Editorials

NHL Draft: Best Picks, No. 100 Or Later, Since 2006

By Colin Likas
Mar 21, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) and center Marcus Kruger (16) fall to the ice during the first period against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) and center Marcus Kruger (16) fall to the ice during the first period against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 17, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Gustav Nyquist (14) skates with the puck as Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) defends during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

2008

Top 100-or-higher pick: RW Gustav Nyquist, 121st overall, Detroit Red Wings

Honorable mention: RW Dale Weise, 111th overall, New York Rangers; D T.J. Brodie, 114th overall, Calgary Flames; D Jared Spurgeon, 156th overall, New York Islanders; RW Cam Atkinson, 157th overall, Columbus Blue Jackets; D Jason Demers, 186th overall, San Jose Sharks

Nyquist certainly isn’t on a Benn level, but I think he’s certainly a talented guy. The scene right now in Detroit is a little wonky, what with Datsyuk shipping out and the Wings possibly being coached by a group of players instead of Jeff Blashill. So Nyquist may not be in the best of situations to have his potential utilized.

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But he’s been alright so far with the Wings, and it’s honestly better than anyone else and pick 100 or beyond can say. Nyquist posted 48 points in just 57 games in the 2013-14 season before falling back to Earth a bit with 54 and 43 points in each of the last two campaigns, during which he played all 82 games. His ice time dropped precipitously under Blashill, going from a 16:39 average in Mike Babcock’s final year to 15:10 this season.

I think Nyquist has the chance to separate himself from this group as the best of 2008’s higher-numbered picks, as he’ll be just 27 years old when the 2016-17 season starts. But he may need a change of scenery, or for the Wings to get their act together behind the scenes.

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Apr 9, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (22) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

2009

Top 100-or-higher pick: Marcus Kruger, 149th overall, Chicago Blackhawks

Honorable mention: D Mattias Ekholm, 102nd overall, Nashville Predators; D Sami Vatanen, 106th overall, Anaheim Ducks; LW Mike Hoffman, 130th overall, Ottawa Senators; C Anders Lee, 152nd overall, New York Islanders

I originally was going to take Hoffman, as I think he’s showing the ability to be the best 100-or-later pick in the 2009 class. But then I remembered Kruger has already helped his team to a pair of Stanley Cups, and I had to give the Swede the nod.

Kruger may not have the offensive prowess of Hoffman, who set career highs for goals (29) and assists (30) this season (Kruger’s career highs are 9 and 20). But Kruger knows his role and has played it to a T, as one of the league’s best defensive centers. His play was critical to the 2013 and 2015 Cups for Chicago, as he was on the ice for the game-winning goal in ’13 and teamed with Andrew Shaw and Andrew Desjardins to form a dominant shutdown line in ’15.

Hoffman will definitely go on to be the better offensive player of the two, and he has decent defensive skills as a forward. But Kruger has already made far more contributions to his drafting team at the NHL level, and that can’t be overlooked.

Next: 2010 And 2011 Draft

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