Heading into the 2007 draft, there was not one clear cut prospect like in some years, 2008 (Stamkos) and 2009 (Tavares) for example. In 2007, there were plenty of good players, but towards the draft it filtered down to three prospects at the top of the class. According to NHL’s Central Scouting, the top three (in order) were Kyle Turris, Patrick Kane, James van Riemsdyk. It seemed like those three would be the top choices, but in which order? And to which teams?
Turris, from Burnaby of the BCHL, was touted as a great skater with a combination of skill and hockey smarts. Kane’s biggest knock was his size (5’10, 160) but was a scoring machine for London of the OHL. Van Riemsdyk was a big scoring winger from the US National Development Program that hadn’t finished growing yet.
Philadelphia was in the midst of their worst season in team history and Phoenix had finished its’ third straight season near the bottom of the standings. Chicago finished last place in their division, but with a bit of luck, won the NHL draft lottery, giving them the #1 pick, followed by the Flyers and Coyotes.
When it got closer to the draft, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that Chicago would take Kane. Obviously it turned out to be a good choice, as Kane helped the team to a Stanley Cup victory only three years later and remains a face of the franchise along with the team’s 2006 pick, Jonathan Toews. He started winning hardware in 2008 with the Calder Trophy. He was also named to the 2009 and 2011 All Star teams and the 2010 silver medal winning US Olympic hockey team.
Philadelphia picked second. After much deliberation, they decided on the big kid from Jersey. They hoped van Riemsdyk, who was committed to New Hampshire, would continue to grow and become a dominant force. He played two years at New Hampshire before earning a job with the Flyers full time in 2009-10. The “Grim Riemer” has scored 36 goals in his first two NHL seasons, adding another five in 12 games this season. Some believe the Flyers would have drafted him even if they had the first pick, and while that might be possible, it never will be known.
Turris fell to the Coyotes, and the team loved it. Unfortunately for Phoenix, it hasn’t worked out as planned. Turris struggled, being shuttled between the Coyotes and their AHL team, the San Antonio Rampage. In 131 NHL games across three seasons, Turris has only scored 19 goals and 46 points, which is 2 goals and 26 points less than Kane’s rookie season alone. He hasn’t been the star that Phoenix hoped he would become, and that is partly their fault for rushing him out of college and putting him on the big club’s roster.
To make matters worse, Turris’ contract expired at the end of last season and the center began a holdout. He has reportedly asked a contract, in terms of money per year, similar to van Riemsdyk’s. He claims it’s not about money and now wants out of Phoenix for a fresh start. Phoenix GM Don Maloney doesn’t plan on trading him and if he is not signed by December 1st, he must sit out the entire season. Regardless of his path, it seems he and his agent have dug themselves into a hole that will only hurt his development.
Turris is only 22 and still can become a star in this league, but he needs to play. Whether that’s in Phoenix or another city, is to be determined. Sitting out does him or the Coyotes no good.
Looking back to June 22, 2007, it seems like Chicago and Philadelphia definitely made good decisions.