Selected: 3rd overall, 2006 draft
Instead, Blackhawks select: C Nicklas Backstrom (4th overall, Washington Capitals)
It’s difficult to imagine the Blackhawks not drafting the guy who would soon after start his path to becoming the team’s greatest captain well before his 30th birthday.
However, the top of the 2016 draft was extremely fruitful. Sixteen of the top 18 picks have spent 226 games or more in the NHL, and 13 of those guys are still active today.
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For my money, there are only two guys that make sense in this redraft. I went for the oft-overshadowed Backstrom over the oft-underappreciated Phil Kessel.
Backstrom takes a back seat to Alex Ovechkin with the Capitals, and rightly so. But Backstrom has carved out one hell of a career for himself to date, posting nearly a point per game for his entire regular-season career (667 points in 680 games). He has career bests of 33 goals, 68 assists and 101 points, and he’s a career 50.6 percent faceoff winner.
Backstrom makes those on his wings that much better, but he’s just not Jonathan Toews. Sure, the Blackhawks captain doesn’t have nearly as many points in the same number of games (577 in 668). But it’s never been all about points with Toews.
Can you imagine this team being half as successful without Toews’ leadership on and off the ice? Without his clutch goals, his slick passing, his success at the faceoff dot and on the penalty kill? The one-time Selke Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy winner is irreplaceable.