The Chicago Blackhawks
are the latest team to prove that success in the NHL begins with a good day (or two) at the draft table.
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 five teams in the Pacific Division on Draft Day.
Best first-round pick: Paul Kariya
(1993) -- The Ducks were ecstatic when Kariya fell to them with the No. 4 pick in the first draft in franchise history. He turned pro in 1994, was a 50-goal scorer a season later and remains the biggest scorer in franchise history. He left the Ducks in the summer of 2003, after leading them within one victory of the franchise's first Stanley Cup, but he never scored anywhere else the way he did in Anaheim.
Honorable mention: Ryan Getzlaf
and Corey Perry
(2003), Bobby Ryan
Best pick, rounds 2-4: Matt Cullen
(1996) -- The Ducks took Cullen, a Minnesota native who wasn't picked as an 18-year-old, with their second selection in 1996, weeks before his 20th birthday. Cullen spent one more season at St. Cloud State, then stepped right into the lineup in Anaheim and became a useful third-line center who could score a little. He had his best season (25 goals, 49 points) for Carolina in 2005-06, helping the Hurricanes to the only Stanley Cup in franchise history, and has had between 41 and 49 points in each of the past five seasons.
Honorable mention: Jordan Leopold
(1999), Ilya Bryzgalov
Best later-round pick: Trent Hunter
(1998) -- Hunter has had a fine career for a sixth-round pick -- though not for the Ducks, who dealt him to the Islanders for a fourth-rounder in 2000. Hunter had 25 goals and 51 points as a rookie in 2003-04 and has become a solid two-way player on Long Island.
Honorable mention: Martin Gerber
(2001), Shane O'Brien
Biggest disappointment: Stanislav Chistov
(2001) -- The Ducks grabbed Chistov with the No. 5 selection and brought him to North America a season later amid high expectations that never panned out. After scoring 12 goals and 30 points as a rookie, he slipped to 2 and 18 in 2003-04 before being sent to the Ducks' AHL affiliate in Cincinnati. He went home to Russia for the 2005-06 season. He came back to North America, but was traded to Boston early in 2006-07 and went home again after going 5-8-13 in 60 games with Boston.
Honorable mention: Michael Holmqvist
(1997), Alexei Smirnov
Best first-round pick: Mike Modano
(1988) -- The Stars, then based in Minnesota, took Modano No. 1 after a 47-goal, 127-point season with Prince Albert of the WHL. He put up 105 points in 41 games with the Raiders the following season, then turned pro and became the face of the franchise. Modano's 557 goals and 1,359 points are the most ever by any U.S.-born player in NHL history. Modano's offensive production has dropped off in recent years, and the 40-year-old hasn't said if he'll come back for another season.
Honorable mention: Brian Bellows
(1982), Derian Hatcher
(1990), Brenden Morrow
Best pick, rounds 2-4: Jere Lehtinen
(1992) -- The North Stars used a fourth-round pick on Lehtinen, a forward who had scored 32 goals in 43 games in Finland's second division. Lehtinen never has been a huge offensive producer, but he's won the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward three times and had 20 or more goals in a season seven times (30 or more twice). He's been plagued by injuries during the past few seasons.
Honorable mention: Neal Broten
(1979), Jamie Langenbrunner
Best later-round pick: Marty Turco
(1994) -- The Stars' patience in waiting for Turco has been rewarded. Dallas took Turco with a fifth-round choice in 1994 but didn't bring him to the NHL until 2000-01, after he had spent four years at the University of Michigan and two more in the minors. Turco then spent two seasons backing up Ed Belfour
before earning the starting job in 2002-03. He's had as many seasons with a GAA under 2.00 (three) than over 2.50. The Stars opted not to re-sign Turco for 2009-10.
Honorable mention: Arturs Irbe
(1989), Roman Turek
Biggest disappointment: Jason Botterill
(1994) -- Botterill was expected to turn into a star after the Stars drafted him with the No. 20 pick following an excellent freshman season at the University of Michigan -- and he stoked those expectations with 32- and 37-goal seasons for the Wolverines before turning pro. But the scoring touch Botterill showed in college never made it to the NHL. He managed just 5 goals in 88 games during pieces of six NHL seasons with four franchises before retiring in 2004.
Honorable mention: David Quinn
(1984), Warren Babe
Best first-round pick: Larry Murphy
(1980) -- Murphy was the best offensive defenseman in Kings history almost from the moment he stepped onto the ice for the first time after being chosen No. 4. He had 16 goals and 76 points as a rookie, 22 goals in his second season and 14 more goals in his third season. But after a slow start in 1983-84, the Kings traded him to Washington. He kept piling up points wherever he went, becoming a key part of double Cup-winning teams with Pittsburgh and Detroit in the 1990s before retiring with 287 goals and 1,216 points on the way to the Hall of Fame.
Honorable mention: Jay Wells
(1979), Anze Kopitar
(2005), Drew Doughty
Best pick, rounds 2-4: Rob Blake
(1988) -- Little did the Kings know that they were getting one of the best defensemen in franchise history when they used the 70th pick on a college defenseman from Bowling Green. Blake became an NHL regular in 1990 and went on to pile up 240 goals and 777 points in 1,240 games, mostly with the Kings -- though he won his only Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001. He finished his career as captain of the San Jose Sharks
Honorable mention: Michael Cammalleri
(2001), Jonathan Quick
Best later-round pick: Luc Robitaille
(1984) -- Robitaille is the patron saint of low-round draft picks. He filled the net as a junior, playing for Hull in the QMJHL, but wasn't taken until the ninth round (five rounds after future baseball Hall of Famer Tom Glavine). Much to everyone's surprise, Robitaille continued to score in bunches -- 44 or more goals in each of his first eight seasons before being traded by the Kings in 1994. He returned to L.A. three years later and had three more seasons of between 36 and 39 goals, went to Detroit for two seasons and made a third appearance in Los Angeles before retiring in 2006 with 668 goals, the most ever by a left wing.
Honorable mention: Billy Smith
(1970), Garry Galley
Biggest disappointment: Jens Karlsson
(2001) -- The Kings took Karlsson, a big right wing, with the 18th pick. He's still active in Sweden, but never came to North America. Karlsson spent six full seasons in the Swedish Elite League, then three seasons at the next level down, mixed in with time in Germany and Denmark, before returning to the SEL this past season. He's reached double figures in goals just once in his career.
Honorable mention: Craig Duncanson
(1985), Dan Gratton
Best first-round pick: Teemu Selanne
(1988) -- Winnipeg had to wait four long years for Selanne to make the trip from Finland to North America. When he did, though, it was memorable -- Selanne shattered the NHL rookie record with 76 goals in 1992-93. He never got close to that total again and was traded away in 1996, but has continued to pile up goals -- his 27 in 2009-10 gave him 606 for his career, moving him into elite territory on the all-time list.
Honorable mention: Dale Hawerchuk
(1981), Keith Tkachuk
(1990), Shane Doan
Best pick, rounds 2-4: Teppo Numminen
(1986) -- Numminen is one of those players who wasn't flashy but showed up for work every night and did his job. He started doing it 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. He went to three All-Star Games, but was traded to Dallas in the summer of 2003 and signed with Buffalo a season later. He retired after the 2008-09 season, having played 1,372 NHL games.
Honorable mention: Dave Christian
(1979), Alexei Zhamnov
Best later-round pick: Nikolai Khabibulin
(1992) -- The Jets took Khabibulin in the ninth round, 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 dealt to Tampa Bay in 2001, helping the Lightning win the franchise's first Stanley Cup in '04. He spent the next four seasons in Chicago, leading the Hawks to the Western Conference Finals in 2009 before signing with Edmonton, though injuries forced him to miss most of this past season.
Honorable mention: Thomas Steen
(1979), Igor Ulanov
Biggest disappointment: Scott Kelman
(1999) -- Kelman has seen a lot of the world while playing hockey -- but he's never played an NHL game. Phoenix took him with the 15th pick in '99, left him in junior, but never brought him to the NHL. He played with 13 teams after turning pro without putting up more than 15 goals or 47 points for any one team in a season -- not exactly what the Coyotes were counting on from a mid-first rounder.
Honorable mention: Patrick DesRochers
(1998), Jakub Koreis
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 fans might have expected from the second player taken in his draft year. Marleau has excelled in his two seasons under coach Todd McLellan
, scoring a career-high 38 goals in 2008-09, then topping that with 44 in 2009-10.
Honorable mention: Viktor Kozlov
(1993), Jeff Friesen
(1994), Brad Stuart
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 has long since outlasted No. 1 pick Pat Falloon
. Whitney is a late bloomer who didn't really come into his own until leaving San Jose -- he never scored 20 goals with the Sharks but has done it nine times since leaving in 1997. He just turned 38, but is coming off a 21-goal, 58-point season with Carolina and looks like he has some more years left.
Honorable mention: Jonathan Cheechoo
(1998), Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Best late-round pick: Evgeni Nabokov
(1994) -- The Sharks found a late-round gem when they spent a ninth-round pick on Nabokov, a young goaltender playing in Russia. He came to North America until 1997, spent two seasons in the AHL, and has been an NHL regular since 2000-01, when he won the Calder Trophy. Nabokov outlasted challenges from current NHL regulars Miikka Kiprusoff
and Vesa Toskala
, finally becoming the undisputed starter in 2007 and winning 131 games in the last three seasons.
Honorable mention: Miikka Kiprusoff
(1995), Joe Pavelski
Biggest disappointment: Teemu Riihijarvi
(1995) -- The Sharks chose the Finnish left wing with the 12th pick, but he never came to North America. Riihijarvi continued to play in Finland until 2003, spent two seasons in Sweden, and then retired after five games back in his home country in 2005-06. Through it all, Riihijarvi never scored more than 8 goals or 18 points in any season.
Honorable mention: Jeff Jillson
(1999), Mike Morris