San Jose enters the 2007 NHL Draft with the 41st selection. While history proves it difficult to find an NHL superstar taken at that exact juncture of the Draft, it’s evident that quality players can still be uncovered.
Take Dale Hunter for example. In 1979, Hunter was drafted 41st by the Quebec Nordiques. After spending a year in the OHL, Hunter transitioned into the NHL in 1980 and spent twenty years racking up more than 1,000 points in more than 1,400 games. He ranks second all-time in NHL career penalty minutes, among the top fifty NHL leaders for assists, and had his number retired after a 12-year career with the Washington Capitals.
While Hunter may have proved 41 to be lucky in 1979, many other teams have found success in and around the 40’s in the last couple years. The Sharks drafted Matt Carle at number 47 in 2003. Carle, who was recently named to the NHL All-Rookie Team for his play last season, led all rookie defensemen and finished sixth among all League rookies in points (11-31=42) in 77 games played.
Paul Stastny was drafted number 44 by the Colorado Avalanche in 2005. Stastny, a finalist for the 2007 NHL Calder Memorial Trophy, notched 78 points (28-50=78) this past season for the Colorado Avalanche. Shea Weber, who fans might remember from the Nashville series, was taken 49th in the 2003 Draft. In just his second year in the NHL, the big bruising defensemen averaged more than 20 minutes of ice time per game in the Western Conference Quarterfinals against San Jose, while logging significant time on the power play and posting three assists in the five game series.
It is highly unlikely that we will see San Jose’s 41st pick in a Sharks uniform next year. Second round selections are looked upon as prospects that develop over time, not ones that jump right into the big leagues. No one expects someone like Marc-Edouard Vlasic
in 2005) to come out of the word work as a 19-year-old and lead all rookie defensemen in ice time.
“We know it might take three of four years to get a guy ready for the NHL and we think that is our responsibility,” said Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson.
The 2007 NHL Draft will take place in Columbus, Ohio from June 22-23. For all the latest draft information, crash the net at sjsharks.com.