Being the GM of an NHL team is a taxing job, there are important decisions to make every single day – especially on draft day. On June 26th, 2004, Washington Capitals GM, George McPhee, had just that – an important decision to make. McPhee planned to “start from scratch” with the Capitals roster, and inject some youth into the line-up – his plan started in the summer of 2004 with the 1st overall draft pick.
As we all know, McPhee and the Capitals selected Alex Ovechkin with the first overall pick in the draft. That was not the Caps only pick in the first round though, they also selected Jeff Schultz (27th overall), and Mike Green (29th overall). Following Ovechkin was fellow Russian, Evgeni Malkin, selected by the Penguins. Cam Barker (CHI), Andrew Ladd (CAR), and Blake Wheeler (PHX) rounded out the top 5 selections in the first round.
I took a look at the rest of the 2004 draft class in my post “Ranking The Top 5 Draft Picks From 2004 – Is Alex Ovechkin Still #1?“, and as you see by the title, I ranked the top 5 draft picks in terms of their NHL careers so far. There were quite a few players who made the honorable mentions list, including; Johan Franzen, Brandon Dubinsky, Blake Wheeler, and Alexander Edler. Moving onto the top 5, the list looked like this…
#5 - Andrew Ladd
#4 - Ryan Callahan
#3 - Pekka Rinne
#2 - Evgeni Malkin
#1 - Alex Ovechkin
Each of the players listed above would have brought a different style or aspect to Washington’s game – and each is quite different from Ovechkin. Knowing what you know today, would you still pick Ovechkin as first overall in the draft? Or would you look to re-invent the future for the Capitals and go a different route?