NHL draft: A decade of Canadian hits and misses

With the NHL entry draft drawing closer, the Toronto Maple Leafs won the first-overall pick and all seven Canadian franchises will be selecting in the top half. However, the past decade has shown that a high draft pick doesn't always translate to success.

Toronto Maple Leafs to pick 1st overall

Edmonton Oilers No. 1 pick Connor McDavid (97) had a successful rookie season in 2015 despite suffering a broken collarbone, while teammate and fellow No.1 Nail Yakupov (10) has underperformed over his career. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

With the NHL entry draft drawing closer, the Toronto Maple Leafs won the first-overall pick and all seven Canadian franchises will be selecting in the top half. However, the past decade has shown that a high draft pick doesn't always translate to success.

The advantage of hindsight may help lessen the sting if your team wasn't the winner. Here's a look at the memorable hits and misses among each Canadian team's draft picks over the past decade, along with their odds of winning this year's lottery.

Toronto Maple Leafs (20% chance)

Hit: Tuukka Rask (G) – 21st overall in 2005

The 2014 Vezina Trophy winner turned out to be a steal, but the impatient Leafs dealt him to Boston for the "established" Andrew Raycroft. Goaltending has been something the Leafs have been lacking for years and they're probably wishing to have a player of Rask's calibre back. Honourable mention: Morgan Rielly (fifth in 2012). 

Miss: Luke Schenn (D) – fifth overall in 2008

Schenn hasn't exactly lived up to his top-five billing. The 26-year-old defenceman has a career plus-minus rating of minus-24 and only earned more than 20 points in two of his nine NHL seasons so far. The one good thing that came out of this pick was the eventual acquisition of James van Riemsdyk in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers. 

Edmonton Oilers (13.5% chance)

Hit: Connor McDavid (C) – first overall in 2015

With 48 points in his 45-game rookie season on one of the worst teams in the NHL, it's pretty obvious that McDavid will likely live up to the "phenom" hype. The 19-year-old centre made a case for this year's Calder honours despite being sidelined with a broken collarbone for nearly half the season. Honourable mention: Taylor Hall (first in 2010).

Miss: Nail Yakupov (RW) – first overall in 2012

You can probably blame mismanagement for this one as they've had four first overall picks in the past decade, but there's no mistaking that the 22-year-old winger has been disappointing in his four seasons in the NHL. A stark contrast to McDavid, Yakupov had 23 points in 60 games with Edmonton this season and hit a career high in 2014-15 of only 33 points in 81 games. Honourable mention: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (10th in 2009).

Vancouver Canucks (11.5% chance)

Hit: Bo Horvat (C) – ninth overall in 2013

The Canucks have not had the best luck recently with the draft, so the previous decade hasn't provided a real standout. That being said, the 21-year-old centre earned a spot on Vancouver's roster in his first season with the organization and posted 40 points in an otherwise forgettable year for the Canucks.

Miss: Jordan Schroeder (C) – 22nd overall in 2009

Not all first-rounders work out, as evidenced by the 25-year-old Schroeder, who has bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL with the Canucks and now the Minnesota Wild. The centre has 24 points in fractions of four NHL seasons. 

Calgary Flames (8.5%)

Hit: Johnny Gaudreau (LW) – 104th overall in 2011

As the leading scorer on the Flames with 78 points this year, Johnny Hockey is the biggest steal on the list. The 5-foot-9 winger flew under the radar during the draft, but has cemented himself as a key part of Calgary's franchise in his two NHL seasons.

Miss: Sven Baertschi (LW) – 13th overall in 2011

It's a good thing that the Flames hit gold with Gaudreau, as they squandered their highest draft pick since 2003 on Sven Baertschi in 2011. The 23-year-old winger hasn't played a full season in the NHL to date and only recently found the net, collecting 23 points with the Canucks this year.

Winnipeg Jets (7.5%)

Hit: Mark Scheifele (C)  – seventh overall in 2011 

This one could have easily gone to Bryan Little (selected 12th overall in 2006) as well, but Scheifele gets the edge as he was the first pick for the reconstituted Jets franchise. Both Little and Scheifele have given Winnipeg consistent production as fixtures in the team's top five in scoring the past two seasons.

Miss: Alex Bourret (RW) – 16th overall in 2005

You can be forgiven for having no idea who Alex Bourret is. The career minor-leaguer never played a game in the NHL, hitting his peak in junior with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Montreal Canadiens (5%)

Hit: Carey Price (G) – 5th overall in 2005

In a redraft of his entry year, the Montreal Canadiens goalie would easily be taken right behind Sidney Crosby. The reigning MVP is one of the best players drafted to a Canadian team in the past decade. Honourable mention: P.K. Subban (43rd overall in 2007), Max Pacioretty (22nd in 2007).

Miss: Louis Leblanc (C) – 18th overall in 2009

There was a lot of hype for Leblanc among the Montreal faithful, but the winger never found a fit with the Canadiens. He collected 10 points in 50 games before being sent to the AHL and eventually traded to the Anaheim Ducks for picks in 2014.

Ottawa Senators (2.5%)

Hit: Erik Karlsson (D) – 15th overall in 2008

Another clear-cut choice, the two-time Norris Trophy winner and current captain hit a career high for points this season with 82. Honourable mention: Mark Stone (a huge steal at 178th overall in 2010).

Miss: Brian Lee (D) – 9th overall in 2005

Lee was chosen ahead of Anze Kopitar and Marc Staal, but only produced 36 points in 209 games in the NHL before dropping off the hockey map after the 2012-13 season after some time with the Tampa Bay Lightning. 


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