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The 23rd Pick: A History

From Brock Boeser to Travis Green, looks back at the history of the 23rd-overall pick

by Sasha Kandrach KandrachSasha /

The NHL Draft kicks off on Friday night in Vancouver (8 p.m., NBCSN, SN) and the New York Islanders hold the 23rd overall pick. This marks the third time in franchise history (1989, 1993) the Islanders will have picked 23rd in the draft. That may seem late, but historically and notably in recent years, there have been successful and promising draftees selected in that position. took a look through past NHL drafts to profile some of the players picked at 23. Visit for all the latest draft coverage. 

Todd Bertuzzi | 1993

The Islanders selected Bertuzzi in the first round of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. During his career, Bertuzzi played for six clubs; the Islanders, Canucks, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings. Bertuzzi played three seasons with the Islanders (1995-98) to start his NHL career before being traded to Vancouver in 1998. Bertuzzi made two NHL All-Star Game appearances in 2003 and 2004 and was named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 2003 after recording a career-high 97 points. In total, Bertuzzi suited up in 1,159 career games and had 768 points (314G, 454A). 

Travis Green | 1989

The Isles first-ever 23rd pick was Travis Green in 1989. As a player, Green played 14 seasons in the NHL and compiled 455 points (193G, 262A). The Castlegar, BC native spent six seasons with the Islanders from 1992-98, recording 237 points (92G, 145A). Green played for five different NHL teams besides the Islanders including; Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. Green transitioned into coaching following his playing career and is currently the Head Coach of the Vancouver Canucks.


Ray Whitney | 1991

Ray Whitney's 22-year NHL career started as being the 23rd overall pick in the 1991 draft. Whitney, a.k.a "The Wizard," recorded 1064 points (385G, 679A) in 1330 games with San Jose, Edmonton, Florida, Columbus, Detroit, Carolina, Phoenix and Dallas. Whitney led his draft class in NHL points and games played, ahead of Alex Kovalev, Scott Niedermayer and Markus Naslund. The Fort Saskatchewan, AB, native won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006.  

Ryan Kesler | 2003

Kesler, who now serves as an alternate captain for the Anaheim Ducks, was originally drafted by Vancouver 23rd overall in the loaded 2003 draft. Kesler played 10 seasons with the Canucks before being traded to the Ducks in 2014. Since entering the league the Michigan native has played in a total of 1,001 NHL games and has 573 career points (258G, 315A). Throughout his 15-year NHL career, Kesler has made two All-Star appearances in 2011 and 2017. Kesler was the 2011 recipient of the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded to the league forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game. Kesler has played in two Olympic Games, taking home a silver medal in 2010.

Brock Boeser | 2015

The Vancouver Canucks selected Boeser with their sole first-round pick in 2015. After a decorated college career at the University of North Dakota, Boeser made an instant impact in the Canucks lineup. During his rookie season, Boeser put up 55 points (29G, 26A) in 62 games. Boeser was also invited to the 2018 NHL All-Star Game and was named the game's Most Valuable Player, becoming the first rookie to do so since Mario Lemieux did in 1985. Compliments of his stellar breakout season, Boeser was named a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy awarded to the league's best rookie. This past season, Boeser amassed 56 points (26G, 30A) in 69 games and continued his cement his role as a staple player for the Canucks. 

Andre Burakovsky | 2013

Burakovsky wrapped up his fifth season with the Washington Capitals, who selected the Swede 23rd overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. This past season, the 24-year-old posted 25 points (12G, 13A) through 76 games. Burakovsky was a member of the Caps first-ever Stanley Cup championship squad under Head Coach Barry Trotz. Burakovsky had six points (2G, 4A) during the Caps Stanley Cup run. The left winger, who has 145 points (62G, 83A) in 328 games is currently a restricted free agent. 

Semyon Varlamov | 2006

Varlamov, now a current UFA with the Colorado Avalanche, was drafted by the Capitals in 2006. The Russian netminder played three seasons with the Caps before he was traded to Colorado in 2011 where he has spent the last eight seasons. Varlamov is 213-169-50 in his NHL career with a 2.68 GAA and a .916 SV%. Internationally, Varlamov represented his country in two Olympics and has won a gold and silver medal at the IIHF World Championship, as well as a silver medal at the World Juniors. 

Henrik Borgström | 2016

The Florida Panthers selected the crafty Finn with the 23rd overall pick in 2016. Borgström, a left-shot center, would go onto have a breakout freshman season the University of Denver and help the program claim its eighth national championship. After returning at DU for a sophomore season, Borgström made his NHL debut with the Panthers on March 29, 2018. Borgström scored his first-career NHL goal on April 8, 2018 against the Boston Bruins. During the 2018-19 season, the 21-year-old suited up in 50 games for the Panthers and registered 18 points (8G, 10A).

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