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A year ago, the Carolina Hurricanes knew they were drafting an NHL-ready player with the second overall pick.
The 28th overall pick, which the Hurricanes own in the 2019 NHL Draft, isn't likely to make as quick of an impact - in fact, the 28th overall selections from the last three years have yet to make their NHL debuts - but that's not to say the player won't develop into a future star.
"At the top end of the draft, you're looking for NHL assets. You're looking for skillsets that lead to development," Director of Player Personnel Darren Yorke said. "The player at 28 is going to have x, y and z in terms of NHL dimensions, but maybe one of them just needs a little bit more time to improve upon. From there, the development staff can work with them and get them to become an NHL player."
Looking at the list of historical 28th overall picks, one name stands out from the rest.
Justin Williams (2000)
Williams, selected 28th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers 19 years ago, has played in 1,244 NHL games and totaled 786 points (312g, 474a), the most of any player all-time drafted 28th overall. Williams, who has logged 101 points (40g, 61a) in 155 playoff games, is a three-time Stanley Cup champion, winning his first with the Hurricanes in 2006 and being awarded the Conn Smythe in 2014. The 37-year-old veteran has played 429 games in two stints with the Canes, posting 305 points (120g, 185a) in that stretch. Williams was named the 16th captain in franchise history in September and played a critical role in the Canes' return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and run to the Eastern Conference Final.
"I think he is the single-most important player we have," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said in early April. "We have to have that leadership. We have such a young group, and they haven't been through any of this. When you look at the way he prepares, practices and plays, it's the exact same every day, whether it's a preseason game or Game 7 of the Stanley Cup. Guys look up and say, 'OK, this is how we have to do it.' He just keeps doing it. … It's so invaluable. Every team has those guys … but we have a special one."
The Hurricanes have made the 28th overall selection just once in franchise history, and it came when that pick fell early in the second round.
Brad DeFauw (1997)
DeFauw played just nine games in the NHL, and his first was most memorable. DeFauw became the fourth Canes rookie to score in his NHL debut in the 2002-03 season. Not only did he score his first career goal, which gave Carolina an early 3-0 lead, but he also tallied the game-winning goal with 2:37 left in regulation in a 6-5 win against the Blue Jackets on March 11, 2003.
Who else has been selected 28th overall? Here's a handful of names you'll recognize.
Mike Richter (1985)
The 1985 NHL Entry Draft consisted of 12 rounds and 21 draft picks per round, and after no goaltenders were selected in the first round, a run of four in five picks quickly came off the board early in the second round. Richter was the fourth in that string, selected 28th overall by the New York Rangers. Over a 14-year NHL career, Richter established himself as one of the premier American-born goaltenders to play in the NHL. The Abington, PA, native played in 666 regular-season games with the Rangers and posted 301 wins, eclipsed only by Henrik Lundqvist in Rangers franchise history. A three-time All Star, Richter helped lead the Rangers to the President's Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the 1993-94 season with an NHL-best 42 regular-season wins. Richter, inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008, won silver with the national team in the 2002 Winter Olympics and was named tournament MVP of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
Corey Perry (2003)
Perry, now an unrestricted free agent after having his contract bought out, played 14 seasons with the Anaheim Ducks. In that time, he totaled 372 goals and 404 assists (776 points) in 988 games. The Ducks missed the playoffs in just three of his 14 seasons, and Perry amassed 36 goals and 53 assists (89 points) and a Stanley Cup championship (2006-07) in 118 playoff games. A four-time All Star, Perry is the only Duck in franchise history to win the Hart Memorial Trophy (2010-11).
Matt Niskanen (2005)
Niskanen, now a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, has played 12 seasons in the NHL with the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. In that stretch, he's totaled 323 points (64g, 259a) and a plus-97 rating in 881 games. He's also skated in 125 playoff games and captured the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2017-18.
Nick Foligno (2006)
Now the captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Foligno has logged 841 games and 435 points (186g, 249a) over a 12-year NHL career with Ottawa and Columbus. Foligno is a finalist for the Masterton Trophy this season and took home the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2016-17.
Charlie Coyle (2010)
Originally drafted by the San Jose Sharks, Coyle has logged exactly 500 games, 479 of which were with the Minnesota Wild, over eight seasons in the NHL. Coyle was traded to the Boston Bruins in February and posted 16 points (9g, 7a) in their run to the Stanley Cup Final. Coyle, who has competed in the playoffs in each of his eight seasons in the league, has notched 248 regular-season points (93g, 155a).
... And more: Brady Skjei (2012), Joshua Ho-Sang (2014) and Anthony Beauvillier (2015)