A recent history of the NHL’s 11th overall draft pick
Photo credit:© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
20 days ago
In the end, the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery worked out a lot like most lotteries do: terrible for all but a very small selection of people.
The Vancouver Canucks did not win, and the hated Chicago Blackhawks did, which means that local phenom Conor Bedard will soon be slipping on the same jersey worn by the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith. Yuck.
If there’s any good news to come out of the event, it’s that, at the very least, the Canucks now know where their own first round draft selection will fall. It’s locked in at 11th overall, and so long as they don’t trade the pick, that’s where they’ll be drafting this year.
The 2023 Draft Class has long been touted as an exceptionally-talented one, and there’s guaranteed to be a bevy of high-level prospects to choose from when the Canucks’ selection rolls around. But before we look too far ahead at that, let’s look back at all the previous 11th overall selections in recent drafts to see if we can figure out a rough average of what the Canucks might be getting.
2022 11th overall: Conor Geekie to Arizona
It shouldn’t come as much surprise that last year’s 11th overall pick has yet to crack the NHL, though that should be coming as soon as next year. Geekie hasn’t progressed quite as much in his Draft+1 season as the Coyotes probably would have liked, but he’s still considered to be among their best prospects and easily fits within any list of the best 50-100 prospects leaguewide.
2021 12th overall*: Cole Sillinger to Columbus (11th overall pick rescinded)
The 2021 11th overall pick never happened, as the Coyotes had it confiscated for breaking player recruitment rules. But the 11th player selected was Sillinger, who did something that most picked in this range don’t manage: he cracked the NHL right out of the draft.
Sillinger’s numbers don’t stand out quite yet, but he’s been asked to do a lot on a bad squad in Columbus at a young age, so the stats probably don’t reflect his true ability. Sillinger still seems to be well on track to be a top-six centre at the NHL level.
2020 11th overall: Yaroslav Askarov to Nashville
Don’t judge Askarov too harshly for those numbers, which came from a single cameo appearance as a 20-year-old this past season. He’s widely considered to be one of, if not the, best goaltending prospects in the world. Taking goalies this high is always risky, but this does seem to be a risk that is paying off for the Predators thus far.
2019 11th overall: Victor Soderstrom to Arizona
Soderstrom has been brought along patiently by the Coyotes, and one has to worry a little bit about his inability to really carve out a spot for himself on their patchwork blueline as of yet. Four years out of the draft, he remains a highly-skilled prospect, but some of the shine has definitely come off. Soderstrom strikes us as someone who might have developed better in a stronger system.
2018 11th overall: Oliver Wahlstrom to New York Islanders
It should be noted that the Islanders made two back-to-back picks here, and that their second — Noah Dobson at 12th overall — was definitely the better of the two. But Wahlstrom has really come into his own of late, and has clearly established himself as a middle-six NHL forward with serious agitating chops. That might not be an optimal return for an 11th overall, but it’s a fair bit better than busting.
2017 11th overall: Gabriel Vilardi to Los Angeles
At one point, Vilardi was ranked near the very top of the 2017 Draft, though he wound up sliding down to the middle of the first round. When he initially arrived in the league after battling seemingly constant injury, it seemed as though teams who passed on him were right to doubt him. But then, just last season, Vilardi broke out in a big way, posting 41 points in 63 games. He now looks well on his way to being the big-bodied power forward he was always projected to be.
2016 11th overall: Logan Brown to Ottawa
Brown is our first real “bust” on the list, even though he’s probably going to stick around the league as a fourth line forward for some years to come. He’s one of those classic “tools but no toolkit” sort of forwards, and while he’s carved out a big league role for himself thanks to those tools, few are holding out any hope of him putting it together at this point.
Brown is the first of a few on this list that lend a bit of caution to the idea of selecting for size this early in the draft.
2015 11th overall: Lawson Crouse to Florida
Then again, maybe size isn’t a bad thing. Crouse was traded before he had a chance to make an impact in Florida, and he took a while to get going in Arizona, but now he’s quietly established himself as one of the most effective power forwards in the NHL. Crouse set new career standards last season with 24 goals and 45 points in 77 games, all the while still throwing out crushing checks and intimidating opponents on a nightly basis. His value goes far beyond the numbers he posts, which are pretty good in their own right.
2014 11th overall: Kevin Fiala to Nashville
Fiala is already on his third NHL team, but don’t hold that against him. He’s probably the second-best player we’ll find on this list, and after a slowish start to his career, he’s now put up two PPG+ seasons in a row. Fiala is undeniably a first line talent, and a multifaceted one at that. This is the sort of player that teams dream about picking this far into the first round.
2013 11th overall: Samuel Morin to Philadelphia
Remember what we said about drafting for size this early? Morin had some talent, sure, but he was primarily drafted for having some talent and being 6’6”, and as a result he busted hard. Never able to cut it as a defender, by the end of his NHL career Morin was skating as a winger/enforcer — and he wasn’t particularly effective at that, either.
2012 11th overall: Filip Forsberg to Washington
Here we arrive at the single best player on the list. Forsberg has been an all-star since entering the league, and put together a career that should ultimately qualify him for the Hall of Very Good. He falls somewhere between the distinctions of “first line forward” and “franchise player,” and still has a boatload of productive years ahead of him.
Too bad the Capitals flipped him for Martin Erat in what still stands out as one of the worst trades of all-time.
2011 11th overall: Duncan Siemens to Colorado
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Siemens lacked offence and mobility even at the WHL level, but was big, strong, and defensively-oriented, so he went 11th overall. He managed just 20 games for the Avs over some lean years before washing out entirely.
As bad as the Canucks might want a defensive defender in their prospect pool, Siemens is a fine warning against picking someone who is already pigeon-holed into such a role in their teen years.
2010 11th overall: Jack Campbell to Dallas
Sure, Campbell might be better known these days for letting goals in than saving them. But he’s also had a pretty good run as a starting and backup goalie prior, and is certainly a long way off of ever being deemed a “bust.” The Stars probably aren’t all that happy with the returns on their 11th overall selection, but there are worse to be found on this list, and other teams have been happier with Campbell’s services over the years.
2009 11th overall: Ryan Ellis to Nashville
Ellis is easily the best defender to be found on this list, and has spent much of his NHL career being a top-pairing D. He had some detractors due to his size, otherwise he might have gone sooner in the draft, but the Predators have no complaints about what Ellis did for them or what he eventually returned in a trade. Ellis slots in neatly behind Forsberg and Fiala as the third-best of the 11th overall bunch.
2008 11th overall: Kyle Beach to Chicago
Obviously, Beach faced some seriously aggravating and evil circumstances that prevented him from achieving his potential. We include him here for completion’s sake, and also as a potent reminder of how little the Blackhawks deserved to be rewarded with the Bedard pick.
2007 11th overall: Brandon Sutter to Carolina
We did want to rewind things back to at least the last time that Jim Rutherford made an 11th overall selection. That happened 16 years ago, and it was our old pal Brandon Sutter being called up to the podium on that occasion. Sutter falls in about the middle of the road in this discussion, never quite reaching the heights promised by his draft slot, but winding up with a very respectable career in the NHL all the same.
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