As the 2024 NHL Draft approaches, hockey enthusiasts and analysts alike often find themselves reflecting on past drafts. The process of selecting young talent is fraught with uncertainties, leading to occasional what-ifs and second-guessing among fans and team management. Here, we explore a hypothetical scenario where each NHL team has the opportunity to change one historical draft pick to the player selected immediately after, potentially altering the course of franchise history.

Anaheim Ducks: P.K. Subban in 2007

In 2007, with the 42nd pick, the Anaheim Ducks opted for Eric Tangradi. However, hindsight suggests that choosing P.K. Subban, who went next and eventually became a Norris Trophy winner with 834 NHL games played, could have bolstered their defensive core. With a team already boasting future Hall of Famers Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, Subban might have added another championship to Anaheim’s resume.

Boston Bruins: Mathew Barzal in 2015

The Boston Bruins faced a pivotal moment in the 2015 draft, holding three consecutive picks from 13 to 15. They selected Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zach Senyshyn, missing out on Mathew Barzal, Kyle Connor, and Thomas Chabot who were selected immediately after. Barzal, in particular, stands out as a missed opportunity. A dynamic center, he could have filled a crucial role in Boston’s lineup, potentially easing the transition post-Bergeron and Krejci eras.

Calgary Flames: Nikita Kucherov in 2011

In 2011, the Calgary Flames selected Tyler Wotherspoon at 57, just before Nikita Kucherov was picked by Tampa Bay. Wotherspoon played 30 NHL games, while Kucherov became a cornerstone player for the Lightning, contributing significantly to their Stanley Cup victories and earning MVP honors. Kucherov’s offensive prowess could have transformed Calgary’s forward lines, adding a dimension of skill and championship pedigree.

Fixing every NHL teams biggest draft error
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Vancouver Canucks: Pavel Bure in 1989

A notable historical revision for the Vancouver Canucks would be their selection in the 1989 draft. They chose defenseman Jason Herter at 8th overall, passing on Pavel Bure who went next to the Winnipeg Jets. Bure, famously known as the “Russian Rocket,” became a franchise icon for the Canucks and a dominant force in the NHL, showcasing electrifying speed and scoring ability throughout his career.

Montreal Canadiens: Scott Niedermayer in 1991

The Montreal Canadiens had the 3rd overall pick in the 1991 draft and selected Patrice Brisebois. Immediately after, the New Jersey Devils picked Scott Niedermayer, a future Hall of Fame defenseman who played a pivotal role in multiple Stanley Cup victories for New Jersey and Anaheim. Niedermayer’s elite skating and playmaking abilities could have significantly strengthened Montreal’s blue line for years to come.

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