Comparing #1 and #2 Overall Draft Picks From 2010-2015

Las Vegas Golden Knights v Edmonton Oilers - Game Three
Las Vegas Golden Knights v Edmonton Oilers - Game Three / Lawrence Scott/GettyImages

The Blackhawks got lucky by moving up in the draft lottery to draft Connor Bedard 1st overall. There is no doubting the potential he has, this previous draft also was touted to be one of the best in years. With this draft class being so strong, the Hawks most likely would have ended up with a #1 overall level prospect regardless. But how has the #2 pick fared in recent years? Is the drop off from 1 to 2 as drastic as some people think?

I’m going to look at the number 1 and 2 overall picks from 2010-2015 and compare how each player’s career has gone so far. I originally wanted to do 2015-2020, however, some of those more recent picks are still developing and we might be waiting a little while longer to see them reach their true potential.

1. 2010

Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall
2010 NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

#1 Overall: Taylor Hall - Career Stats: 822 GP / 264 G / 429 A / 693 P

#2 Overall: Tyler Seguin - Career Stats: 901 GP / 326 G / 410 A / 736 P

All things considered, this is an even comparison between #1 and #2. Hall won the Hart trophy in 2018 as a member of the Devils but has been bouncing around the league a bit as he is on his 6th team now with the Hawks. Seguin has had a nice career with the Stars since being traded from the Bruins, he was also a part of the 2011 Bruins Stanley Cup winning team. Hall has unfortunately been plagued with injuries a bit over the last few seasons, but it looks like in 2010 there was not a huge difference between the first two picks in the draft.

2. 2011

Jonathan Huberdeau, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
2011 NHL Entry Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

#1 Overall: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Career Stats: 801 GP / 233 G / 399 A / 632 P

#2 Overall: Gabriel Landeskog - Career Stats: 738 GP / 248 G / 323 A / 571 P

This is another year where I don’t think either team is really going to be upset with their selections. Nugent-Hopkins has become an extremely productive player in Edmonton playing alongside McDavid and Draisaitl. Landeskog won the Calder Trophy in 2012 as the NHL’s best rookie. He also became the youngest captain in NHL history at 19 years old and captained his team to win the Stanley Cup in 2022. Both players have had good careers thus far, with the draft order showing little significance here.

3. 2012

Alex Galchenyuk, Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray
2012 NHL Entry Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

#1 Overall: Nail Yakupov - Career Stats: 350 GP / 62 G / 74 A / 132 P

#2 Overall: Ryan Murray - Career Stats: 445 GP / 15 G / 116 A / 131 P

This may be one of the weakest draft classes in recent memory, especially considering the underwhelming top two selections. Yakupov has since been titled as one of the biggest draft busts and never even came close to reaching his potential of being a first overall selection in the NHL. Murray is a serviceable player and did win the Cup with the Avalanche in 2022, but certainly not what you would expect from a #2 overall selection. I think it is safe to say that both teams can look back at this draft and consider it a loss. Some players that were drafted after these two include Jacob Trouba, Filip Forsberg, Tom Wilson, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Matt Murray, etc.

4. 2013

Jonathan Drouin, Nathan Mackinnon, Aleksander Barkov
2013 NHL Draft / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

#1 Overall: Nathan MacKinnon - Career Stats: 709 GP / 284 G / 475 A / 759 P

#2 Overall: Aleksander Barkov - Career Stats: 664 GP / 243 G / 388 A / 631 P

The top two selections of this draft are more of what you would expect when picking this high. Mackinnon started off great as a rookie, winning the Calder Trophy in 2014 and has since evolved into one of the best players in the league. He was also a major component in his team winning the Stanley Cup in 2022. Barkov has become one of the best two-way centers in the league and was one of the leading scorers for the Panthers in their magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2023. Barkov also earned himself the Lady Byng Trophy in 2019 and the Selke J. Trophy in 2020. Both players have certainly lived up to their respective draft positions. While Barkov is a great player, I think MacKinnon is in another tier and has a clear edge over Barkov.

5. 2014

Leon Draisaitl, Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart
2014 NHL Draft - Round 1 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

#1 Overall: Aaron Ekblad - Career Stats: 625 GP / 111 G / 218 A / 329 P

#2 Overall: Sam Reinhart - Career Stats: 614 GP / 198 G / 246 A / 444 P

2014 saw another top selection for the Florida Panthers, this time with them getting the #1 overall pick. With the #1 pick they drafted Ekblad, who has become a top defenseman in the NHL, he also started his career off strong by winning the Calder Trophy in 2015. He has been able to perform at a consistently high-level despite being plagued with injuries as of late. After being drafted by the Sabers, Sam Reinhart has had a solid but not great career in the NHL so far. Reinhart has since joined his draft partner as both are currently playing on the Panthers. I think Florida is happy with their selection of the first pick. I believe Buffalo most likely would change their selection, especially considering Leon Draisaitl was chosen after him. Then again, Draisaitl would be the undisputed #1 overall pick if teams knew what he would turn out to be.

6. 2015

Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Dylan Strome
2015 NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

#1 Overall: Connor McDavid - Career Stats: 569 GP / 303 G / 547 A / 850 P

#2 Overall: Jack Eichel- Career Stats: 476 GP / 180 G / 266 A / 444 P

There isn't much to say about this draft that hasn't already been said. Connor McDavid is the best player in the NHL, and it is argued that he will be the greatest player in league history when he finally retires. Other than putting up ridiculous stats in the NHL thus far, he has also won 5 Art Ross Trophies, 3 Hart Trophies, 4 Ted Lindsay Awards, and 1 Rocket Richard Trophy. He has won an absurd number of awards and his career is not even a decade old yet. All he needs is a Stanley Cup in his cabinet to further cement his case as the all-time greatest. With that being said, Eichel is still a great player and would have gone #1 overall in most years. Despite his scary injury and dramatic exit in Buffalo, Eichel is still one of the best centers in the league. Coincidentally, since joining Vegas, Eichel has achieved the one thing that has eluded McDavid so far - A Stanley Cup.

Any team that didn't acquire the #1 overall pick this year is automatically going to be losing out on the best player of the generation. Buffalo ended up being the biggest loser here since they lost the draft lottery and their #2 overall player as well. Due to McDavid, the gap between #1 and #2 this year was going to be massive regardless of who was selected #2.

So as shown from these previous 4 years (excluding 2015 because McDavid is an anomaly) the #1 and #2 overall picks are not as far apart as people may think. In most cases, both teams landed players that performed similarly with no huge difference. In most years, if a team ended up with #1 or #2, they could be happy. However, the 2023 draft was most likely similar to 2015 than anything else. Bedard is considered to be the greatest prospect since McDavid and is expected to be a cornerstone for the league in the future. While Anaheim and Columbus still ended up with great players, they are likely going to be feeling the same way Buffalo did after missing out on McDavid. If the Blackhawks ended up with any other pick than the first overall, the previous season would be considered much more of a failure.

Bonus: 1971 NHL Draft

Guy Lafleur
Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

#1 Overall: Guy Lafleur - Career Stats: 1126 GP / 560 G / 793 A / 1353 P

#2 Overall: Marcel Dionne - Career Stats: 1348 GP / 731 G / 1040 A / 1771 P

This draft is a bit less recent than the previous ones, but it was certainly a unique draft. It is not often that you see two hall of famers get drafted back-to-back. It is amazing that two players of this caliber ended up being drafted one after another. Both players easily found their way on the NHL's 100 Greatest Players list and are still some of the most iconic names in the sport to this day.