Here’s who the Toronto Maple Leafs picked in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft:
And here’s how those players did compared to their peers:
Total NHL GP
Total NHL Points
Total NHL SV%
-For the second year in a row, the Leafs had a very bad draft. At least in 2003 they were able to come away with John Mitchell; this time, their most successful player was Robbie Earl, who played only 47 NHL games.
-Earl actually did pretty well for himself, considering he was a sixth-round pick. He led the University of Wisconsin Badgers to an NCAA National Championship in 2006, and was named Most Outstanding Player of the Frozen Four tournament. His scoring never translated to pro hockey, though, and he was dealt to the Minnesota Wild for future Toronto Marlies captain Ryan Hamilton. He’s now plying his trade in Switzerland.
-Leafs fans had high hopes for Justin Pogge, but the Western Hockey League star goaltender never panned out. He was traded to the Anaheim Ducks after only seven games in the blue-and-white and never played another NHL game. He spent a year, rather famously, in Italy before moving on to Sweden before last season.
-The Philadelphia Flyers had a fantastic 2003 draft, but followed that up with a Grade-A stinker. Drafting is hard, guys.
-It always interests me when a goalie put up great numbers in a small sample, but then doesn’t make it to the NHL again. Such is the story of Dan LaCosta, who had a .953 save percentage in four career games over two seasons when he was 21 and 22 years old for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He never played in the big league again, which can be partially attributed to his .905 career AHL save percentage.
Top Three Picks
3. Cam Barker, Chicago Blackhawks
This is the one pick the Chicago Blackhawks got wrong in this draft, taking Barker with players like Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Travis Zajac, Andrej Meszaros and Cory Schneider on the board. Barker had a very good offensive season in 2008-09, scoring 40 points in 68 games, but fell back to earth hard the following season and never recovered. He was traded to the Minnesota Wild for Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy (a very good trade for Chicago), and only played 71 games in a Wild uniform over the next year and a half due to injuries. He was put on waivers after the 2011 season and spent the next three seasons bouncing around the NHL and AHL before spending last season with Astana Barys of the KHL.
2. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
There’s really not much that needs to be said about this guy or the number-one overall pick in the 2004 draft, as they’re arguably two of the top four offensive players in the NHL. Malkin took an extra year in the KHL to hone his game after the 2004-05 lockout before he made the jump to North America, but the wait was worth it for Penguins fans. The 6-foot-4 centre won the Calder Trophy with 33 goals and 85 points in 78 games. He lead all NHL rookies in goals, assists and points, a feat that wasn’t matched until Nathan MacKinnon did it at the end of last season. He won an Art Ross Trophy in 2008-09 with 113 points, the same year he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Penguins won the Stanley Cup. He’s dealt with injuries, but in the three seasons he played at least 75 games since his rookie year, he scored over 100 points. In fact, only his teammate Sidney Crosby has more points per game than him since his rookie year.
1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Ovechkin took the league by storm in 2005-06, winning the Calder Trophy over that Crosby guy by piling up 52 goals and 106 points. He had his fifth 50-goal season in 13-14, joining this illustrious group of 10 players, who all happen to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Here’s the best part: He’s only 28. The Capitals, unfortunately, haven’t been able to surround Ovechkin with enough talented depth, defense or goaltending to have much post-season success, only reaching the second round three times during his nine seasons with the club. Maybe the team will find more success under the Brian MacLellan/Barry Trotz regime.
2004 NHL All-Draft Teams
C- Evgeni Malkin
RW- Blake Wheeler
LW- Alex Ovechkin
D- Mark Streit
D- Alex Edler
G- Pekka Rinne
C- David Krejci
RW- Johan Franzen
LW- Andrew Ladd
D- Mike Green
D- Andrej Meszaros
G- Cory Schneider