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Backdraft 2011: Redoing the top 10 picks from the '11 NHL draft

Tampa Bay snagged the best player of the 2011 NHL draft 57 picks after Edmonton selected No. 1 overall for the second year in a row.
USA Today

USA Today

The 2011 NHL draft was The Year of The Nuge, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the presumptive No. 1 and followed closely by Gabriel Landeskog. And, indeed, Edmonton picked RNH first overall – the Oilers' second No. 1 selection in a row, after landing Taylor Hall in 2010 – and Landeskog went No. 2 to Colorado.

Here’s a look at the original top 10 draft picks in 2011, followed by a redo of the top 10 with the benefit of hockey hindsight.

2011 NHL draft: The original top 10

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton
2. Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado
3. Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida
4. Adam Larsson, New Jersey
5. Ryan Strome, NY Islanders
6. Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa
7. Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg
8. Sean Couturier, Philadelphia
9. Dougie Hamilton, Boston
10. Jonas Brodin, Minnesota

2011 NHL draft: The top 10 do-over (with original draft position in parentheses)

1. Nikita Kucherov (58th, Tampa Bay)
2. Mark Scheifele (7th, Winnipeg)
3. John Gibson (39th, Anaheim)
4. Gabriel Landeskog (2nd , Colorado)
5. Johnny Gaudreau (104th, Calgary)
6. Sean Couturier (8th, Philadelphia)
7. Jonathan Huberdeau (3rd, Florida)
8. Mika Zibanejad (6th, Ottawa)
9. Dougie Hamilton (9th, Boston)
10. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1st, Edmonton)

Honorable mentions: J.T. Miller (15th, NY Rangers); Brandon Saad (43rd, Chicago); Ondrej Palat (208th, Tampa Bay); Oscar Klefbom (19th, Edmonton); Jonas Brodin (10th, Minnesota).

Notable:

  • Best actor in a supporting role: Nugent-Hopkins has been solid for the Oilers, but not spectacular. He’s a secondary player in Edmonton’s McDavid-Draisaitl machine, in the range of 25 goals and 60 points per season. That’s not bad, but it’s also not “No. 1 overall savior” good.
  • Head of the class: Kucherov is the obvious No. 1 and, by extension, the biggest steal of the 2011 NHL draft. The Lightning also mined Ondrej Palat in the seventh round, and all six players picked by Tampa Bay made it to the NHL (three as full-timers, three for shorter stints). Vladislav Namestnikov is the other notable, he was Tampa Bay’s first-round selection (27th overall).
  • Net gain: Gibson rises to No. 3 overall as a franchise goalie who ranks among the best netminders in the league. The only other 2011-drafted stopper who has seen time as a starter? None other than last season’s second-half revelation Jordan Binnington, whom the Blues plucked with the 88th pick.
  • Where there's smoke: Gaudreau, a fifth-round pick who makes the biggest jump up to No. 5 overall, might have been a spot or two higher if not for his career-worst campaign in 2019-20. Was it just an off-year for ‘Johnny Hockey’ or a foreboding sign of things to come?
  • Pilot project: In taking Scheifele at No. 7, the Jets went off the board a bit in their first draft after relocating to Winnipeg from Atlanta. Today, it looks like a brilliant pick.
  • Good job, everybody: There are no big busts in the original top 10. Ryan Strome hasn’t realized the high-end upside he flashed as a prospect, but he’s coming off his most productive season to date. He’s also the only player drafted in the top 10 who hasn’t yet played 500 NHL games, but he’s on the verge (491).
  • Hamilton to Raleigh, via Boston and Calgary: Hamilton was taken ninth by the Bruins, and he comes in at No. 9 in the do-over. He switched teams a couple times but appears to have found a home in Carolina. He’s the lone defenseman to make the new top 10.
  • Holding steady: The top three picks and six of the top 10 remain with the team that drafted them. Compare that to the 2010 draft, where none of the top 10 remain with their original team.

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