Looking back at the embarrassment of riches in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft first round

On this date 17 years ago, the first round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft was held at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa. It was the league’s first major event since the lockout that cost them the entire 2004-05 season ended just over a week prior, and considering the draft’s top prize, there was added intrigue.

With the lack of regular-season standings to determine the draft order, the league implemented a snake draft system to make things more equitable for teams in later rounds that didn’t fare so well in the draft lottery. One team that did fare well that night, though, was the Pittsburgh Penguins, who cemented a 15-plus year run of success by drafting future captain Sidney Crosby with the first overall pick.

Five players selected that night went on to appear in at least 1,000 NHL games, including Crosby. One was 2022 Stanley Cup Champion Jack Johnson, taken third overall by the Carolina Hurricanes. Johnson never played a single game for Carolina, though, as he was traded the following offseason to the Los Angeles Kings along with defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky in exchange for defenseman Tim Gleason and center Eric Belanger.

Johnson wasn’t the only player from the first round to play meaningful games for the Kings, though. The team selected two-time Stanley Cup champion and future captain Anze Kopitar with the 11th overall selection. Another thousand-gamer was selected directly after him when the New York Rangers picked defenseman Marc Staal 12th overall, while Johnson’s teammate on the 2022 Avalanche, forward Andrew Cogliano, was selected 25th by the Edmonton Oilers.

One name from that night who could still join the 1,000-game club was St. Louis Blues selection and current Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie. Taken 24th overall, he needs only 100 more appearances to hit the mark.

Future Stanley Cup-winning skaters weren’t the only future legends drafted that night, though. Two of the greatest goalies in recent memory were drafted that night, with the Montreal Canadiens selecting Carey Price with the fifth overall pick and the Toronto Maple Leafs selecting Tuukka Rask with the 21st overall pick, of course prior to trading him to the Boston Bruins the following season.

Just three players selected that night, all taken within four picks of each other, would never make an NHL appearance. Slovak forward Marek Zagrapan, drafted 13th overall by the Buffalo Sabres, played just three years in the organization with two different AHL affiliates, scoring 20 goals there just once. At 35 years old, Zagrapan is still active, playing the 2022-23 season in the French Ligue Magnus.

Directly after him, the Washington Capitals took Canadian defenseman Sasha Pokulok with the 14th overall pick. The first overage player taken in the draft, he’s arguably the biggest bust of the night. He never spent a full season in the AHL, bouncing up and down between there and the ECHL for four seasons after turning pro in 2006. He failed to make a notable impact in Europe, too, only lasting one season in the DEL (2010-11) before floating around various lower-level leagues in Eastern Europe and Quebec.

Lastly, there’s Canadian winger Alex Bourret, taken by the Atlanta Thrashers at 16th overall. A short but strong power winger, Bourret had a very successful junior career in the QMJHL that just didn’t translate. His North American career fizzled out quickly after a strong start in the AHL, but after being traded twice (first to the Rangers, then to the Coyotes), he had just 14 points in 48 AHL games during his final season there in 2008-09.

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