Skip to main content

Draft hits and misses: Pacific Division

by John Kreiser

The Los Angeles Kings proved again this season that good drafting is the way to success. The core of the Kings' second Stanley Cup-winning team in three seasons -- goaltender Jonathan Quick, defenseman Drew Doughty, No. 1 center Anze Kopitar and captain Dustin Brown -- were drafted and developed by the Kings.

Every team has had its ups and downs since the draft began in 1963. Here's a look at the hits (and some of the misses) for the seven teams in the Pacific Division:


Best first-round picks: Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry (2003) -- They have been almost inseparable since they were selected nine picks apart 11 years ago (Getzlaf was chosen 19th, Perry went 28th). They came to the NHL together in 2005-06, helped the Ducks win the Stanley Cup for the only time in franchise history in 2007, have spent most of their time together as linemates and are signed to nearly identical long-term contracts. Perry scored a League-high 50 goals and won the Hart Trophy in 2011; Getzlaf was second in the NHL in scoring and is a finalist for the MVP award this season.

Honorable mention -- Paul Kariya (1993), Bobby Ryan (2005).

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Ilya Bryzgalov (2000) -- The Ducks picked Bryzgalov from Lada Togliatti in Russia with their second-round pick 14 years ago, and he became an effective backup behind Jean-Sebastien Giguere on their 2007 Cup-winning team. Then-general manager Brian Burke allowed Bryzgalov to leave on waivers to try to land a starting job, and he did just that after being claimed by the Phoenix Coyotes. He led them to back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Playoffs before signing with the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2011. Bryzgalov had two up-and-down seasons with the Flyers before being bought out last summer; after a stop with the Edmonton Oilers he wound up starting for the Minnesota Wild in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Honorable mention -- Matt Cullen (1996), Jordan Leopold (1999), Matt Beleskey (2006).

Best later-round pick: Trent Hunter (1998) -- Hunter had a fine NHL career for a player drafted in the sixth round. However, none of his success came with the Ducks, who traded him to the New York Islanders for a fourth-round pick in 2000. Hunter had 25 goals and 51 points as a rookie in 2003-04 and was a solid two-way player on Long Island for several seasons.

Honorable mention -- Martin Gerber (2001), PA Parenteau (2001), Shane O'Brien (2003), Drew Miller (2003).

Biggest disappointment: Stanislav Chistov (2001) -- The Ducks made Chistov the fifth player taken in the 2001 NHL Draft and brought him to North America a year later amid high expectations that never panned out. Chistov had 12 goals and 30 points as a rookie in 2002-03, but slipped to two goals and 18 points in 2003-04 and was sent to the Ducks' American Hockey League affiliate in Cincinnati. He went home to Russia for the 2005-06 season, came back to North America and was traded to the Boston Bruins early in 2006-07. Chistov went back to Russia for good after totaling five goals and eight assists in 60 games with Boston.

Others -- Michael Holmqvist (1997), Alexei Smirnov (2000), Mark Mitera (2006), Logan MacMillan (2007).


Best first-round pick: Al MacInnis (1981) -- The first thing that comes to mind when you think of MacInnis is one of the great slap shots in NHL history; he was one of the few players who made goalies nervous any time he got near the center red line. But MacInnis developed from a player with a booming shot into a well-rounded defenseman who became an All-Star. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in 1994 and retired a decade later with 340 goals and 1,274 points, totals that landed him in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Honorable mention -- Gary Roberts (1984), Cory Stillman (1992), Dion Phaneuf (2003).

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Joe Nieuwendyk (1985) -- The Flames fanned on their first-rounder in 1985 (Chris Biotti), but more than made up for it by taking Nieuwendyk, a slick center from Cornell, in the second round (No. 27). Nieuwendyk turned pro late in the 1986-87 season and became the first player since Mike Bossy to begin his NHL career with back-to-back 50-goal seasons. He never reached 50 again, but was among the NHL's most consistent scorers for nearly two decades and played on Stanley Cup-winning teams with Calgary (1989), the Dallas Stars (1999) and the New Jersey Devils (2003). He retired in 2006 with 564 goals and was admitted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.

Honorable mention -- Mike Vernon (1981), Robert Reichel (1989), Matthew Lombardi (2002).

Best later-round pick: Theo Fleury (1987) -- A 61-goal, 129-point season in 1986-87 with Moose Jaw in the Western Hockey League should have made Fleury much more than an eighth-round pick, but most teams couldn't overlook his lack of size (5-foot-6). The Flames did, and they got a player who set franchise records for goals and points (since broken by Jarome Iginla). Fleury helped the Flames win the Stanley Cup as a rookie in 1989; he also had a 50-goal season and broke the 100-point mark twice before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche in 1999. Fleury later played three seasons with the New York Rangers and one with the Chicago Blackhawks. He finished his NHL career with 455 goals and 1,088 points in 1,084 games.

Honorable mention -- Stu Grimson (1985), German Titov (1993).

Biggest disappointment: Brent Krahn (2000) -- The Flames made Krahn the second goalie and ninth player taken in his draft year after a brilliant first season in junior hockey. They were very patient with him; Krahn played three more seasons in junior and then spent five seasons in the minors, battling a host of injuries while showing just enough to convince Calgary he might make it. The Flames gave up in 2008 and Krahn signed with the Dallas Stars, with whom he made his NHL debut late in the 2008-09 season, playing one period and allowing three goals. Krahn spent 2009-10 with the Texas Stars of the AHL and was the losing goaltender in Game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals, then played 12 more games with Texas in 2010-11 before retiring -- though he did take some shots for the Flames during a practice in February.

Others -- Jesper Mattsson (1993), Daniel Tkaczuk (1997), Kris Chucko (2004).


Best first-round pick: Paul Coffey (1980) -- Coffey, the sixth player chosen in the Oilers' second trip to the NHL draft, was a perfect fit for a team that relied on speed and skill. He had five consecutive seasons of 29 or more goals with the Oilers, including an NHL-record for defensemen of 48 in 1985-86, when he piled up 138 points, the second-most ever in a season by a defenseman. Coffey was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1987, beginning an odyssey that would see him play with seven more teams in a career that ended during the 2000-01 season with 396 goals and 1,531 points in 1,409 games. He was a member of four Stanley Cup-winning teams and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.

Honorable mention -- Kevin Lowe (1979), Grant Fuhr (1981), Jason Arnott (1993), Ryan Smyth (1994), Jordan Eberle (2008), Taylor Hall (2010).

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Mark Messier (1979) -- After picking Lowe in the first round, the Oilers went for Messier, a young forward they had faced in the World Hockey Association, in the third round, never dreaming they would end up with one of the game's all-time greats. Messier took a while to become an offensive force, but he scored 50 goals in 1981-82, produced six 100-point seasons and turned into one of hockey's all-time leaders with the Oilers and later with the New York Rangers. His 1,887 points are second only to Wayne Gretzky, but he played on six Cup-winning teams to the Great One's four.

Honorable mention -- Glenn Anderson (1979), Jari Kurri (1980), Jarret Stoll (2002), Matt Greene (2002).

Best later-round pick: Kelly Buchberger (1985) -- The Oilers drafted Buchberger for his physical play, but he became far more than just someone who could bang bodies and protect teammates. He developed into a 20-goal scorer in 1991-92, had enough speed and grit to become an effective penalty killer and was a contributing member on a pair of Stanley Cup-winning teams. Buchberger finished his career with 105 goals and 2,297 penalty minutes in 1,182 games. That's pretty good production from a ninth-round pick (No. 188).

Honorable mention -- Shjon Podein (1988), Miroslav Satan (1993), Jason Chimera (1997), Kyle Brodziak (2003).

Biggest disappointment: Scott Allison (1990) -- Allison was part of one of the poorest drafts of all-time; not one of the 11 players chosen by the Oilers in 1990 played as much as one game in the NHL (the next-lowest team, the St. Louis Blues, had 323 games played by its drafted players). Allison played two more seasons in junior after being taken by the Oilers at No. 17, then began an odyssey through the minors during which he never scored 20 goals or 40 points. Allison went to Europe and played several seasons in the British league, then played two final seasons in the low minors in North America before retiring after the 2005-06 season.

Others -- Jason Bonsignore (1994), Michael Henrich (1998), Jesse Niinimaki (2002).


Best first-round pick: Larry Murphy (1980) -- As good as Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty have been the past few seasons, they've still got a ways to go to catch Murphy, who was the best offensive defenseman in Kings history almost from the moment he stepped onto the ice after being chosen with the fourth pick. Murphy had 16 goals and 76 points as a rookie in 1980-81, 22 goals in his second season and 14 in his third. He got off to a slow start in 1983-84 and was traded to the Washington Capitals. He continued piling up the points wherever he went, becoming a key part of two Cup-winning teams with the Pittsburgh Penguins and two with the Detroit Red Wings in the 1990s before retiring with 287 goals and 1,216 points on the way to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Honorable mention -- Jay Wells (1979), Dustin Brown (2003), Anze Kopitar (2005), Drew Doughty (2008).

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Rob Blake (1988) -- Jonathan Quick may surpass Blake someday, but he's not there yet. Blake went from being the 70th player chosen in 1988 after playing college hockey at Bowling Green to an NHL star on defense. He became a regular with the Kings in the 1990-91 season and went on to pile up 240 goals and 777 points in 1,270 games, mostly with Los Angeles, though he won his only Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.

Honorable mention -- Mike Cammalleri (2001), Jonathan Quick (2005), Wayne Simmonds (2007), Alec Martinez (2007).

Best later-round pick: Luc Robitaille (1984) -- Although he filled the net as a junior-hockey player, Robitaille wasn't taken until the ninth round (five rounds after the Kings selected future baseball star Tom Glavine). But Robitaille continued to score in bunches -- 44 or more goals in each of his first eight seasons. He went to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1994 but returned to Los Angeles three seasons later and had seasons of 39, 36 and 37 goals. He went to the Detroit Red Wings for two seasons, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2002, and then came back to the Kings for two final seasons. He retired in 2006 with 668 goals and 1,394 points, the most by a left wing. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and is with the Kings today as their president of business operations.

Honorable mention -- Billy Smith (1970), Garry Galley (1983), Kimmo Timonen (1993).

Biggest disappointment: Lauri Tukonen (2004) -- The Kings made Tukonen, a center from Finland, the 11th player taken in the draft 10 years ago and brought him to North America for the 2005-06 season. Tukonen spent three seasons with the Kings' AHL team, the Manchester Monarchs, and had two short NHL stints that totaled five games. He went home in 2008 and has been a regular in the Finnish league ever since.

Others -- Craig Duncanson (1985), Dan Gratton (1985), Jens Karlsson (2001).


Best first-round pick:Teemu Selanne (1988) -- Winnipeg had to wait four seasons for Selanne to make the move from Finland to North America. When he did, though, it was memorable; he shattered NHL rookie records with 76 goals and 132 points in 1992-93, totals that haven’t been approached by any first-year player since then. Selanne never came close to matching his rookie numbers but continued to pile up goals and points until retiring after his Anaheim Ducks lost to the Kings in the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He finished his NHL career with 684 goals, 11th on the all-time list, and 1,457 points (15th). Next stop: the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Honorable mention -- Dale Hawerchuk (1981), Keith Tkachuk (1990), Shane Doan (1995), Daniel Briere (1996), Kyle Turris (2007), Mikkel Boedker (2008), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (2009).

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Teppo Numminen (1986) -- Numminen was one of those players who did his job without being flashy. He just showed up for work every night, beginning when he arrived in the NHL as a 20-year-old in 1988, and kept at it through his 15 seasons with the Jets/Coyotes, during which time he played in three All-Star Games. He was traded to the Dallas Stars in the summer of 2003 and signed with the Buffalo Sabres a season later. He retired after the 2008-09 season having played 1,372 NHL games.

Honorable mention -- Dave Christian (1979), Alexei Zhamnov (1990).

Best later-round pick: Nikolai Khabibulin (1992) -- The Jets took Khabibulin in the ninth round (No. 204), and three years later he was their starting goaltender. Khabibulin won 30 or more games in each of the franchise's first three seasons in Phoenix, but he enjoyed more success after being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2001, leading them to the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 2004. He spent the next four seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, helping them to the Western Conference Final in 2009, before signing with the Edmonton Oilers. He spent most of this season on injured reserve with the Blackhawks.

Honorable mention -- Thomas Steen (1979), Igor Ulanov (1991), Trevor Letowski (1996).

Biggest disappointment: Scott Kelman (1999) -- Though Kelman saw a lot of the world while playing hockey, he never played an NHL game. Phoenix took him with the 15th pick in 1999 but never brought him to the NHL. Kelman played with 13 teams after turning pro without totaling more than 15 goals or 47 points for any one team in a season. He retired after playing in England in 2008-09.

Others -- Patrick Desrochers (1998), Jakub Koreis (2002), Viktor Tikhonov (2008).


Best first-round pick: Patrick Marleau (1997) -- San Jose's all-time leading scorer has spent every day of his pro hockey career as a Shark and has been a consistent producer, though perhaps not at the level some might have expected from the second player taken in his draft year. Marleau has excelled in his six seasons playing for coach Todd McLellan, scoring a career-high 38 goals in 2008-09 and then topping that with 44 in 2009-10. He had 37 goals in 2010-11, 30 goals in 2011-12 and 33 in 2013-14. He has 437 goals and 931 points in 1,247 games, and though he'll be 35 when the 2014-15 season begins, he has shown no signs of slowing down.

Honorable mention -- Viktor Kozlov (1993), Jeff Friesen (1994), Brad Stuart (1998), Milan Michalek (2003), Logan Couture (2007).

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Ray Whitney (1991) -- The one-time Edmonton Oilers stick boy was the second player ever selected by the Sharks, and he's long since outlasted the first one, Pat Falloon. Whitney is a late bloomer who didn't really come into his own in San Jose; he never scored 20 goals with the Sharks, but has done it 10 times since leaving in 1997. Whitney joined the NHL's 1,000-point club in 2011-12 and has spent the past two seasons with the Dallas Stars.

Honorable mention -- Christian Ehrhoff (2001), Matthew Carle (2003), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (2005).

Best later-round pick: Evgeni Nabokov (1994) -- The Sharks found their regular goaltender for much of the 2000s when they spent a ninth-round pick (No. 219) on Nabokov, a Russian teenager. He came to North America in 1997, spent most of three seasons in the AHL and has been an NHL regular since 2000-01, when he won the Calder Trophy. Nabokov outlasted challenges from Miikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala to become the undisputed starter in 2007. He won 131 games in his final three seasons in San Jose before leaving as a free agent in 2010. After a short stint in Russia, he returned to the NHL and has spent the past three seasons with the New York Islanders. His 350 wins are the most by a Russian-born goaltender.

Honorable mention -- Miikka Kiprusoff (1995), Ryane Clowe (2001), Joe Pavelski (2003).

Biggest disappointment: Teemu Riihijarvi (1995) -- The Sharks chose the Finnish left wing with the 12th pick, but he never came to North America. Riihijarvi played in Finland until 2003 and then spent two seasons in Sweden. He returned to his home country for the 2005-06 season but retired after five games. Riihijarvi never had more than eight goals or 18 points in any season.

Others -- Jeff Jillson (1999), Mike Morris (2002), Lukas Kaspar (2004).


Best first-round picks: Daniel and Henrik Sedin (1999) -- The most prolific twins in NHL history have spent their entire careers in Vancouver after the Canucks maneuvered to take them with the second and third picks 15 years ago. Daniel is more of a scorer while Henrik is a better playmaker. Henrik led the NHL in scoring in 2009-10 and Daniel did so the following season. They led the Canucks within one win of the Stanley Cup in 2011 and have been among the NHL's most durable and consistent players during the past decade.

Honorable mention -- Cam Neely (1983), Trevor Linden (1988), Petr Nedved (1990), Ryan Kesler (2003).

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Michael Peca (1992) -- The Canucks took Peca in the second round (No. 40) but traded him to the Buffalo Sabres in the summer of 1995 in a trade that brought back Alexander Mogilny. Peca never scored the way he did in junior (he had 50 goals with Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League in 1993-94), but the two-time Selke Trophy winner became one of the NHL's best defensive centers and broke the 20-goal mark four times. Injuries limited his effectiveness in his later seasons, and he retired after the 2008-09 season.

Honorable mention -- Stan Smyl (1978), Brent Ashton (1979), Alexander Edler (2004), Mason Raymond (2005).

Best later-round pick: Pavel Bure (1989) -- No one disputed Bure's skill; he was one of the best young players in the world in the late 1980s. The Canucks took a flyer on him in the sixth round (No. 113) 25 years ago not knowing if they ever would be able to get the speedy Russian in uniform. However, the fall of the Soviet Union enabled him to become a Canuck two years later and he quickly started filling the net. Bure had back-to-back 60-goal seasons in 1992-93 and 1993-94, then cracked the 50-goal mark again in 1997-98. He had 58- and 59-goal seasons after being traded to the Florida Panthers in 1998, but a string of knee injuries forced him to retire by the time he was 32. Bure finished with 437 goals in 702 NHL games, good enough to earn entry into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.

Honorable mention -- Igor Larionov (1985), Adrian Aucoin (1992), Matt Cooke (1997), Kevin Bieksa (2001).

Biggest disappointment: Dan Woodley (1986) -- The Canucks took Woodley with the seventh pick in 1986, a few weeks after he helped lead the Portland Winterhawks to the Memorial Cup. He turned pro in 1987 and had a solid first season in the minors, earning a five-game call-up by the Canucks and scoring two goals. However, that was his only NHL action. After the Canucks hired Pat Quinn as general manager, Woodley was returned to the minors, traded to the Montreal Canadiens in 1989 and played with eight teams in four leagues until he retired in 1995. No player drafted higher in the 1980s played so few games.

Others -- Jason Herter (1989), Alek Stojanov (1991), Libor Polasek (1992), Josh Holden (1996), Nathan Smith (2000).


View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.