Analyzing the NHL Draft can always be a fun exercise and an incredible debate. The armchair GM’s at home – like us – love to claim that we know who should be taken where, each and every year, with little concrete knowledge of the players and what they are going to turn into.
Like everybody else, NHL General Managers make mistakes, and surely many of them would love the chance to jump into a time capsule and correct some of the decisions that they have made in the past. Unfortunately, no one has created a time capsule for them, or us (that we know of), so we decided that we would take matters into our own hands.
The 2003 NHL Draft is always said to be one of the best drafts since the turn of the century, so we thought this would be the perfect place to start. There are an astonishing number of players from this draft that have had decorated careers, from Stanley Cup Champions, Olympic Medalists, and NHL Award winners.
So, without further adieu, here is our Re-Draft for the 2003 NHL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee. Keep in mind, that this does not take into account the team that was drafting, but simply the order that we would have taken the players based on their entire body of work over the course of their careers, respectively.
30th - Lee Stempniak (F)
Originally drafted in the 5th round, 148th overall by the St. Louis Blues, Stempniak played parts of 16 seasons in the NHL, debuting back in the 2005-06 season. The West Seneca, New York native skated in 911 NHL games, amassing 203 goals and 469 points with 10 different teams. In 28 career playoff games – 13 of which came in 2014 with the Pittsburgh Penguins – Stempniak finished with 6 points.
29th – Marc Methot (D)
Known as a prototypical shut down defenseman, Methot was originally drafted in the 6th round, 168th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Ottawa, Ontario product has skated in parts of 13 NHL seasons for Columbus, Dallas and his hometown Senators. With his career currently in question due to injury, Methot has totalled 123 points, to go along with 380 penalty minutes to date. Methot’s most impressive run was back in the 2016-17 season where he partnered on the back end with Erik Karlsson to help guide the Senators to the Eastern Conference Final where they lost in double OT of Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
28th – Jimmy Howard (G)
Drafted in the 2nd round, 64th overall to the Detroit Red Wings, Howard has spent his entire 14-year career with the Wings, where he has skated in 543 regular season games. With 246 wins in his back pocket, Howard currently ranks 3rd all-time in wins amongst Red Wings goaltenders, according to Quant Hockey. The man who hails from Syracuse, New York currently sits 8th all-time in wins amongst all U.S.-born goaltenders.
27th – Brad Richardson (F)
This hardworking two way forward from Belleville, Ontario was drafted in the 5th round, 163rd overall out of the Owen Sound Attack and the OHL. Richardson has amassed 808 regular season games to date, with four different teams, spending his last 5 in the desert with the Arizona Coyotes. He has collected 242 points and 404 penalty minutes, and an additional 10 points in 50 playoff games.
26th – Brian Boyle (F)
Drafted out of St. Sebastian’s High School in his home state of Massachusetts, Boyle was taken in this exact spot, 26th overall by the Los Angeles Kings back in ‘03. The 6’6”, 245lbs monster in the circle has played 805 NHL games to date, for 7 different organizations and has amassed 588 penalty minutes. Boyle made it to the Stanley Cup Final in both 2014 and 2015 with the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning respectively. What’s most impressive about Boyle is that over the course of his 13-year career he has played in the playoffs in 9 of those seasons – in consecutive fashion no less – only missing the spring showdown in his first three seasons; we’ll see if that streak can hold up this April with the Florida Panthers.
25th – Milan Michalek (F)
The first European in our re-draft, Michalek, from Jindrichuv Hradec in the Czech Republic, skated in 747 NHL games for three different teams. He finished his NHL career with 208 goals and 238 assists, good for 446 points. Michalek represented the Czech Republic at both the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, where he helped his country to 7th, and 6th place finishes, respectively. Over the course of his 11 prime seasons, Michalek scored 20 or more goals six times, and his career high was 35 in 2011-12 with the Ottawa Senators. He ranks 15th in goals and 21st in total points from this draft class.
24th – Matt Moulson (F)
Originally drafted in the 9th round, 263rd overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins out of Cornell University, the North York, Ontario product had an NHL career that lasted parts of 11 seasons and may still not be over. He has spent the last three seasons in the AHL where he has collected 143 points in 171 games. While riding shotgun to John Tavares with the New York Islanders, Moulson had three consecutive seasons of 30+ goals between 2009-10 and 2011-12, including a career high 69 points in the third of those three seasons.
23rd – Jaroslav Halak (G)
The second goalie to appear in our re-draft, Jaroslav Halak has been kicking them out in the NHL for 14 seasons to date, sporting a career record of 272-167-58, with a 2.48 GAA and a .916 save percentage. Playing for five teams over the course of his career, Halak was initially drafted in the 9th and final round of the draft, 271st overall, and if that’s not an underdog story, we don’t know what is. Most people will remember his heroics from the 2009-10 season wherein he helped guide the 8th seed Montreal Canadiens to the Eastern Conference Final, upsetting the President’s Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in the first round. Halak was an All-Star in 2015, his lone appearance, and holds records for consecutive wins (11) and wins in a season (38) by a goalie with the New York Islanders from his work in the 2014-15 season. He has played in two Olympic games and three World Championships for Slovakia and won a silver medal in 2016 with Team Europe at the World Hockey Championships.
22nd – Nathan Horton (F)
The Welland, Ontario native who was drafted out of the OHL from the Oshawa Generals, is the first player of our re-draft to slide down further from where he was originally taken, which was 3rd overall to the Florida Panthers. Injuries unfortunately shortened Horton’s career, but when he was healthy, he was a 6-time 20+ goal scorer and hit the 30-goal plateau once, back in 2006-07 with the Panthers. He finished his career amassing 626 regular season games played, and 421 points, to go along with 567 penalty minutes. Horton made the playoffs just twice in his ten seasons – 2011 and 2013 with the Boston Bruins – and he was a force, racking up 36 points in 43 games. Both he and the fans were robbed of a longer career and a chance to see him truly solidify himself as one of the absolute greats in this draft.
21st – Loui Eriksson (F)
Taken twelve picks later than this back in ’03 by the Dallas Stars, Eriksson is currently skating in his 14th NHL season, now with the Vancouver Canucks. A six-time 20+ goal scorer, the Gothenburg, Sweden native is closing in on the illustrious 1000-game mark, currently sitting at 970 regular season games played to date, to go along with 593 points. Eriksson has played for three organizations in his career and has also represented his country on the international stage multiple times. He has three medals – a Gold, Silver and Bronze – at the World Championships as well as a silver medal from the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia where he helped guide Sweden to Gold medal game where they eventually fell to Team Canada.