NHL Draft: Can this year's class rival 2003?
Fleury, Staal, Parise, Getzlaf, Perry chosen in 1st round 12 years ago
Canadian hockey fans had barely digested the names of 2014 first-round NHL draft picks Leon Draisaitl, Sam Bennett, William Nylander and Nikolaj Ehlers before talk began about a talent-filled 2015 event.
Ontario Hockey League star Connor McDavid and Boston University standout Jack Eichel immediately were deemed the headliners for this weekend's draft in Sunrise, Fla.
But once this dynamic duo is selected Friday night along with Noah Hanifin, Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner, Ivan Provorov, Lawson Crouse and many others in the first round, only time will tell if this draft will be considered the deepest crop of 18-year-old picks ever, or at least since 2003.
The 2003 draft in Nashville featured goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (still with Pittsburgh) as the No. 1 overall selection, followed by centre Eric Staal (still with Carolina) forward Nathan Horton (picked by Florida, now an injured Toronto Maple Leaf) Nikolay Zherdev (by Columbus, now out of the NHL) and winger Thomas Vanek (by Buffalo, now with Minnesota).
Later on, the host Philadelphia Flyers grabbed Jeff Carter at No. 11, New Jersey picked Zach Parise 17th overall and Anaheim chose future stars Ryan Getzlaf (No. 19) and Corey Perry (No. 28).
Ten of the 30 players in the first round competed in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, 21 are current NHL regulars, eight played at least one NHL game within eight years of the draft and 24 have appeared in at least 300 career regular-season games.
Below is a recap of the first round from 2003:
- Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pittsburgh
- Eric Staal, C, Carolina
- Nathan Horton, C, Florida
- Nikolay Zherdev, RW, Columbus
- Thomas Vanek, LW, Buffalo
- Milan Michalek, LW, San Jose
- Ryan Suter, D, Nashville
- Braydon Coburn, D, Atlanta
- Dion Phaneuf, D, Calgary
- Andrei Kostitsyn, LW, Montreal
- Jeff Carter, C, Philadelphia
- Hugh Jessiman, RW, NY Rangers
- Dustin Brown, RW, Los Angeles
- Brent Seabrook, D, Chicago
- Robert Nilsson, C, NY Islanders
- Steve Bernier, RW, San Jose
- Zach Parise, LW, New Jersey
- Eric Fehr, C, Washington
- Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim
- Brent Burns, F/D, Minnesota
- Mark Stuart, D, Boston
- Marc-Antoine Pouliot, C, Edmonton
- Ryan Kesler, C, Vancouver
- Mike Richards, C, Philadelphia
- Anthony Stewart, RW, Florida
- Brian Boyle, C, Los Angeles
- Jeff Tambellini, LW, Los Angeles
- Corey Perry, RW, Anaheim
- Patrick Eaves, RW, Ottawa
- Shawn Belle, D, St. Louis