Just Take the Best Player: 2004 – 2007

How easy is it to draft the best player available? Should be pretty easy, but let’s see how successful teams have been. The first post about this covers 2000 to 2003, so let’s keep going with it.


This draft seems to be a bit of a rarity as the teams nailed it on the first two picks but after that, a huge failure by every team, many times. With the first overall pick, the Washington Capitals selected the best player available, Alex Ovechkin. With the number two selection in this draft, the Penguins selected fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin. Great, so far the teams are two for two in nailing the best player available. But Chicago had the third pick and went with Cam Barker. Using Point Shares, the difference between Barker and Malkin is more than 108 points. Huge. Who was the third best player available? That would be the player who was chosen 258th, by the Nashville Predators, Pekka Rinne. With the fourth selection in the draft, the Carolina Hurricanes took Andrew Ladd, but the fourth best player was Devan Dubnyk, taken 14th overall by Edmonton. And to fill out our top five, the Phoenix Coyotes actually did take the fifth best player available, Blake Wheeler.

1Alex OvechkinCapitals1Alex OvechkinCapitals
2Evgeni MalkinPenguins2Evgeni MalkinPenguins
3Cam BarkerBlackhawks258Pekka RinnePredators
4Andrew LaddHurricanes14Devan DubnykOilers
5Blake WheelerCoyotes5Blake WheelerCoyotes


Just like in 2004, the best player available was selected first overall. After that pick, teams weren’t terrible but also didn’t exactly nail it either. The first overall pick went to the Pittsburgh Penguins and they took Sidney Crosby. Crosby has about a 100 point lead in Point Shares over the actual second selection in the draft. The Ducks took Bobby Ryan second overall. The second best player overall was taken fifth, by the Montreal Canadiens, Carey Price. The third pick went to the Hurricanes and they took Jack Johnson. Imagine if the Hurricanes had instead taken the third best player available, Anze Kopitar. Kopitar was actually taken 11th overall by the Kings. The fourth pick in the draft went to the Minnesota Wild and they took Benoit Pouliot instead of a goalie, the fourth best player selected, Jonathan Quick. Quick was taken 72nd overall by the Kings. So yes, the Kings got the 3rd and 4th best players in the draft with the 11th and 72nd picks. And as noted earlier, the fifth pick in the draft was Montreal taking Carey Price. Some segments of the Bruins fan population might not like to hear who was the fifth best player available, goalie Tuukka Rask, selected 21st overall by Toronto and later traded to Boston for Andrew Raycroft.

1Sidney CrosbyPenguins1Sidney CrosbyPenguins
2Bobby RyanDucks5Carey PriceCanadiens
3Jack JohnsonHurricanes11Anze KopitarKings
4Benoit PouliotWild72Jonathan QuickKings
5Carey PriceCanadiens21Tuukka RaskMaple Leafs


In this draft, two top five best available were taken in the top five, but it wasn’t the top two picks. The Blues had the first overall pick and chose Erik Johnson. The Capitals were the fortunate ones, getting the best player available with the fourth overall pick, Nicklas Backstrom. The Penguins chose next and after hitting a home run the previous year with Crosby, took Jordan Staal. The Capitals got the second best player available in Semyon Varlamov with the 23rd overall pick. In spite of getting the top two best players in the draft, Varlamov wasn’t a part of the Caps’ Cup win. The Blackhawks chose third and took their current captain, Jonathan Toews. Toews has only been the fifth best player in that draft. The best available to the Blackhawks was Phil Kessel, taken fifth by the Bruins. Backstrom was next, taken 4th by the Caps, but the fourth overall best player in the draft was taken 71st, by the Bruins, Brad Marchand. Fifth overall was Kessel and fifth best was Toews.

1Erik JohnsonBlues4Nicklas BackstromCapitals
2Jordan StaalPenguins23Semyon VarlamovCapitals
3Jonathan ToewsBlackhawks5Phil KesselBruins
4Nicklas BackstromCapitals71Brad MarchandBruins
5Phil KesselBruins3Jonathan ToewsBlackhawks


In this draft, the first overall pick did nab the best overall player and then the rest of the top five is a bit of a mess. First overall was the Chicago Blackhawks and they did get the best available in Patrick Kane. Second was the Flyers who selected James van Riemsdyk. Definitely not a bad player but Jamie Benn has a higher PS score and was taken by Dallas with the 129th overall pick. Third was the Coyotes taking Kyle Turris instead of the third best player available, PK Subban, taken 43rd by the Canadiens. Next was the Kings, taking Thomas Hickey but the Canadiens did get the fourth best player available when they took Max Pacioretty at 22. Finishing out the top five was the Capitals taking Karl Alzner instead of the best available at this slot, Jakub Voracek, taken by the Blue Jackets with the 7th pick in the draft.

1Patrick KaneBlackhawks1Patrick KaneBlackhawks
2James van RiemsdykFlyers129Jamie BennStars
3Kyle TurrisCoyotes43PK SubbanCanadiens
4Thomas HickeyKings22Max PaciorettyCanadiens
5Karl AlznerCapitals7Jakub VoracekBlue Jackets

More coming soon!