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Drafting at 18: A year-by-year breakdown

by Brad Boron / Chicago Blackhawks
When the Blackhawks pick at #18, there will certainly be talented future NHL players left on the board (Photo by Getty Images).

Without a doubt, there will be some talented players still on the board when VP/GM Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks make their first pick, 18th overall, in the upcoming 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Though top names including Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray and Mikhail Grigorenko will almost certainly be off the board, as history shows us, Hall of Fame or All-Star–caliber talent can be found even after the highly-touted prospects have been drafted. went back through the record books to look back at the recent drafts, starting from 2009, to see who went at the 18th spot, who was still on the board, and how the players fared by comparison.

First, some ground rules:
  • The players still "on the board" were all picked within 10 spots of the actual 18th pick, since the players picked immediately after 18 were probably projected to be roughly similar in terms of potential and talent. Conversely, it's not fair to say a team should have taken Player X at 18, only to have him slip all the way into the fifth round.
  • When possible, the players still on the board should play the same position as the player actually drafted. If a team was looking to draft a forward, they may not have selected a goalie at that spot, no matter who was left to choose. At the very least, forwards are mainly placed with forwards, defensemen with defensemen, etc., even if the exact position can't be matched.
  • Stats count, but games played count more. Production is of course important, but if a player appears in 900 games and has the same number of points as a player who appeared in 500, the player with more games will usually, but not always, prevail.
  • Neither the 2011 (Mark McNeill, CHI) nor 2010 (Austin Watson, NSH) 18th overall picks are listed, since it's far too soon to judge either the picks themselves or their overall draft classes.
Year Team   Who was selected Who was still on the board
2009 Montreal C Louis Leblanc - Omaha (USHL) C Chris Krieder (19th overall)
Final verdict: Too soon to tell; While Krieder got lots of press during the New York Rangers' 2012 playoff run, Leblanc showed flashes in 2011-12, scoring 10 points (5G, 5A) in 42 games with the Habs.

2008 Nashville G Chet Pickard - Tri-City (WHL) D Luca Sbisa (19)
D Michael Del Zotto (20)
C Jordan Eberle (22)
Final verdict: Too soon to tell; goalies take longer to develop. Sbisa, Del Zotto and Eberle have each played around 200 NHL games. Eberle played in the All-Star Game this season, and racked up 34 goals and 42 assists for Edmonton. Up-and-coming Panthers goalie Jacob Markstrom was taken 31st.

2007 St. Louis
D Ian Cole - U.S. Dev. Program LW Max Pacioretty (22)
LW David Perron (26)
Final verdict: It may be unfair to put Perron on this list, as it was the Blues who took him at 26 after selecting Cole at 18. Cole has split time between the AHL and NHL the past two seasons. Meanwhile, Pacioretty took a big step in 2011-12, scoring 65 points (32G, 33A) in 79 games with montreal.

2006 Colorado
RW Chris Stewart - Kingston (OHL) C Claude Giroux (22)
Final verdict: Taking nothing away from Stewart, who has the makings of a 20- to 30-goal scorer, Giroux put up MVP-type numbers this season with Philadelphia and has already been to the All-Star Game twice.

2005 Nashville D Ryan Parent - Guelph (OHL) G TuuKka Rask (21)
C T.J. Oshie (24)
Final verdict: Parent has played in more than 100 NHL games, but had trouble cracking an AHL lineup last season and was loaned to Canada's 2011 Spengler Cup team. BOSTON's Rask is known around the league as one of the best up-and-coming netminders, and Oshie has recorded 175 points (63G, 112A) in 262 games for the Blues so far in his NHL career.

2004 Montreal C Kyle Chipchura - Prince Albert (WHL) C Travis Zajac (20)
G Cory Schneider (26)
Final verdict: Chipchura has been a solid bottom-six pivot in the league, and does represent a decent pick, though he has played for three different teams in the past three seasons. Zajac has been rock-solid for New Jersey, and holds the team's record for most consecutive games played, besting Ken Daneyko's 388 straight. Schneider has been great as a backup in Vancouver, and will likely be an NHL starter next season.

2003 Washington
RW Eric Fehr - Brandon (WHL) C Ryan Getzlaf (19)
C Ryan Kesler (23)
C Mike Richards (24)
Final verdict: Fehr has played 265 NHL games with Washington and Winnipeg, but most picks would look less than favorable in comparison to the forward selected immediately after him. Getzlaf has won a Stanley Cup with ana, an Olympic gold medal with canada and is one of the premier power forwards in the NHL.

2002 Los Angeles D Denis Grebeshkov - Lokomotiv (Rus) LW Daniel Paille (20)
G Cam Ward (25)
Final verdict: Grebeshkov left the NHL after 2009-10 and is currently playing in Russia. Paille has become an important penalty killer for Boston. Meanwhile, Ward backstopped carolina's championship team in 2006 and is considered a top-tier netminder around the league.

2001 Los Angeles LW Jens Karlsson - Frölunda (Swe) D Shoanne Morrison (19)
C Marcel Goc (20)
D Tim Gleason (23)
Final verdict: Karlsson never signed an NHL deal. No NHL All-star was drafted immediately after him, but role players including Morrison, Goc, Colby Armstrong and Gleason soon came off the board. Impact players such as Patrick Sharp, Derek Roy and Jason Pominville were selected later in the draft.

2000 Pittsburgh D Brooks Orpik - Boston College
D Anton Volchenkov (21)
LW Steve Ott (26)
Final verdict: The Penguins would more than likely make this pick over again. Orpik has been a big part of their blue line and was an important piece of their 2009 Stanley Cup team. He is currently under contract with them through 2014 after signing a six-year deal in 2008.

1999 Pittsburgh LW Konstantin Koltsov - Cherepovets (Rus) RW Martin Havlat (26)
Final verdict: Not many household names in the latter half of this round. Koltsov played 144 NHL games, and The only All-Star forward taken within the next 200 picks is Havlat, who has 539 career points (216G, 323A).

1998 Buffalo D Dmitri Kalinin - Chelyabinsk (Rus) D Robyn Regehr (19)
C Simon Gagne (22)
C Scott Gomez (27)
Final verdict: Kalinin didn't have a bad NHL career, with more than 500 games to his credit. However, Regher, who was taken with the next pick, has played more than 900 games; Gagne and Gomez have each made multiple All-Star Game appearances, and Gomez has hoisted the Stanley Cup twice with New Jersey.

1997 Anaheim C Michael Holmqvist - Djurgardens (Swe) D Scott Hannan (23)
LW Brendan Morrow (25)
Final verdict: Holmqvist only played 156 NHL games—135 with the Blackhawks—and never scored more than 10 goals in a season. Hannan and Morrow are both still playing in the nhl, and both are former All-Stars. Morrow has also represented Canada in the Olympics and was named the Dallas Stars' captain in 2006.

1996 MontreaL
C Matt Higgins - Moose Jaw (WHL) C Marco Sturm (21)
C Daniel Briere (24)
Final verdict: Higgins only played 57 NHL games; meanwhile, Sturm is a former All-Star, and Briere led the Flyers in scoring en route to an appearance in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

1995 New Jersey
C Petr Sykora - Detroit (IHL) D Denis Gauthier (20)
Final verdict: Finding alternates for this pick is both difficult and unnecessary. A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Sykora played in more than 1,000 NHL games, recording 721 points (323G, 398A). Most recently, he was part of new jersey's 2012 Stanley Cup Final run.

1994 Montreal
D Brad Brown - North Bay (OHL) G Dan CloUtier (26)
Final verdict: Brown played 330 NHL games, racking up 747 penalty minutes. Most of the notable names came from later in the draft: Jose Theodore (44), Patrick Elias (51), Chris Drury (72), Milan Hejduk (87), Daniel Alfredsson (133) and Tim Thomas (217).

1993 Calgary
C Jesper Mattsson - Malmö (Swe) C Saku Koivu (21)
RW Todd Bertuzzi (23)
Final verdict: Mattsson never played a game in the NHL, but had a successful pro career in Sweden. Koivu, meanwhile, has enjoyed a decorated NHL and international career, playing more than 1,000 NHL contests, serving as captain for MTL and tallying 776 career points (236G, 540A).

1992 New Jersey
D Jason Smith - Regina (WHL) C Martin Straka (19)
Final verdict: It's hard to argue with a defenseman with more than 1,000 games on his resume and a Stanley Cup Final appearance to his name. Straka scored 717 NHL points in 954 games, to go with another 300-plus in the Czech league.

1991 Boston RW Glen Murray - Sudbury (OHL) LW Ray Whitney (23)
RW Ziggy Palffy (26)
Final verdict: No arguments here, either. Murray played over 1,000 games, had two 40-plus goal seasons, made two All-Star Game appearances and appeared in nearly 100 playoff games. Ray Whitney is at 1,200-plus nhl games and counting, and has a Cup ring.

1990 Vancouver
LW Shawn Antoski - North Bay (OHL) LW Keith Tkachuk (19)
G Martin Brodeur (20)
Final verdict: This pick, on the other hand... Antoski made only 183 NHL appearances and only played 55 games in a season twice. Directly behind him are two Hall of Fame-caliber players in Tkachuk, who scored more than 1,000 points and is considered one of the best American-born players ever, and all-time winningest goaltender Brodeur.

1989 New Jersey C Jason Miller - Medicine Hat (WHL) G Olaf Kolzig (19)
D Adam Foote (22)
Final verdict: Miller only played in six NHL games. Kolzig holds numerous Washington Capitals goaltending records and won more than 300 NHL games, and Foote was a top blueliner on two Stanley-Cup winning Colorado teams.

1988 Boston LW Rob Cimetta - Toronto (OHL) RW Tie Domi (27)
Final verdict: Cimetta played 103 NHL games, and not many players drafted immediately after did much better. Domi is known as one of the best enforcers ever, compiling more than 3,500 penalty minutes in over 1,000 NHL appearances. Tony Amonte (68), Mark Recchi (67), Rob Blake (70) and Alex Mogilny (89) were selected later in the draft.

1987 Hartford   RW Jody Hull - Peterborough (OHL) LW Stephane Matteau (25)
Final verdict: Hull had a long NHL career, but was never much of a scorer, recording only 261 points in 831 games. Matteau didn't fare much better points-wise (316 in 848 games), but will forever be remembered by Rangers fans for his two overtime goals against New Jersey in the 1994 Eastern Conference Final, particularly the double-overtime tally in Game 7.

1986 Quebec RW Ken McRae - Sudbury (OHL) LW Adam Graves (22)
Final verdict: McRae spent most of his career in the minors, appearing in just 137 NHL contests. Meanwhile, Graves was part of two Stanley Cup champions, was regarded as one of the faces of the 1994 New York Rangers championship team and registered 616 points (329G, 287A) in 1,152 nhl games.

1985 Winnipeg C Ryan Stewart - Kamloops (WHL) C Joe Nieuwendyk (27)
Final verdict: Stewart was a career minor-leaguer and saw ice time in three NHL contests. Nieuwendyk was part of three Stanley Cup champions, winning the Conn Smythe in 1999 with Dallas. He also scored 1,126 points (564G, 562A) in his Hall-of-Fame career.
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