By Ryan Porth
In part two of our week-long series, we take a gander at what the 2003 draft could have looked like (here was 2002 from yesterday). 2003 will likely go down as one of the best NHL draft classes in history.
Here’s how I think the draft would have played out seven years later…
1. Pittsburgh Penguins – Marc-Andre Fleury, G
Career stats: 302 GP, 148-106-2, 2.82 GAA, .907 SV%
Original selection: Marc-Andre Fleury
Pittsburgh’s franchise goaltender had a rough first impression in the NHL, but has been solid since. Fleury has 35-plus wins in three of the last four years, and was injured for a good chunk of the 2006/07 campaign. Add that to the Cup already on his resume, and I don’t think the Pens go a different route if they re-drafted.
2. Carolina Hurricanes – Eric Staal, C
Career stats: 479 GP, 193 G, 235 A, 428 Pts, -3
Original selection: Eric Staal
If you take out Staal’s rookie year in 2003/04, he has virtually been a point-per-game player. He’s been the heart of the Hurricanes for the last number of years, and took off once he received the ‘C’ in January. Staal was also a big factor in the Canes’ Cup run in 2006.
3. Florida Panthers – Shea Weber, D
Career stats: 320 GP, 64 G, 102 A, 166 Pts, +16
Original selection: Nathan Horton
I don’t believe there’s much arguing that Weber is a franchise defenseman in this league – he’s big, he’s mean, and he’s a force. He is an anchor in his own end while possessing one of the hardest and heaviest slapshots in the NHL today. Nashville definitely got a steal in round two with Weber.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets – Zach Parise, LW
Career stats: 407 GP, 160 G, 175 A, 335 Pts, +63
Original selection: Nikolai Zherdev
Parise just seems to get better and better with every year. He has tallied 176 points and a +54 rating in the last two seasons, leading the Devils to a pair of division titles. Parise is one of the more complete wingers in the league, and to think he can still get better is kind of scary.
5. Buffalo Sabres – Ryan Getzlaf, C
Career stats: 363 GP, 107 G, 232 A, 339 Pts, +64
Original selection: Thomas Vanek
Once Getzlaf fully develops, he’ll be one of the more dominant centers in the entire NHL. He has one of the biggest frames for a forward, and can put up points with the best of them. Buffalo could certainly use a big center like Getzlaf anchoring the top line, wouldn’t you say?
6. San Jose Sharks – Mike Richards, C
Career stats: 372 GP, 110 G, 173 A, 283 Pts, +28
Original selection: Milan Michalek
While Michalek was in San Jose, he was a very useful winger for the Sharks. Looking back, though, GM Doug Wilson could have done better at #6. Richards is a premier two-way center and does the little things that help his team win. And five years from now, I can see Richards being regarded as one of the best captains in the NHL.
7. Nashville Predators – Ryan Suter, D
Career stats: 393 GP, 27 G, 126 A, 153 Pts, +8
Original selection: Ryan Suter
If this draft was re-selected, I don’t think GM David Poile would venture off from taking Suter at this spot. The U.S. Olympian had his growing pains early, but his defensive has developed really well over the years. He is so calm and collected in his own zone, and plays in all situations.
8. Atlanta Thrashers – Corey Perry, RW
Career stats: 368 GP, 118 G, 153 A, 271 Pts, +35
Original selection: Braydon Coburn
Perry is one of the most hated players around the league… why? Because he does his job, and does it perfectly. He disrupts the netminder and can be a pest to opposing defensemen – all while scoring. Perry makes a big impact for Anaheim, and I wouldn’t rule out a 40-goal season in his future.
9. Calgary Flames – Brent Seabrook, D
Career stats: 392 GP, 30 G, 114 A, 144 Pts, +55
Original selection: Dion Phaneuf
I’m willing to bet the Flames would have liked to draft Seabrook instead of Phaneuf. Seabrook doesn’t have the offensive capabilities Phaneuf does, but the Blackhawks blueliner is better in his own end and has less defensive deficiencies.
10. Montreal Canadiens – Jeff Carter, C
Career stats: 381 GP, 145 G, 132 A, 277 Pts, +24
Original selection: Andrei Kostitsyn
Carter is known to be strictly a goal-scorer – and a streaky one at that. With that being said, Carter would give the Habs a dimension that can only be matched by Michael Cammalleri. The Flyers forward already a 46-goal season under his belt, and wouldn’t be surprised to see him flirt with 50 one day.
11. Philadelphia Flyers – Thomas Vanek, LW
Original selection: Jeff Carter
12. New York Rangers – Dion Phaneuf, D
Original selection: Hugh Jessiman
13. Los Angeles Kings – Dustin Brown, LW
Original selection: Dustin Brown
14. Chicago Blackhawks – Ryan Kesler, C
Original selection: Brent Seabrook
15. New York Islanders – Joe Pavelski, C
Original selection: Robert Nilsson
16. San Jose Sharks – Loui Eriksson, LW
Original selection: Steve Bernier
17. New Jersey Devils – Patrice Bergeron, C
Original selection: Zach Parise
18. Washington Capitals – Jaroslav Halak, G
Original selection: Eric Fehr
19. Anaheim Mighty Ducks – Nathan Horton, RW
Original selection: Ryan Getzlaf
20. Minnesota Wild – Milan Michalek, LW
Original selection: Brent Burns
21. Boston Bruins – David Backes, RW
Original selection: Mark Stuart
22. Edmonton Oilers – Nikolai Zherdev, LW
Original selection: Marc-Antoine Pouliot
23. Vancouver Canucks – Jimmy Howard, G
Original selection: Ryan Kesler
24. Philadelphia Flyers – Braydon Coburn, D
Original selection: Mike Richards
25. Florida Panthers – Matt Carle, D
Original selection: Anthony Stewart
26. Los Angeles Kings – Tobias Enstrom, D
Original selection: Brian Boyle
27. Los Angeles Kings – Andrei Kostitsyn, RW
Original selection: Jeff Tambellini
28. Anaheim Mighty Ducks – Dustin Byfuglien, RW
Original selection: Corey Perry
29. Ottawa Senators – Brian Elliott, G
Original selection: Patrick Eaves
30. St. Louis Blues – Lee Stempniak, RW
Original selection: Shawn Belle
** Ryan is a diehard hockey fan that would prefer to watch a Leafs-Islanders regular season replay over any NBA game! He’s been the editor in chief of RLD Hockey since it started in 2008, and also contributes to Inside Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter here.