With the news that Zach Boychuk has been put back on waivers for the 3rd time this season, it got me thinking of the players the Canes could have selected instead of him. Whether they would have been more helpful or not or was he the right player around that draft position. Then I expanded my thinking to the past ten years of the NHL Draft, focusing on just the first two rounds. Who did the Canes select? Was that the best choice for that draft position? Who would I have taken in hindsight? And how could the roster look if those hindsight choice were made? I did limit myself to either the Canes kept the player they selected or I selected a player that went within the next five picks afterwards. Example: the Canes selected Danny Richmond with the 31st pick in 2003, I could either keep that pick or pick someone that went between the 32nd and 36th pick. So Shea Weber, who went with the 49th pick was out of the range I set for myself.
So lets revisit the last 10 NHL Draft and ask ourselves, What If.
2003 NHL Draft
Eric Staal has been one of the better forwards in the league since 2005. He has accumulated 264 goals and 608 points in 671 games (0.91ppg). He has won a Stanley Cup, an Olympic Gold Medal and has been selected to the All-Star team four times. Of the next five players drafted, only Thomas Vanek or Ryan Suter would possibly be considered in Staal's class.
Danny Richmond has played in a total of 49 NHL games in his career and is currently not signed with a NHL team. He never scored a goal at the NHL level and was a -12 in those 49 games. Loui Eriksson on the other hand has been a pretty successful player for the Dallas Stars. In 481 NHL games, he has scored 147 goals and registers 347 points (0.72ppg). He is a solid two-way winger and has been selected to the All-Star game once.
2004 NHL Draft
Andrew Ladd was the type of player the Canes needed and still do need. A big, powerful forward who also has skills. While he didn't develop fast in Carolina, his game really took off with Chicago and now Winnipeg. He has 134 goals and 288 points in 514 games (0.56ppg), but he has really picked that up the past three seasons. And Andrew Ladd did turn into Tuomo Ruutu for the Canes. They are similar type players and Ruutu does have 299 points in 532 games (0.56ppg). Blake Wheeler is the only other player I would have considered within the next five picks.
Bryan Bickell would have been my selection here, but probably only by the slightest margins over Justin Peters. Peters hasn't really established himself as a NHL goalie, but he's been adequate. He is 13-13-3 with a .901 save percentage in his NHL career. Bryan Bickell is another type of player the Canes are still looking to get. He has great size and has some ability to go with it. He is a perfect 3rd liner in the NHL. In 201 games, he has 37 goals and 84 points (0.42ppg) plus 400 career hits, not too bad.
2005 NHL Draft
Jack Johnson could be argued as the proper selection here because the Canes had drafted Cam Ward in the 1st Round in 2002, but Ward had yet to play a professional game and Carey Price was a highly touted prospect. Price has been a very good goalie for Montreal, posting a 139-108-39 record with a .916 save percentage. He's been named to the All-Star team three times and is expected to be one of Canada's goaltenders in the upcoming Olympics. Johnson has had a pretty good NHL career though. He has 152 points in 390 games (0.39ppg) from the blueline. But his career +/- is not good at -94 and his character/attitude has been a question. He actually never played for the Canes, but did turn into Tim Gleason.
To say Nate Hagemo has had an underwhelming career would probably be an overstatement. I found more information about off-ice troubles than I did about his playing career. He's only played in 4 professional games and they were in the ECHL in 2008/2009. While a guy five positions, Kris Letang, has turned into one of the better defensemen in the NHL. Letang has won a Stanley Cup, been an All-Star twice and currently leads all defensemen in points. In his career, Letang has amassed a +37 and 199 points in 377 games (0.53ppg). A pretty big difference between who the Canes chose and who they could have selected.
2006 NHL Draft
The Canes had no 1st Round Pick this year and selected Jamie McBain at #63. The Canes should have selected Jamie McBain at #63.
The Canes didn't have a 1st Round Pick because of the Doug Weight trade with St. Louis. But with the last pick of the 2nd Round, they selected Jamie McBain. While some of us here have many complaints about McBain, he's definitely the best current player directly around his draft position. He does have 19 goals and 73 points in his 188 NHL games (0.39ppg), which is pretty good for a young offensive defenseman. He is even a combined +5 in his Hurricanes career.
2007 NHL Draft
The Canes selected Brandon Sutter at #11 and did not have a 2nd Round Pick this year. The Canes should have selected Brandon Sutter at #11.
The Canes didn't have a 2nd Round Pick because of the Mark Recchi trade with Pittsburgh. But the Canes 1st Round Selection appears to be the correct one in Brandon Sutter There are a few good players that went right after Sutter in Ryan McDonagh, Lars Eller and Kevin Shattenkirk, but Sutter in my opinion is the best one so far. Sutter has 61 goals and 120 points in 317 games (0.38ppg), mainly as a defensive, checking line center. He is also a combined +14 in his career with Carolina and Pittsburgh. Sutter was also a pretty key piece for the Hurricanes acquisition of Jordan Staal this past summer.
2008 NHL Draft
The Canes selected Zach Boychuk at #14 and Zac Dalpe at #45. The Canes should have selected Erik Karlsson at #14 and Zac Dalpe at #45.
Zach Boychuk has suppose to be a Ray Whitney type of player and still could, but he has never really had the fire to establish himself as a bonafide NHL player. He only has 8 goals and 20 points in 85 NHL games (0.24ppg), but the main issue is that he never could grab hold of a roster spot. And while there were some good players that were selected behind him, the pick right after him turned out to be one amazing defenseman. Erik Karlsson has been a two-time All-Star and last year won the Norris Trophy. In 230 games, he has accumulated 43 goals and 159 points (0.69ppg). While he isn't the best defensive defenseman in the game, his offensive abilities are undeniable. And talk about the Canes needing Power Play help, Karlsson has 62 PP points in four seasons.
When looking at the 2nd Round, Zac Dalpe appears to be just as good or better than the selected directly behind him. He only has 4 goals and 9 points in 38 NHL games, but he still has potential to be a solid NHLer. The big thing for him will be to solidify a roster spot at the NHL level. He was proven himself at the AHL level, but now the next challenge is in front of him.
2009 NHL Draft
Philippe Paradis was a reach the moment the Canes said his name. He's got nice size, but hasn't proven that he was worth the 1st Round Pick. The best thing about Paradis is that he was traded for Jiri Tlusty, who has been a nice addition to the organization. Simon Despres would have been my selection because of his upside. He is a good size defenseman with an all-around game. He's still really young, but so far in 40 games he has 3 goals, 10 points and a +13 rating. And I would guess that he could have gotten Tlusty also, maybe even more.
I kept the Canes selection of Brian Dumoulin, mainly because he and the players selected directly behind him have only proved to have potential at the NHL level. Dumoulin was a quality collegiate player and is still waiting for his first NHL game, but it appears that he will get that opportunity. Dumoulin was also another key piece of the trade that brought Jordan Staal to Raleigh.
2010 NHL Draft
Jeff Skinner was obviously the best choice at this pick. While there are some good young players behind him, Skinner has proven to be the top player to this point. He has won Rookie of the Year and been selected to an All-Star game. Skinner has 60 goals and 125 points in 170 games so far (0.74ppg). He is definitely a dynamic player and it could be argued that he is the best player in the draft to this point.
Justin Faulk was a great find early in the 2nd Round. There are a couple of interesting prospects that were just behind him, but Faulk appears to be turning into a very good player. Some have even speculated that he would be on the US Olympic team in 2014. We was on the NHL All-Rookie Team last season and through 94 games, he has 11 goals and 32 points (0.34ppg).
I left Mark Alt as the selection at #53 because no one else really impressed me immediately after him. Alt was traded by Carolina this summer as part of a package to Philadelphia that brought back Luke Pither. Both Alt and Pither are still young players that have a chance to become useful depth players.
2011 NHL Draft
Ryan Murphy is an exciting offensive defenseman, but is small and doesn't really feel a need for the Canes. He did get his first NHL experience this season and should be able to develop into a true NHL player. Jamie Oleksiak is also getting his first taste of the NHL this season and his size is just what the Canes need. He only has 2 assists so far, but does have 32 hits in his 16 games. This class is really so young, that its hard to predict which player will have the better career.
Victor Rask appears to be a quality player at #42. He was about a ppg player in his first season in North America, but there is still some developing that he will need to do and it is uncertain when he will get his first chance in the NHL. Brandon Saad on the other hand got his initial shot last season and is working in the top 6 with Chicago this season. Saad has some good size for the forward position and has accumulated 4 goals and 15 points in 31 NHL games (0.48ppg)
2012 NHL Draft
The Canes had no 1st Round Pick this year, they selected Phillip Disiuseppe at #38 and Brock McGinn at #47. Since this is so recent, I won't even speculate as to whom the Canes should have chosen. At this point, these two picks seem as good as any others.
So I know this is all speculation and one pick one year would/could have changed every pick afterwards, but just imagine what the Canes could have looked like with the drafting and development of these players. Obviously with Cam Ward drafted in 2002, either he or Carey Price would have been traded and probably for a nice return. I'll also assume that Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the 2012 1st Round Pick would still be traded for Jordan Staal. Just imagine some of the roster players the Canes would have, not a bad freaking roster!
Center - Eric Staal, Jordan Staal
Left Wing - Jeff Skinner, Andrew Ladd, Brandon Saad, Bryan Bickell, Phillip Disiuseppe, Brock McGinn
Right Wing - Loui Eriksson, Zac Dalpe
Left Defensemen - Simon Despres, Jamie Oleksiak
Right Defensemen - Erik Karlsson, Kris Letang, Justin Faulk, Jamie McBain, Mark Alt
Goalie - Carey Price