Pretty much every pick in the 2003 NHL Draft has an incredible story to it. While some draft classes only end up getting a few difference makers in the NHL, this one is filled with them going way beyond the first round in potential make or break players for a redraft.
The 2003 NHL Draft was held 20 years ago in Nashville, Tennessee. It seems fitting the draft should return to Nashville 20 years later, maybe this class will be as good as the 2003 lot. On the 20 year anniversary of the draft, I want to highlight some of the top names that came out of the 2003 draft class.
The 2003 NHL Draft Class Remains The Most Talented In League History
With the first overall pick the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Marc-Andre Fleury back in 2003. I believe this is a pick that the Penguins would definitely make again 20 years later. Pittsburgh is a team that understands how important goaltending is, and it is a position the Penguins have struggled figuring out ever since Fleury was picked up in the expansion draft. Although it would have been to see a guy like Bergeron play alongside Sidney Crosby for the past 20 years.
Patrice Bergeron definitely is the face of this draft class, and he was not drafted until the second round 45th overall by the Boston Bruins. Here are some of the other big names that came out of this draft:
Eric Staal (drafted second overall by Carolina)
Shea Weber (drafted 49th overall by Nashville)
Ryan Getzlaf (drafted 19th overall by Anaheim)
Joe Pavelski (drafted 205 overall by San Jose)
Brent Burns (drafted 20th overall by Minnesota)
Brent Seabrook (drafted 14th overall by Chicago)
Dustin Brown (drafted 13th overall by Los Angeles)
Ryan Suter (drafted 7th overall by Nashville)
This list of great players literally just keeps on going. I have not even mentioned guys like Corey Perry, Jeff Carter, Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Kesler, David Backes, or Dustin Byfuglien yet.
This draft class would go on to shape the NHL for many years. While the influence this draft has had on the league might be drifting away, there was one point in time that the league had five or six captains all come out of this draft. Think about the power house names the league had back when Backes was with the Blues, Getzlaf was the face of Anaheim, Weber was the back bone of the Predators defense and Bergeron helped bring a championship to the Bruins in 2011. This draft class is loaded, and the same is true for the goalie department.
The 2003 draft class had 11 goalies go on to play in the league. Six of those goalies would not play more than 10 games, but the other five would go on to become some of the best netminders in the league for a pretty long stretch of time.2023 NHL Draft: Complete First Round Draft Order
Obviously Fleury went first overall, but this class also included Jimmy Howard, Brian Elliott, Jaroslav Halak and Corey Crawford. Together, this group has won six William M. Jennings trophies, five Stanley Cups and a Vezina trophy, not bad.