Welcome to the crapshoot

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

There's a reason the NHL draft is commonly referred to as a crapshoot.

Aside from the obvious, teams are often left to make educated guesses when it comes time to select a player.

While you would think it wouldn't be too hard to identify a first-rounder, along comes an Adrian Foster (New Jersey, 2001), Artem Kryukov (Buffalo, 2000) or a Michael Henrich (Edmonton, 1998), and that belief quickly goes down the drain.

Most scouts are the backbone of an organization, exceptionally skilled observers and extremely hard working individuals. But history suggests there are others who couldn't pin the tail on a donkey even with the blindfold sitting on the table.

In the most recent examples, the jury is naturally still out on many of the early picks. More time is needed to complete a full evaluation of last year's draft.

The top choice, Patrick Kane, had 21 goals and 72 points while playing in every one of the Chicago Blackhawks' 82 games.

James Van Riemsdyk, a big left winger selected off the US national under- 18 team by the Philadelphia Flyers with the No. 2 pick, had 11 goals and more than a point a game as a freshman at the University of New Hampshire. Similar numbers were thrown together by Canada junior team star Kyle Turris with the Wisconsin Badgers, before the No. 3 pick signed an entry- level deal with the Phoenix Coyotes and played the last three games of the schedule for Wayne Gretzky's team.

No. 6 pick Sam Gagner made an immediate splash with the Edmonton Oilers, first cracking the lineup, then scoring 13 goals and 36 assists in 79 games as an 18-year-old. Also playing in the NHL and scoring 13 goals as a rookie was David Perron, the St. Louis Blues second, first round pick. But the rest of the last season's first-rounders continued their development with either their junior, college team or -- in the case of the Blues' Lars Eller and highly touted Russian Alexei Cherepanov -- on the other side of the Atlantic.

The top nine picks and 14 of the 30 first-rounders in 2006 (including No. 28, Ottawa's Nick Foligno) saw time in the NHL last season. At least the first five look like they're destined for stardom: St. Louis defenceman Erik Johnson, Pittsburgh centre Jordan Staal, Chicago centre Jonathan Toews, Washington centre Nicklas Backstrom and Boston C/LW Phil Kessel. The early prediction as the "sleeper" of that particular lottery is Claude Giroux, the Gatineau Olympiques (and Canadian junior team) star the Philadelphia Flyers scooped with the 22nd pick overall.

Boston GM Peter Chiarelli, however, appears to have laid claim to the coup of the draft with the second-round selection (50th overall) of winger Milan Lucic, already a top player on the Bruins.

1999 DRAFT ... WE RE-DO THE SELECTIONS

How it went

1. Atlanta: Patrik Stefan, C, 455 GP, 188 PTS

2. Vancouver: Daniel Sedin, LW, 560 GP, 380 PTS

3. Vancouver: Henrik Sedin, C, 564 GP, 378 PTS

4. New York Rangers: Pavel Brendl, F, 78 GP, 22 PTS

5. New York Islanders: Tim Connolly, C, 438 GP, 241 PTS

6. Nashville: Brian Finley, G, 4 GP

7. Washington: Kris Beech, C, 198 GP, 67 PTS

8. New York Islanders: Taylor Pyatt, LW, 463 GP, 172 PTS

9. New York Rangers: Jamie Lundmark, C, 232 GP, 71 PTS

10. New York Islanders: Branislav Mezei, D, 240 GP, 24 PTS

11. Calgary: Oleg Saprykin, LW, 325 GP, 137 PTS

12. Florida: Denis Shvidki, RW, 76 GP, 25 PTS

13. Edmonton: Jani Rita, LW, 66 GP, 14 PTS

14. San Jose: Jeff Jillson, D, 140 GP, 41 PTS

15. Phoenix: Scott Kelman, C, 0 GP, 0 PTS

16. Carolina: Dave Tanabe, D, 449 GP, 114 PTS

17. St. Louis: Barrett Jackman, D, 309 GP, 75 PTS

18. Pittsburgh: Konstantin Koltsov, RW, 144 GP, 38 PTS

19. Phoenix: Kirill Safronov, D, 35 GP, 4 PTS

20. Buffalo: Barrett Heisten, LW, 10 GP, 0 PTS

21. Boston: Nick Boynton, D, 437 GP, 107 PTS

22. Philadelphia: Maxime Ouellet, G, 12 GP

23. Chicago: Steve McCarthy, D, 302 GP, 55 PTS

24. Toronto: Luca Cereda, C, 0 GP, 0 PTS

25. Colorado: Mikhail Kuleshov, LW, 3 GP, 0 PTS

26. Ottawa: Martin Havlat, LW, 389 GP, 319 PTS

27. New Jersey: Ari Ahonen, G, 0 GP, 0 PTS

28. New York Islanders: Kristian Kudroc, D, 26 GP, 4 PTS

How it should have gone

1. Atlanta: Henrik Zetterberg, C, (7th Round, 210th overall) 355 GP, 332 PTS

2. Vancouver: Daniel Sedin, LW, 560 GP, 380 PTS

3. Vancouver: Henrik Sedin, C, 564 GP, 378 PTS

4. New York Rangers: Martin Havlat, LW, 389 GP, 319 PTS

5. New York Islanders: Ryan Miller, G, (5th Round, 138th overall) 205 GP, 112 W, 2.69 GAA, .908 save percentage

6. Nashville: Ryan Malone, RW, (4th Round, 115th overall) 299 GP, 169 PTS

7. Washington: Mike Comrie, C, (3rd Round, 91st overall), 462 GP, 311 PTS

8. New York Islanders: Tim Connolly, C, 438 GP, 241 PTS

9. New York Rangers: Taylor Pyatt, LW, 463 GP, 172 PTS

10. New York Islanders: Martin Erat, LW, (7th Round, 191 overall), 407 GP, 253 PTS

BEST NHL DRAFT: 1979

1. Colorado: Rob Ramage, D, 1044 GP, 564 PTS

2. St. Louis: Perry Turnbull, LW, 608 GP, 351 PTS

3. Detroit: Mike Foligno, F, 1018 GP, 727 PTS

4. Washington: Mike Gartner, RW, 1432 GP, 1335 PTS

5. Vancouver: Rick Vaive, RW, 876 GP, 788 PTS

6. Minnesota: Craig Hartsburg, D, 570 GP, 413 PTS

7. Chicago: Keith Brown, D, 876 GP, 342 PTS

8. Boston: Ray Bourque, D, 1612 GP, 1579 PTS

9. Toronto: Laurie Boschman, C, 1009 GP, 577 PTS

10. Minnesota: Tom McCarthy, F, 460 GP, 399 PTS

11. Buffalo: Mike Ramsey, D, 1070 GP, 345 PTS

12. Atlanta: Paul Reinhart, D, 648 GP, 560 PTS

13. New York Rangers: Doug Sulliman, F, 631 GP, 329 PTS

14. Philadelphia: Brian Propp, LW, 1016 GP, 1044 PTS

15. Boston: Brad McCrimmon, D, 1222 GP, 403 PTS

16. Los Angeles: Jay Wells, D, 1098 GP, 263 PTS

17. New York Islanders: Duane Sutter, RW, 731 GP, 342 PTS

18. Hartford: Ray Allison, RW, 238 GP, 157 PTS

19. Winnipeg: Jimmy Mann, RW, 293 GP, 30 PTS

20. Quebec: Michel Goulet, F, 1089 GP, 1152 PTS

21. Edmonton: Kevin Lowe, D, 1254 GP, 432 PTS

OTHER NOTABLES:

Lindy Ruff (32nd); Mats Naslund (37th); Dale Hunter (41st); Neal Broten (42nd); Guy Carbonneau (44th); Mark Messier (48th); Glenn Anderson (69th); Jim Peplinski (75th); Thomas Steen (103rd)

WORST NHL DRAFT: 1996

1. Ottawa: Chris Phillips, D, 699 GP, 182 PTS

2. San Jose: Andrei Zyuzin, D, 496 GP, 120 PTS

3. New York Islanders: J.P. Dumont, RW, 596 GP, 394 PTS

4. Washington, Alexandre Volchkov, RW, 3 GP, 0 PTS

5. Dallas: Richard Jackman, D, 231 GP, 77 PTS

6. Edmonton: Boyd Devereaux, C, 604 GP, 168 PTS

7. Buffalo: Erik Rasmussen, C, 545 GP, 128 PTS

8. Boston: Johnathan Aitken, D, 44 GP, 1 PT

9. Anaheim: Ruslan Salei, D, 758 GP, 167 PTS

10. New Jersey: Lance Ward, D, 209 GP, 16 PTS

11. Phoenix: Dan Focht, D, 82 GP, 8 PTS

12. Vancouver: Josh Holden, C, 60 GP, 14 PTS

13. Calgary: Derek Morris, D, 718 PTS, 320 PTS

14. St. Louis: Marty Reasoner, C, 465 GP, 176 PTS

15. Philadelphia: Dainius Zubrus, RW, 771 GP, 398 PTS

16. Tampa Bay: Mario Larocque, D, 5 GP, 0 PTS

17. Washington: Jaroslav Svejkovsky, LW, 113 GP, 42 PTS

18. Montreal: Matt Higgins, C, 57 GP, 3 PTS

19. Edmonton: Matthieu Descoteaux, D, 5 GP, 2 PTS

20. Florida: Marcus Nilson, RW, 521 GP, 168 PTS

21. San Jose: Marco Sturm, C, 760 GP, 416 PTS

22. New York Rangers: Jeff Brown, D, 0 GP, 0 PTS

23. Pittsburgh: Craig Hillier, G, 0 GP, 0 PTS

24. Phoenix: Daniel Briere, C, 562 GP, 448 PTS

25. Colorado: Peter Ratchuk, D, 32 GP, 10 PTS

26. Detroit: Jesse Wallin, D, 49 GP, 4 PTS

Should have been higher

35. Anaheim: Matt Cullen, C, 730 GP, 370 PTS

56. New York Islanders: Zdeno Chara, D, 6876 GP, 269 PTS

59. Edmonton: Tom Poti, D, 665 GP, 281 PTS

79. Colorado: Mark Parrish, RW, 660 GP, 372 PTS

Round 4

89. Calgary: Toni Lydman, D, 513 GP, 155 PTS

96. Los Angeles: Eric Belanger, C, 478 GP, 222 PTS

105. Pittsburgh: Michal Rozsival, D, 479 GP, 173 PTS

Round 7

176. Colorado: Sammy Pahlsson, C, 492, GP, 128 PTS

179. Tampa Bay: Pavel Kubina, D, 664 GP, 270 PTS

Round 8

204. Toronto: Tomas Kaberle, D, 681 GP, 402 PTS

11. Calgary: Radim Vrbata, RW, (7th Round, 212nd overall) 422 GP, 226 PTS

12. Florida: Frantisek Kaberle, D, (3rd Round, 76th overall) 493 GP, 185 PTS

13. Edmonton: Barrett Jackman, D, 309 GP, 75 PTS

14. San Jose: Niklas Hagman, LW, (3rd Round, 70th overall) 481 GP, 165 PTS

15. Phoenix: Alexander Khavanov, D, (8th Round, 232nd overall) 348 GP, 102 PTS

16. Carolina: Dave Tanabe, D, 449 GP, 114 PTS

17: St. Louis: Patrik Stefan, C, 455 GP, 188 PTS

18. Pittsburgh: Tom Kostopoulos, RW, (7th Round, 204th overall) 298 GP, 83 PTS

19. Phoenix: Garnet Exelby, D (8th Round, 217th overall), 298 GP, 391 PIMS

20. Buffalo: Branko Radivojevic, (3rd Round, 93rd overall), 393 GP, 120 PTS

21: Boston: Nick Boynton, D, 437 GP, 107 PTS

22. Philadelphia: Adam Hall, F, (2nd Round, 52nd overall) 352 GP, 108 PTS

23. Chicago: Steve McCarthy, D, 302 GP, 55 PTS

24. Toronto: Niclas Havelid, D, (3rd Round, 83rd overall), 550 GP, 152 PTS

25. Colorado: Mike Commodore, D (2nd Round, 42nd overall) 296 GP, 63 PTS

26. Ottawa: Chris Kelly, C (3rd Round, 94th overall) 243 GP, 98 PTS

27. New Jersey: Doug Murray, D, (8th Round, 241 overall), 135 GP, 156 PIMS

28. New York Islanders: Mikko Eloranta, LW (9th Round, 247th overall) 264 GP, 76 PTS

SENS' BEST DRAFT: 1997

1. Marian Hossa (12th overall)

3. Jani Hurme (58th)

3. Josh Langfeld (66th)

5. Magnus Arvedson (119th)

6. Jeffrey Sullivan (146th)

7. Robin Bacul (173rd)

8. Nick Gillis (203rd)

9. Karel Rachunek (229th)

SENS' WORST DRAFT: 2002

1. Jakub Klepis (16th overall)

2. Alexei Kaigorodov (47th)

3. Arttu Luttinen (75th)

4. Scott Dobben (113th)

4. Johan Bjork (125th)

5. Brock Hooton (150th)

8. Josef Vavra (246th)

9. Vitaly Atyushov (276th)

SENS' TOP ALL-TIME PICKS

1. Daniel Alfredsson, 1994, 6th Round, 133rd overall

2. Pavol Demitra, 1993, 9th Round, 227th overall

3. Sami Salo, 1996, 9th Round, 239th overall

4. Karel Rachunek, 1997, 9th Round, 229th overall

5. Martin Havlat, 1999, 1st Round, 26th overall

7. Mike Fisher, 1998, 2nd Round, 44th overall

7. Magnus Arvedson, 1997, 5th Round, 119th overall

8. Chris Neil, 1998, 6th Round, 161st overall

9. Andreas Dackell, 1996, 6th Round, 136th overall

10. Christoph Schubert, 2001, 4th Round, 127th overall

11. Marian Hossa, 1997, 1st Round, 12th overall


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