L ast week, we decided to take a look back at the 2009 NHL Draft and declared that it could be a “masterpiece”.
This week, let’s go in the opposite direction…what was the worst draft in Predators history?
Of course, there’s the infamous 1999 draft where the Predators drafted goalie Brian Finley with the #6 overall pick. Finley went on to play two games in Nashville, allowing 10 goals in just 107 minutes of play. He played two more games with the Bruins before hanging up his skates for good in 2007. The other picks from that draft were Jonas Andersson (5 games, 0 points), Adam Hall (234 games, 85 points), Andrew Hutchinson (18 games, 8 points), Ed Hill (0 games), goaltender Jan Lasak (3 games, 90 minutes, 5 goals allowed), Brett Angel (0 games), Evgeny Pavlov (0 games), Alexander Krevsun (0 games), Konstantin Panov (0 games), Timo Helbling (0 games), Martin Erat (616 games, 402 points), Kyle Kettles (0 games), Miroslav Durak (0 games) and Darren Haydar (2 games, 0 points). Surprisingly, 7 of the 15 players picked in that draft made it to the Predators, more than any other year. These seven players combined to play only accounted for 880 games and score 495 points, mostly through Adam Hall and Martin Erat. The other 5 players who made it to Nashville combined for 30 games and 8 points. Getting a ten year player in a draft is a rarity, but having 15 picks and only having 2 “make it” is pretty rare, too.
In hindsight, it’s more stomach churning that Nashville picked two goalies in the first two rounds but managed to pass over Ryan Miller. In addition, every team passed over Henrik Zetterberg numerous times before he was drafted in the seventh round.
The saving grace for the 1999 Draft is that virtually every player picked in the first round without the last name of Sedin turned out to be a bust. Atlanta’s number one overall pick – Patrik Stefan – is most remembered for this play. Other luminaries picked in the first round were Pavel Brendl (#4), Branislav Mezei (#10), Denis Shvidiki (#12), Jani Rita (#13), Scott Kelman (#15), Kirill Safronov (#19), Barrett Heisten (#20), Luca Cereda (#24), Mikahail Kuleshov (#25), Ari Ahonen (#27) and Kristian Kudrov (#28). None of those players managed to play an equivalent of a full NHL season. Simply put, when Kris Beech is one of the more successful first round choices, it wasn’t a good draft altogether.
The failure of Brian Finley to amount to anything causes a lot of people to ignore what happened in the following draft. With the #6 overall pick, the Predators took Scott Hartnell. Hartnell played 439 games with Nashville, scoring 211 points. However, Nashville’s other 11 picks – Daniel Widing, Mattias Nilsson, Libor Pivko, Matt Hendricks, Mike Stuart, Matt Koalska, Tomas Harant, Zbynek Irgl, Jure Penko, Mats Christeen, and Martin Hohener – combined to play 1 game for the Predators. From the second round on, Nashville passed over Ilya Bryzgalov, Tomas Kopecky, Lubomir Visnovsky, Greg Zanon, John-Michael Liles, and Henrik Lundqvist, among others.
While both of those were pretty bad, 2002 may take the cake. In the first round, Nashville drafted Scottie Upshall. Upshall would play 77 games through 4 seasons with Nashville, scoring 29 points, but he is most remembered for being packaged in the Peter Forsberg deal. The other picks – Brandon Segal, Patrick Jarrett, Mike McKenna, Josh Morrow, Matthew Davis, and Steven Spencer – never played a second in Nashville. The draft failed to produce a single full-time player. With hindsight being the way it is, the players Nashville passed on included Alexander Semin, Cam Ward, Duncan Keith, and Valtteri Filppula.
While the infamous 1999 draft resulted in a lot of busts, it did provide Adam Hall and Martin Erat. The 2000 draft brought Scott Hartnell. Was drafting Scottie Upshall for whatever he provided the team enough to let the 2002 draft scoot by?