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Second Overall proves First Rate: The 2000s and present day

Part 3 takes a modern look at how second overall picks have shaped franchises

by Bill Meltzer @NHLFlyers

Bill Meltzer wraps up his series looking at the second overall pick and how it has shaped a franchise by examining the early part of the century, how the game has changed and how players have adapted and made an impact in recent years.

The 2000s (Eric Staal, Evgeni Malkin, Drew Doughty, Victor Hedman)

The 2003 NHL Draft, widely regarded among the two or three deepest classes in Draft history, saw the Carolina Hurricanes select big-framed Peterborough Petes center Eric Staal with the second overall the pick. The first of the four Staal brothers to play in the NHL, Eric spent the first decade of his career with Carolina and was a force on their 2005-06 Stanley Cup winning team (45 goals, 100 points in the regular season, 28 points in 25 playoff games). He succeeded Rod Brind'Amour as the Hurricanes' captain in January 2010.

Staal experienced a career revival in 2016-17 as a member of the Minnesota Wild, for whom he notched 28 goals and 65 points. In 1,011 career NHL games to date, he has racked up 353 goals and 846 points.

The next Draft, dubbed "the year of the Russian," saw the Washington Capitals select Alex Ovechkin first overall and the Pittsburgh Penguins choose Evgeni Malkin with the second pick. Coming over to North America in 2006, Malkin formed a superstar one-two punch with 2005 first-overall pick Sidney Crosby. 

Malkin collected the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the year in 2006-07. Subsequently, he won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer in 2008-09 and followed it up with a Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) as the Penguins won the Stanley Cup. Malkin won his second Art Ross Trophy in 2011-12 and he also collected both the Hart Trophy and the peer-selected Ted Lindsay Award as league MVP. Through the 2016-17 season, he has 832 career points (328 goals, 504 assists) in the NHL.

In 2008, one spot after the Tampa Bay Lightning chose Steven Stamkos with the first pick, the Los Angeles Kings selected Guelph Storm defenseman Drew Doughty. Making an immediate jump to the NHL, Doughty experienced some early ups and downs before exploding into stardom.

Most notably, Doughty collected the Norris Trophy in 2015-16 as the NHL's top defenseman. Able to log massive ice time playing in all game situations, Doughty is dominant with or without the puck. In 688 career games through 2016-17, Doughty posted 362 points. More important, he collected Stanley Cup rings as a key player on LA's championship winning teams of 2011-12 and 2013-14.

The 2009 Draft was often called the "Tavares Draft", even for several years before Oshawa Generals star center was eligible to be chosen. Nearly as highly regarded was Modo Hockey defenseman Victor Hedman. Sure enough, when the 2009 Draft rolled around, Tavares was selected first overall by the New York Islanders and Hedman went with the next pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Both players have lived up to expectations. Hedman enjoyed the best year of his career to date in 2016-17, when he posted 72 points and was named a finalist for the Norris Trophy. Through the 2016-17 season, Hedman posted 301 points in 549 games while handling a heavy workload for Tampa.

The 2010s (Seguin, Eichel, Laine)

The jury is still out on how the drafted 2010s are destined to be remembered, but a series of second overall picks have fared very well in the current decade. 

Now a perennial top scorer for the Dallas Stars, Tyler Seguin was selected by the Boston Bruins with the second pick of the 2010 draft. Seguin leads all players from that draft in goals (189), assists (238), overall points (427) and in games played (508).

Burgeoning Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel was the coveted "consolation prize" after the Edmonton Oilers won the lottery to select Connor McDavid with the first pick of the 2015 Draft. In just two seasons, Eichel has 113 points in 142 games and led the Sabres in overall scoring his season with 57 points despite missing 21 games due to injury.

A finalist for the 2016-17 Calder Trophy, Finnish forward Patrik Laine made an immediate impact after the Winnipeg Jets selected him second overall in 2016. He recorded 36 goals, which finished second among rookies and seventh overall in the NHL.

Other current decade second overall picks to make significant NHL impacts to date include Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado Avalanche, 2011), Aleksander Barkov (Florida Panthers, 2013). Meanwhile, Sam Reinhart (Buffalo Sabres, 2014) already has a 23-goal NHL season to his credit.


For PART 1: The 60s & 70s | For PART 2: The 80s & 90s

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