Panthers’ Draft Mistakes

When looking at team’s draft history, it is always fun to say things like “the Toronto Maple Leafs selected Antropov 10th overall in 1998, Pavel Datsyuk went 171st”; but that is not just realistic. The rankings that are produced on a monthly basis are there for a reason, and you rarely see players being picked “out of turn”. Obviously the 5th or 6th ranked guy can go ahead of the 4th ranked, but you would rarely see the 15th ranked move into the top five. Once the first round is over, anything goes.

With that said, I took a look at some of the REALISTIC changes the Panthers could have made at the draft table that would be put them in a better position then they are today. Remember, hindsight is 20-20 :

2001

  • 4th overall by Florida: Stephen Weiss
  • 6th overall by Minnesota: Mikko Koivu

Like every Panthers’ prospect, Weiss was rushed into the NHL, playing 77 games in the 2002-03 season. And unlike most Wild draft picks, Koivu didn’t start until 2005-06. Looking at it now, I would definitely take Mikko Koivu, not that Weiss is bad, but a 6’2″ centre who can play both sides of the puck is something a lot of teams would love. Koivu is near the top in faceoff percentage as well at 57% to Weiss’s 52.7% this season, and is already only 29 points behind him while playing 118 less games. The line is pretty thin as both still have potential for more, but my vote goes to Koivu. Tell that to Anaheim, who picked Stanislav Chistov in between these two centres.

2002

  • 3rd overall by Florida: Jay Bouwmeester

Arguing with this pick would go against my statement at the top, but Alex Semin went 13th in the this draft. Over the past season, Bouwmeester has been used as the poster boy for overrated players. After two straight seasons of 15 goals, he has three this year. J-Bo still leads the Flames in time on ice, and is definitely one of the best skaters out there, but the offense was needed for a desperate team down the stretch. He still would have been my pick in this case; Joni Pitkanen and Ryan Whitney went right after him.

2003

  • 3rd overall by Florida: Nathan Horton
  • 5th overall by Buffalo: Thomas Vanek

Again, Jeff Carter went 11th, Parise 17th and Getzlaf 19th…OUCH………..Vanek has shown that he is just as fragile as Horton, but this pick could have given the Panthers a legitimate 40 goal scorer. Horton has surpassed 30 once in five injury filled seasons. This is part of the hindsight being 20-20, but since Dave Poleck, as Panthers GM has added Koivu as a big power centre, no need to get the power winger in Horton.

  • 25th overall by Florida: Anthony Stewart
  • 28th overall by Anaheim: Corey Perry

When I watched Anthony Stewart play for the Juniors is was legitimately happy that he was headed to Florida. Too bad he has not turned out like his younger brother in Colorado. Stewart spent four seasons going up and down to the AHL, and was finally traded to Atlanta. Corey Perry…..I hate him…….but man this one stings.

2004

  • Drafted 7th overall by Florida: Rostislav Olesz
  • Drafted 9th overall by Anaheim: Ladislav Smid
  • Drafted 13th overall by Buffalo: Drew Stafford
  • Drafted 15th overall by Nashville: Alexander Radulov

Well I just went through the troubles Olesz has had in the NHL since entering, so I won’t go over them again. Smid is not flashy, but a typical 6’3″ stay at home defenseman. Every team needs one, every team has trouble finding one. Stafford hasn’t been amazing so far, but looks to end up as a consistent 20 goal scorer with 30 potential. That is more than Olesz has shown thus far so I would take him ahead. Moving the 15th overall pick to 7th overall is a stretch, but Alexander Radulov shown spurts of star power while in Nashville. On Ufa of the KHL, he racked up 63 points in 54 games in the season, and has 16 in 14 during their postseason run.

2005

  • Drafted 20th by Florida: Kenndal McArdle
  • Drafted 21st by Toronto: Tuukka Rask
  • Drafted 23rd by New Jersey: Niclas Bergfors
  • Drafted 24th by St. Louis: TJ Oshie

This is another ugly one, and hurts even more because it was for the lockout year where the draft order was determind by a (fixed) draw. McArdle has yet to play much in the NHL, so it is hard to determine the impact that he might have. What is determined is the immediate impact that Rask, Bergfors and Oshie have had in their first few seasons. Rask has supplanted last year’s Vezina winner, Bergfors was the centrepiece of the Kovalchuk deal and while Oshie may not put up huge numbers in his career, he will be the heart and soul of the Blues for years to come.

2006

  • Drafted 10th overall by Florida: Michael Frolik
  • Drafted 11th overall by LA: Jonathan Bernier

This one is probably the toughest because I think Frolik has a ton of potential….like 90 point potential. But Jonathan Bernier has the makings of one of those goalies who can win a ton of games for a team. In the end, with me as their GM, taking Bernier would not have been necessary because I would have had Rask from the previous year.

2007

  • Drafted 10th by Florida: Keaton Ellerby
  • Drafted 11th by Carolina: Brandon Sutter

Another tough one because I am comparing Sutter’s awesome first year to the AHL experience that Ellerby has. But since they still had J-Bo, and added Kulikov in the latest draft, Sutter makes a pretty damn good #2 centre behind Koivu.

Also, since this reality shows the Panthers drafting Rask in 2005, there is no need to bring in Vokoun in 2007. The first rounder Vokoun was traded for ended up being Colin Wilson, who is arguably Nashville’s top offensive prospect.

So…..with all of these changes by GM Poleck, what would Florida’s lineup look like today?

Booth Koivu Perry
Frolik Vanek Vanek
Reinprecht Wilson Stillman
Dvorak Matthias Kreps
     
J-Bo McCabe  
Ballard Smid  
Kulikov Wilson  
     
Rask    
Clemmensen  
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