty.
Anze Kopitar
Anze Kopitar
Los Angeles Kings
Why That's The Right Pick: In just under two seasons with the Kings, Kopitar has netted 52 goals and 86 assists.
Lauri Tukonen
Drew Stafford
(BUF #13 Overall)
Los Angeles Kings
Why That's The Better Pick: Tukonen has skated in five NHL games and not registered a point. Stafford, the next winger taken, has scored 29 goals along with 36 assists in just over 100 games.
Jeff Carter
Ryan Getzlaf
(ANA #19 Overall)
Philadelphia Flyers
Why That's The Better Pick: The Flyers probably wouldn't rush to give back Carter, whose 29 goals this season certainly contributed to the Flyers' playoff run, but Getzlaf is one of the NHL's most exciting young talents, already tallying 179 points in three seasons.
Keith Ballard
Alexander Semin
(WSH #13 Overall)
Buffalo Sabres
Why That's The Better Pick: It's always tough comparing defensemen to forwards, but Semin's 74 career goals in three seasons and 8 points in seven career playoff games might be of some use to Buffalo now.
Fredrik Sjostrom
Ales Hemsky
(EDM #13 Overall)
Phoenix Coyotes
Why That's The Better Pick: Hemsky tallied 51 assists to go with 20 goals this season; Sjostrom has 75 career points in 279 games.
Pavel Vorobiev
Alexander Frolov
(LAK #20 Overall)
Chicago Blackhawks
Why That's The Better Pick: After playing 57 games, Vorobiev left the NHL for Russia. In a weak draft, Frolov's 271 career points look favorable.
Oleg Saprykin
Martin Havlat
(OTT #26 Overall)
Calgary Flames
Why That's The Better Pick: Saprykin had a decent career, but never played a full 82-game season or scored more than 36 points. Havlat has had his problems with durability, but has also shown potential to be a perennial 25-30 goal scorer in the NHL.

Jeff Heerema

Simon Gagne
(PHI #22 Overall)


Scott Gomez
(NJ #27 Overall)

Carolina Hurricanes
Why That's The Better Pick: Players like Jonathan Cheechoo, Alex Tanguay and Mike Ribiero were drafted much later than Heerema, who played 32 career NHL games, the last in the 2003-04 season. Gagne has played in two NHL All-Star Games and has had two 40-plus goal seasons, while Gomez won the Calder Trophy for best rookie and helped the Devils to two Stanley Cup victories.
Jason Ward
Marian Hossa
(OTT #12 Overall)
Montreal Canadiens
Why That's The Better Pick: Ward has scored 36 goals in his 335 game career. Hossa, taken one pick later, has tied or suprassed that total in a season four times.
Dan Focht
Derek Morris
(CGY #13 Overall)
Phoenix Coyotes
Why That's The Better Pick: Focht played 82 games in the NHL, last in 2003-04. Morris, the next defenseman off the board, has 320 career NHL points and 754 PIM.
Jarome Iginla
Jarome Iginla
Dallas Stars
Why That's The Right Pick: No other player taken in the first round of '95 can boast Iginla's resume: NHL All-Rookie Team, four All-Star teams, and a scoring title in 2001-02.
Jeff Friesen

Mattias Ohlund
(VAN #13 Overall)

San Jose Sharks
Why That's The Better Pick: Picking Milan Hejduk, Marty Turco, Evgeny Nabokov or Patrik Elias, all later-round picks, would be reached at #11. Ohlund, who initally held out, has become a fixture in Vancouver, and won an Olympic Gold Medal with Sweden ('06).
Brendan Witt
Saku Koivu
(MON #21 Overall)
Washington Capitols
Why That's The Better Pick: Witt hasn't had a bad career, but Koivu is a mainstay in Montreal's lineup. Koivu's numbers would no doubt be even better were it not for a battle with cancer which kept him out for the majority of the 2001-02 season.
David Cooper
Sergei Gonchar
(WAS #14 Overall)
Buffalo Sabres
Why That's The Better Pick: Three picks after Cooper, defenseman Gonchar has had eight seasons of 50-plus points and has been named an All-Star five times.
Brian Rolston
Brian Rolston
New Jersey Devils
Why That's The Right Pick: It's tough to argue with results: Rolston won a Stanley Cup with New Jersey and currently holds the Minnesota Wild's single-season scoring record (79 points).
Trevor Kidd
Martin Brodeur
(NJ #20 Overall)
Toronto Maple Leafs
Why That's The Better Pick: Kidd wasn't unproductive while racking up 140 wins in net and a 2.84 GAA. But Brodeur, the next netminder drafted, has arguably been the best goalie in the NHL since entering the league, winning three Stanley Cups and holding a number of NHL records for goaltending, along with 538 wins to date.
Mike Sillinger
Mike Sillinger
Detroit Red Wings
Why That's The Right Pick: No skater drafted after Sillinger in the 1st round is obviously a better pick here (although goalie Olaf Kolzig was also a 1st-round draftee this year). With a career 546 points for a record 12 teams, Sillinger has made an impact on a lot of clubs.
Chris Govendaris
Stephane Fiset
(QUE #24 Overall)
Hartford Whalers
Why That's The Better Pick: By picking 11th, Hartford just missed out on picking the likes of Jeremy Roenick, Rod Brind'Amour and Teemu Selanne (picks 8, 9 and 10). Govendaris played just 45 career NHL games for Hartford and has been out of hockey since 2000-01. It's tough to find a prospect who fared better, but goalie Fiset, with 164 career wins, might have if not for a freak on-ice collision that eventually ended his career.
Yves Racine
Joe Sakic
(QUE #15 Overall)
Detroit Red Wings
Why That's The Better Pick: Racine last played in the NHL in 1997-98, while Sakic has scored 623 career goals and was a key player on two Stanley Cup teams. Sakic's also won an MVP award and has been named to 13 All-Star teams.
Scott Young
Scott Young
Hartford Whalers
Why That's The Right Pick: Young tallied 756 points with seven NHL teams and won Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh and Colorado.
Dave Manson
Calle Johansson
(BUF #14 Overall)
Chicago Blackhawks
Why That's The Better Pick: After jumping straight to Chicago following his junior hockey career, Manson had a productive career with 390 points and 2,792 penalty minutes in 1,103 games. Johansson scored over 100 more points in just six more games.
Sylvian Cote
Gary Roberts
(CGY #12 Overall)
Hartford Whalers
Why That's The Better Pick: Cote netted 122 goals and 313 assists in his career. Hall of Fame-caliber players such as Patrick Roy, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Gary Suter, all drafted in the 3rd round or later, would have been considered too much of a reach at the time, as would current Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine (who was drafted #69 overall by Los Angeles). Roberts, however, won a Stanley Cup with Calgary, played a supporting role on this year's Pittsburgh team that went to the finals, went to four All-Star games and has netted 434 goals.
Adam Creighton
Dave Gagner
(NYR #12 Overall)
Buffalo Sabres
Why That's The Better Pick: Creighton had a solid career with 187 goals and 216 assists. Picked one spot later, Gagner scored 719 points in his 17-season NHL career.
Michel Petit
Dave Andreychuk
(BUF #16 Overall)
Vancouver Canucks
Why That's The Better Pick: Petit spent years as a journeyman blueliner, playing with 10 different teams. Andreychuk scored 1,338 points (640g, 698a), won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay and is one of the highest-scoring left wingers in NHL history.


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