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1998 re-draft would put Datsyuk over Lecavalier

by Corey Masisak will take a look back at the NHL drafts from five, 10 and 15 years ago this week leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft in Newark, N.J. How would a redo of those drafts look today?

The collection of players selected in the 1998 NHL Draft will not be remembered as one of the greatest of all time (unlike the talent of five years later).

The Tampa Bay Lightning made a pair of great picks, one that was obvious and one that wasn't. Vincent Lecavalier was the consensus top prospect, and though he might not be among the top few No. 1 selections in League history, he made a significant impact on the ice and in the community in his 14 seasons.

Tampa Bay didn't have a second-round pick, but the Lightning made their third-round choice count with Brad Richards. He and Lecavalier joined forces with Martin St. Louis and became one of the most feared offensive trios in the League, culminating with a Stanley Cup in 2004.

Another team that had a strong draft was the Montreal Canadiens, who selected four very good NHL players, each after the first round: Mike Ribeiro, Francois Beauchemin, Andrei Markov and Michael Ryder.

This was a pretty good draft for defensive-minded defensemen, but definitely not a good one for goaltenders. There were two goalies taken, Andrew Raycroft and Antero Niittymaki, who spent more than one season as a No. 1.

Here's a look at how the 1998 NHL Draft would shake out if it was redone in the present (actual draft spot in parenthesis):

Note: Players listed on current teams
1 DET Pavel Datsyuk, C,
Detroit Red Wings (171)
Wonderfully unique and amazingly talented, his skills inspired an adjective.
2 TBL Vincent Lecavalier, C,
Tampa Bay Lightning (1)
Two great seasons but a bunch of really good ones, plus a Stanley Cup.
3 NYR Brad Richards, C,
New York Rangers (64)
Conn Smythe winner and two 90-point seasons during time with Lightning.
4 COL Alex Tanguay, LW,
Colorado Avalanche (12)
Steady point-producer won Stanley Cup with Avs in 2001; now back nearing 1,000 games.
5 LAK Robyn Regehr, D,
Los Angeles Kings (19)
Drafted by Avalanche; second to Lecavalier in games played in this class.
6 WSH Mike Ribeiro, C,
Washington Capitals (45)
Canadiens drafted this elite passer; fortuitous big season in Washington heading into free-agent year.
7 SJS Scott Gomez, C,
San Jose Sharks (27)
Won Calder Trophy and Stanley Cup after being drafted by Devils; redefining career now as a role player.
8 PHI Simon Gagne, LW,
Philadelphia Flyers (22)
Second to Lecavalier in goals; won a Stanley Cup in 2012 with Kings, but concussions have slowed him.
9 MTL Andrei Markov, D,
Montreal Canadiens (162)
Outstanding offensively when healthy; lost two years to injuries.
10 NSH David Legwand, C,
Nashville Predators (2)
First pick in Predators history, is the franchise leader in almost every key category.
11 SJS Brad Stuart, D,
San Jose Sharks (3)
Can reach 1,000 games in 2013-14; has contributed 20-plus solid minutes for 13 seasons for whatever team he was with.
12 MTL Brian Gionta, RW,
Montreal Canadiens (82)
Drafted by Devils; seven 20-goal seasons, second U.S.-born captain in Montreal.
13 DAL Erik Cole, LW,
Dallas Stars (71)
Drafted by Hurricanes; joins Lecavalier as only player from the draft class to rank in the top 12 goals, points, PIMs.
14 NHL Jaroslav Spacek, D,
retired (117)
Drafted by Panthers; well-traveled, retired after eight teams and 880 games.
15 NSH Mike Fisher, C,
Nashville Predators (44)
Senators draft pick has been a solid No. 2 center for a long time.
16 LAK Rob Scuderi, D,
Los Angeles Kings (134)
Drafted by Penguins, didn't become a regular until he was 27, but has won two Cups since then.
17 ANA Francois Beauchemin, D,
Anaheim Ducks (75)
Needed five seasons in the AHL, but has played but big minutes every season since arriving in NHL.
18 MTL Michael Ryder, RW,
Montreal Canadiens (216)
Highest-scoring Newfoundland native in League history, including three 30-goal seasons.
19 EDM Shawn Horcoff, C,
Edmonton Oilers (99)
Four-time 50-point scorer has developed into a solid No. 3 center.
20 WPG Nik Antropov, C,
Winnipeg Jets (10)
Maple Leafs draft pick ranks ninth in points in draft class.
21 DET Mikael Samuelsson, RW,
Detroit Red Wings (145)
Drafted by Sharks; has five 40-point seasons as well as Olympic gold in 2006 and Stanley Cup in 2008.
22 NHL Karlis Skrastins, D,
deceased (230)
Drafted by Predators, played more than 800 games with four teams, died in Lokomotiv plane crash.
23 OTT Chris Neil, RW,
Ottawa Senators (161)
League's active leader in penalty minutes, one of 55 all-time to reach 2,000 PIM.
24 VAN Manny Malhotra, C,
Vancouver Canucks (7)
Drafted by Rangers and has played more than 800 games, settling in as a strong bottom-six forward.
25 NHL Martin Skoula, D,
retired (17)
Drafted by Avalanche, had a strong start to his career but wasn't the same after leaving Colorado.
26 NHL Jonathan Cheechoo, RW,
minor league (29)
Sharks draft pick had a 56-goal season in 2005-06, but has become one of hockey's incredible outliers.
27 ANA Bryan Allen, D,
Anaheim Ducks (4)
Drafted by Canucks, and could be more appreciated now as a cagey veteran.
28 NHL Ales Kotalik, RW,
retired (164)
Drafted by Sabres; had a few solid years as a second-line wing, but his decline came quickly.
29 MIN Mike Rupp, LW,
Minnesota Wild (9)
Drafted but never signed by Islanders, scored Cup-winning goal for Devils in 2003; has played nearly 600 games as top-level pugilist.
30 NHL Andrew Raycroft, G,
Europe (135)
Drafted by Bruins and won the Calder Trophy; is the leader of thin goalie crop in games and wins.
Missing first-round picks: Vitaly Vishnevski (5), Rico Fata (6), Mark Bell (8), Jeff Heerema (11), Michael Henrich (13), Patrick Desrochers (14), Mathieu Chouinard (15), Eric Chouinard (16), Dmitri Kalinin (18), Scott Parker (20), Mathieu Biron (21), Milan Kraft (23), Christian Backman (24), Jiri Fischer (25), Mike Van Ryn (26)

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