Based on Henrik Lundqvist’s career statistics, one might think that the New York Rangers goaltender was a top pick in the NHL Draft.
However, some might be hard pressed to believe that the Are, Sweden native was selected in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Draft. Today, most scouts and team executives can only utter the phrase ‘hindsight is 20/20′ to explain how Lundqvist wasn’t selected earlier.
Out of the 204 players chosen before the Rangers’ franchise netminder, 21 of them were goaltenders. In following the inspiration of a recent article published here, as well as an ESPN production called ‘The Brady 6,” here is a look at the goaltenders selected in the 2000 NHL Draft prior to the 2011-12 Vezina Trophy winner.
1. Rick DiPietro – Selected before Lundqvist in the 1st Round (1st Overall) by the New York Islanders
The Islanders were so confident that DiPietro would be their goaltender of the future that general manager Mike Milbury traded another young goaltender, Roberto Luongo, to the Florida Panthers on draft day. DiPietro became just the second goaltender and fourth American to be selected first overall.
After two dominant years with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL, the Boston University product became the Isles’ number one goalie during the 2003-04 season. After leading the Islanders to the playoffs in 2003-04 and winning 30 games in the 2005-06 season, DiPietro signed a 15-year, $67.5 million contract extension.
DiPietro helped lead the Islanders to the playoffs in 2006-07, and was New York’s representative at the 2008 All-Star Game.
However, a series of injuries have derailed DiPietro’s career. The Isles’ goalie has only played in 47 games over the last four seasons, posting a 14-24-7 record over that timespan.
2. Brent Krahn – Selected before Lundqvist in the 1st Round (9th Overall) in the 2000 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames
The Flames selected Krahn after he posted a 33-6-0 record for the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL. However, Krahn’s statistics declined in his last three years of junior hockey.
Krahn spent eight years in the Flames organization, but a series of knee injuries hindered his development. After playing the 2007-08 season in the AHL, the Flames decided to let the Winnipeg, Manitoba leave as a free agent.
Krahn was picked up by the Stars organization, and played in one NHL game in 2008-09. Krahn allowed three goals on nine shots in one period of action.
After the 2010-11 season, Krahn was let go by the Stars. He didn’t play during the 2011-12 season.
3. Ilya Bryzgalov – Selected before Lundqvist in the 2nd Round (44th Overall) by the Anaheim
Bryzgalov has carved out a solid NHL career, although he is arguably just as well known for his “universal thoughts” as his play in the net.
After being drafted by the Ducks, Bryzgalov got a taste of the NHL in 2002-03 and 2003-04 before he starting 31 games in 2005-06. Bryzgalov took over as the team’s number one goalie during their 2006 playoff run. Ilya posted a 6-4 record with three shutouts while leading the Ducks to the Western Conference Finals.
“Bryz” won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007, but with J.S. Giguere and Jonas Hiller on the roster, the Ducks put Bryzgalov on waivers, and he was claimed by the Phoenix Coyotes.
Bryzgalov’s best years to date have been in Phoenix. In the 2009-10 season, Ilya won 42 games and was nominated for the Vezina Trophy while leading the Coyotes to the playoffs.
After the 2010-11 season, the Togliatti, Russia native was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. Bryzgalov had a decent year in Philadelphia, while helping the Flyers reach the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Whether or not he will live up to the nine-year, $51 million contract he signed remains to be seen.
4. Mathieu Chouinard – Selected before Lundqvist in the 2nd Round (45th Overall) by the Ottawa Senators
Chouinard was originally selected in the first round of the 1998 Draft by the Senators. However, after the two sides were unable to come to terms on a deal, Chouinard re-entered the Draft and was selected by Ottawa again.
The Laval, Quebec native had a solid junior career with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL. Although Chouinard posted respectable numbers in his first three years of pro hockey, he was let go by Ottawa after the 2002-03 season.
Chouinard joined the Los Angeles Kings organization for the 2003-04 season, and appeared in one NHL game with the Kings. However, the remainder of Chouinard’s career was spent in the ECHL.
Chouinard retired from pro hockey after the 2005-06 season.
5. Dan Ellis – Selected before Lundqvist in the 2nd Round (60th Overall) by the Dallas Stars
Ellis has had a solid NHL career. After playing college hockey with the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Ellis was developed in the Stars organization.
The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native made his NHL debut with the Stars in 2003-04. However, he only played one game with Dallas.
Ellis joined the Nashville Predators for the 2007-08 season, and burst onto the scene. He posted a 23-10-3 record, with a 2.34 goals against average, .924 save percentage, and six shutouts.
However, Ellis has been unable to replicate that success. After two more seasons in Nashville, and one season in Tampa Bay, Ellis has served as the Anaheim Ducks’ backup for the last two years.
6. Mikael Tellqvist – Selected before Lundqvist in the 3rd Round (70th Overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs
Tellqvist was drafted out of Djurgardens IF in the Swedish Elite League. The Sundbyberg, Sweden native played his first season of professional hockey in 2001-02 with the St. John’s Maple Leafs in the AHL.
After playing 14 games combined in the 2002-03 and the 2003-04 seasons, Tellqvist’s first significant stretch of NHL experience came in the 2005-06 season. The then 26-year-old Tellqvist posted a 10-11-2 record in 25 games with Toronto.
However, Tellqvist was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes early in the 2006-07 season.
2008-09 was Tellqvist’s last NHL season. The netminder split the year between the Coyotes and the Buffalo Sabres.
7. Peter Hamerlik – Selected before Lundqvist in the 3rd Round (84th Overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins
Despite being selected by the Penguins, Hamerlik couldn’t reach an agreement with Pittsburgh. Two years later, the Slovakian goaltender was selected by the Boston Bruins in the 2002 NHL Draft.
After playing with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, Hamerlik spent time in the ECHL and the AHL for three seasons.
Hamerlik returned to Slovakia for the 2005-06 season, and is currently playing for Trinec Ocelari HC in the Czech Republic.
8. Jean-Francois Racine – Selected before Lundqvist in the 3rd Round (90th Overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs
Racine played his junior hockey with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the QMJHL. After his junior career, the Roxton Falls, Quebec native split time between the Memphis Riverkings in the CHL and the St. John’s Maple Leafs in the AHL for the next three years.
Racine played with the Toronto Marlies for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, but left the Maple Leafs organization after the 2006-07 season. Racine last played for Sorel-Tracy Carvena in the LNAH.
9. Stefan Liv – Selected before Lundqvist in the 4th Round (102nd Overall) by the Detroit Red Wings
Liv was one of the best goalies in the Swedish Elite League. The Gdynia, Poland native was the starting goaltender for HV71 from the 2000-01 season to the 2005-06 season.
In 2006-07, Liv played his first season of pro hockey in North America. The goalie split time between the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids and their ECHL affiliate in Toldeo. However, after the season, Liv returned to the Swedish Elite League.
After playing with HC Sibir in the KHL for the 2010-11 season, Liv signed with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl for the 2011-12 season. Unfortunately, Liv was one of the players killed in the team’s plane crash on September 7, 2011.
10. Ghyslain Rousseau – Selected before Lundqvist in the 4th Round (111th Overall) by the Buffalo Sabres
Rousseau played with Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL. After his junior career, the Thetford Mines, Quebec native played in the CHL during the 2002-03 season, before playing in the LNAH for the remainder of his pro career.
Rousseau’s last season was with the St. Georges CRS Express during the 2008-09 season.
11. Levente Szuper – Selected before Lundqvist in the 4th Round (116th Overall) by the Calgary Flames
In his last year of junior hockey, Szuper posted a 31-15-2 record with the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL. The Budapest, Hungary native started the next season with the St. John’s Flames, where he would play the next three seasons.
After playing most of the 2003-04 season in the ECHL, Szuper left North America and played in Europe. Szuper returned to North America for two seasons, but in 2011-12, he signed with Arystan Temirtau of the Kazakhstan Senior League.
12. Davis Parley – Selected before Lundqvist in the 4th Round (120th Overall) by the Florida Panthers
Parley spent all four years of junior eligibility with the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL. From the junior ranks, Parley moved up to the ECHL.
However, Parley barely made it out of the ECHL, appearing in only one game for the AHL’s Hershey Bears in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.
Parley’s last year of pro hockey came in 2008-09. The Grenfell, Saskatchewan native split the season between The Nottingham Panthers in the EIHL and the Tulsa Oilers in the CHL.
13. Brandon Snee – Selected before Lundqvist in the 5th Round (143rd Overall) by the New York Rangers
The Rangers selected the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native out of Union College, where Snee started for all four seasons. Snee played 13 games in the ECHL during his first year of pro hockey in 2002-03.
The following season, Snee played 12 games for the Jacksonville Barracudas under former Rangers player Ron Duguay. The 2003-04 season would be Snee’s last in pro hockey.
14. Matus Kostur – Selected before Lundqvist in the 6th Round (164th Overall) by the New Jersey Devils
Kostur played for HKM Zvolen in the Slovakian Extraliga when he was drafted by the Devils. Kostur came to North America for the start of the 2002-03 season.
After spending the 2002-03 season in the ECHL, Kostur split the following year between the ECHL and the AHL. By the time the 2005-06 season began, Banska Bystrica, Slovakia native was back in Europe.
Kostur played in Belarus, Latvia, and even returned to Zvolen in Slovakia, before ending his career with Dinamo Minsk in the KHL after the 2008-09 season.
15. Nathan Marsters – Selected before Lundqvist in the 6th Round (165th Overall) by the Los Angeles Kings
Following his selection, Marsters played four years of college hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In the 2005-06 season, Marsters was the starting goalie for the Portland Pirates inthe AHL.
However, following that year, most of his career was spent in the CHL. Marsters hung up the skates for good in 2008.
On June 8, 2009, Marsters was killed in a car accident.
16. Nolan Schaefer – Selected before Lundqvist in the 6th Round (166th Overall) by the San Jose Sharks
Schaefer spent four years at Providence College, where he became one of the best goaltenders in the school’s history.
After 12 games in the ECHL in 2003-04, Schaefer was called up to the Cleveland Barons of the AHL, where he would play for the next three years.
In 2005-06, the Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan native made his NHL debut with the Sharks. In seven games that season, Schaefer posted a 5-1-0 record with a 1.87 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. However, those seven games were the only times Schaefer played in the NHL.
Schaefer played the next three years exclusively in the AHL, splitting time with the Worcester Sharks, Hershey Bears, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and the Houston Aeros. After playing the 2009-10 season in the KHL with CSKA Moscow, Schaefer returned to North America and played with the Providence Bruins and Hershey in the 2010-11 season.
Currently, Schaefer is playing with Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss National League.
17. Zdenek Smid – Selected before Lundqvist in the 6th Round (168th Overall) by the Atlanta Thrashers
Smid never played in North America. The goalie spent the most of his career in the Czech Republic, playing for Karlovy Vary HC, Sparta Praha HC, Slavia Praha HC and Plzen HC.
Smid’s last season was in 2004-05.
18. Shane Bendera – Selected before Lundqvist in the 6th Round (169th Overall) by the Columbus Blue Jackets
The Edmonton, Alberta native split his junior career between the Red Deer Rebels and Kelowna Rockets of the WHL.
After his junior career ended, Bendera played two seasons in the ECHL, with the Dayton Bombers and the Bakersfield Condors. Bendera retired after the 2003-04 season.
19. Roman Cechmanek – Selected before Lundqvist in the 6th Round (171th Overall) by the Philadelphia Flyers
If not for Lundqvist, Cechmanek would have been the goaltending steal of the 2000 NHL Draft.
Unlike the other players selected, Cechmanek was 29 years old when he was drafted. The Gottwaldov, Czechoslovakia native burst onto the scene in 2000-01, posting a 35-15-6 record with a 2.01 goals against average.
In 2002-03, Cechmanek won the William M. Jennings Trophy by recording a 1.83 goals against average in 58 games.
After playing one season with the Kings in 2003-04, Cechmanek returned to Europe after the lockout. Cechmanek played in Europe for four seasons and retired after the 2007-08 season.
20. Michael Ayers – Selected before Lundqvist in the 6th Round (177th Overall) by the Chicago Blackhawks
Ayers played college hockey at the University of New Hampshire for four seasons, and was one of the most dominant goalies in Hockey East.
After his college career, the Hingham, Massachusetts native split the next four seasons moving back and forth between the ECHL and the AHL.
Ayers spent the 2007-08 season with Leksands IF in the Swedish Elite League, and retired after the season.
21. Jure Penko – Selected before Lundqvist in the 7th Round (203rd Overall) by the Nashville Predators
Penko was playing with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL when he was drafted by Nashville.
After playing 17 games apiece in the ECHL in 2001-02 and CHL in 2002-03, Penko’s career in North America ended.
Which brings us all the way back to Lundqvist. The Swedish netminder was selected two picks after Penko. ‘King Henrik’ played five seasons with the Frolunda Indians in the Swedish Elite League before coming to North America.
Lundqvist has won at least 30 games in each of his first seven NHL seasons, becoming the first goalie to accomplish that feat. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2011-12, and is the Rangers career leader in games played, shutouts, wins (and loses) and save percentage.
Safe to say, the Blueshirts lucked out with their franchise goaltender.
This article was originally published in November, 2012.