NHL.com is looking back at drafts from five, 10 and 25 years ago this week, leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft at First Niagara Center in Buffalo. How would a redo of those drafts look today?
At almost every level of hockey he's played, Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau has been told he's too small.
And at every level of hockey he's played, Gaudreau has excelled.
"He's worked real hard for it," Guy Gaudreau, Johnny's father, told NHL.com in 2015. "He's sacrificed a lot of things, and being undersized, being told more than a million times he'll never make it, he's overcome a lot of odds because of his desire to become a hockey player."
That desire has helped Gaudreau excel in his first two full NHL seasons and emerge as a role model for undersized hockey players with NHL dreams.
Not every player picked at the 2011 draft at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., has reached the same level as Gaudreau. So with five years of hindsight, how would that draft go if the same players were made available today?
Note: Players listed with current teams; original draft position in parenthesis:
1. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Calgary Flames (104)
The fourth round pick used three seasons at Boston College to grow his game before joining the Flames for the final game of the 2013-14 season. He scored a goal then and has kept right on scoring. He had 24 goals and tied for the rookie lead with 64 points in 2014-15, and scored 30 goals this season.
2. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Colorado Avalanche (2)
The bruising power forward leads all players in his draft class in games played (356), goals (100), assists (146) and points (246). He's so well-respected he was named captain before the start of 2012-13, his second season. At age 19 years, 286 days old, he's the youngest player ever named captain of an NHL team.
3. Brandon Saad, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets (43)
The second round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks is second in his draft class with 83 goals and third with 179 points. He helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015; he was third on the Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs with eight goals in 23 games. He had an NHL career-best 31 goals this season, his first with the Blue Jackets.
4. Nikita Kucherov, LW, Tampa Bay Lightning (58)
He had 29 goals, 65 points and his plus-38 rating was tied with forward Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens) for best in the League in 2014-15, and Kucherov improved his offensive numbers this season with 30 goals and 66 points. He's also been a dynamic playoff performer. He was second in the League with 11 goals in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and his 19 points were the most of any player not to reach the Stanley Cup Final. He had 10 goals in 26 games in the 2015 playoffs to help the Lightning reach the Cup Final.
5. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Florida Panthers (3)
He had 31 points in 48 games and won the Calder Trophy in 2012-13. This season he scored 20 goals for the first time in the NHL, and his line with Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr was one of the most productive in the League.
6. Ondrej Palat, LW, Tampa Bay Lightning (208)
The seventh round pick debuted in the League during the 2012-13 season but had his breakout in 2013-14, when he had 23 goals and 59 points in 81 games and finished second in Calder Trophy voting. Injuries limited him to 62 games this season but he still had 40 points and is among the most underrated two-way players in the game. His 166 points are fifth among players from the 2011 draft class, and his 57 goals are ninth.
7. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edmonton Oilers (1)
Injuries have limited Nugent-Hopkins' effectiveness during his five NHL seasons. In 2013-14 and 2014-15, the two seasons he's played at least 75 games, he's had his two most productive seasons with 56 points in each. Despite all the time missed he's second in his draft class with 222 points.
8. Sean Couturier, C, Philadelphia Flyers (8)
He's earned a reputation as a shutdown center who is coming into his own offensively. His 39 points this season tied for the most in his NHL career despite missing 19 games because of injuries. He's also been durable; he missed more games this season than his first four (seven). His 350 games are second-most in his draft class.
9. John Gibson, G, Anaheim Ducks (39)
The second round pick broke out this season. He played an NHL career-best 40 games and had the second-best GAA in the League at 2.07. He also had a .920 save percentage, four shutouts and played in his first NHL All-Star Game. He and teammate Frederik Andersen shared the William Jennings Trophy. Gibson likely will be the starter for Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
10. Dougie Hamilton, D, Calgary Flames (9)
A first round pick by the Boston Bruins, he's raised his goal and point totals in each of his four seasons in the League. He had NHL career highs in goals (12) and points (43) this season, his first with the Flames. His 34 goals and 126 points lead all defencemen taken in the 2011 draft.
11. Boone Jenner, C, Columbus Blue Jackets (37)
The second round pick broke out in his third season with 30 goals. He's also a physical force; his 213 hits were fourth among players with at least 20 goals this season.
12. Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg Jets (7)
The first draft pick of the reborn Jets, he led them with 29 goals this season, the most of his NHL career. He also was a plus-16 on a team with a minus-24 goal differential.
13. J.T. Miller, C, New York Rangers (15)
The Rangers' patience in Miller paid off this season. Playing all season in the NHL for the first time, he had 22 goals and a likely role as a top-six forward entering next season.
14. Mika Zibanejad, C, Ottawa Senators (6)
He's raised his goal and point total the past four seasons, topped by 21 goals and 51 points in 81 games this season. He also won more than 50 percent of his faceoffs (50.4 percent) for the first time in the NHL while leading the Senators with 1,306 faceoffs.
15. Vincent Trocheck, C, Florida Panthers (64)
The third round pick was a point-per-game player down the stretch with 13 goals and 29 points in the final 29 games of the season. In his first full NHL season, Trocheck established himself as a cornerstone player.
16. Rickard Rakell, RW, Anaheim Ducks (30)
With an NHL career-high in ice time this season (16:04), Rakell had his best season with 20 goals and 43 points in 72 games.
17. Jonas Brodin, D, Minnesota Wild (10)
Injuries have been an issue in his four seasons; this season he played 68 games. But when healthy he's been effective. His best season, when he had eight goals and 19 points in 2013-14, came when he played 79 games.
18. Andrew Shaw, C, Chicago Blackhawks (139)
The fifth round pick has been a contributor on two Stanley Cup championship teams. He had an NHL career-best 20 goals in 2013-14 but his versatility and aggressive play have kept him in the lineup. He's third among players from the 2011 draft with 322 games played and fourth with 70 goals.
19. Dmitrij Jaskin, RW, St. Louis Blues (41)
The second round pick saw his most extensive NHL time this season and had four goals and 13 points in 65 games. He scored the winning goal in the 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round. He signed a two-year contract earlier this month, and could be ready for full-time NHL duty after splitting the past three seasons between the Blues and the American Hockey League.
20. Victor Rask, C, Carolina Hurricanes (42)
The second round pick took a big step in his second NHL season with 21 goals and 48 points in 80 games. His average ice time went up by 1:31 per game after the trade of Eric Staal and he responded with 12 points in 19 games (0.63 points per game). He had 36 points in his first 61 games (0.59 points per game).
21. Connor Murphy, D, Arizona Coyotes (20)
In his third NHL season, Murphy saw his most extensive playing time, averaging 20:30 per game in 78 games. He had 17 points, third among Coyotes defencemen. He played for the United States at the 2016 IIHF World Championship and in 10 games he tied for the lead among defencemen at the tournament with three goals.
22. Adam Larsson, D, New Jersey Devils (4)
After a rough start to his NHL career, including a stint in the AHL during the 2013-14 season, Larsson seems to have found his game. He played all 82 games for the first time, averaged 22:30 of ice time per game, had 18 points and tied for the Devils lead with a plus-15 rating.
23. Nathan Beaulieu, D, Montreal Canadiens (17)
Beaulieu earned an NHL career-best 17:27 of ice time per game this season and finished with 19 points, the most he's had in four NHL seasons.
24. Oscar Klefbom, D, Edmonton Oilers (19)
Injuries have limited him during parts of three NHL seasons. He averaged 21:53 per game in 30 games this season but he played his last game Dec. 11 because of a broken finger and a staph infection in his leg. The Oilers believe he can be a No. 1 defenceman; he just has to stay healthy to prove it.
25. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, Ottawa Senators (96)
The fourth round pick has become a valuable, versatile bottom-six forward and penalty killer. This season he had 19 goals, including a League-leading seven shorthanded goals, and 43 points in 82 games. He could be in line for more ice time next season.
26. Vladislav Namestnikov, C, Tampa Bay Lightning (27)
He spent the entire season in the NHL for the first time and added speed and skill to the Lightning's bottom-six forward group with 14 goals and 35 points in 80 games.
27. Matt Nieto, LW, San Jose Sharks (47)
The second round pick has found third-line ice time among a talented group of forwards in San Jose. His numbers dipped a bit this season but in 2014-15 he had 10 goals in 72 games and five points in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.
28. Joel Edmundson, D, St. Louis Blues (46)
The second round pick brought smart, physical play to the St. Louis defence as a rookie this season. His 165 hits led Blues defencemen, but he had 63 penalty minutes.
29. Reid Boucher, RW, New Jersey Devils (99)
The third round pick is a proven scorer in the AHL (19 goals in 34 games this season) but hasn't had the opportunities in the NHL yet. He had eight goals in 39 games with New Jersey this season and could be in line for more ice time next season.
30. Jyrki Jokipakka, D, Calgary Flames (195)
The seventh round pick of the Stars started receiving consistent playing time when he was traded to the Flames on Feb. 29. In 18 games with Calgary he had six points and averaged 17:54 of ice time; in 40 games with Dallas he had six points while averaging 14:30 of ice time.
Missing first-round picks: Ryan Strome, New York Islanders (5); Duncan Siemens, Colorado Avalanche (11); Ryan Murphy, Carolina Hurricanes (12); Sven Baertschi, Calgary Flames (13); Jamie Oleksiak, Dallas Stars (14); Joel Armia, Buffalo Sabres (16); Mark McNeill, Chicago Blackhawks (18); Stefan Noesen, Ottawa Senators (21); Tyler Biggs, Toronto Maple Leafs (22); Joe Morrow, Pittsburgh Penguins (23); Matt Puempel, Ottawa Senators (24); Stuart Percy, Toronto Maple Leafs (25); Phillip Danault, Chicago Blackhawks (26); Zack Phillips, Minnesota Wild (28); Nicklas Jensen, Vancouver Canucks (29).
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor