A look back at the No. 1 overall picks since 1991, with stats, commentary and an assessment of each player's impact on their teams and the NHL. By Jon Millian
1991: ERIC LINDROS, Quebec Nordiques
Career NHL stats: 372 goals, 493 assists, 1398 PIM in 760 games
The hype surrounding Eric Lindros' arrival was so great that it may have quite literally brought down a franchise. Dubbed "The Next One," Lindros dominated the OHL in 1990-91, grabbing 71 goals and 78 assists in 57 games with the Oshawa Generals. Leading up to the NHL entry draft in '91, the London, Ontario, native threatened to sit out the following season if he was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques, who had the No. 1 pick. The Nordiques drafted him anyway, Lindros followed through and sat out the entire 1991-92 season. After the season, he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for a bundle of players (including Peter Forsberg), picks and $15 million. When he finally hit the ice, it seemed that Lindros might live up to the expectations, scoring at least 40 goals in three of his first four seasons. In 2001, after another front office dispute, he was dealt to the Rangers. Injuries (and eight concussions) would continue to haunt Lindros for the remainder of his career until he retired at the age of 34 in 2007. After 1996, he never broke 100 points in a season again.
ROMAN HAMRLIK, Defense
Islanders (2000-2004): 300 games, 43 G, 110 A, 153 PTS
Rangers (2013): 12 games, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS
1993: ALEXANDRE DAIGLE, Ottawa Senators
Career stats: 129 goals, 198 assists, 186 PIM in 616 games
The Senators were obviously excited to have the opportunity to draft this French-Canadian center who many considered to be a sure-fire star — the evidence being the five-year, $12.25-million deal they gave Daigle. However, it became almost immediately clear that Daigle was not what his 247 points in two QMJHL seasons might imply. In 4 1/2 seasons with Ottawa, he maxed out at 51 points and cracked the 20-goal mark twice. He would never even come close to a 30-goal season. After being dealt to the Flyersin 1998, Daigle spent the rest of his NHL career bouncing from team to team, never really being able to settle in anywhere. Since 2006, Daigle has played in the Swiss-A league in Europe. In the ‘93 draft, he was picked in front of Chris Pronger, Paul Kariya, Rob Niedermayer and Jason Arnott.
1994: ED JOVANOVSKI, Florida Panthers
Career stats: 136 goals, 358 assists, 1425 PIM in 1085 games
Jovanovski's selection was looked upon as a surprise to many following the draft in 1994, but the Canadian two-way defenseman made an immediate impact with the Panthers, helping them reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996. During the playoff run, he recorded a goal and eight assists. Jovanovski, who recently returned to the Panthers after stops in Vancouver and Phoenix, has never been back to the Finals, although he did have a deep playoff run with Vancouver in 2003 when he notched seven goals in 14 games. In 2002, he won a gold medal with Team Canada during the the Winter Olympics. However, his high minor-league offensive production never fully translated in the pros.
1995: BRYAN BERARD, Ottawa Senators
Career stats: 76 goals, 247 assists, 500 PIM in 619 games
The first American-born defenseman ever taken at the top spot, Berard never played a game for the Senators. He was traded to the Islanders, with whom he made his NHL debut in 1996-97. He recorded eight goals and 40 assists on his way to a Calder Trophy-winning season. In 1998, Berard played for Team USA in the Winter Olympics. In 2000, while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he suffered a severe eye injury when the Senators’ Marian Hossa accidentally clipped him with his stick on a follow-through. It was considered to be a career-ending injury at the time, but after missing the entire 2000-01 season and undergoing numerous surgeries, Berard returned to the NHL with the Rangers and played a full season. Since 2002-03, Berard has not played a full season, but he did have arguably his best season in 2003-04 with the Chicago Blackhawks (47 points in 58 games). Berard went on to play with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Islanders before moving to Russia to play in the KHL in 2008. Berard certainly delivered at points during his time in the NHL, but there is no doubt that his chances of matching expectations were stifled by his eye injury.
1996: CHRIS PHILLIPS, Ottawa Senators
Career stats: 65 goals, 191 assists, 671 PIM in 1025 games
Phillips was the fourth defenseman in five years taken No. 1 overall. The Calgary native was drafted by the Senators and has remained with them to this day. A true defenseman, Phillips has never been one to rack up the points, but his career plus/minus of 73 is a testament to his effectiveness. Since 2006, Phillips has served as an alternate captain for Ottawa.
1997: JOE THORNTON Boston Bruins
Career stats: 324 goals, 754 assists, 963 PIM in 1077 games
It took Thornton a few years to really hit superstar status, but once he did, it came in history-making fashion. After five seasons with the Boston Bruins, the London, Ontario native broke 100 points in a single season for the first time. In 2005, following the NHL lockout, Thornton was traded to the San Jose Sharks. He totaled 125 points and won the Art Ross (most points) and Hart Memorial (MVP) trophies. He was the first player in NHL history to win both while playing for two teams in a season. The 125 points while switching teams was also a NHL record.
1998: VINCENT LECAVALIER, Tampa Bay Lightning
Career stats: 373 goals, 469 assists, 717 PIM in 998 games
When the owner of the team that drafts you anoints you as "The Michael Jordan of hockey" and names you as the youngest captain in NHL history at the time, it's safe to say that the hype is going to increase a tad. This was the case with Vinny Lecavalier. While impossible to match those kinds of expectations, Lecavalier has done his best to approach them. In every season following his first, the French-Canadian has notched at least 20 goals, including five seasons over 30, and two seasons with at least 40. In 2007, he won the Rocket Richard Trophy after scoring 52. Lecavalier also led Tampa to its first Stanley Cup in 2004. Maybe he hasn't been the superstar he was touted as, but he certainly has been a superstar.
1999: PATRIK STEFAN, Atlanta Thrashers
Career stats: 64 goals, 124 assists, 158 PIM in 455 games
When Alexandre Daigle looks like a respectable pick in comparison, you are a bust. Stefan's career was riddled with recurring concussion-related injuries. His best year came in 2003-04 when he piled up 40 points in 82 games. He never hit 15 goals in a season nor did he surpass 30 assists. His last appearance in the NHL came in 2006-07 when he played half a season for the Dallas Stars.
2000: RICK DiPIETRO, Islanders
Career stats: 130-133-36, 2.86 GAA, .903 save percentage in 315 games
The first goalie ever taken No. 1 overall, DiPietro formed a winning record in his first four seasons with the Islanders, earning an All-Star appearance and the starting job with Team USA in the 2006 Winter Olympics. Then, the Massachusetts native got hurt . . . again and again and again. His performance since having knee surgery has been average at best, and his future as a starter is in question at the moment.
2001: ILYA KOVALCHUK, Atlanta Thrashers
Career stats: 406 goals, 379 assists, 498 PIM in 779 games
Atlanta didn't have to wait long for a chance to make up for the Stefan debacle of 1999. Two years later, they selected Kovalchuk, who was the first Russian-born player in NHL history to go No. 1. In his first season with the Thrashers, he notched 29 goals. He followed that with a 38-goal season, then a 41-goal season (which netted him a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2004) and then a 52-goal season. He has eclipsed the 40-goal mark six out of his first nine seasons and has averaged exactly a point a game during his career. In 2010, he was traded to the New Jersey Devils. Since the trade, his production has diminished a bit, but a strong finish to the 2010-11 season suggests that Kovalchuk will continue to play at a superstar level for years to come.
2002: RICK NASH, Columbus Blue Jackets
Career stats: 289 goals, 258 assists, 568 PIM in 674 games
Although the Ontario native has yet to crack 80 points in a season, Nash has been a consistent, top-tier goal-scorer through his first eight seasons. In his sophomore year, he notched a career-high 41 goals which won him a share of the 2004 Rocket Richard trophy along with Jerome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk. In six of his last seven seasons, Nash has scored at least 30. He also has five All-Star appearances.
2003: MARC-ANDRE FLEURY, Pittsburgh Penguins
Career stats: 226-143-41, 2.68 GAA, .909 save percentage in 434 games
Before there was Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins took Fleury in 2003. After a rough first couple of seasons with a rebuilding franchise, the French-Canadian broke out during the 2006-07 season, going 40-16 with a 2.83 GAA and five shutouts. In 2009, Fleury anchored Pittsburgh's Stanley Cup victory over the Detroit Red Wings, marked by a late save in Game 7 to preserve the win.
2004: ALEXANDER OVECHKIN, Washington Capitals
Career stats: 339 goals, 340 assists, 372 PIM in 553 games
"The Great 8" burst on to the scene his rookie year, finishing with 52 goals and 54 assists on his way to the Calder Trophy. Ovechkin continued to establish himself as an elite player in the NHL, scoring over 50 goals in four of his first five seasons, winning two Hart Trophies and bringing excitement to Washington. His production has dwindled the last two years, though; Ovie totaled a career-low 85 points in 2010-11, then finished with just 65 points in 2011-12.
2005: SIDNEY CROSBY, Pittsburgh Penguins
Career stats: 223 goals, 386 assists, 401 PIM in 434 games
Arguably the most hyped prospect in league history, Crosby was considered the heir to Wayne Gretzky’s throne by many, including Gretzky himself. Although his rookie year was overshadowed by Ovechkin, Crosby still recorded 102 points, becoming the youngest player to eclipse 100 points in a season. He'd win the Hart Trophy is second season, and in 2009, he scored 31 points during the Penguins' playoff run, leading them to the Stanley Cup. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, he scored the winning goal in overtime of the Gold Medal game against the United States. The only concern surrounding Crosby now is his health after he missed much of the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons due to concussion symptoms. .
2006: ERIK JOHNSON, St. Louis Blues
Career stats: 27 goals, 100 assists, 189 PIM in 298 games
After a respectable start to his rookie season, Johnson tore his ACL and MCL in a freak golf cart accident, costing him the 2008-09 season. He managed to return the next year and increase his production, and is now playing in Colorado.
Impact: Too early to tell
2007: PATRICK KANE, Chicago Blackhawks
Career stats: 126 goals, 243 assists, 182 PIM in 399 games
The Buffalo native was the first American forward taken No. 1 since Mike Modano. Much like Modano, Kane got off to a quick start, leading all rookies with 72 points in 2007-08 on his way to the Calder Trophy. Two years later, he helped Team USA go on a shocking run to the finals during the 2010 Winter Olympics, then scored the winning goal in overtime to help the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. Kane finished the 2010-11 season with 73 points, though in 2011-12, finished with less than 70 points (66) for the first time in his career. Still, Kane's performance in Chicago has helped bring hockey back to life in the Midwest.
2008: STEVEN STAMKOS, Tampa Bay Lightning
Career stats: 179 goals, 150 assists, 217 PIM in 325 games
After a quiet rookie season, the Canadian broke out in his sophomore year, scoring 51 goals in 2009-10 after scoring just 23 his first season. He added 45 goals the following season, helping the Lightning return to the playoffs, then scored a career-high 60 goals in 2011-12.
2009: JOHN TAVARES, New York Islanders
Career stats: 84 goals, 118 assists, 101 PIM in 243 games
The youngest player drafted into the Ontario Hockey League at 14, Tavares was destined to be a No. 1 draft pick. He took the ice for the Islanders in the 2009-10 season, and finished with a respectable 54 points. In 2010-11, he increased his goal and assist totals, totaling 67 points. Tavares showed no signs of slowing in 2011-12, finishing with career highs in goals (31) and assists (50). There's no reason to think Tavares won't continue to develop into an elite NHL scorer.
2010: TAYLOR HALL, Edmonton Oilers
Career stats: 49 goals, 46 assists, 63 PIM in 126 games
The Calgary native had a promising debut on a bad Edmonton team. Alongside 2011 draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins the Oilers look to have a solid foundation for the future.
Impact: Too early to tell
2011: RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS, Edmonton Oilers
Career stats: 18 goals, 34 assists, 16 PIM in 62 games
The Oilers, picking first for the second year in a row, selected the Burnaby, British Columbia native. In his last season with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, Nugent-Hopkins finished with 106 points in 69 games. Nugent-Hopkins saw ice time as a 19-year-old in 2011-12, and impressed, scoring 52 points.
Impact: Too early to tell