As we wait and wonder where top free agent Ilya Kovalchuk might end up, I thought I might take a stab at re-drawing the first round of his draft class in 2001.
The Class of 2001 was a middle-of-the-road group, which probably made it even tougher for scouts at the time. In my re-draft, I found there were many close decisions, but the top pick wasn't one of them.
The Thrashers made the right pick. The ace sniper stays at the top of the draft class. Kovalchuk has 642 career points, which is 167 more points than anyone else in the class. Can he be part of a winning team? He's yet to prove that. As an unrestricted free agent, he'll get to choose his next destination. Stay tuned.
I'll keep the lanky pivot in the No. 2 hole. He has averaged more than a point per game across 464 career games. That's impressive. The Senators might be looking to move him in the coming weeks.
He's a strong two-way pivot with good size to go with nice finishing and playmaking skills. Koivu has gotten better with each passing season.
Although his goal and point totals have taken a slight dip in each of the past two seasons after a 32-goal, 81-point 2007-08 campaign, Roy has developed into a consistent performer.
Selected at the bottom of the third round by the Flyers, Sharp has become a versatile No. 2 pivot for the Blackhawks. He has won a championship at both the NHL and AHL levels.
After stops in Los Angeles and with the Calgary Flames, Cammalleri seems to have found a home in Montreal. He has 158 career goals. Of his classmates, only Kovalchuk and Spezza have more.
In his draft class, he's played more regular season games (483) than any other defenseman. You'll be hearing his name quite a bit in the coming weeks as he'll be among the more coveted free agent defensemen on the market. Hamhuis has been a nice second-pair defender in Nashville. His next employer might be paying him to do more.
The Jackets drafted a goalie in this spot nine years ago (Pascal Leclaire); they just drafted the wrong one. Anderson was a late bloomer who comes off a breakout season in Denver.
The super-skilled Czech frustrates fans by passing up shot opportunities in search of the pretty play. Hemsky missed most of last season due to injury. His 353 career points ranks him third among his classmates (behind Kovalchuk and Spezza).
10. New York Rangers: Marek Zidlicky, D, Wild (2001: No. 176, Rangers)
After being discarded by the Rangers, the offensive-minded defenseman took advantage of opportunity in Nashville. Now in Minnesota, Zidlicky has compiled 260 points (207 assists) in 461 regular season games. To date, he's the highest-scoring defenseman in the class.
The speedy winger has been good for at least 62 points in each of the last four seasons, not missing a game in that time. Pominville had a career-best 80 points during 2007-08. He'd move up in a re-draw.
12. Nashville Predators: Tomas Plekanec, C, Canadiens (2001: No. 71)
The Czech-born pivot enjoyed a bounce-back campaign this season, putting up a career-best 70 points. The timing was perfect. He can be an unrestricted free agent next month. A third-rounder (71st overall) in '01, he'd be a first-rounder if we were picking again today.
13. Edmonton Oilers: Stephen Weiss, C, Florida Panthers (2001: No. 4)
At 27, Weiss is making some strides forward. He put up a career-best 28 goals last season. The Panthers likely expected more when they took him with the fourth overall pick.
The ultra-competitive Finn has overcome some significant injuries to continue his career in Carolina. His health issues have limited his productivity. At the real draft, the Flames traded back from No. 11 to No. 14 after he went off the board to Chicago at No. 9.
15. Carolina Hurricanes: Tim Gleason, D, Hurricanes (2001: No. 23, Senators)
This gritty competitor has become a fixture on the Hurricanes' blue line after a couple of seasons in L.A. He skated for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Nine years ago, GM Jim Rutherford wanted Chuck Kobasew in this spot. When he went off the board one pick too soon, they selected Russian Igor Knyazev, who never played a game in the NHL.
A steady performer during four-plus seasons in San Jose, Ehrhoff registered career highs with 14 goals and 44 points during his first year in Vancouver. He also posted an impressive plus-36 rating. Ehrhoff was a member of Germany's Olympic team. He moves way up the list in a re-draw.
Don't you just love how the last three players have been assigned to the teams they're currently skating for? Maybe it was meant to be. Despite missing a good portion of the 2009-10 season due to injury, Komisarek's 395 regular season games ranks him sixth among defensemen in this draft class.
Acquired from Ottawa in a deal that sent veteran sniper Peter Bondra to the Senators, Laich has become a key contributor during the Caps' resurgence over the past three seasons. Last year, he posted career bests with 25 goals, 34 assists and 59 points. Plus, after painful losses, he's the kind of guy that's willing to stop and help a fan change a tire. The 193rd pick would go much higher in a re-draft.
A shootout specialist since arriving in the league in 2005, Jokinen had a breakout 30-goal, 65-point campaign in Carolina last season. He was selected just before Laich in '01. I figure he'd go just after him nine years later.
The scrappy winger with a little attitude would look good in teal. He'll likely test the open market this summer. Could a second stint in Pittsburgh be in the cards?
21. Pittsburgh Penguins: R.J. Umberger, C/W, Columbus Blue Jackets (2001: No. 16, Canucks)
With Armstrong off the board, the Penguins take the local kid. Umberger has put up back-to-back 20-goal seasons in Columbus.
22. Buffalo Sabres: Chuck Kobasew, RW, Wild (2001: No. 14, Flames)
The former Boston College star helped the Flames to the Cup final in '04. Since then, he has been slowed by injuries.
23. Ottawa Senators: Pascal Leclaire, G, Senators (2001: No. 8, Blue Jackets)
Leclaire is another guy that's been dogged by injuries during his career. He was displaced as the starter by Steve Mason in Columbus before landing in Ottawa. I figure the Sens would grab him in the re-draw.
24. Florida Panthers: Kyle Wellwood, C, Canucks (2001: No. 134, Leafs)
A clever player, the shifty pivot earned a spot in Vancouver after leaving Toronto. Fast fact: Wellwood has just 30 penalty minutes in 338 regular season games.
25. Montreal Canadiens: Marek Svatos, RW, Colorado Avalanche (2001: No. 227)
The Canadiens have been a smaller, quicker team in recent years. Svatos fits that mold.
26. Dallas Stars: Ryane Clowe, LW, Sharks (2001: No. 175)
The Stars like tough, competitive players. Clowe would have been a fit in Big D.
27. Philadelphia Flyers: Jordin Tootoo, RW, Predators (2001: No. 98)
You just know Philly fans would have loved to watch Tootoo's search and destroy forechecking style. He might have been a legend in Orange and Black.
28. New Jersey Devils: Johnny Oduya, D, Thrashers (2001: No. 221, Capitals)
The smooth-skating Swede made his mark in the NHL with New Jersey. The Devils could grab him with this late first-round pick. That would have been a better pick than Adrian Foster, who hasn't played a big league game.
29. Chicago Blackhawks: Kevin Bieksa, D, Canucks (2001: No. 151)
The fifth-round pick has made a home for himself in Vancouver with his gritty style. He'd be a candidate for selection in later stages of the first round in a re-draw.
30. Los Angeles Kings: Fedor Tyutin, D, Blue Jackets (2001: No. 40, Rangers)
The Russian-born Tyutin has developed into a solid second-pair defender. The Rangers probably should have kept him. In my re-draft, he moves up 10 spots and 3,000 miles west.