Below is the 1999 NHL Entry Draft 1st Round. It gives a overview of the selections two seasons later and what to expect from these prospects in the near future.
1. Atlanta Thrashers – Patrik Stefan (C)
It is way too early to say the Thrashers blew there first ever draft selection. Yet the production of the concussion prone Stefan is not where the Thrashers want it to be. He needs to have a much stronger season. In 2001-2002 he will be entering his 3rd NHL season.
2. Vancouver Canucks – Daniel Sedin (LW)
After spending 99-00 at home in Sweden playing for MoDo of the Swedish Elite League Daniel and brother Henrik made the trek to Vancouver. Tallied 20 goals and 34 points in 75 games. Also had 3 points in 3 playoff matches. Will be expected to put up bigger numbers this year for Vancouver.
3. Vancouver Canucks – Henrik Sedin (C)
Henrik took the same trip as brother Daniel and had a very similar season to his twin brother. Henrik had 29 points in his first NHL season and skated in all 82 games. He also added 4 points in 4 playoff games. Same thing goes here , Vancouver needs him to step up this season.
4. New York Rangers – Pavel Brendl (RW)
Two years later Brendl has never played in a regular season NHL game. He spent the past 2 seasons in Calgary (WHL) and as usual scored a ton of goals. He lead all scorers at the World Junior Championships in Russia this past December. Will be given every chance to make the Rangers this season. If he fails , he will end up in Hartford of the American Hockey League. Either way expect to see him in the NHL sometime this year.
5. New York Islanders – Tim Connolly (C)
Has 2 full NHL seasons under his belt. Showed flashes of brillance in his first two seasons. His rookie year was better than his 2nd. Still tends to carry the puck too much and try for the perfect play. Was traded to Buffalo along with Taylor Pyatt this offseason in exchange for Michael Peca.
6. Nashville Predators – Brian Finley (G)
Finley is the goaltender of the future in Nashville. Was traded this past season from Barrie to Brampton of the Ontario Hockey League. He also has never seen NHL regular seasona action yet. Was injured and unable to compete for a spot on Canada’s team for the WJC this past December. Likely to start 2001-2002 in the AHL.
7. Washington Capitals – Kris Beech (C)
The top prospect in the Caps system played a couple of games for them in 2000 before being sent back to Calgary of the WHL. He was named captain of Calgary and went on to have a solid season. Was traded from Washington this offseason along with Ross Lupaschuk and Michal Sivek to Pittsburgh in exchange for Jaromir Jagr. Should be a full time player for the Pens this year.
8. New York Islanders – Taylor Pyatt (LW)
After spending 99-00 in Sudbury , Pyatt jumped to Long Island this past season and played like a rookie learning the game. He went for weeks at a time when you wouldn’t even know he was playing. Yet he still has a bright future. That future for the powerful winger will begin now in Buffalo as he was dealt there this offseason in the Michael Peca trade.
9. New York Rangers – Jamie Lundmark (C)
The Rangers moved up from 11th to 9th in order to select Lundmark and it looks like the Rangers made the right choice. The crafty winger went through a broken wrist and a trade dispute this past season , before landing in Seattle of the WHL. He was unreal for Canada in the WJC. Will compete for a roster spot in camp. At worst will be sent to Hartford of the AHL.
10. New York Islanders – Branislav Mezei (D)
The 6’6 rock solid defenseman was terrific for the Islanders this past season. Started in the AHL and eventually ended up with the Islanders for the last part of the season. Showed his terrific ability to take the body. Will be on the Islanders defensive core this season and for many years to come.
11. Calgary Flames – Oleg Saprykin (C/LW)
Saprykin got into 59 games as a rookie this past season. He tallied 9 goals and 23 points. In 99-00 he played in a handful of games before being sent back to Seattle of the WHL. He should be a full time player this season in Calgary. With Valeri Bure gone to Florida , the Flames really need Saprykin to pick up the play offensively.
12. Florida Panthers – Denis Shvidki (RW)
Denis rode the bus between the AHL and Florida this year. He played most of his games later in the season. In the end he was good for 16 points in 43 games. He has massive potential and should pan out to be a real solid goal scorer in the NHL.
13. Edmonton Oilers – Jani Rita (RW)
The Finnish winger has a rocket of a shot and can fly on the ice. He has been thrown on the 3rd and 4th line on his team Jokerit in Finland’s top league. He will come to camp this year and the Oilers hope he makes a big enough impression that they can keep him around for the season. Yet in all likelyhood he will head back to Finland for at least another season. Expect him to be in the NHL by 2003.
14. San Jose Sharks – Jeff Jillson (D)
The Sharks ended up with a player who has done nothing but improved the past 2 seasons since being drafted. He has a cannon from the point , is excellent in his own zone and at 6’3 , 220 will bang you around. With one year at the University of Michigan remaining , the Sharks would like to see Jillson mature for one more year before taking a real crack at the big club.
15. Phoenix Coyotes – Scott Kelman (C)
This turned out to be a terrible pick for the Coyotes. Kelman was never signed making it bad. To make matters worse after he was drafted his play dropped off at a noticeable level. With players like Heisten , Jackman , Havlat and others available , Phoenix looks awful after this pick.
16. Carolina Hurricanes – David Tanabe (D)
Tanabe will be heading into his second full NHL season in 2001-2002. He also spent some time in the NHL in 99-00. He has a good shot and is a tremendous skater. Should turn out to be a solid all around NHL defenseman. Great selection for the Hurricanes. They have gotten all out possible out of Tanabe so far and more.
17. St. Louis Blues – Barret Jackman (D)
Jackman seemed to be on the outs in a number of trades this year. Yet he is still with the Blues and they are happy about it. After spending his junior days in Regina of the WHL , The Blues want to see Jackman make the jump to the Kiel Center this season. He certainly has the ability. He is great in his own zone and takes the body well. He was one of the leaders on Canada’s WJC team in Russia this past December.
18. Pittsburgh Penguins – Konstantin Kolstov (LW)
Nobody doubts the talent of the Belarus native. Yet there are questions as to if he can compete in the North American style of hockey. His entire game is speed. He flys all over the place. He was probably hands down the best skater in this draft. He will need minor seasoning in Wilkes Barre of the AHL. Expect him to make a impact no earlier then 2003.
19. Phoenix Coyotes – Kirill Safronov (D)
Safronov stood out this year for the Coyotes top minor league club in the AHL. He plays a solid well rounded game. He has very few flaws and is also getting use to the North American style. He very well could make the Coyotes right out of training camp this season. He won’t be a star , but will be a very solid two way NHL defenseman.
20. Buffalo Sabres – Barrett Heisten (LW)
Heisten left the University of Maine and went to play for Seattle of the WHL. Buffalo never signed him and via the ‘Mike Van Ryn’ Rule , Heisten became a free agent. He is now a member of the New York Rangers. With the depth up front for the Rangers he will probably not make the top club. But will go to Hartford of the AHL and make his mark there. If he can make a smooth transition , he might be seen in Madison Square Garden this year.
21. Boston Bruins – Nick Boynton (D)
Boynton has seen some time with the Bruins over the last season or so. Although he has spent most of his time in Providence of the AHL. He probably still needs another year on the farm to hone his skills. In the end , expect him to be one of those solid players who don’t get noticed enough and don’t get the credit they deserve.
22. Philadelphia Flyers – Maxime Quellet (G)
The big French Canadian goaltender looks like a steal for the Flyers with the 22nd pick. He saw his first NHL action earlier this season before going back to the QMJHL. He lead Canada in the WJC. There is a good chance he could end up as Roman Cechmanek’s backup in 2001-2002. If not , the Phantoms of the AHL are calling his name.
23. Chicago Blackhawks – Steve McCarthy (D)
The ‘Hawks got one right with this selection. McCarthy played numerous games with them this year. He was then sent to Russia for the WJC before returning to the club. He will be a mainstay on the Chicago blueline for this season. He is solid in many different aspects of the game.
24. Toronto Maple Leafs – Luca Cereda (C)
Cereda is a terrific playmaking center. He was by far the smartest player in the draft. He is playing over in Switzerland. He will likely stay there for the next year. He isn’t expected in Toronto until at least 2002-2003. The jury is still out on this playmaking center with great vision.
25. Colorado Avalanche – Mikhail Kuleshov (LW)
The talent is there. He has the ability to score 30 goals on a NHL first line. Yet he may not live up to that potential. Kuleshov is a super strong , skilled left winger. He is taking his time getting to North America and that might hurt him. We’ll know in a couple of years his fate.
26. Ottawa Senators – Martin Havlat (LW)
Havlat was unreal in his first NHL season. He showed he will one day be one of the games top players. He had 19 goals and 42 points in his rookie season. He vanished in the playoffs , but that is expected from a 20 year old. He was one of the biggest steals in recent memory. You still aren’t anywhere close to seeing the top of his game.
27. New Jersey Devils – Ari Ahonen (G)
Ahonen is going to be a real real good NHL goaltender some day. The question is with what team. With Martin Brodeur in New Jersey there is no need for a quality backup. Ahonen would be great trade bait for many teams. Expect to see him in the NHL fairly soon. Maybe just not in a Devils uniform.
28. New York Islanders – Kristian Kudroc (D)
Kudroc is a monster defenseman. He is now with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He got into a handful of games for them this season. He isn’t going to score goals. That isn’t his game. He is going to hit you , wait for you to get up , and hit you again. He will be a great young defenseman for the Lightning.
Look for my 2000 NHL Draft : 1 Year Later , Article coming up in the near future.