Welcome to a brand new series here at The Hockey Writers called “Road to the Draft.” In this series, our draft contributors will count down from the 32nd-overall pick to the 1st-overall selection and revisit each player taken with that pick between 2010 and 2020.
The goal is to reflect on some of the biggest steals and some of the biggest busts taken in the first round over the past ten years, as well as to shine a light on those players who could see themselves taken with the corresponding pick at the upcoming 2021 NHL Draft.
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Some notable players taken 13th overall include Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe winner Jean-Sébastien Giguère; Alexander Semin, who was bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2015; and off-ice legend Ron Duguay.
There is a good mix of players here: some busts, some established players and a few rising stars.
2010 – Brandon Gormley (D, Phoenix Coyotes)
Brandon Gormley was drafted by a Phoenix Coyotes team that featured two elite offensive defensemen, Keith Yandle and an up-and-coming Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and he looked to be the next piece of the puzzle. His career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) showcased his size, at 6-foot-2, and a player who could put up decent goals and points from the blue line. Those expectations were never met.
Gormley had a decent start to his professional career with the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates, but never cracked the NHL full-time. He made the jump from North America to Europe following the 2016-17 season and has played for four teams in three leagues since. The 29-year-old played in 58 NHL games for the Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche, scoring two goals and five points. It isn’t likely he’ll see NHL ice, let alone North American ice, for the remainder of his career.
2011 – Sven Baertschi (LW, Calgary Flames)
Sven Baertschi was drafted as a 17-year-old after a monster rookie season with the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Portland Winterhawks. In 2010-11, he put up 34 goals and 85 points in 66 games before adding another 10 goals and 27 points in 21 playoff games. He followed it up with an even better season in 2011-12 with 33 goals and 94 points in 47 games and 14 goals and 34 points in 22 playoff games. The Winterhawks lost in the finals both years.
Baertschi carried that play into the AHL with less impact. However, he didn’t become a full-time NHLer with the Calgary Flames. He got his shot after being traded to the Vancouver Canucks and played decently there for over four seasons, earning top-nine minutes and some power-play time. Over the past two seasons, he’s seen more time with the AHL’s Utica Comets than with the Canucks.
2012 – Radek Faksa (C, Dallas Stars)
Radek Faksa’s offensive output in the NHL hasn’t lived up to his production in junior and during his breakout year in the AHL, but he brings more to the Dallas Stars than scoring, as it’s not really his role. You can find the 6-foot-3 pivot on the penalty kill, racking up 96:25 of ice time in his five full NHL seasons.
Faksa’s offense output has dipped the last few seasons, but he has shown that he can score at least 30 points in a season, which he’s done three times. He’s found a home centering the Stars’ third line and has a reasonable cap hit of $3.25 million. He may not be emulating his junior scoring, but with what he does provide, he’ll be playing in Dallas for years to come.
2013 – Josh Morrissey (D, Winnipeg Jets)
Josh Morrissey may not be the highest-scoring defenseman, but he has become the Winnipeg Jets’ premier defenseman. He had a very strong junior career with double-digit goals in four straight seasons, including 28 goals in 2013-14 with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders.
Morrissey played well alongside Jacob Trouba (now with the New York Rangers) and has since become the Jets’ No. 1 defenseman. He plays in all situations and averaged 23:33 of ice time last season, a career-high. In the 2021 postseason, he managed to keep superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in check enough to help the Jets sweep the Edmonton Oilers. He’s signed with the Jets through the 2027-28 season.
2014 – Jakub Vrana (LW, Washington Capitals)
Jakub Vrana is the only Stanley Cup Champion on this list. Before playing in the NHL, he had an alright season in the Swedish Hockey League (SweHL) following his draft year with 12 goals and 24 points in 44 games. He found his stride in the AHL with the Hershey Bears, to the tune of 35 goals and 75 points in 88 games before joining the Washington Capitals.
Vrana’s Cup-winning season wasn’t even his best offensively. That was during the 2019-20 season when he scored 25 goals and 52 points in 69 games. However, despite back-to-back 20-plus goal seasons, he was dealt to the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings in April 2021. The Red Wings have decided to protect him in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, proving that he is expected to be a key part of the team moving forward.
2015 – Jakub Zboril (D, Boston Bruins)
The Boston Bruins had three-straight first-round draft picks in 2015, the first of which was Jakub Zboril, who showed offensive potential in 2014-15, putting up 13 goals and 33 points in 43 games in the QMJHL for the Saint John Sea Dogs. He struggled the following season, only putting up 20 points in 50 games before having a bounce-back final QMJHL season, with 41 points in 50 games. However, that offensive output didn’t translate to the pros.
Zboril has yet to eclipse 19 points in the professional leagues, hitting that mark three times with the AHL’s Providence Bruins. He has seen some NHL time, suiting up for 44 games for the Bruins, with nine assists over two seasons. Aside from 18 games in the Czech Republic League, 2020-21 was the first season Zboril spent in the NHL. It could be a good sign for him, but don’t expect him to replicate his QMJHL rate of production.
2016 – Jake Bean (D, Carolina Hurricanes)
Jake Bean is coming off his first full-NHL season, and the Carolina Hurricanes have high hope for him. After a very successful career in the WHL, where he scored 24 goals as a 17-year-old, he played predominantly in the AHL for the Charlotte Checkers, twice scoring over 40 points.
Bean had a 53.9 Corsi for percentage (CF%) last season and a 54.1 CF% during the playoffs, an indication that he can provide offense despite that he only scored a goal and 12 points during the regular season and one goal in the playoffs. He received secondary power-play time, and if the Hurricanes can lock up the restricted free agent (RFA), he could be quarterbacking their power play for years to come.
2017 – Nick Suzuki (C, Vegas Golden Knights)
If you drive past T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, you may hear Katy Perry’s or Jake Owen’s “The One That Got Away,” take your pick. On Sept. 10, 2018, Nick Suzuki was part of a trade package that sent him to the Montreal Canadiens for Max Pacioretty before he ever played a game for the Golden Knights.
The Knights are in win-now mode and needed Pacioretty, a proven scorer. Meanwhile, Suzuki lit up the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in 2018-19 and stepped into the NHL in 2019-20 with back-to-back 41-point seasons. He posted seven goals and 16 points as the Canadiens made a run to the Stanley Cup Final last season before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was his coming-out party.
Pacioretty is 11 years older than Suzuki, who has the potential to become a true No. 1 center, which is ironically what the Knights need. He has one more season before he becomes an RFA, and he should see a nice payday.
2018 – Ty Dellandrea (C, Dallas Stars)
Ty Dellandrea pulled on three different jerseys in three different leagues last season. He had a stop in the Finnish Elite League (SM-liiga), scoring two goals and three points in six games, and also played for the AHL’s Texas Stars, scoring two goals and six points in eight games. However, he spent most of his time in the NHL with the Dallas Stars.
Dellandrea put up just three goals and five points and logged an average of 12:29 of ice time in 26 games for Dallas. He likes to throw the body around and had a 51.2 CF%. He should see more ice time as he enters his sophomore season, especially on the power play where he received minimal time last season.
2019 – Spencer Knight (G, Florida Panthers)
In 2020-21, Spencer Knight went from being a Hobey Baker finalist to one of the stories of the NHL season. He was lights-out for Boston College (BC), playing 33 games in his rookie campaign in 2019-20 with 23 wins, a 1.97 goals-against average (GAA), and .931 save percentage (SV%). He followed that up with a 16-win season, a 2.18 GAA and .932 SV%, and turned pro after it ended.
Knight won gold with Team USA at the 2021 World Junior Championship, recording a 1.63 GAA, .940 SV% and three shutouts, including shutting out Canada in the gold medal game when he was named player of the game.
He didn’t see a second of AHL ice after turning pro and made his NHL debut on April 20, 2021, stopping 33 shots in a 5-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Sergei Bobrovsky might be the Florida Panthers’ goalie of the present, but there is no doubt that Knight is the future.
2020 – Seth Jarvis (C/RW, Carolina Hurricanes)
The Carolina Hurricanes drafted Seth Jarvis following a monster draft season with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks when he scored 42 goals and 98 points in 58 games. He split time during the 2020-21 season between Portland and the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and was a point-per-game player with both teams.
The Hurricanes have some depth, but if Jarvis has a similar season to the one he just had, he could force their hand and find his way into the lineup, especially if he has a good camp. If he makes the team off the hop, he could be seeing middle-six ice time, and if they add him to the power play, he has the offensive potential to really take off.
Players Who Could Be Drafted 13th Overall in 2021
ALL TIME PLAYERS TAKEN 13th OVERALL
1963 – Roy Pugh (C, Montreal Canadiens)
1964 – Ralph Buchanan (D, Detroit Red Wings)
1965 – No Selection
1966 – Garnet “Ace” Bailey (LW, Boston Bruins)
1967 – Larry Mick (C, Minnesota North Stars)
1968 – Doug Smith ((C, Oakland Seals)
1969 – J.P. Bordeleau (RW, Chicago Blackhawks)
1970 – Bob Stewart (D, Boston Bruins)
1971 – Steve Durbano (D, New York Rangers)
1972 – Phil Russell (D, Chicago Blackhawks)
1973 – Darcy Rota (LW, Chicago Blackhawks)
1974 – Jack Valiquette (C, Toronto Maple Leafs)
1975 – Gordie Laxton (G, Pittsburgh Penguins)
1976 – Rod Schutt (LW, Montreal Canadiens)
1977 – Ron Duguay (C, New York Rangers)
1978 – Larry Playfair (D, Buffalo Sabres)
1979 – Doug Sulliman (RW, New York Rangers)
1980 – Denis Cyr (RW, Calgary Flames)
1981 – Ron Meighan (D, Minnesota North Stars)
1982 – David Shaw (D, Quebec Nordiques)
1983 – Dan Quinn (C, Calgary Flames)
1984 – David Quinn (D, Minnesota North Stars)
1985 – Derek King (LW, New York Islanders)
1986 – Craig Janney (C, Boston Bruins)
1987 – Dean Chynoweth (D, New York Islanders)
1988 – Joel Savage (RW, Buffalo Sabres)
1989 – Lindsay Vallis (RW, Montreal Canadiens)
1990 – Michael Stewart (D, New York Rangers)
1991 – Philippe Boucher (D, Buffalo Sabres)
1992 – Joe Hulbig (LW, Edmonton Oilers)
1993 – Denis Pederson (C, New Jersey Devils)
1994 – Mattias Ohlund (D, Vancouver Canucks)
1995 – Jean-Sebastien Giguere (G, Hartford Whalers)
1996 – Derek Morris (D, Calgary Flames)
1997 – Daniel Cleary (RW, Chicago Blackhawks)
1998 – Michael Henrich (RW, Edmonton Oilers)
1999 – Jani Rita (LW, Edmonton Oilers)
2000 – Ron Hainsey (D, Montreal Canadiens)
2001 – Ales Hemsky (RW, Edmonton Oilers)
2002 – Alexander Semin (RW, Washington Capitals)
2003 – Dustin Brown (RW, Los Angeles Kings)
2004 – Drew Stafford (RW, Buffalo Sabres)
2005 – Marek Zagrapan (C, Buffalo Sabres)
2006 – Jiri Tlusty (LW, Toronto Maple Leafs)
2007 – Lars Eller (C, St. Louis Blues)
2008 – Colten Teubert (D, Los Angeles Kings)
2009 – Zack Kassian (RW, Buffalo Sabres)
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.