Evaluation of Forwards Picked in the First-Round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft

2009+NHL+Draft+Portraits+7UaYQFsrsGyl Photo: Jamie Squire/ Getty Images

In the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the Capitals selected notable players such as Dmitry Orlov, Marcus Johansson, and Garrett Mitchell at different stages of the draft. While only two of those three players have really made an impact at the NHL, it shows the amount of talent and depth teams could find. In this piece, NoVa Caps’ writer, Diane Doyle, takes a broader look at the draft as a whole and the productivity of the forwards selected in the opening round.

The 2009 NHL Entry Draft was perceived to be a draft in which the consensus top pick was center John Tavares. It was a year in which Canadian and Swedish players dominated the lists of Top Ranked North American Skaters and Top Ranked European Skaters and, by the time the draft was complete, a record number of Swedes (seven in all) had been selected in the first-round. This was a year in which 12 (count it, 12) defensemen were selected in the first-round of that draft. This article examines the productivity of the forwards selected in the first-round of the draft and does not focus on the defensemen, although two very notable defensemen were drafted in the first-round, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Arizona Coyotes. Other defensemen with a significant amount of NHL playing time drafted in that round included Ryan Ellis, who played in the Stanley Cup Finals with the Nashville Predators, Jared Cowen, Calvin de Haan, and Dmitry Kulikov.

John Tavares, chosen first overall, has developed without question into the best forward taken in the draft. During his fine career with the New York Islanders, he has scored 235 goals and totaled 302 assists for a total of 537 points, which leads all forwards selected that year. It can be argued that the Islanders may have been better off selecting Hedman (a Swede) who was selected right after him at second overall, but Tavares was certainly the better pick and had another fine year in 2016-2017 with 28 goals and 38 assists. While he did not finish with the most goals of the draftees of his class during the 2016-2017 season, he had the most points overall among the forwards of his class with 66 points, while Hedman had more points with 72.

Matt Duchene, the next forward who was selected at third overall by the Colorado Avalanche, has been a very productive forward since he began his NHL career, averaging just over 20 goals per season during his eight years with the team, scoring 30 goals during the 2015-2016 season. Career-wise, he has scored 174 goals and collected 244 assists for an overall point total of 418, which is more than any other forward from his draft class, except for Tavares. During the 2016-2017 season, he scored 18 goals and had 23 assists for 41 points overall, although he had a very high negative plus/minus rating, with minus-34, which reflected the season-long poor defensive effort for the Avalanche this past season.

The next forward drafted was Evander Kane who was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets) at fourth overall. He has generally been good for about 20 goals in any season that was not shortened by injuries or the 2012-13 NHL lockout. He accompanied the Thrashers in their move to Winnipeg, but was traded to the Buffalo Sabres at the 2014-2015 trade deadline in a season marred by injuries and controversy. Career-wise, he has scored 157 goals and has 143 assists for 300 points overall. This past season, he had 28 goals and 15 assists for 43 points overall. Brayden Schenn, was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings with the fifth overall pick in the draft. He played in only nine games with the Kings in the two seasons following the draft before he was traded after the 2011-2012 season, along with Wayne Simmonds, to the Philadelphia Flyers in a deal that sent center Mike Richards (also a former Capital) to the Kings. He has been extremely productive with the Flyers during the last four seasons, scoring between 18 and 26 goals per season with 21 to 33 assists. During 2016-2017, he had 25 goals and 30 assists for 55 points. Career-wise, he has 109 goals and 139 assists for 248 points, with all his points, save for two assists, coming with the Flyers.

The next forward selected was Nazem Kadri who was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs at seventh overall and had his best NHL season in 2016-2017 with 32 goals and 29 assists for 61 points. In fact, he had the most goals of any players in his draft class that season. He has done well during the previous four seasons as well, having scored close to 20 goals per year in each of them. His overall career totals are 113 goals and 145 assists for 258 points overall. Later in the draft, the New York Rangers drafted Chris Kreider with the 19th pick overall. Due to the fact he played for Boston College for the first three seasons after being drafted, he did not start his NHL career until the 2012-2013 season. During his first three full seasons in the NHL, he would score nearly 20 goals and have between 20 and 25 assists. In 2016-2017, he had the best season of his NHL career scoring 28 goals and adding 25 assists for 53 points overall. In his career, he has 89 goals, 93 assists, and 182 points.

Near the end of the round, there were two forwards who could potentially be considered late-round steals, Marcus Johansson, drafted at 24th overall by the Capitals, and Kyle Palmieri, who was drafted at 26th overall by the Anaheim Ducks. Johansson has been a productive forward for the Capitals in his career even though he has been unable to solidify himself as the team’s second-line center. He had his best NHL season in 2016-2017 with 24 goals and 36 assists for 58 points. His overall points total for 2016-2017 was good enough for fourth-best among players in his draft class. Palmieri did not establish himself as a regular with the Anaheim Ducks, but blossomed after getting traded to his hometown team, the New Jersey Devils. In 2015-2016, he scored a career-high 30 goals for the Devils, after never having more than 14 in any given season for Anaheim. He also had 27 assists that year which was more than his previous high of 17. In 2016-2017, he scored 26 goals and added 27 assists for 53 points overall. Acquiring Palmieri is somewhat of a consolation prize to the Devils, considering that their own first-rounder, Jacob Josefsson, has not yet established himself as a regular in the NHL, but has played more NHL games during the last two seasons.

All the forwards drafted in Round 1 of the 2009 draft made it to the NHL, except for Phillippe Paradis, who was drafted 27th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes. Fortunately, for the Hurricanes, he was not a wasted asset, as they traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs in December 2009 for Jiri Tlusty, who had several good years with the ‘Canes. Forward Scott Glennie, chosen by the Dallas Stars with the eighth overall pick, could also be considered a bust, as he has played only one NHL game. Overall, five of the forwards drafted in Round 1 were not in the NHL during the 2016-2017 season, which, besides Paradis and Glennie, were Louis LeBlanc (18th overall by Montreal), Jordan Caron (19th overall pick by Boston), and Carter Ashton (29th overall by Toronto). The majority of the best players from the draft were drafted early, including the defensemen, with the top seven picks. There were some later steals during the second half of the first-round, including Kreider, Johansson, and Palmieri, and one steal in the second-round, Ryan O’Reilly.

2016-2017 Statistics – Notable Draftees in 2009

Career Statistics– Forwards Drafted in 2009

By Diane Doyle

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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5 Responses to Evaluation of Forwards Picked in the First-Round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft

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