Unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island for about two months, you no doubt know that the Thrashers own the fourth overall pick in this Friday’s NHL Entry Draft. So, I thought it might be an interesting exercise to go back over the course of the past decade or so and review the players that were selected with the 4th overall pick in the draft.
But before we do…speaking of the draft…an update on the draft party that will be held at TJsFriday night. As we’ve discussed before, there will be $1 draft beers for all to enjoy as well as meeting with some of the former Atlanta Flames. Also, the team will be supplying some prizes to be raffled of…including tickets to games during the upcoming season.
Update Also, you’ll be able to meet new AJC Thrashers beat writer Chris Vivlamore as he’ll be attending the party at TJ’s as well!
So, hopefully we’ll see you there for the fun!
Now, as for the most recent fourth overall picks, we’ll start with the summer of 1999…because that’s the first one that the Thrashers organization participated in.
1999: Just after Don Waddell took PatrikStefan with the first overall pick and Vancouver then selected Sedin x 2, the New York Rangers draft Pavel Brendl of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. He’s played in a total of 78 regular season NHL games…with Philadelphia, Carolina and Phoenix…scoring 11 goals and 11 assist. He was held pointless in 2 playoff appearences. Brendl played last season for Topedo Nizhny Novgorod of the KHL where he netted 35 goals and 15 assists in 56 games.
2000: The Columbus Blue Jackets selected Czech defensman Rostislav Klesla with the first ever draft selection of that franchise. He has appeared in 444 games for the CBJs scoring 36 goals and79 assists to go with his -53 rating. 8 of those goals and 28 of the assists have come on the power play. In last spring’s playoffs, he earned an assists in the 6-5 loss to Detroit that ended Columbus’ brief postseason.
2001: Stephen Weiss was the choice of the Florida Panthers withthe #4 pick. He has played in 401 career games with the Panthers scoring 75 goals and 149 assists in that time. His 61 points led the Panthers in scoring last year. During the lockout season of 2004-05, the centerman played 18 regular season games for the Thrashers’ affiliate Chicago Wolves scoring 7 goals and 9 assists in the regular season as well as 2 goals and 7 assists in 18 playoff games.
2002: Finnish blueliner Joni Pitkänen was chosen by the Philadelphia Flyers…just after Nash, Lehtonen and Bouwmeester were taken by Columbus, Atlanta andFlorida. In the 340 total games played with the Flyers, Oliers and Carolina Hurricanes, he has 40 goals, 135 assists andis a +18 in the regular season. He has 5 helpers in the postseason. Last summer he signed a 3-year $12 million contract with the Canes.
2003: Columbus owned the #4 overall pick once again this year and with it the selected Russian forward Nikolai Zherdev. He played in 57 games that year for the Blue Jackets and collected 13 goals and 21 assists. Following the lockout he had a very good year scoring 27 goals and 27 assists in 73 regular season games. However the next season he only accounted for 10 goals and22 assist to go withis -19 rating. In the 2007-08 season he rebounded with 26 goals and35 assists, playing in all 82 games. Last summer he was traded to the New York Rangers along with Dan Fritsche in return for defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Christian Bäckman. Last season with the Rangers he scored 23 goals, 35 assists andwas a +6. He’s played in 365 total NHL regular season games with 99 goals, 140 assists and is -46 for his career. He accumulated no points and a -3 in the seven playoff games played last spring.
2004: The Carolina Hurricanes chose forward Andrew Ladd with their 4th overall pick in the summer of 2004. Between 2005 and 2008 he played in 137 games for the Hurricanes scoring 26 goals and 24 assists. He was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline in 2008. Since that time he’s appeared in 102 regular season games and has netted 20 goals and 41 assists for the Hawks. Last spring he made his first career appearance in the playoffs and was able to score three times in the 17 post-season games and he shipped in on another.
2005: The summer after the season-cancelling lockout, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the lottery draft to be able to select Sidney Crosby. The Minnesota Wild’s logo showed up on a ping-pong ball just three rounds prior andthey were granted the #4 pick during the draft. With it, they selected Benoît Pouliot of the OHL’s SudburyWolves. The left winger has played in 51 total games with the Wild scoring 7 goals and 7 assists. In the one playoff game he appeared in back in 2008, he was held without a point and was a +1 in a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Last season he accounted for 5 goals and 6 assists in 37 games… 2 goals and 2 assists came while on the man advantage.
2006: Nicklas Bäckström of Sweden was the fourth overall draft pick and was selected by the Washington Capitals. As such, he became 4th-highest drafted Swede, after Mats Sundin (1st), Daniel Sedin (2nd) and Henrik Sedin (3rd). In 2006 he andteam Sweden were the winners of the World Champions. In the summer of 2006 he announced that he was turning down Washington’s offer to play in the NHL, opting instead to play one more season with Sweden’s BrynäsIF. Then on May 31, 2007 he signed a 3-year entry-level contract with the Capitals to begin play the following season. In both seasons played in Washington he has appeared in all 82 games and has scored 36 goals and 121 assists. He is a +29 for his career in the regular season. During this past postseason he accounted for 3 goals and 12 assists and was a +3. The season prior he netted 4 goals and 2 assist andwas a +3 in the seven-game opening round loss to the Flyers.
2007: The Los Angeles Kings procured defenseman Thomas Hickey of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds with their #4 overall of the 2007 draft. On July 17 of that year he signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Kings and is yet to appear in an NHL game. In 262 games in a Thunderbird jersey, Hickey has 29 goals and 138 assists. He has won gold medals in 2008 and2009 with Team Canada during the World Junior Championships. He’s yet to see action at the NHL level.
2008: Last summer…just after the Thrashers selected Zach Bogosian and just before the Maple Leafs took Luke Schenn…the St. Louis Blues chose defenseman Alex Pietrangelo with the #4 overall pick. For the past three seasons he has played for the IceDogs of the OHL, (the last two years they have played in Niagara, before that Mississauga). In 155 games with the IceDogs he’s netted 28 goals and 106 assists. Last April he was promoted to the Blues top minor league affiliate team…the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL. At the beginning of last season, Pietrangelo played in eight games for the Blues, picking up his first and only NHL points in a 5-4 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks. It was a secondary assist on the game’s opening goal score by Kieth Tkachuk.
And that now brings us to Friday night in Montreal where Gary Bettman…after he has done so for the Islanders, Lightning and Avalanche… will take to the podium and announce, “With the fourth overall selection in this year’s draft, the Atlanta Thrashers have selected…”
Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait ’til then, won’t we?