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Grading the 2002 NHL Draft

Twenty years ago, the NHL conducted their 40th Entry Draft in Toronto and I thought it would interesting to look back at the Draft and grade the 1st round picks individually and then grade the NHL teams and their overall draft grade. I think this is a series that I want to continue doing and look at further drafts because it's interesting to see the success of 1st round draft picks.

1. Rick Nash - LW - Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets were a struggling expansion franchise trying to find a superstar to really generate excitement with the organization. Rick Nash became the face of the franchise shortly after joining the team. In his second season he scored 41 goals in 80 games placing him in a tie for the Rocket Richard trophy. He was a consistent 30 goal scorer for the Blue Jackets, five time all star in nine seasons with the team and he is the first player to have his number retired by Columbus. Grade: A

2. Kari Lehtonen - GK - Atlanta Thrashers

He was a serviceable goalkeeper for the Atlanta Thrashers during his time with the team but he never developed into an all-star goalie. He is the franchise leader in games played, victories and shutouts. Kari Lehtonen found the most success in his career once he was traded to the Dallas Stars in 2010 for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 4th round pick (Ivan Telegin). Neither Ivan Vishnevskiy or Ivan Telegin played a single NHL game and that terrible deal brings the grade down to a B- for Atlanta. Grade: B-

3. Jay Bouwmeester - D - Florida Panthers

A very solid defenseman, Jay Bouwmeester was an absolute stud during his six seasons with the Florida Panthers as he excelled offensively averaging 40 points over four straight seasons. He was a two time All Star in Florida but was traded after not wanting to re-sign in an unfortunate deal for Jordan Leopold and a 3rd round pick. Jay Bouwmeester’s production dropped off in Calgary but he finished his career with some solid seasons in St. Louis and he helped the Blues win a Stanley Cup in 2019. Grade: A-

4. Joni Pitkanen - D - Philadelphia Flyers

In a strange way, Joni Pitkanen was nearly a home-run pick for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was on the All-rookie team with 27 points in 71 games and he appeared in 15 playoff games that season. Following the lockout season he had consecutive 40 point seasons including the 2005-06 season where he had 46 points in 58 games. After the three great seasons he was used as leverage in a trade with Edmonton along with Geoff Sandersson and a third round pick to acquire defenseman Jason Smith and forward Joffrey Lupul. The key in this trade was Joffrey Lupul as the forward was great in the top six with consecutive 20 goal seasons despite struggling with injuries. Joffrey Lupul was then used in a trade with Anaheim to acquire defenseman Chris Pronger who helped Philadelphia reach the finals in 2010. Joni Pitkanen did have a few good seasons with Carolina but injuries really limited his career and he played his final NHL game during the 2012-13 season. Grade: B+

5. Ryan Whitney - D - Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins did a great job with developing Ryan Whitney before trading him in 2009. While with Pittsburgh, Whitney was a great offensive defensemen with 59 points in 81 games during his sophomore season and 40 points the following season. He was traded to Anaheim for forwards Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi. The Penguins added one of their missing pieces in Chris Kunitz as the forward added secondary scoring and helped them to three Stanley Cups during the next decade. Ryan Whitney had a decent season in Anaheim but then struggled with injuries in Edmonton and he finished his career in Europe in 2016. Grade: A

6. Scottie Upshall - LW - Nashville Predators

A career bottom six forward that had some success with the Flyers and Coyotes in particular but the beginning of his career in Nashville wasn’t great. He played mostly in the AHL despite being a high round pick and over four seasons with Nashville he had 11 goals and 29 points in 77 games. He was involved in a package deal that brought Peter Forsberg to Nashville briefly. The Predators would probably like to have this pick back. Grade: D

7. Joffrey Lupul - LW - Anaheim Ducks

This is such a hard pick to grade because when healthy Joffrey Lupul was such an offensive talent in the top six of any team but he just struggled with injuries throughout his career. He was involved in some big trades over his career as he left for Edmonton from Anaheim in a package deal for Chris Pronger. He then left Edmonton for Philadelphia in a deal for Joni Pitkanen and then returned to Anaheim in another deal for Chris Pronger. His final trade was to the Maple Leafs in a package deal for Francois Beauchemin. I really wish he could have stayed healthy during his career but the Ducks got a couple good seasons out of him and given his performance in the WHL, this pick was a no brainer at the time. Grade: B-

8. Pierre-Marc Bouchard - C - Minnesota Wild

I absolutely loved Pierre-Marc Bourchard during his time in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild. His first two seasons were slow but after the lockout year he produced four great seasons as he hovered around a 60 point pace. He missed the entire 2009-10 season with post-concussion symptoms and his next four NHL seasons were plagued by injuries before he left to Europe and retired from professional hockey in 2016. Grade: B

9. Petr Taticek - C - Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers had a golden opportunity in this draft with two picks in the top 10 and while Jay Bouwmeester was a good pick at number 3, Petr Taticek was a big miss. He was coming off a point per game season in the OHL but nothing spectacular. He only played in 3 NHL games with the Panthers and played the majority of his career in Europe with HC Davis and ERC Ingolstadt. Grade: F

10. Eric Nystrom - LW - Calgary Flames

He was a good bottom six forward during his NHL career but Eric Nystrom was a pick that the Flames will likely want to have back. His highest point total in his NHL career was 21 points and he finished playing professional hockey in 2017. Grade: D+

11. Keith Ballard - D - Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres made a surprise selection when they drafted Keith Ballard so high and the Sabres traded him away before he played for the team. Keith began his NHL career with the Phoenix Coyotes and he had a few good seasons before being dealt to Florida for Olli Jokinen in a package deal. His best two seasons of his career were with the Panthers from 2008-10. He was traded to Vancouver in a major deal for Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier and Vancouver’s 1st round pick. Injuries plagued him while he was in Vancouver and he retired early from hockey in 2015 with lingering post concussion symptoms. Grade: C

12. Steve Eminger - D - Washington Capitals

This is a weird scenario for the Capitals because Steve Eminger was an average depth defensemen for the team during his five seasons but it’s the trade the Capitals made that really brings up this selection. They traded Eminger in 2008 along with their 84th pick for the Flyers first round selection John Carlson. The rest is history as Eminger bounced around the league for a few years while John Carlson is a superstar defensemen for Washington. Grade: B

13. Alexander Semin - RW - Washington Capitals

It took a while for Alexander Semin to finally join the Capitals full time after military obligations in Russia but he was a superstar once he came to Washington for the 2006-07 season. He scored 38 goals and 73 points during his return season to North America and he followed that season up with 42 points, 79 points, 84 points and consecutive 54 point seasons. In 2012 he became the fifth highest scoring Washington Capitals player with his 197th goal with the Franchise. Semin then left Washington and played a few seasons in Carolina and a brief stop in Montreal before returning to Russia where he played until he retired from professional hockey in 2021. Grade: A

14. Chris Higgins - LW - Montreal Canadiens

I think for a 14th overall selection, Chris Higgins had a good NHL career and the Canadiens should be happy with this selection given how the remainder of the first round turned out. He had three straight seasons with Montreal where he scored over 20 goals including a 27 goal season in 2008. He was traded to the Rangers and he bounced around on a few teams before settling in Vancouver where he played a solid bottom six role for four seasons before ending his professional hockey career in 2016. Grade: B

15. Jesse Niinimaki - C - Edmonton Oilers

He never played a single NHL game and the Oilers attempted to bring him over to North America but in 24 AHL games he only had 1 goal and zero assists. He played on various teams in Europe. He last played professional hockey in 2017. Grade: F

16. Jakub Klepis - C - Ottawa Senators

The Senators were able to profit something from Klepis despite the forward never playing for the team as they traded him for forward Vaclav Varada. Jakub Klepis did play 66 games with the Capitals and he had 14 points. He appeared in 35 games for the Czech Republic national team and he still plays in the Czech Republic. Grade: D

17. Boyd Gordon - C - Washington Capitals

He played with the Capitals organization from 2003 until 2011 and he was a solid bottom six forward for the team. He played in 706 NHL games during his career with 56 goals and 161 points. He retired from professional hockey in 2017. While not a homerun selection, Boyd Gordon was a reliable NHLer and a good depth player. Grade: C+

18. Denis Grebeshkov - D - Los Angeles Kings

He played in 12 games for Los Angeles with 3 assists as he mostly played in the AHL with the Monarchs. The Kings traded him along with Jeff Tambellini to the Islanders for Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel. Denis Grebeshkov had a couple good seasons in Edmonton but ultimately went to the KHL to play the majority of his career. Grebeshkov was a good defensemen but he was constantly in this battle with NHL teams and threatening to leave to the KHL over playing time. Grade: C

19. Jakub Koreis - C - Phoenix Coyotes

He played a couple seasons in the AHL for San Antonio with 33 points in 147 games but he returned to Europe after that season. He has been a bottom six forward in the Czech Republic and it really has been a disappointing career for a former first round pick. Grade: F

20. Daniel Paille - LW - Buffalo Sabres

He was terrific with the Guelph Storm in the OHL and while he never repeated those numbers in the NHL, he was a solid depth forward for many seasons. Daniel Paille had his two best statistical seasons in Buffalo with 35 and 27 point seasons. He was traded to the Boston Bruins for a couple draft picks and he became a key bottom six player of their 2011 and 2013 Stanley Cup runs. He finished his professional career in Sweden in 2018. Grade: B-

21. Anton Babchuk - D - Chicago Blackhawks

Most remembered for his seasons in Carolina, Anton Babchuk was actually drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks but the Hawks made a poor trade giving him away to Carolina for Danny Richmond. Anton Babchuk had 35 points in 72 games and appeared in 13 playoff games for Carolina during his best season in 2009. He played in 289 NHL games with 107 points. Grade: C-

22. Sean Bergenheim - LW - New York Islanders

He played five seasons with the Islanders and his highest point total was 15 goals and 24 points in 59 games. He had a few good seasons in Florida but eventually returned to Europe before announcing his retirement from professional hockey in 2018. His most memorable stretch is probably with Tampa Bay during the 2011 postseason where he had 9 goals and 11 points in 16 games. Grade: C+

23. Ben Eager - LW - Phoenix Coyotes

A decent fourth line player during his NHL career was drafted by the Coyotes but shortly thereafter traded in a package deal for Mike Comrie. The trade for Mike Comrie was nice for the Coyotes as Comrie had a 60 point season in Arizona. Ben Eager played for the Blackhawks, Oilers, Sharks, Thrashers and Flyers during his career with 43 goals and 875 penalty minutes in 407 games. He is definitely not a first round pick but the Coyotes used him as a piece in a nice trade for them. Grade: D+

24. Alexander Steen - C - Toronto Maple Leafs

Three solid seasons in Toronto putting up 45, 35 and 42 points before the Maple Leafs traded him to St. Louis with Carlo Colaicovo in exchange for Lee Stempniak. Steen had a great career with the Blues where he had multiple sixty point seasons and he won a Stanley Cup with the team in 2019. He played 1018 NHL games with 245 goals and 622 points. A very underrated player during his career. Grade: B

25. Cam Ward - GK - Carolina Hurricanes

Whatever happened in the later parts of Cam Ward’s career and however he performed didn’t matter as much after he won the Conn Smythe trophy in his first season with the Hurricanes as they won the Stanley Cup. He was 15-8 during the playoffs with 2 shutouts, a .920 save percentage and a 2.14 GAA per game. Cam Ward did have some down seasons but he is a Carolina legend and the best possible option for them to draft given what he accomplished for the team. Grade: A+

26. Martin Vagner - D - Dallas Stars

He never played in North America and he actually re-entered the draft in 2004 after not earning a contract with Dallas and was drafted in the ninth round by Carolina. He played his career in the Czech leagues. Grade: F

27. Mike Morris - F - San Jose Sharks

He is one of only two players in NHL history to be drafted coming out of Northeastern University but Mike Morris never played an NHL game. In 26 AHL games he had 6 goals and 7 assists but after being released in 2009 by the Sharks organization he retired from professional hockey. Grade: F

28. Jonas Johansson - RW - Colorado Avalanche

Not much to say about the career of Jonas Johansson in North America as he only appeared in one NHL game during his career. He played the majority of his career in Europe but he was involved in a trade where Colorado acquired a third round pick and Steve Konowalchuk for Bates Battaglia and Johansson. The minor trade upgrades the grade. Grade: D-

29. Hannu Toivonen - GK - Boston Bruins

He began his career in North America as a very solid AHL goalkeeper with a stellar 2004-05 season and his first year as a back-up goaltender in Boston during the 05-06 was good with a 9-5-4 record, 2.63 GAA and a .914 save percentage. Unfortunately he struggled in his next two seasons with Boston and then St. Louis. He left to play in Europe and never really developed into the goaltending prospect that was once shown. Grade: C-

30. Jim Slater - C - Atlanta Thrashers

He developed into a good fourth line forward for the Atlanta Thrashers and eventually the Winnipeg Jets organization. He played in the NHL from 2005-2015 all with the same organization where he had 67 goals and 138 points in 584 games. While his highest season point total was only 21, Jim Slater gets a lot of respect in my book for playing consistent NHL hockey with one franchise over ten seasons. Grade: B

Team Grades:

Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets:

Players drafted: Kari Lehtonen (GK, 2nd), Jim Slater (C, 30th), Pat Dwyer (RW, 116th), Lane Manson (D, 124th), Paul Flache (D, 144th), Brad Schell (C, 167th), Nathan Oystrick (D, 198th),Colton Fretter (RW, 230th), Tyler Boldt (D, 236th), Paul Levokari (D, 257th)

The Thrashers did well in the first round with two players that would end up playing long NHL careers and Pat Dwyer was a good selection in the 4th round but the majority of their picks never played in the NHL. Trading away their 2nd and 3rd round picks hurt their draft scores but a few of the depth picks were solid AHL players. Grade: B-

Boston Bruins:

Players drafted: Hannu Toivonen (GK, 29th overall), Vladislav Evseev (LW, 56th overall), Jan Kubista (RW, 130th overall), Peter Hamerlik (GK, 153rd overall), Dmitri Utkin (LW, 228th overall), Yan Stastny (C, 259th overall), Pavel Frolov (C, 290th overall)

Not a good draft by the Boston Bruins. The only two players to play in the NHL were Hannu Toivonen and Yan Stastny and neither player appeared in more than 100 games. Hannu Toivonen did have a couple good years in the minors and one good season in the NHL and Yan Stastny played parts of five seasons in the NHL. The rest of their draft picks never made it to North America. Grade: D

Buffalo Sabres:

Players drafted: Keith Ballard (D, 11th overall), Daniel Paille (LW, 20th overall), Michael Tessier (LW, 76th overall), John Adams (D, 82nd overall), Jakub Hulva (RW, 108th overall), Marty Magers (GK, 121st overall), Maxim Shchevyev (F, 178th overall), Radolsav Hecl (D, 208th overall), Dennis Wideman (D, 241st overall), Martin Cizek (D, 271st overall)

This is a tough one to grade because Dennis Wideman in the eight round would have been an absolute steal but the Sabres never signed him to an entry level contract. He ended up signing as a free agent with the Blues to begin his successful NHL career. The Sabres did get two good first round picks but Keith Ballard was another player that never played for Buffalo. 7th round pick Radolsav Hecl played 14 NHL games but the rest of the picks never made it in the league. Grade: C-

Carolina Hurricanes:

Players drafted: Cam Ward (GK, 25th overall), Jesse Lane (D, 91st overall), Daniel Manzato (GK, 160th overall), Adam Taylor (C, 224th overall)

The Hurricanes are lucky to have struck gold in the first round with Cam Ward because the rest of their draft was extremely underwhelming with three other selections and zero NHL games with those players. Grade: B

Florida Panthers:

Players drafted: Jay Bouwmeester (D, 3rd overall), Petr Taticek (C, 9th overall), Rob Globke (RW, 40th overall), Gregory Campbell (C, 67th overall), Topi Jaakola (D, 134th overall), Vince Bellissimo (RW, 158th overall), Jeremy Swanson (D, 169th overall), Mikael Vuorio (GK, 196th overall), Denis Vachmenev (LW, 200th overall), Peter Hafner (D, 232nd overall)

The Panthers had a couple disappointing picks but they did land Jay Bouwmeester and Gregory Campbell during this draft and overall it was a success. Major misses on Petr Taticek and Rob Globke. Grade: B-

Montreal Canadiens:

Players drafted: Chris Higgins (LW, 14th overall), Tomas Linhart (D, 45th overall), Michael Lambert (LW, 99th overall), Andre Deveaux (C, 182nd overall), Jonathan Ferland (RW, 212nd overall), Konstantin Korneyev (D, 275th overall)

The Canadiens got a good underrated player in Chris Higgins with their first round selection and they added two good minor league players in Andre Deveaux and Jonathan Ferland but no real standouts for them. 9th round selection Konstantin Korneyev had potential to be an absolute stud but he didn’t ever come over from Russia and he had a successful career in the KHL. Grade: B-

New Jersey Devils:

Players drafted: Anton Kadeykin (D, 51st overall), Barry Tallackson (RW, 53rd overall), Jason Ryznar (LW, 64th overall), Marek Chvatal (D, 84th overall), Ahren Spylo (LW, 85th overall), Cam Janssen (RW, 117th overall), Krisjanis Redlihs (D, 154th overall), Eric Johansson (C, 187th overall), Ilkka Pikkarainen (RW, 218th overall), Dan Glover (D, 250th overall), Bill Kinkel (LW, 281st overall)

The Devils weren’t able to land any stars during this draft, 4th round pick Cam Jansen was the closest to a regular NHLer that they drafted. They did however get some solid minor league players such as Barry Tallackson, Jason Ryznar, Ahren Spylo, Krisjanis Redlihs and Ilkka Pikkarainen. Not a great draft for New Jersey but they did bolster the Albany River Rats for a few seasons. Grade: D+

New York Islanders:

Players drafted: Sean Bergenheim (LW, 22nd overall), Frans Nielsen (C, 87th overall), Marcus Paulsson (LW, 149th overall), Alexei Stonkus (D, 189th overall), Brad Topping (GK, 220th overall), Martin Chabada (LW, 252nd overall), Per Braxenholm (D, 283rd overall)

The Islanders picking up Frans Nielsen in the third round was fantastic as Nielsen ended up having a good career in New York and the NHL. Sean Bergenheim was a decent depth forward so the Islanders can’t be upset with their draft. The other five picks never made the NHL line-up but Nielsen and Bergenheim were good picks for them. Grade: B

New York Rangers:

Players drafted: Lee Falardeau (C, 33rd overall), Marcus Jonasen (LW, 81st overall), Nate Guenin (D, 127th overall), Mike Walsh (F, 143rd overall), Jake Taylor (D, 177th overall), Kim Hirschovits (C, 194th overall), Joey Crabb (RW, 226th overall), Petr Prucha (RW, 240th overall), Rob Flynn (RW, 270th overall)

The Rangers biggest draft pick during this draft was Petr Prucha in the 8th round as the Czech forward had consecutive 40 point seasons with the Rangers from 2005-07 that included a 30 goal season in his rookie year. The Rangers drafted Nate Guenin and Joey Crabb and while both players played over 100 NHL games, neither player played with the Rangers. The Rangers did miss out on their first two selections however. Grade: C-

Ottawa Senators:

Players drafted: Jakub Klepis (C, 16th overall), Alexei Kaigorodov (C, 47th overall), Arttu Luttinen (LW, 75th overall), Scott Dobben (C, 113rd overall), Johan Bjork (D, 125th overall), Brock Hooton (RW, 150th overall), Josef Vavra (LW, 246th overall), Vitaly Atyushov (D, 276th overall)

The Senators did not have a good draft in 2002. Most of the players never played in the NHL, Vitaly Atyushov and Alexei Kaigorodov had successful careers in Europe but never made the jump to the NHL. Jakub Klepis wasn’t a great pick in the first round. Grade: D-

Pittsburgh Penguins:

Players drafted: Ryan Whitney (D, 5th overall), Ondrej Nemec (D, 35th overall), Erik Christensen (C, 69th overall), Daniel Fernholm (D, 101st overall), Andy Sertich (D, 136th overall), Cam Paddock (C, 137th overall), Bobby Goepfert (GK, 171st overall), Patrik Bartschi (RW, 202nd overall), Maxime Talbot (C, 234th overall), Ryan Lannon (D, 239th overall), Dwight LaBrosse (GK, 265th overall)

The Penguins were able to draft three regular NHLers in this draft with Ryan Whitney, Erik Christensen and Maxime Talbot. The Penguins also drafted some solid prospects and even though people like Patrik Bartschi and Ondrej Nemec never played for them, it was still solid picks. I think this was a successful draft by Pittsburgh. Grade: B+

Philadelphia Flyers:

Players drafted: Joni Pitkanen (D, 4th overall), Rosario Ruggeri (D, 105th overall), Konstantin Baranov (LW, 126th overall), Dov Grumet-Morris (GK, 161st overall), Nikita Korovkin (D, 192nd overall), Joey Mormina (D, 193rd overall), Mathieu Brunelle (LW, 201st overall)

The Flyers really only landed on Joni Pitkanen as an NHL caliber player during this draft. Pitkanen was a great pick-up for the Flyers but the rest of the draft didn’t go very well for Philadelphia. Grade: C+

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Players drafted: Adam Henrich (LW, 60th overall), Dmitri Kazionov (C, 100th overall), Joseph Pearce (GK, 135th overall), Gerard Dicaire (162nd overall), P.J. Atherton (D, 170th overall), Karri Akkanen (RW, 174th overall), Paul Ranger (D, 183rd overall), Fredrik Norrena (GK, 213rd overall), Vasily Koshechkin (GK, 233rd overall), Ryan Craig (C, 255th overall), Darren Reid (RW, 256th overall), Alexei Glukhov (LW, 286th overall), John Toffey (C, 287th overall)

The Lightning ended up with a decent draft despite not having a first round pick in this draft. They drafted Paul Ranger, Fredrik Norrena and Ryan Craig who have all appeared in the NHL. Paul Ranger was a good defensemen in the NHL and Ryan Craig had two 20 point seasons with the Lightning. They drafted 13 players during this draft with nearly all of them drafted in the second half. Grade: C+

Toronto Maple Leafs:

Players drafted: Alexander Steen (C, 24th overall), Matt Stajan (C, 57th overall), Todd Ford (GK, 74th overall), Dominic D’Amour (D, 88th overall), David Turon (D, 122nd overall), Ian White (D, 191st overall), Scott May (RW, 222nd overall), Jarkko Immonen (C, 254th overall) Staffan Kronwall (D, 285th overall)

As much as Maple Leaf fans and fans of other teams like to roast the Maple Leafs management and their decision making, the 2002 draft was great for Toronto. They drafted three regular NHL players for Toronto and eventually other teams in Alexander Steen, Matt Stajan and Ian White. They also added two solid depth players that were good in the AHL and had some NHL experience in Jarkko Immonen and Staffan Kronwall. Grade: B+

Washington Capitals:

Players drafted: Steve Eminger (D, 12th overall), Alexander Semin (RW, 13th overall), Boyd Gordon (C, 17th overall), Maxime Daigneault (GK, 59th overall), Patrick Wellar (LW, 77th overall), Derek Krestanovich (C, 92nd overall), Javon Desautels (LW, 109th overall), Petr Dvorak (C, 118th overall), Robert Gherson (GK, 145th overall), Marian Havel (LW, 179th overall), Joni Lindlof (LW, 209th overall), Igor Ignatushkin (C, 242nd overall), Patric Blomdahl (LW, 272nd overall)

The Capitals had a great first round in this draft but the rest of their draft wasn’t very good. Alexander Semin was a star for the franchise for a few years and Steve Eminger was a good selection. Grade: B

Anaheim Ducks:

Players drafted: Joffrey Lupul (LW, 7th overall), Tim Brent (C, 37th overall), Brian Lee (D, 71st overall), Joonas Vihko (LW, 103rd overall), George Davis (RW, 140th overall), Luke Fritshaw (D, 173rd overall), Francois Caron (D, 261st overall), Chris Petrow (D, 267th overall)

The Ducks had a good first two selections with Joffrey Lupul and Tim Brent but besides those two picks, the rest were not very strong. The problem with Lupul was that he was injured too frequently and Tim Brent didn’t get his big break in the NHL until he left Anaheim. This was a poor draft for the Ducks overall. Grade: C-

Calgary Flames:

Players drafted: Eric Nystrom (LW, 10th overall), Brian McConnell (C, 39th overall), Matthew Lombardi (C, 90th overall), Yuri Artyomenkov (F, 112nd overall), Jiri Cetkovsky (LW, 141st overall), Emanuel Peter (C, 142nd overall), Viktor Bobrov (LW, 146th overall), Kristofer Persson (RW, 159th overall), Curtis McElhinney (GK, 176th overall), David Van der Gulik (RW, 206th overall), Pierre Johnsson (D, 207th overall), Jyri Marttinen (D, 238th overall)

The Flames drafted a few notable NHL players such as Matthew Lombardi, Curtis McElhinney and Eric Nystrom during this draft but the majority of their picks were missed opportunities. Grade: C

Chicago Blackhawks:

Players drafted: Anton Babchuk (D, 21st overall), Duncan Keith (D, 54th overall), Alexander Kozhevnikov (F, 93rd overall), Matt Ellison (RW, 128th overall), James Wisniewski (D, 156th overall), Kevin Kantee (D, 188th overall), Tyson Kellerman (GK, 219th overall), Jared Jessiman (F, 251st overall), Adam Burish (RW, 282nd overall)

The Blackhawks got the best player in this draft with future hall of fame defenseman Duncan Keith in the second round. They also added solid defensemen James Wisniewski, forward Adam Burish and forward Matt Ellison. Their overall grade would be higher but their first round selection of Anton Babchuk was a missed opportunity. Grade: A-

Colorado Avalanche:

Players drafted: Jonas Johansson (RW, 28th overall), Johnny Boychuk (D, 61st overall), Eric Lundberg (D, 94th overall), Mikko Kalteva (D, 107th overall), Tom Gilbert (D, 129th overall), Tyler Weiman (GK, 164th overall), Taylor Christie (D, 195th overall), Ryan Steeves (F, 227th overall), Sergei Shemetov (F, 258th overall), Sean Collins (F, 289th overall)

The Avalanche picked near the end of each round during this draft but they still managed to land a couple times with defensemen Tom Gilbert and Johnny Boychuk. Neither defensemen played much with Colorado but they each had successful NHL careers on other teams. The rest of the draft besides those two players was underwhelming. Grade: D+

Columbus Blue Jackets:

Players drafted: Rick Nash (LW, 1st overall), Joakim Lindstrom (LW, 41st overall), Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (D, 65th overall), Jeff Genovy (F, 96th overall), Ivan Tkachenko (LW, 98th overall), Jekabs Redlihs (D, 119th overall), Lasse Pirjeta (C, 133rd overall), Tim Konsorada (F, 168th overall), Jaroslav Balastik (RW, 184th overall), Greg Mauldin (RW, 199th overall), Steven Goertzen (RW, 225th overall), Jaroslav Kracik (RW, 231st overall), Sergei Mozyakin (RW, 263rd overall)

The Blue Jackets landed Rick Nash first overall and he became the face of the franchise for several seasons but the remainder of the draft we kind of underwhelming. Joakim Lindstrom had potential to be a good NHL player but he found more success in Europe. Grade: B

Dallas Stars:

Players drafted: Martin Vagner (D, 26th overall), Janos Vas (LW, 32nd overall), Tobias Stephan (GK, 34th overall), Marius Holtet (RW, 42nd overall), Trevor Daley (D, 43rd overall), Geoff Waugh (D, 78th overall), Jarkko Immonen (F, 110th overall), David Bararuk (LW, 147th overall), Kirill Sidorenko (F, 180th overall), Bryan Hamm (D, 210th overall), Tuomas Mikkonen (F, 243rd overall), Ned Havern (F, 273rd overall)

The Dallas Stars best pick during this draft was Trevor Daley as the second round pick had over 1000 games in his NHL career and he played in 11 seasons for Dallas. The Stars missed out on their other four picks in the first two rounds. Grade: C

Detroit Red Wings:

Players drafted: Jiri Hudler (RW, 58th overall), Tomas Fleischmann (LW, 63rd overall), Valtteri Filppula (C, 95th overall), Johan Berggren (D, 131st overall), Logan Koopmans (GK, 166th overall), Jimmy Cuddihy (F, 197th overall), Derek Meech (D, 229nd overall), Pierre-Olivier Beaulieu (D, 260th overall), Christian Soderstrom (LW, 262nd overall), Jonathan Ericsson (D, 291st overall)

The Detroit Red Wings dominated the draft without having a 1st round pick as they were able to land Jiri Hudler, Tomas Fleischmann and Valtteri Filppula offensively in the second and third rounds. The Red Wings also added defensemen Jonathan Ericsson with the last pick of the ninth round. Grade: A

Edmonton Oilers

Players drafted: Jesse Niinimaki (C, 15th overall), Jeff Deslauriers (GK, 31st overall), Jarret Stoll (C, 36th overall), Matt Greene (D, 44th overall), Brock Radunske (C, 79th overall), Ivan Koltsov (D, 106th overall), Jonas Almtorp (C, 111th overall), Glenn Fisher (GK, 148th overall), Mikko Luoma (D, 181st overall), Jean-Francois Dufort (F, 205th overall), Patrick Murphy (F, 211th overall), Dwight Helminen (C, 244th overall), Tomas Micka (LW, 245th overall), Fredrik Johansson (C, 274th overall)

The second round for the Edmonton Oilers was a nice bounce back after a poor selection 15th overall. They were able to get three players that did play some minutes in the NHL with Jarret Stoll being the most noteable. The rest of the draft was a bit underwhelming. Grade: C+

Los Angeles Kings:

Players drafted: Denis Grebeshkov (D, 18th overall), Sergei Anshakov (LW, 50th overall), Petr Kanko (RW, 66th overall), Aaron Rome (D, 104th overall), Mark Rooneem (F, 115th overall), Gregory Hogeboom (RW, 152nd overall), Joel Andersen (D, 157th overall), Ryan Murphy (RW, 185th overall), Mikhail Lyubushin (D, 215th overall), Tuukka Pulliainen (C, 248th overall), Connor James (C, 279th overall)

The Kings had a fairly average draft with Denis Grebeshkov and Aaron Rome enjoying some NHL success but the rest of the players drafted didn’t really make an impact. Petr Kanko, Mark Rooneem, Connor James and Gregory Hogeboom made good impacts in the minors. Grade: C

Minnesota Wild:

Players drafted: Pierre-Marc Bouchard (C, 8th overall), Josh Harding (GK, 38th overall), Mike Erickson (F, 72nd overall), Barry Brust (GK, 73rd overall), Armands Berzins (C, 155th overall), Matt Foy (RW, 175th overall), Niklas Eckerblom (RW, 204th overall), Christoph Brandner (LW, 237th overall), Mikhail Tyulyapkin (D, 268th overall), Mika Hannula (RW, 269th overall)

This was a fairly solid draft by the Minnesota Wild and if Pierre-Marc Bouchard could have stayed healthy longer during his career, I would have debated giving this draft a better grade. Josh Harding was a solid back-up for the Wild and Matt Foy, Barry Brust and Mikhail Tyulyapkin had good years in the minors. Grade: B-

Nashville Predators:

Players drafted: Scottie Upshall (LW, 6th overall), Brandon Segal (RW, 102nd overall), Patrick Jarrett (F, 138th overall), Mike McKenna (GK, 172nd overall), Josh Morrow (D, 203rd overall), Kaleb Betts (F, 235th overall), Matthew Davis (GK, 264th overall), Steven Spencer (D, 266th overall)

A missed opportunity in the first round as the Predators drafted Scottie Upshall with the sixth overall pick as they missed out on Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Joffrey Lupul and Alexander Semin. During the remainder of the draft they added a couple decent minor league players with Mike McKenna and Brandon Segal but this was definitely an underwhelming draft by the Predators. Grade: D

Phoenix Coyotes:

Players drafted: Jakub Koreis (C, 19th overall), Ben Eager (LW, 23rd overall), David LeNeveu (GK, 46th overall), Joe Callahan (D, 70th overall), Matt Jones (D, 80th overall), Lance Monych (F, 97th overall), John Zeiler (RW, 132nd overall), Jeff Pietrasiak (GK, 186th overall) Ladislav Kouba (F, 216th overall), Marcus Smith (D, 249th overall), Russell Spence (F, 280th overall)

The Coyotes didn’t land as well in this draft with two first round picks but this draft really added a lot of depth to the team with some players finding success in the minor leagues. Ben Eager and Matt Jones both played over 100 NHL games with some success and Matt Jones would have had a longer career if it wasn’t ended prematurely because of injuries. David LeNeveu, Joe Callahan and John Zeiler had good careers in the AHL in particular. Grade: C-

San Jose Sharks:

Players drafted: Mike Morris (F, 27th overall), Dan Spang (D, 52nd overall), Jonas Fiedler (F, 86th overall), Kris Newbury (C, 139th overall), Tom Walsh (D, 163rd overall), Tim Conboy (D, 217th overall), Michael Hutchins (D, 288th overall)

The Sharks had a bad draft and there really isn’t that many positives to pull from the draft for San Jose. Kris Newbury and Tim Conboy did play some NHL games but they didn’t play with the Sharks. The other five players they drafted never played in the NHL including their first two selections of Mike Morris and Dan Spang. Grade: F

St. Louis Blues:

Players drafted: Aleksei Shkotov (C, 48th overall), Andriy Mikhnov (LW, 62nd overall), Tomas Troliga (RW, 89th overall), Robin Jonsson (D, 120th overall), Justin Maiser (F, 165th overall), D.J. King (LW, 190th overall), Jonas Johnson (C, 221st overall), Tom Koivisto (D, 253rd overall), Ryan MacMurchy (RW, 284th overall)

This was a pretty bad draft by the Blues and I was tempted to give them an F grade but it should be noted that they didn’t have a first round pick and two of these players actually played in the NHL for the Blues. D.J. King played fourth line minutes for St. Louis split between a few seasons and Tom Koivisto played 22 games with six points. Grade: D-

Vancouver Canucks:

Players drafted: Kirill Koltsov (D, 49th overall), Denis Grot (D, 55th overall), Brett Skinner (D, 68th overall), Lukas Mensator (GK, 83rd overall), John Laliberte (LW, 114th overall), Rob McVicar (GK, 151st overall), Marc-Andre Roy (F, 214th overall), Ilya Krikunov (LW, 223rd overall), Matt Violin (GK, 247th overall),Thomas Nussli (F, 277th overall), Matt Gens (D, 278th overall)

The Canucks had probably the worst draft out of any team during 2002 with none of the players making an impact in the NHL. Most of them weren’t even able to make the jump towards the AHL and there really isn’t much positive about this group. Grade: F

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