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 Rick 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.
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However, a series of injuries derailed DiPietro’s bright future. He finished his career after just three games in the 2012-13 season, with a career 130-136-36 record. The Islanders bought out his massive contract in 2013, and as a result, the team will pay him $1.5 million per season through 2029.
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, native leave as a free agent.
The Dallas Stars organization brought on Krahn, and he played in one NHL game in 2008-09. He allowed three goals on nine shots in one period of action.
After the 2010-11 season, the Stars let Krahn go. He did not play again after that.
3. Ilya Bryzgalov
Selected before Lundqvist in the 2nd Round (44th Overall) by the Anaheim
Ilya Bryzgalov 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 the Ducks drafted him, Bryzgalov got a taste of the NHL in 2002-03 and 2003-04 before he starting 31 games in 2005-06. He took over as the team’s number one goalie during their 2006 playoff run. He 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, the then-Phoenix Coyotes claimed him.
Bryzgalov’s best seasons were with the Coyotes. In the 2009-10 season, Ilya won 42 games and was nominated for the Vezina Trophy while leading his team to the playoffs.
After the 2010-11 season, the Togliatti, Russia native was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. They signed him to a nine-year, $51 million contract, and while his first season was fairly successful, it wasn’t long before the contract became a disaster.
In a maelstrom of conflict, clashes with the media, coaches, and teammates, and poor on-ice performance, it quickly became clear the relationship wasn’t sustainable. The Flyers bought out Bryzgalov’s contract in 2013, just a week before the Islanders did the same with DiPietro. Similarly, the buyout has long-term ramifications, as the Flyers will pay Bryzgalov roughly $1.64 million per season through 2027.
That wasn’t the end of Bryzgalov’s career, though. He attempted to return to form with the Edmonton Oilers, the Minnesota Wild, and even during a reunion with the Ducks. But it never worked out, and he played his final games during the 2014-15 season.
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, where Ottawa picked him 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, Ottawa let him go after the 2002-03 season.
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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 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 (GAA), .924 save percentage (SV%), and six shutouts.
That was the best season of his career, but the goalie was far from done with hockey. He would play in the NHL and the American Hockey League (AHL) through the 2015-16 season. He finished in a full season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, and even performed quite well with a 2.38 GAA, but he would call it quits after that. He has since joined the Chicago Blackhawks as a goaltending scout.
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. He would return to Europe and play there until the 2016-17 season.
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 has played in Europe ever since. Like Lundqvist, he is one of few goalies on this list who is still playing, and has performed very well (1.89 GAA, .928 SV%) with the Bratislava Capitals of the Slovakian Second League.
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 played a number of seasons with teams in a Canadian semi-professional league, with his career ending for good in 2013-14.
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. Tragically, 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 bounced around the lower levels of Canadian hockey, finishing with three seasons in the Ligue de Hockey Beauce Bellechasse Frontenac (LHBBF), finishing in 2012-13.
11. Levente Szuper
Selected before Lundqvist in the 4th Round (116th Overall) by the Calgary Flames
Levente Szuper may not have had Lundqvist’s career, but he might win the trophy for best-named goalie drafted in 2000. 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. He played a few games with the Hungarian national team the following season, but those were the last of his career.
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, he 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. He 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, the Czech Republic, and even returned to Zvolen in Slovakia. His European career concluded with the 2016-17 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 in the 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 Bears in the 2010-11 season.
Thereafter, Schaefer turned to Switzerland, where he would play for four seasons before finishing his career in 2015.
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 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, Roman 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 2008-09 season.
20. Michael Ayers
Selected before Lundqvist in the 6th Round (177th Overall) by the Chicago Blackhawks
Michael Ayers — no known relation to now-famous Carolina Hurricanes Emergency Backup Goaltender David 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 Charlotte Checkers, then of the ECHL, 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. He would finish his career officially after the 2007-08 season, which he spent in Slovenia.
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 won at least 30 games in each of his first seven NHL seasons, becoming the first goalie to accomplish that feat. He now has ten 30-plus win seasons to his name He won the Vezina Trophy in 2011-12, and is the Rangers career leader in games played, shutouts, wins (and loses) and save percentage. Lundqvist’s other career numbers are equally impressive.
Safe to say, the Blueshirts lucked out with their franchise goaltender.
This article was originally published in November 2012 and updated in February 2020.