We've all been guilty of looking at past drafts and saying "what if?" As Don Waddell has pointed out time and time again (because he's had to), predicting what kind of NHL player will develop out of a 17 or 18 year old kid is very hit or miss. So I decided to take a look at twelve years of Thrashers' first round draft choices and see what our team might look like today if we could go back in time and draft with full clairvoyance.
For this exercise, I didn't bother to re-cede the Thrashers based on how much better they may have been with these better players in their lineups. That's a little too much for a Friday afternoon flight of fancy. Also, we'll just look at better players who were drafted within the same round, shortly after the player we actually took. Thus, no Pavel Datsyuk since he went in a late round so obviously NO ONE realized he'd be one of the best players in the world right now.
Could-have-been Thrashers' First Round Draft Choices:
1999- (This was a notorously awful draft class, and I am not counting the Sedins since they were a package deal)
Dany Heatley (and we're going to use our clairvoyance to get him defensive driving lessons and a psychologist who will preach accountability)
Dion Phaneuf (close call here with Jeff Carter, but we would have needed D at this point)
Drew Stafford (another fairly weak draft class)
Devin Setoguchi (was actually taken with the draft pick we traded)
David Perron (or Wayne Simmonds, he was drafted at the end of the 2nd round)
Cam Fowler (Sources say he's made the team in Anaheim)
So the 2010-2011 Atlanta Thrashers' opening night roster could have looked like this:
I'm sure you could take the time to make a list like this for every team in the NHL that would make their own fans sigh just like this one does for Thrasher fans. Just a fun/depressing little distraction on a Friday afternoon.