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Backdraft 2009: Redoing the top 10 picks from the '09 NHL draft

The 2009 NHL draft featured a three-way battle for the No. 1 spot, plus plenty of star power and depth. In fact, two teams were perfect – every player they picked made it to the NHL.
USA Today

USA Today

John Tavares, Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene were all in the mix for the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL draft, with the slightly favored Tavares ultimately going first overall to the New York Islanders. History has shown that to be a good choice, though there are fans in Tampa Bay who could build a credible case for Hedman in the top spot.

Here’s a look at the original top 10 draft picks in 2009, followed by a redo of the top 10 with the benefit of hockey hindsight.

2009 NHL draft: The original top 10

1. John Tavares, NY Islanders
2. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay
3. Matt Duchene, Colorado
4. Evander Kane, Atlanta
5. Brayden Schenn, Los Angeles
6. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix
7. Nazem Kadri, Toronto
8. Scott Glennie, Dallas
9. Jared Cowan, Ottawa
10. Magnus Paajarvi, Edmonton

2009 NHL draft: The top 10 do-over (with original draft position in parentheses)

1. John Tavares (1st, NY Islanders)
2. Victor Hedman (2nd, Tampa Bay)
3. Ryan O’Reilly (33rd, Colorado)
4. Matt Duchene (3rd, Colorado)
5. Oliver Ekman-Larsson (6th, Phoenix)
6. Brayden Schenn (5th, Los Angeles)
7. Evander Kane (4th, Atlanta)
8. Ryan Ellis (11th, Nashville)
9. Nazem Kadri (7th, Toronto)
10. Mattias Ekholm (102nd, Nashville)

Honorable mentions: Reilly Smith (69th, Dallas); Chris Kreider (19th, NY Rangers); Kyle Palmieri (26th, Anaheim); Mike Hoffman (130th, Ottawa); Anders Lee (152nd, NY Islanders).


  • No. 1 or 2: A franchise center or a franchise defenseman? When it comes to Tavares and Hedman, there really isn’t a wrong answer. They’ve both been among the very best at their position – and among the very best in the league – since arriving in the NHL a decade ago.
  • Avalanche alert: After Tavares and Hedman were selected, Duchene was the obvious pick for Colorado at No. 3 overall. And while he’s lost some of his luster over the past few years, bouncing from Colorado to Ottawa to Columbus to Nashville, he’s still a top-line talent. But what made the 2009 draft a truly special one for the Avs was the fact they snagged two-way stud O’Reilly in the second round and offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie in the third round (64th overall). None of these players remain in Colorado today, but that’s an impressive showing by the team’s scouting staff.
  • Bounty of riches, Part 1: Simply put, the 2009 NHL draft was loaded with forwards. Six of the updated top 10 picks are forwards (Tavares, O’Reilly, Duchene, Schenn, Kane and Kadri), plus all five honorable mentions (Smith, Kreider, Palmieri, Hoffman and Lee). But wait! There’s more! Other forwards of note who were drafted in 2009: Marcus Johansson (24th, Washington), Tomas Tatar (60th, Detroit), Craig Smith (98th, Nashville), Jakob Silfverberg (39th, Ottawa), Erik Haula (182nd, Minnesota), Zack Kassian (13th, Buffalo), Casey Cizikas (92nd, NY Islanders), Cody Eakin (85th, Washington) and Alex Chiasson (38th, Dallas).
  • Bounty of riches, Part 2: Simply put, the 2009 NHL draft was loaded with defensemen. Four of the updated top 10 picks are defensemen (Hedman, Ekman-Larsson, Ellis and Ekholm). But wait! There’s more! Other blueliners of note who were drafted in 2009: Barrie, Nick Leddy (16th, Minnesota), Sami Vatanen (106th, Anaheim), Dmitry Orlov (55th, Washington), David Savard (94th, Columbus), Calvin de Haan (12th, NY Islanders), Dmitry Kulikov (14th, Florida), Brayden McNabb (66th, Buffalo), Ben Chiarot (120th, Atlanta) and John Moore (21st, Columbus).
  • Masked men: While there were plenty of promising skaters available, the 2009 draft didn’t offer the same depth or star power when it came to the goaltending position. But there were a couple of notables, specifically Robin Lehner (46th, Ottawa) and Darcy Kuemper (161st, Minnesota). Both have been in the league for several years, but it’s only been the past couple of seasons where they’ve truly risen up the ranks and emerged as Vezina Trophy candidates. After Lehner and Kuemper, the next two most accomplished netminders were both drafted by the Islanders: Mikko Koskinen (31st) and Anders Nilsson (62nd). They’re platoon goalies in Edmonton and Ottawa, respectively.
  • The bust: Glennie, drafted No. 8 overall by Dallas, played just one game in the NHL at the end of the 2011-12 season. He suffered through several injuries during his career, including concussions, and spent his final five seasons of pro hockey in the AHL. He hasn’t played since 2017.
  • Practically perfect: The Islanders went 7-for-7 and Dallas went 5-for-5 in the 2009 draft – every player they picked made it to the NHL. Six of the seven players selected by the Isles continue to play in the NHL – Tavares, Lee, Cizikas, de Haan, Koskinen and Nilsson – while Anton Klementyev (122nd overall) hasn’t been seen since his one-game call-up in 2009-10. Among the Stars’ picks, Reilly Smith and Chiasson are still big-leaguers with Vegas and Edmonton, respectively, while Curtis McKenzie (159th) and Tomas Vincour (129th) played just under 100 NHL games apiece. Glennie, as mentioned, got just one game in The Show.


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