Every year, NHL teams enter the draft with hopes of finding their next big superstar. You know, someone that is developed as a homegrown talent that eventually steps on the ice ready to take care of business. An elite player that helps set or break franchise records and carves their path towards hopefully being a part of NHL history.
Here, we will go down memory lane and breakdown the top 30 best draft picks in NHL history. Picking at least one player from every team (yes, even the Arizona Coyotes!) with the exception of the Vegas Golden Knights. Considering that they’re a relatively new team that debuted in 2017, we’ll omit them since the jury is still out on their draft picks over these past few years.
We’ll look at Stanley Cup champions, those that hit it off immediately upon arrival earning everything from the Conn Smythe Trophy to the Hart Memorial Trophy. Of course, not every amazing draft pick won a Stanley Cup championship but had a tremendous impact on their teams from the moment they started their journey.
It wasn’t easy to pick at least one best draft pick by team and rank them to see who makes that elusive top-10 spot but here we are. Let’s begin breaking down each team’s best draft pick and why this particular hockey player was selected.
30. Best NHL draft picks in history: Teemu Selanne, Winnipeg Jets
Unfortunately for the Winnipeg Jets, they haven’t had any major success in decades. Come draft time, it’s still their hopes and dreams to draft a future franchise player that is capable of doing their part to win their first-ever Stanley Cup championship. Back in 1988, the franchise shifted into a better direction towards that hopeful goal thanks to right winger Teemu Selanne.
Selanne, remembered by Jets fans as The Finnish Flash, was selected 10th overall in the 1988 NHL Draft. Doing things the old-school way, the Jets wanted to develop Selanne the right way as they knew he could be their next face of the franchise. They gave him a few years to develop on their minor league team and wow, was it worth it.
Not only did Selanne deliver but quickly became a force to reckon with. He was an offensive star, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy for the best rookie of 1993 and representing the Jets at that year’s NHL All-Star Game. It looked like the Jets drafted their next cornerstone player but unfortunately, things didn’t work out just as he was about to take off.
The Jets traded Selanne away to the Anaheim Ducks just four years after he debuted. In return, the Jets got players and future draft picks, much to the anger of fans across the globe for getting rid of a popular household name. The plan was to continue rebuilding after trading away their star player and clearly, it was the wrong decision to make, probably one of the worst in franchise history.