Hall or Seguin? Centre or Winger? The debate will likely continue right up to the draft. Here now are some of the most debated first and second overall picks from the last 30 NHL drafts. I'm not sure which one was more debated then the other as some of them I was fairly young for, so I'll go from latest to oldest and let you decide which was the hardest to decide on.
5. John Tavares-Victor Hedman- 2009
For years Tavares had been the projected number one pick. "He was groomed for it" said one scout to me recently, and while Tavares did go first overall Victor Hedman did muddy the waters a little bit. The Islanders, and in particular, Garth Snow and assistant G.M. Ryan Jankowski did a terrific job keeping their choice to themselves before selecting Tavares last June. Many including my co-host Guy Flaming had Hedman going first overall.
(photo courtesy Jean Levac/Canwest News Service)
4. Rick Nash-Kari Lehtonen-Jay Bouwmeester - 2002
Heading into this draft a lot of people thought Jay Bouwmeester was going to be the top selection, but before things got underway the Columbus Blue Jackets swapped first round picks with Florida and moved into the number one position. The Jackets wanted a big forward from the London Knights. Atlanta didn't budge from their spot and took Kari Lehtonen, while Florida ended up with the player they wanted all along and took Bouwmeester. The other part of the deal was that the Panthers had the option of switching first round picks in 2003, but finished ahead of Columbus and kept their 03 spot which was 3rd overall.
3. Ilya Kovalchuk-Jason Spezza-2001
A year earlier the Atlanta Thrashers had a tough decision to make. Grab the flashy Russian who scored 15 points in 6 games at the 2001 under 18 World Championship, and produced 6 points in 7 games at the '01 World Juniors. Or the Canadian centre who in 2000 became just the 3rd player to make his country's World Junior team as a 16 year old. If the Senators were picking first overall, I think that Kovalchuk and Spezza would have been flipped and it would have been the Canadian who edged out the Russian for first overall, but as it was Atlanta made history by taking Kovalchuk as he became the first Russian ever taken with the top pick.
2. Bryan Berard-Wade Redden-1995
The Senators had the first pick in 95 and had to decide with the flashy goal scoring and physical blueliner in Berard, or the more well rounded rearguard in Redden. They chose Berard but it wasn't a happy marriage as he refused to play for them. Redden was selected by the Islanders with the 2nd overall pick and the two teams swapped the prospects along with 3 others players.
1. Mike Modano-Trevor Linden-1988
The Minnesota North Stars had the top pick in 88 and took Michigan native Mike Modano ahead of Trevor Linden. Both played in the WHL with Modano scoring 127 points with Prince Albert, while Linden had just led Medicine Hat to back to back Memorial Cup Championships. After the Stars took Modano, who has played his entire career with the organization, Vancouver selected Linden who was named captain Canuck at just 21 years old.