Fire Up The Flux-Capacitor, Re-Drafting Oilers 2003 Picks

The 2003 NHL Draft held in Nashville is considered to this day the best draft in NHL history. Surely the 1979 draft that produced Rob Ramage 1st overall followed by other names including Mike Gartner, Rick Vaive, Ray Bourque, Mike Ramsey, Brian Propp, Duane Sutter, Michel Goulet and Kevin Lowe all in the first round is a close second, but 2003 was the best class top to bottom.

The draft centered around the Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins swapping the 1st and 3rd overall selections respectively with the Penguins making Marc-Andre Fleury of the QMJHL Cape Breton Screaming Eagles only the third goaltender in NHL history to be taken 1st overall (Michel Plasse – Montreal Canadiens 1968, Rick DiPietro – New York Islanders 2000).

Almost every team got a sure-fire impact NHL player. Some teams like the Nashville Predators (Ryan Suter 7th, Shea Weber 49th), the Anaheim Ducks (Ryan Getzlaf 19th, Corey Perry 28th) and the Philadelphia Flyers (Jeff Carter 11th, Mike Richards 24th) got two.

The Edmonton Oilers? They struck out.

# Round Player Pos Drafted From GP G A Pts PIM
22 1 Marc-Antoine Pouliot C Rimouski Oceanic [QMJHL] 192 21 36 57 76
51 2 Colin McDonald R New England Jr. Coyotes (EJHL) 118 16 20 36 66
68 2 Jean-Francois Jacques L Baie-Comeau Drakkar [QMJHL] 166 9 8 17 197
72 3 Mikhail Zhukov C Arboga (Sweden)
94 3 Zack Stortini C Sudbury Wolves [OHL] 257 14 27 41 725
147 5 Kalle Olsson R Frolunda Jrs (Sweden)
154 5 David Rohlfs D Detroit Compuware [NAHL]
184 6 Dragan Umicevic R Sodertalje SK [SEL]
214 7 Kyle Brodziak C Moose Jaw Warriors [WHL] 546 87 119 206 285
215 7 Mathieu Roy D Val d’Or Foreurs [QMJHL] 66 2 11 13 76
248 8 Josef Hrabal D Vsetin Jr. (Czech)
278 9 Troy Bodie L Kelowna Rockets [WHL] 151 9 12 21 165

Of the twelve players the Oilers selected only Colin McDonald (NY Islanders), Kyle Brodziak (Minnesota) and Troy Bodie (Toronto) are currently playing in the NHL this season and are playing depth roles at that.

The Oilers best player of the draft has turned out to be the 214th overall selection Kyle Brodziak. Brodziak has turned himself into a reliable third-line checking center with Minnesota after a 2009 trade to the Wild. In exchange for Brodziak and a 6th round pick (Darcy Kuemper) the Oilers received 4th and 5th round picks that they turned into Kyle Bigos and Olivier Roy. Bigos, a 6’5 235lbs defender, was eventually traded to San Jose last summer and now plays for the ECHL Ontario Reign. Roy, a former Team Canada WJC starter, was moved this season along with Ladislav Smid to the Calgary Flames for Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit.

So Brodziak has become Brossoit.

With The 22nd Selection…

Marc-Antoine Pouliot was the Oilers 22nd overall selection in the first round of that draft. He’s also book-ended by Brad Stuart (21st – Boston) and Ryan Kesler (23rd – Vancouver). Only Hugh Jessiman (13th – NY Rangers) and Shawn Belle (30th – St. Louis) played less than Pouliot’s 192 games, making him the third biggest disappointment of that first round.

Pouliot was considered to be a smooth skating two-way forward with an offensive upside. As you’ll hear in the YouTube clip, Bob McKenzie pointed out that Pouliot had an outside shot of cracking the top 10 but eventually slid from 13th to 22nd.

“Pouliot was the lone bright spot on a dismal Rimouski Oceanic team in his draft year. Despite his team only winning two games in the second half of the season, Pouliot still managed 73 points including 32 goals. As captain, he was the natural leader on the Rimouski team both statistically and inspirationally. A member of Canada’s 2003 under 18 team, Pouliot had a major impact and saw his stock rise impressively after the tournament having scored 9 points in the 7 games.” –

Despite the fact Pouliot missed a large chunk of the following season, along with Sidney Crosby he played in one of the more memorable Memorial Cups in 2005 in London losing to the host Knights in the final. That London Knights team was led by fellow 2003 draft choices Corey Perry (28th – Anaheim), Marc Methot (168th – Columbus) and Gerald Coleman (224th – Tampa Bay) who backed up.

Pouliot in his run with the Oilers was too good for the AHL but didn’t have the offensive upside scouts believed he possessed . That wasn’t all that bad because he was still a decent faceoff man and a reasonable two-way fourth-line center.

What If The Oilers Never Traded the 17th Selection?

Hindsight makes us beg the question, what if the Oilers never traded the 17th overall selection.

The Oilers originally had the 17th overall selection but traded it to New Jersey on the draft floor for the 22nd and 68th selections they would use on Pouliot and J-F Jacques respectively. Logic was that more picks in a deep draft would equal more players. But in hindsight, quantity doesn’t always equal quality.

The Devils would use the pick on acquiring a franchise player and two-time Olympian in Zach Parise, eventually a huge blow to the Oilers fanbase.

If the Oilers had held onto the 17th selection, Zach Parise, Eric Fehr, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns and Mark Stuart would have still been available. You can be sure Kevin Lowe and the rest of the Oilers management team at the draft table would have selected Parise that year. They were heavy on taking the best player available and they thought by moving down they’d still get a valuable player so moving down 5 spots, they’d still get an impact NHL player. Or so they thought.

What If The Oilers Had A Mulligan on the 22nd Selection?

The Oilers still trade the 17th selection to the Devils and walk to the podium with the 22nd selection. Who do they take? Well have your pick.

Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards and Corey Perry were still available. All three players have become Olympians, with Kesler and Perry becoming two-time representatives of their country to Richards lone appearance in 2010. But Perry and Richards have a Stanley Cup ring to Kesler’s crushing game 7 loss to Boston in the 2011 finals.

Perry is also a former Maurice Richard trophy winner when he led the league in goals in 2010-11, the same year he won the Hart Memorial trophy as league MVP.

Richards, along with his Stanley Cup ring in 2011-12, is a triple crown winner, having won the Stanley Cup, Calder Cup and Memorial Cup. Richards has also won gold at the World Junior Championships and captained the Philadelphia Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup finals.

Kesler is a former Frank Selke trophy winner from 2010-11.

So who you take if you were Kevin Lowe and got a chance to re-draft with the 22nd selection? Corey Perry. If you don’t believe me, read this piece on from December 2003 less than 6 months after the draft.

” “This particular deal. Not all deals or any deals, but this particular deal, so we could get to a point where we felt we had something that addresses our needs this year and in the future.”

Reports suggest Lowe agreed to send Comrie to Anaheim for prospect Corey Perry and a first-round draft pick, but only if the forward cut Edmonton a fat cheque.

He supposedly asked Comrie to pony up $2.5 million US to complete the transaction.” – CBC Sports

What If The Oilers Re-Drafted All Their Picks?

51st selection

The Oilers drafted Colin McDonald who has played in 118 NHL games spread over stints in Edmonton, Pittsburgh and now the NY Islanders.

Notable players still available at the time; Corey Crawford (52nd – Chicago), David Backes (62nd – St. Louis) and Jimmy Howard (64th – Detroit).

In a re-draft the Oilers would take the St. Louis captain in Backes, so they wouldn’t have to read tweets like this.

68th selection

The Oilers drafted J-F Jacques who has played in 166 NHL games between Edmonton and Anaheim. He’s currently a member of the Tampa Bay organization and plays for their AHL affiliate in Springfield.

Notable players still available at the time; Colin Fraser (69th – Philadelphia), Dan Carcillo (73rd – Pittsburgh) and Clarke MacArthur (74th – Buffalo).

In a re-draft the Oilers would take Clarke MacArthur.

72nd selection

The Oilers used the 72nd selection on Mikhail Zhukov from a little known Arboga team in Sweden. Zhukov never jumped across the pond and has spent his entire career in Russia. Zhukov currently plays for Khanty-Mansiysk Yugra in the KHL.

Notable players still available at the time; Colin Fraser (69th – Philadelphia), Dan Carcillo (73rd – Pittsburgh) and Clarke MacArthur (74th – Buffalo).

In a re-draft the Oilers would take “Car-bomb” Carcillo giving the Oilers a fourth-line agitator to eventually replace heavyweight champion of the world Georges Laraque. Carcillo for what it’s worth has 1,179 PIM’s in 389 games. Instead Oilers fans will remember this..

94th selection

The Oilers used the 94th selection on enforcer Zach Stortini. Stortini was once a 20-goal-scorer for the OHL Sudbury Wolves and also hit the 222 PIM mark in his draft year. Unfortunately Stortini hasn’t played an NHL game since 2011-12 when he suited up for one game with Nashville. He’s bounced between Milwaukee, Hamilton and Norfolk of the AHL since as a minor-league enforcer.

Notable players still available at the time; Philippe Dupuis (104th – Columbus), Jan Hedja (106th – Buffalo) and Byron Bitz (107th – Boston).

In a re-draft the Oilers would grab the 542 game veteran defensive-defenseman currently playing for Columbus in Hedja. Hedja did play a short 39 game stint with the Oilers in 2006-07.

147th selection

The Oilers used the 147th selection on Kalle Olsson of the Frolunda Jrs in Sweden. Olsson like Zhukov never came to North America and has spent his entire career in his native Sweden. Olsson has been a decent offensive-defenseman and currently plays for Orebro HK.

Notable players still available at the time; Lee Stempniak (148th – St. Louis), Nigel Dawes (149th – NY Rangers) and Lasse Kukkonen (151st – Chicago).

In a re-draft the Oilers would take Stempniak who has scored 149 goals in 634 games and was taken one pick after Olsson.

154th selection

The Oilers used the 154th selection on David Rohlfs of Detroit Compuware. Rohlfs would go on to play for the University of Michigan before turning pro and joining the Oilers organization apart of their ECHL affiliate in Stockton in 2007-08. Struggling to find his place in the organization, Rohlfs is carving out a career in Italy playing defense for Cortina SG.

Notable players still available at the time; John Mitchell (158th – Toronto), Brad Richardson (163rd – Colorado) and Marc Methot (168th – Columbus).

In a re-draft the Oilers would take future Memorial Cup champion Marc Methot.

184th selection

The Oilers used the 184th selection on Dragan Umicevic a RW from Bosnia playing for Sodertalje in Sweden. Umicevic now plays for Assat in the SM Liiga in Finland.

Notable players still available at the time; Drew Miller (186th – Anaheim), Mark Flood (188th – Montreal) and Nathan Paetsch (202nd – Buffalo).

In a re-draft the Oilers would take Drew Miller.

214th selection

The Oilers used the 214th selection on Kyle Brodziak.

Brodziak was the best player available at the time and the Oilers made out well with the selection.

215th selection

The Oilers used the 215th selection right after Brodziak on rough and tumble defenseman Mathieu Roy. Roy would spend time as a depth defenseman spreading his 66 career games between Edmonton, Columbus and Tampa Bay. Roy currently plays in Germany for the Hamburg Freezers.

Notable players still available; Jeremy Williams (220nd – Toronto) and Jay Rosehill (227th – Tampa Bay). Both Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien would be available 20 and 30 spots later respectively, too far for true consideration.

In a re-draft the Oilers take Roy surprisingly. He was a depth defenseman and they couldn’t possibly do much better in that round than they did, producing two NHL players.

248th selection

The Oilers used the 248th selection on Czech defenseman Josef Hrabal who briefly joined the Oilers organization in 2008-09 splitting time as a member of their AHL and ECHL affiliates in Springfield and Stockton. Hrabal has since returned to his native Czech Republic and currently plays in the KHL for Novosibirsk Sibir.

Notable players still available; Shane O’Brien (250th – Anaheim).

In a re-draft the Oilers would take O’Brien.

278th selection

The Oilers used the 278th selection on forward Troy Bodie of the Kelowna Rockets. Bodie never really caught on in Edmonton for whatever reason and spent his 152 NHL games between Anaheim, Carolina and now Toronto.

Notable players still available; David Jones (288th – Colorado) and Brian Elliott (291st – Ottawa).

In a re-draft the Oilers would still take Bodie due to his impression junior resume at the time.


So if the Oilers got the opportunity to fire up the flux-capacitor and go back in time to 2003 and knowing what they know now and got to re-draft the historic 2003 class their selections would be.

17th – C Zach Parise or 22nd RW Corey Perry

51st – C David Backes

68th – RW Clarke MacArthur

72nd – RW Dan Carcillo

94th – D Jan Hejda

147th – RW Lee Stempniak

154th – D Marc Methot

184th – LW Drew Miller

214th – C Kyle Brodziak

215th – D Mathieu Roy

248th – D Shane O’Brien

278th – LW Troy Bodie

This article was meant as a fantasy, we can only dream. But what a dream it would be, the perfect draft with what was available at those selections.