NHL Draft 2015: List of No. 1 Overall Draft Picks & Draft Steals

Aaron Ekblad is selected first overall by the Florida Panthers in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 (Getty)

Aaron Ekblad is selected first overall by the Florida Panthers in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 (Getty)

Like the NFL Draft, the NHL Draft is a 7-round marathon will a lot of twists and turns along the way.

Since the 2004-05 Lockout, the first oversall selection has been a virtual slam dunk regarding future succedss at thew NHL level. Although there are technically only three “superstars of the bunch — Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and Steven Stamkos — the rest of the crop are an elitre group of players, and among the best players at their position on their respective teams and the rest of the NHL.

With success at the top, there is also success in the middle and later rounds. The depth of the league, farm systems and developmental programs allows Draft steals and later-round successes at a higher rate than ever before. Here is a SportsNet article documenting some of the NHL’s best draft steals in history.

Here is a list of every No. 1 Overall Pick in NHL history for comparison:

Year: Player: Position: Team: Previous Team: Age:
1963 Garry Monahan LW Montreal St. Michael’s Juveniles 16.7
1964 Claude Gauthier   Detroit Comite des jeunes (Rosemont)   ––
1965 Andre Veilleux RW NY Rangers Montreal Ranger Jr. B   ––
1966 Barry Gibbs D Boston Estevan Bruins 17.7
1967 Rick Pagnutti D Los Angeles Garson Native Sons 20.6
1968 Michel Plasse G Montreal Drummondville Rangers 20
1969 Rejean Houle LW Montreal Montreal Jr. Canadiens 19.8
1970 Gilbert Perreault C Buffalo Montreal Jr. Canadiens 19.7
1971 Guy Lafleur RW Montreal Quebec Remparts 19.9
1972 Billy Harris RW NY Islanders Toronto Marlboros 20.4
1973 Denis Potvin D NY Islanders Ottawa 67’s 19.7
1974 Greg Joly D Washington Regina Pats 20
1975 Mel Bridgman C Philadelphia Victoria Cougars 20.1
1976 Rick Green D Washington London Knights 20.3
1977 Dale McCourt C Detroit St. Catharines Fincups 20.4
1978 Bobby Smith C Minnesota Ottawa 67’s 20.4
1979 Rob Ramage D Colorado London Knights 20.5
1980 Doug Wickenheiser C Montreal Regina Pats 19.2
1981 Dale Hawerchuk C Winnipeg Cornwall Royals 18.2
1982 Gord Kluzak D Boston Nanaimo Islanders 18.3
1983 Brian Lawton C Minnesota Mount St. Charles HS 18.11
1984 Mario Lemieux C Pittsburgh Laval Voisins 18.8
1985 Wendel Clark LW/D Toronto Saskatoon Blades 18.7
1986 Joe Murphy C Detroit Michigan State Spartans 18.8
1987 Pierre Turgeon C Buffalo Granby Bisons 17.1
1988 Mike Modano C Minnesota Prince Albert Raiders 18
1989 Mats Sundin RW Quebec Nacka (Sweden) 18.4
1990 Owen Nolan RW Quebec Cornwall Royals 18.4
1991 Eric Lindros C Quebec Oshawa Generals 18.3
1992 Roman Hamrlik D Tampa Bay ZPS Zlin (Czech.) 18.2
1993 Alexandre Daigle C Ottawa Victoriaville Tigres 18.5
1994 Ed Jovanovski D Florida Windsor Spitfires 18
1995 Bryan Berard D Ottawa Detroit Jr. Red Wings 18.4
1996 Chris Phillips D Ottawa Prince Albert Raiders 18.3
1997 Joe Thornton C Boston Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 17.11
1998 Vincent Lecavalier C Tampa Bay Rimouski Oceanic 18.2
1999 Patrik Stefan C Atlanta Long Beach Ice Dogs (IHL) 18.9
2000 Rick DiPietro G NY Islanders Boston University Terriers 18.9
2001 Ilya Kovalchuk LW Atlanta Spartak (Russia) 18.2
2002 Rick Nash LW Columbus London Knights 18
2003 Marc-Andre Fleury G Pittsburgh Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 18
2004 Alex Ovechkin LW Washington Dynamo Moscow (Russia) 18.9
2005 Sidney Crosby C Pittsburgh Rimouski Oceanic 17.11
2006 Erik Johnson D St. Louis U.S. National U-18 18.3
2007 Patrick Kane RW Chicago London Knights 18.7
2008 Steven Stamkos C Tampa Bay Sarnia Sting 18.4
2009 John Tavares C NY Islanders London Knights 18.9
2010 Taylor Hall LW Edmonton Windsor Spitfires 18.7
2011 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C Edmonton Red Deer Rebels 18.2
2012 Nail Yakupov RW Edmonton Sarnia Sting 18.8
2013 Nathan MacKinnon C Colorado Halifax Mooseheads 17.9
2014 Aaron Ekblad D Florida Barrie Colts 18.4

In recent seasons, the Edmonton Oilers have cornered the market on No. 1 overall picks — the organization has had four in the last six years alone. The other two teams — the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers — have made their first overall selections in the last two seasons.

In the Drafts early years, not every No. 1 overall pick was a sure thing. In fact, besides Denis Potvin, a bevy of first overall selections ended up struggling or not fulfilling top pick potential at the NHL level. With advancements in scouting and social media, landing a sure thing at the top of the draft has become increasingly easier in recent seasons. Most NHL followers know that this years upcoming No. 1 selection, Connor McDavid, is the lock of the century.

The 2015 NHL Draft marks the 53rd year of the event. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network and SportsNet in Canada.

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