THIS DATE IN HISTORY: June 26
2004: Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, a pair of future stars, are the first two players taken at the NHL Draft in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Ovechkin, selected No. 1 by the Washington Capitals, scores 52 goals as a rookie in 2005-06 and wins the Calder Trophy. In 2015-16, he becomes the first Russia-born player to score 500 goals in the League, and he powers the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup championship in 2017-18, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after a five-game victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in the Final. He becomes the eighth member of the NHL's 700-goal club on Feb. 22, 2020.
Malkin, taken by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the No. 2 pick, wins the Calder in 2007; two years later, he earns the Conn Smythe Trophy after helping Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1992. He leads all players in scoring during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, helping the Penguins become the first team in 19 years to win back-to-back championships.
Video: Reflecting on Ovechkin's path to lift the Stanley Cup
1993: The second-year Ottawa Senators use the No. 1 pick at the NHL Draft in Quebec to select highly touted forward Alexandre Daigle from Victoriaville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Daigle scores 20 goals and has 51 points as a rookie, but finishes his NHL career with 129 goals and 327 points in 616 games. The Hartford Whalers, picking second, fare much better when they select defenseman Chris Pronger, who goes on to earn induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.
1999: The NHL's newest team, the Atlanta Thrashers, select forward Patrik Stefan with the No. 1 pick at the draft in Boston. But the real prizes of the day belong to the Vancouver Canucks, who wheel and deal in order to get the second and third picks and select twin brothers Daniel Sedin (No. 2) and Henrik Sedin (No. 3). The biggest prize in the late stages of the draft goes to the Detroit Red Wings, who take forward Henrik Zetterberg in the seventh round (No. 210).
2001: Ray Bourque, the highest-scoring defenseman in NHL history, retires a few weeks after finally winning the Stanley Cup. The last act of Bourque's 22 NHL seasons is to carry the Cup around the ice after the Colorado Avalanche defeat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 in Game 7 of the 2001 Final. After 20-plus seasons with the Boston Bruins without winning a championship, he's traded to Colorado on March 6, 2000. Fifteen months later, he retires as a champion. Bourque retires with more goals (410), assists (1,169), and points (1,579) than any defenseman in NHL history.
2015; Connor McDavid is taken No. 1 by the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL Draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. McDavid, a center with Erie of the Ontario Hockey League, is the No. 1 North American skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rakings and regarded by many as a generational talent. The Oilers select him after jumping from third to first by winning the NHL Draft Lottery, and he wins the NHL scoring championship in his second and third seasons in the League. The Buffalo Sabres, picking second, select Jack Eichel, a center from Boston University; the Arizona Coyotes take McDavid's teammate, forward Dylan Strome, with the No. 3 pick.
Video: Oilers draft F Connor McDavid No. 1
2018: Willie O'Ree, the first black player in NHL history, is among six people elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. O'Ree, later the NHL's Ambassador of Diversity, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman are voted into the Hall in the Builders category; Martin Brodeur, the winningest goalie in NHL history, and longtime Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis are elected in their first year of eligibility. Also voted into the Hall are Alexander Yakushev, a forward who excelled for the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and Jayna Hefford, a four-time Olympic gold medalist in women's hockey for Canada.
2019: Roberto Luongo, one of three NHL goalies to play in more than 1,000 games, announces his retirement after 19 seasons, 11 of them with the Florida Panthers. He retires with 489 victories, third on the all-time list, 28,409 saves (second), a 2.52 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. Though the Montreal native wins two Olympic gold medals with Canada, he retires without a Stanley Cup championship; Luongo gets the Vancouver Canucks to Game 7 of the Cup Final in 2011, but they lose to the Boston Bruins.