The 2003 Entry Draft has long been considered among hockey experts as the gold standard for NHL drafts, the best of all time.
Tuesday's announcement of the players selected to participate in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover provides even more proof that such bold statements aren't out of line.
Nearly a quarter of the 42 All-Stars (10 total) headed to Raleigh, N.C. later this month were drafted in 2003.
Five were taken in the first round, including top pick Marc-Andre Fleury
and No. 2 Eric Staal
. Another three were selected in the second round and Atlanta defensemen Tobias Enstrom
and Dustin Byfuglien
were both eighth-rounders, picks 239 and 245, respectively.
"It's pretty remarkable," said Anaheim forward Corey Perry
, the No. 28 pick in 2003 who is headed to his second All-Star Game. "Our age group was something special and we're just going to keep running with it."
Perry is one of only three players from the '03 Draft making a return trip to the NHL's midseason showcase event. Staal is headed to his fourth while Shea Weber
, the No. 49 picks, is going back for his second time.
Fleury, Brent Burns
(No. 20), Ryan Kesler
(No. 23), Loui Eriksson
(No. 33) and David Backes
(No. 62) join Enstrom and Byfuglien as the first-timers out of the 2003 Entry Draft.
With those seven added to the list, the '03 draft has now sent 17 players to an NHL All-Star Game, including 15 first-rounders.
(No. 5), Dion Phaneuf
(No. 9), Jeff Carter
(No. 11), Dustin Brown
(No. 13), Zach Parise
(No. 17), Ryan Getzlaf
(No. 19) and Mike Richards
(No. 24) have all played in previous All-Star Games.
"It was a great draft," Staal said. "We had a lot of skilled guys and a lot of great players. It's neat to see a lot of those familiar faces you get to see growing up, playing juniors, the World Juniors, that sort of thing. It's neat to see everyone here again."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl