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2004 CMHL Draft - Five Years Later... Written by habsfan93 - July 22nd, 2009

They say that you can't begin to evaluate a draft until at least 5 years later. Well, the CMHL celebrated the completion of its 5th season this year, and as a result, it has been five years since the first ever CMHL Entry Draft. Let's evaluate!!

Entry Draft may actually be the wrong word to describe the 2004 Draft - it was more of a prospect draft. As the ICHF had not been founded yet, most teams were limited to 20-25 pro players with few prospects. That all changed at the end of the Season 1 as rosters were expanded and needed to be filled. Thus, every existing prospect in hockey was eligible for the draft as teams had 10 rounds to fill up their farm teams. Imagine today if we conducted a draft where every non-NHL player in hockey was eligible. It was quite the show!

The first round was a who's who of the best prospects in hockey at the time...for the most part. Considering the depth pool available to GM's, it is shocking to see how far off the charts some teams went.

Ryan Suter went first overall to the Calgary Flames. He spent one uneventful season in Calgary before finding his way to Pittsburgh. However, given all the hype that surrounded him back then, he has never quite found his way in the CMHL, posting a 25 point, 75-game stint in Season 4, but finding himself back in the minors by Season 5. However, it looks like Season 6 may finally be his breakout year.

In one of the biggest blockbusters in CMHL history, Jeff Carter went 2nd overall to NJ after Marty acquired the pick from Columbus in exchange for Scott Niedermayer and Keith Primeau. Using the momentum from that trade, the Jackets went on to their first of 4 straight Cup Finals, and Carter jumped right into the game, posting at least 60 points a season since he was drafted and leading the Devils to the Cup in Season 3.

What's remarkable about the draft is how few of those first round picks (the top 30 prospects in all of hockey at the time, and arguably the deepest draft in hockey history) have gone on to become franchise players in the last five years. In fact, in the top 10, only Jeff Carter (#2), Andrei Kostitsyn (#9), and Rostislav Olesz (#10) established themselves as full-time players going into Season 5. Ryan Suter (#1) and Rob Schremp (#4) have floundered between the pros and the minors. The back end of the round, from picks 20 through 30, is where the real success was achieved. Eric Fehr, the 20th pick, playing next to Carter won the Calder Trophy in Season 2 and has become a consistent 60 point player. Brent Seabrook, the 21st pick, has established himself as a top defenceman in Carolina. Dustin Brown, drafted at #22, has become one of the hardest hitting power forwards in the league. Ryan Whitney, Andrej Meszaros and Keith Ballard were all taken near the end of the first round and have had several years of success. Drew Stafford, taken #26, was a Calder finalist in Season 4.

Season 5, the fifth year after the draft, seems to have been the payoff year for a number of guys - Braydon Coburn (#3), Ryan Getzlaf (#5), Alex Steen (#16), Corey Perry (#18), Mike Richards (#19) and Anthony Stewart (#17) have  all finally made their mark in Season 5.

And let's not even get into Stephen Dixon at #7, who will forever go down in cMHL history as the worst draft day decision ever.

The 2nd round is even worse.  Outside of Cam Ward, at #35, Travis Zajac at #51, and a few others,  the 2nd round is a who's who of failed prospects or guys who have not lived up to the high potential they had on draft day. From Tim Brent at #39 to Alexander Polushin at #47, its pretty amazing to look back on this now.

A number of draft steals can be found in the later rounds. Dave Bolland went to TOR at #63 - he could be a breakout player in Season 6. Henrik Lundqvist, at #76 to Columbus, is probably the steal of the entire draft. Loui Eriksson, at #85, looks to breakout this year as well.

Or how about Mike Green at #99 to NYI. Dennis Wideman at #116 to TOR. Jussi Jokinen at #204 to SJ. Paul Ranger at #226 to PHX. David Backes at #228 to ANA. Tobias Enstrom at #231 to PIT. David Krejci, #248 to NYR. Even the final pick of the draft, Lee Stempniak at #302 is having a better career than Stephen Dixon at #7.

Looking back, its easy to see how even in the deepest draft you could imagine, there will be twice as many misses as hits, and some of the hits will come where you least expect them.

Top 5 Drafts
1. NJ (Marty) - Carter and Fehr were probably the best two picks of the draft, and he also grabbed some other guys like Matt Greene and Dustin Byfuglien
2. BUF (powwow) - Stephen Dixon aside, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Shae Weber, Cam Ward, Daniel Paille, and Maxim Lapierre make up the draft record of GM powwow.
3. NYR (Grizzlygoalie) - Umberger, Krejci, Alberts, Voros, Slater are among those selected by the Rangers.
4. PIT (AsmodeanReborn) - Asmo went to his Swedish roots, grabbing Loui Eriksson and Tobias Enstrom late. Topped it off with Wolski, Arthyukin, and Edler.
5. TB (jtuzzi21) - Only had 4 picks but made them count, grabbing Getzlaf, Olesz and Meszaros.

Worst 5 Drafts
1. DET (hgimn) - DET had 9 picks, and he didn't make a single one of them.
2. STL (geoff) - Had 13 picks, missed 7 of them and has nothing to show for the other 6.
3. NSH (Eddy Franchise) - Eddy traded all but one of his draft picks - and he put it to good use grabbing Michael Vannelli...not!
4. DAL (plc) - Dallas only made 2 picks in this draft - both failed Russian prospects.
5. ANA (eluzion73)- Of the Ducks 19 draft picks, only David Backes stands out. A few others are 3rd/4th liners, but with 19 picks, you'd expect to get at least a few great players.

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Comments:

Haha, wow does this bring memories of that insane draft. I still remember having a fit because I wasn't here to draft the 5th overall pick, and I wanted Robbie Schremp. I was given Braydon Coburn and I was totally pissed about it, threatening to leave the league because I was so mad!! How things changed, Coburn is a stud and Schremp is a nothing!

Written By: StajanFan (2009-07-22 21:26:25)

Great article.  Helps give a sense of how the early days went :-)

Written By: Dave (2009-07-23 20:41:11)

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