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Kane still tops Class of 2007

by Corey Masisak

Note: will take a look back at the NHL drafts from five, 10 and 15 years ago this week leading up to the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. How would a redux of those drafts look today?

The 2007 draft was the beginning of an American revolution of sorts -- U.S. kids went 1-2 in the draft for the first time and a record 10 went in the first round, a number that was matched the following year.

Another storyline on draft day was the fall of two prominent prospects. Angelo Esposito was considered the top player in this draft class as a 16-year-old, but his stock fell and he ended up at No. 20 to Pittsburgh. Alexei Cherepanov was the top-rated European prospect and another contender for the No. 1 spot, and he dropped to the New York Rangers at No. 17.

Five years later, Patrick Kane is the undisputed top player from the Class of 2007. Choosing the guy who would go No. 2 could be an interesting discussion, but San Jose's Logan Couture has a pretty strong case.

This draft has not produced a lot of impact players to this point, and there are tiered drop-offs right around the Nos. 10 and 20 picks.

Another theme from this draft -- it was a black hole at goaltender. Granted, it is only five years out and it is a position that takes a long time to develop, but the goalies from the 2007 NHL Draft have combined to play in 12 NHL games -- Allen York had 11 for Columbus this past season and Timo Pielmeier played one for Anaheim in 2010-11.

As a reminder after completing this exercise last June, this draft re-do does involve a fair amount of projection. A lot of these players are not fully developed yet, and this list could look dramatically different two years or five years from now. Looking back at the 2002 and 1997 drafts in the coming days will involve a lot less projection.

So, here's what the 2007 NHL Draft might look like if there was a do-over in June 2012:

Rank Player Drafted Skinny
1 Patrick Kane 1 Easy choice here -- the only franchise player to come from this draft
2 Logan Couture 9 Got a later start, but back-to-back outstanding seasons for San Jose
3 Jamie Benn 129 Another guy just getting started, could make many all-star teams with Dallas
4 PK Subban 43 Dynamic and fun to watch, the best defenseman in this class …
5 Ryan McDonagh 12 … unless this guy passes him; both can be No. 1 guys in this League
6 Karl Alzner 5 Two great seasons, lacks offensive upside but can be an elite No. 2 d-man
7 David Perron 26 Could still be the No. 2 guy from this class, but concussion slowed him
8 Max Pacioretty 22 Great season, even without the injury from the year before; top-line forward
9 Kevin Shattenkirk 14 Third wheel in Erik Johnson-Chris Stewart trade -- he's better than both of them
10 James van Riemsdyk 2 Injuries and depth have slowed him; still a top-line power forward in there
11 Wayne Simmonds 61 28 goals might be high, but could score 20-25 consistently with all kinds of jam
12 Brandon Sutter 11 Can be a top shutdown center with a splash of offense
13 Sam Gagner 6 Had one great week in '11-12, otherwise still not a No. 2 center for a contender
14 Kyle Turris 3 Looked like a bust, but move to Ottawa offers hope he's a late bloomer
15 Jakub Voracek 7 Another guy who benefited from a trade; a solid secondary scorer
16 Carl Hagelin 168 Nice rookie season, and he's really, really, really fast
17 Carl Gunnarsson 194 Several d-men in Toronto make more money, but aren't as solid
18 Brendan Smith 27 Red Wings have taken their time, but could be a top-four d-man next year
19 Alec Martinez 95 No. 6 defenseman on a title winner with some room still to grow
20 Lars Eller 13 Could be a nice long-term fit as Montreal's No. 3 center
21 Justin Falk 110 One of several young rearguards with promise in Minnesota
22 T.J. Galiardi 55 Has three more NHL goals, two less points in one less game than Turris
23 Ian Cole 18 Like Smith, Blues have been patient but talent is there
24 Matt Frattin 99 Scored 27 goals in 36 AHL games, should be full-time in Toronto next year
25 Matt Halischuk 117 Had a 15-goal season for Nashville, but sat for much of the postseason
26 Dwight King 109 One of many unsung postseason heroes for the champs
27 Keaton Ellerby 10 Can still be a second-pair defenseman, but has work to do
28 Nick Spaling 58 Less offense than Halischuk, but has Barry Trotz's trust
29 Mikael Backlund 24 Flames have needed him to be scoring-line center, hasn't been yet
30 Dustin Jeffrey 171 Had some chances, but nothing permanent on team stocked at center
Missing first-round picks: Thomas Hickey (4), Zach Hamill (8), Alex Plante (15), Colton Gillies (16), Alexei Cherepanov (17), Logan MacMillan (19), Angelo Esposito (20), Riley Nash (21), Jonathan Blum (23), Patrick White (25), Nick Petrecki (28), Jim O'Brien (29), Nick Ross (30)
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