NHL Draft: The History of the 5th Overall Pick

Luke Schenn Leafs
Was selecting Luke Schenn with the fifth overall pick in 2008 the right decision? (Rich Kane/Icon SMI)

On Friday night, the NHL will hold its 50th NHL Draft (Amateur + Entry) and with that will come the 50th selection with the 5th overall pick.  The Toronto Maple Leafs currently hold that pick.  Many questions remain; Will Brian Burke hold onto the pick?  Will he trade the pick to move up or down in the draft? Will he include the pick in a deal for a proven player? These are just some of the questions that remain with the just under 24 hours remaining until the draft commences in Pittsburgh.

The last time they selected 5th overall, the Leafs traded up to select defenseman Luke Schenn.

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Here are some facts about the history of the 5th overall selection.

Teams that have selected 5th overall

The New York Islanders who have made the last two 5th overall selections (1992, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2010 & 2011) and Montreal Canadiens (1965, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1984 & 2005) have each made this selection 6 times.   The Buffalo Sabres have picked at the 5 spot on 5 occasions (1971, 1972, 1983, 1986 & 2003).  The only current teams who have not selected at the 5th pick are the San Jose Sharks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers & Ottawa Senators.  The Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars have never picked 5th, but the Minnesota North Stars did twice.  The Winnipeg Jets had the 5th pick in 1991, but the Phoenix Coyotes never have.  The Carolina Hurricanes had two 5th overall picks as the Hartford Whalers in 1985 and 1994.  The Colorado Avalanche have never gone 5th, but the Nordiques chose at that spot in 1988, while the Rockies (now the New Jersey Devils) made the pick in 1978 and 1981.

Positional Breakdown of the 5th overall pick

Center:           7 – Amazingly, the first center to ever be selected with the 5th overall pick was Rob Niedermayer in 1993.

Forward:       3 – Rick Martin who went to Buffalo in 1971 mustered 701 points in 685 career games.

Left Wing:     4 – Mike Gillis who could be looking to move into the 5th pick with a trade with Toronto was selected at #5 in 1978.

Right Wing: 10 – Jaromir Jagr headlines Right Wingers selected in this spot.  He is by far the best 5th overall pick of all time.

Defense:      20 – Many great stay at home blue liners were picked at #5, most notably among them was Scott Stevens, picked in 1982 draft.

Goaltender:  5 – Carey Price could end up being the best goalie of all time selected with the 5th pick.  Right now, it’s Tom Barrasso.

Jaromir Jagr (s.yume/Flickr)

Where are they from?

Canada: 34 times a Canadian has been chosen 5th overall including 4 of the last 5 (Karl Alzner, Luke Schenn, Brayden Schenn, Ryan Strome).  The most successful Canadian 5th choice would have to be Scott Stevens from Kitchener, Ontario.

USA: 7 times an American was chosen at #5.  The last American to be chosen was current Toronto Maple Leafs winger, Phil Kessel out of the University of Minnesota.  Tom Barrasso who was selected with the 5th pick in 1983 is the only 5th pick to go on and win the Calder Memorial Trophy.

Czech Republic: Only 2 Czech players have ever been selected with the 5th pick, but they have played over 2300 games between them.  I would also say that the best 5th overall pick of all time was from the Czech Republic.  Jaromir Jagr has amassed 1653 points in just 1346 games which is good enough for 8th all-time and he is still playing.  The most surprising pick of all time might just have been Petr Svoboda as there was only one GM that knew Svoboda had defected to Canada.

Other:  The other nations represented with the top 5 pick are Sweden (1), Austria (1), Switzerland (1), Russia (2) and Lithuania (1).


Breakdown by Development League

OHA – 5 players

OHL – 7 players

QMJHL – 2 players

WHL – 11 players

WHA – 1 player

US HIGH SCHOOL – 2 players

US COLLEGE – 2 players



Jaromir Jagr Flyers
Jaromir Jagr is the best 5th overall selection of all time (Cliff Welch/Icon SMI)

Breakdown by Points

1000+ Points – 1 Player: Jaromir Jagr (1653)

700-999 Points – 4 Players: Scott Stevens (908), Bill Guerin (856), Rick Vaive (788) & Rick Martin (701)

400-699 Points – 6 Players: Daymond Langkow, Jeff O’Neil, Rob Niedermayer, Thomas Vanek, Dick Redmond & Tim Connoley

100-399 Points – 17 Players:

99 Points or Less – 20 Players

Breakdown by Games Played

1000+ Games Played – 6 players: Scott Stevens, Jaromir Jagr, Bill Guerin, Rob Niedermayer, Daymond Langkow, Petr Svoboda

500-999 Games Played – 19 Players

100-499 Games Played – 14 Players

99 Games Played or Less – 10 Players

Click here to view my top 10 5th overall picks of all time.

The Full List

Year Drafted by First Name Last Name Biggest Miss
1963 Chicago Blackhawks Art Hampson Walt McKechnie
1964 Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Martin Syl Apps & Ken Dryden
1965 Montreal Canadiens Pierre Bouchard n/a
1966 Montreal Canadiens Phil Myre Don Luce
1967 Philadelphia Flyers Serge Bernier n/a
1968 Minnesota North Stars Jim Benzelock Curt Bennett
1969 Minnesota North Stars Dick Redmond Bobby Clarke
1970 Montreal Canadiens Ray Martyniuk Darryl Sittler
1971 Buffalo Sabres Rick Martin Larry Robinson
1972 Buffalo Sabres Jim Schoenfeld Bill Barber
1973 St Louis Blues John Davidson Rick Middleton
1974 Montreal Canadiens Cam Connor Bryan Trottier
1975 Detroit Red Wings Rick Lapointe Dave Taylor
1976 California Golden Seals Bjorn Johansson Bernie Federko
1977 Cleveland Barons Mike Crombeen Mike Bossy
1978 Colorado Rockies Mike Gillis Ken Linseman
1979 Vancouver Canucks Rick Vaive Mark Messier & Ray Bourque
1980 Washington Capitals Darren Veitch Paul Coffey & Jari Kurri
1981 Colorado Rockies Joe Cirella Al MacInnis & Chris Chelios
1982 Washington Capitals Scott Stevens Doug Gilmour
1983 Buffalo Sabres Tom Barrasso Cam Neely & Dominik Hasek
1984 Montreal Canadiens Petr Svoboda Patrick Roy, Brett Hull & Luc Robitaille
1985 Hartford Whalers Dana Murzyn Joe Nieuwendyk
1986 Buffalo Sabres Shawn Anderson Vincent Damphousse & Brian Leetch
1987 Pittsburgh Penguins Chris Joseph Joe Sakic & Theo Fleury
1988 Quebec Nordiques Daniel Dore Teemu Selanne & Alex Mogilny
1989 New Jersey Devils Bill Guerin Nik Lidstrom & Pavel Bure
1990 Pittsburgh Penguins Jaromir Jagr ?? Martin Brodeur
1991 Winnipeg Jets Aaron Ward Peter Forsberg
1992 New York Islanders Darius Kasparaitis Sergei Gonchar
1993 Florida Panthers Rob Niedermayer Jason Arnott
1994 Hartford Whalers Jeff O’Neill Daniel Alfredsson
1995 Tampa Bay Lightning Daymond Langkow Jarome Iginla & Miika Kiprusoff
1996 Dallas Stars Richard Jackman Daniele Briere
1997 New York Islanders Eric Brewer Marian Hossa
1998 Anaheim Ducks Vitaly Vishnevski Brad Richards & Pavel Datsyuk
1999 New York Islanders Tim Connoley Henrik Zetterberg
2000 New York Islanders Raffi Torres Scott Hartnell
2001 Anaheim Ducks Stanislav Chistov Patrick Sharp
2002 Pittsburgh Penguins Ryan Whitney Cam Ward, Alexander Semin & Duncan Keith
2003 Buffalo Sabres Thomas Vanek Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Zach Parise, Mike Richards & Patrice Bergeron
2004 Phoenix Coyotes Blake Wheeler David Krejci, Mike Green & Pekka Rinne
2005 Montreal Canadiens Carey Price Anze Kopitar & Kris Letang
2006 Boston Bruins Phil Kessel Claude Giroux, Milan Lucic
2007 Washington Capitals Karl Alzner Jakub Voracek, P.K. Subban &  Ryan McDonough
2008 Toronto Maple Leafs Luke Schenn Erik Karlsson, Jordan Eberle, Jake Gardiner & Adam Henrique
2009 Los Angeles King Brayden Schenn Oliver Ekman Larsson, Dmitri Kulikov, Ryan O’Reilly
2010 New York Islanders Nino Niederreiter Jeff Skinner, Cam Fowler & Justin Faulk
2011 New York Islanders Ryan Strome Sean Couturier