The Chicago Blackhawks endured a dismal decade in the late 1990s and early 2000s, making the playoffs only once in a 10-year span. But the franchise experienced a remarkable turnaround thanks to their first-round picks in 2006 and 2007. One year after taking Jonathan Toews third overall in ’06, the Hawks scooped Patrick Kane with the No. 1 selection in ’07. The superstar duo led Chicago to three Stanley Cup championships between 2010 and 2015.
Here’s a look at the original top 10 draft picks in 2007, followed by a redo of the top 10 with the benefit of hockey hindsight.
2007 NHL draft: The original top 10
1. Patrick Kane, Chicago
2. James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia
3. Kyle Turris, Phoenix
4. Thomas Hickey, Los Angeles
5. Karl Alzner, Washington
6. Sam Gagner, Edmonton
7. Jakub Voracek, Columbus
8. Zach Hamill, Boston
9. Logan Couture, San Jose
10. Keaton Ellerby, Florida
2007 NHL draft: The top 10 do-over (with original draft position in parentheses)
1. Patrick Kane (1st, Chicago)
2. Jamie Benn (129th, Dallas)
3. P.K. Subban (43rd, Montreal)
4. Logan Couture (9th, San Jose)
5. Jakub Voracek (7th, Columbus)
6. Max Pacioretty (22nd, Montreal)
7. Ryan McDonagh (12th, Montreal)
8. David Perron (26th, St. Louis)
9. Wayne Simmonds (61st, Los Angeles)
10. James van Riemsdyk (2nd, Philadelphia)
Honorable mentions: Kyle Turris (3rd, Phoenix); Kevin Shattenkirk (14th, Colorado); Jake Muzzin (141st, Pittsburgh); Alec Martinez (95th, Los Angeles); Sam Gagner (6th, Edmonton).
Kane for the win: Chicago got it right with the No. 1 pick. With his all-world skill set and ability to deliver in the clutch, Kane has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be the best player from the 2007 draft. He has played more NHL games (973) and produced far more goals (389), assists (633) and points (1,022) than anyone else in his draft year. By the end of his career, Kane may very well be recognized as the best American player in the history of the game.
Discovering a Star: Benn was seen as a big body with offensive upside heading into the 2007 draft, but he was playing Jr. A in his native British Columbia – not major junior – and there were questions about his skating, so he dropped all the way to the fifth round. He’s far and away the biggest steal of the draft.
A haul for the Habs: Subban was the 16th defenseman selected in 2007, but he’d be the first blueliner to go in a do-over of the draft. Montreal picked the three-time Norris Trophy finalist – he won the award in 2013 – in the second round after taking McDonagh in the first. They’re the top two defensemen out of the ’07 draft, and the Canadiens also nabbed depth defender Yannick Weber in Round 3. Not to mention, Montreal had two first-round picks, using the 22nd overall selection to land Pacioretty. Add it all up, and three of the top seven players in the redone draft were chosen by Montreal. Impressive.
Scoring forwards: Kane and Benn are the headliners up front, but there was plenty more offense to be found. Top guns Couture, Voracek, Pacioretty, Perron and van Riemsdyk all went in the first round, and they all cracked the updated top 10, as did second-rounder Simmonds. Plus, Turris and Gagner made it as honorable mentions, and there were several other supporting forwards available: Mikael Backlund (24th, Calgary), Lars Eller (13th, St. Louis), Carl Hagelin (168th, NY Rangers), Patrick Maroon (161st, Philadelphia), Alex Killorn (77th, Tampa Bay), Nick Bonino (173rd, San Jose), Brandon Sutter (11th, Carolina), Evgenii Dadonov (71st, Florida) and Paul Byron (179th, Buffalo).
Rearguard review: Three defensemen were drafted in the top 10 in 2007. Hickey (No. 4) and Alzner (No. 5) have had decent NHL careers, but they’re more third-pairing guys than blueline building blocks. Ellerby (No. 10) hasn’t seen the NHL since playing one game in the 2014-15 season. Subban and McDonagh cracked the top 10 do-over, while Shattenkirk, Muzzin and Martinez earned honorable mentions. It thins out after that, with Ian Cole (18th, Pittsburgh) and Justin Braun (201st, San Jose) the best of the rest.
Goalie void: There were 20 goalies drafted in 2007, but only four of them made it to the NHL. And only one of them – Scott Darling (153rd, Phoenix) – played more than 11 games in the big leagues. Darling won a Stanley Cup as a backup with Chicago in 2015, then signed a four-year deal as Carolina’s starting netminder in 2017. To put it kindly, his time with the Hurricanes did not go well and he spent this season in Austria.