Eric Staal At Top Of 2003 Draft Class

RALEIGH NC - NOVEMBER 29: Eric Staal #12 of the Carolina Hurricanes scores a second period goal against the Dallas Stars at the RBC Center on November 29 2010 in Raleigh North Carolina. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hockey experts have been saying the same thing for awhile now.  The first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft might have been the best group of picks in NHL history.  From the top of that first round, to the bottom, draftees are not only playing in the league, they are among the best players in the NHL. 

Several now serve as team captains, like Mike Richards, Dion Phaneuf, Dustin Brown, Eric Staal, and Ryan Getzlaf.  Others are stars in their own right.  That group includes Zach Parise, Jeff Carter, Nathan Horton, Thomas Vanek, Milan Michalek, and Ryan Kesler.  The list goes on and on.  

Out of all 30 athletes selected in that round, only one of them never played an NHL game. Hugh Jessiman, selected 12th overall by the New York Rangers has that distinction. 

Like any draft, 2003 had some great later round picks as well.  Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber, Lee Stempniak, David Backes, Joe Pavelski, Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott, and Dustin Byfuglien were all gems found after the first round.  

But the first round is what separates this draft from the rest.  Let's take a closer look after the jump.

Here are the results of the first round:

1. Marc-Andre Fluery, 2. Eric Staal, 3. Nathan Horton, 4. Nikolai Zherdev, 5. Thomas Vanek, 6. Milan Michalek, 7. Ryan Suter, 8. Braydon Coburn, 9. Dion Phaneuf, 10. Andrei Kostitsyn, 11. Jeff Carter, 12. Hugh Jessiman, 13.  Dustin Brown, 14. Brent Seabrook, 15.  Robert Nilsson, 16. Steve Bernier, 17.  Zach Parise, 18. Eric Fehr, 19. Ryan Getzlaf, 20. Brent Burns, 21. Mark Stuart, 22. Marc-Antoine Pouloit, 23. Ryan Kesler, 24. Mike Richards, 25. Anthony Stewart, 26. Brian Boyle, 27. Jeff Tambellini, 28. Corey Perry, 29. Patrick Eaves, 30. Shawn Belle.

Last week, when Staal played his 500th career game against Washington at the RBC, the Hurricanes media group passed out some interesting information about the center and his draft class.  I thought I would pass it along to our readers.

It seems that Staal is ranked number one in almost every major career scoring category compared to others in his draft.

(as of 11/24/10)

Goals

  1. Eric Staal 202
  2. Thomas Vanek 180
  3. Zach Parise 163
  4. Jeff Carter 155
  5. Nathan Horton 150
  6. Corey Perry 128
  7. Dustin Brown 122
  8. Mike Richards 119
  9. Milan Michalek 118
  10. Ryan Getzlaf 114

Assists

  1. Eric Staal 249  
  2. Ryan Getzlaf 246
  3. Patrice Bergeron 191
  4. Mike Richards 188
  5. Zach Parise 178
  6. Corey Perry 166
  7. Dion Phaneuf 165
  8. Nathan Horton 163
  9. Thomas Vanek 150
  10. Nikolai Zherdev 141

Points

  1. Eric Staal 415
  2. Ryan Getzlaf 360
  3. Zach Parise 341
  4. Thomas Vanek 330
  5. Nathan Horton 313
  6. Mike Richards 307
  7. Jeff Carter 294
  8. Corey Perry 294
  9. Patrice Bergeron 293
  10. Dustin Brown 262

Games Played

  1. Eric Staal 500
  2. Dustin Brown 451
  3. Nathan Horton 441
  4. Ryan Kesler 422
  5. Zach Parise 419
  6. Dion Phaneuf 415
  7. Brent Seabrook 415
  8. Thomas Vanek 411
  9. Jeff Carter 403
  10. Ryan Suter 401

Unlike the beginning of last season, when he fought through injuries and personal tragedy, the center is currently at the top of his game and his numbers show it.  

The three time All Star is currently on pace for a 41 goal, 96 point season, which would approach a career best.  

How many points could Staal rack up if he had an elite performer on his wing?  That's a question many Caniacs would love to see answered.

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