How Other Teams are Built

Edited to now include all relevant teams

The point of this piece is to once again offer evidence that the way to building a steady playoff hopeful is not solely accomplished through Top 5 draft picks. That the mentality of coming in last until you find a Crosby or Ovechkin or Stamkos is a falsehood perpetrated by people who are ignorant of what it takes to actually shape a top-level NHL team. Instead, they choose to rehash the same argument over and over despite the clear lack of payoff in draft history, and the refusal to examine how most of the top teams are assembled.

Brian Burke's job is to rebuild the Leafs. No one really cared when I demonstrated the pieces he has put together so far, so let's compare him to his peers.

Let's see how some of the rest of the top NHL teams have assembled their playoff juggernauts, before people get scalp infections from ripping their hair out.

Atlanta Thrashers:
Andrew Ladd - Trade
Dustin Byfuglien - Trade
Evander Kane - 1st round pick, 4th overall
Tobias Enstrom - 8th round pick
Ondrej Pavelec - 2nd round pick
Niclas Bergfors - Trade
Alexander Burmistrov - 1st round pick, 8th overall
Rich Peverley - Waiver claim
Nik Antropov - UFA signing
Anthony Stewart - UFA signing

Boston Bruins:
Zdeno Chara - UFA signing
Marc Savard - UFA signing
Tim Thomas - UFA signing
Nathan Horton - Trade
Patrice Bergeron - 2nd round pick
David Krejci - 2nd round pick
Milan Lucic - 2nd round pick
Mark Recchi - Trade
Dennis Seidenberg - Trade
Tuukka Rask - Trade
Blake Wheeler - UFA signing
Brad Marchand - 3rd round pick

Montreal Canadiens:
Mike Cammalleri - UFA signing
Brian Gionta - UFA signing
Andrei Markov - 6th round pick
Andrei Kostitsyn - High 1st round pick (10th)
Scott Gomez - Trade
Tomas Plekanec - 3rd round pick
PK Subban - 2nd round pick
Benoit Pouliot - Trade
Hal Gill - UFA signing
Carey Price - Crosby Raffle #5, Price taken as a way above-the-board pick (good on Gainey for this one)

Philadelphia Flyers:
Chris Pronger - Trade
Danny Briere - UFA signing
Mike Richards - Late 1st round pick
Claude Giroux - Late 1st round pick
Jeff Carter - Mid 1st round pick
Kimmo Timonen - Trade/Nashville salary dump
Scott Hartnell - (same as above)
Ville Leino - Trade
Dan Carcillo - Trade
Sergei Bobrovsky - Euro UFA signing

New York Rangers:
Henrik Lundqvist - 7th round pick
Marian Gaborik - UFA signing
Marc Staal - Mid 1st round pick
Brandon Dubinsky - 2nd round pick
Ryan Callahan - 4th round pick
Artem Anisimov - 2nd round pick
Michael Del Zotto - Late 1st round pick
Dan Girardi - ECHL signing
Sean Avery - Dallas sloppy seconds
Derek Stepan - 2nd round pick
Alex Frolov - UFA signing
Chris Drury - UFA signing

Pittsburgh Penguins aka "The exception that everyone likes to think is the norm":
Sidney Crosby - Crosby Raffle #1 overall
Evgeni Malkin - 1st round pick, 2nd overall
Marc-Andre Fleury - 1st overall pick
Jordan Staal - 1st round pick, 2nd overall
Kris Letang - 3rd round pick
Chris Kunitz - Trade
Brooks Orpik - Late 1st round pick
Paul Martin - UFA signing
Alex Goligoski - 2nd round pick
Matt Cooke - UFA signing
Zbynek Michalek - UFA signing
Pascal Dupuis - Trade
Max Talbot - 8th round pick, "Superstar"

Tampa Bay Lightning:
Steven Stamkos - 1st overall pick
Martin St Louis - Lightning lifer (UFA signing)
Victor Hedman - 1st round pick, 2nd overall
Vincent Lecavalier - Lightning lifer (1st overall pick in 1998)
Steve Downie - Trade
Simon Gagne - Trade
Pavel Kubina - UFA signing
Ryan Malone - UFA signing
Brett Clark - UFA signing
Mike Smith - Trade
Dan Ellis - UFA signing #DanEllisProblems

Washington Capitals:
Alex Ovechkin - 1st overall pick
Nik Backstrom - 1st round pick, 4th overall
Alex Semin - Mid 1st round pick, Quit team to play in Russia and only came back after the lockout because Ovechkin asked him to
Mike Green - Late 1st round pick
Jeff Schultz - Late 1st round pick
Semyon Varlamov - Late 1st round pick
Michal Neuvirth - 2nd round pick
John Carlson - Late 1st round pick
Brooks Laich - Trade
Eric Fehr - Late 1st round pick
Mike Knuble - UFA signing

Anaheim Ducks:
Ryan Getzlaf - Late 1st round pick
Cory Perry - Late 1st round pick
Bobby Ryan - Crosby Raffle #2, Burke has said he wanted to move down to make this pick but no one was desperate for the 2nd overall pick
Teemu Selanne - UFA signing
Saku Koivu - UFA signing
Lubomir Visnovsky - Trade
Toni Lydman - UFA Signing
Jonas Hiller - Euro UFA signing

Colorado Avalanche:
Peter Paul Stastny - 2nd round pick
Matt Duchene - 1st round pick, 3rd overall. Not the top pick "savior" of this team.
Chris Stewart - Late 1st round pick
Milan Hejduk - Nordique Lifer
John Michael Liles - 5th round pick
TJ Galiardi - 2nd round pick
Tomas Fleischmann - Trade
Adam Foote - Nordique Lifer/UFA signing
David Jones - 9th round pick
Brandon Yip - 8th round pick

Columbus Blue Jackets - Many homegrown top picks yet least believable playoff threat:
Rick Nash - 1st overall pick
Derick Brassard - 1st round, 6th overall
Jakub Voracek - 1st round, 7th overall
RJ Umberger - Trade
Antoine Vermette - Trade
Steve Mason - 3rd round pick
Mathieu Garon - UFA signing
Anton Stralman - Trade

Dallas Stars:
Brad Richards - Trade
Mike Ribeiro - Trade
Loui Eriksson - 2nd round pick
James Neal - 2nd round pick
Jamie Benn - 5th round pick
Stephane Robidas - Trade
Kari Lehtonen - Trade
Matt Niskanen - Late 1st round pick

Detroit Red Wings:
Nik Lidstrom - 3rd round pick
Pavel Datsyuk - 6th round pick
Henrik Zetterberg - 7th round pick
Johan Franzen - 3rd round pick
Brian Rafalski - UFA signing
Jimmy Howard - 2nd round pick
Nik Kronwall - Late 1st round pick
Valtteri Filppula - 3rd round pick
Tomas Holmstrom - 10th round pick
Dan Cleary - UFA signing
Todd Bertuzzi - UFA signing

Los Angeles Kings:
Anze Kopitar - Mid 1st round pick
Drew Doughty - 1st round pick, 2nd overall
Jonathan Quick - 3rd round pick
Jack Johnson - Trade
Dustin Brown - Mid 1st round pick
Justin Williams - Trade
Ryan Smyth - Trade
Jarret Stoll - Trade
Michal Handzus - UFA signing
Willie Mitchell - UFA signing

San Jose Sharks:
Joe Thornton - Trade
Patrick Marleau - #2 pick that took 8 years to emerge as an NHL stud
Dany Heatley - Trade
Dan Boyle - Trade
Joe Pavelski - 7th round pick
Doug Murray - 8th round pick
Antero Niittymaki - UFA signing
Ryane Clowe - 6th round pick
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - 2nd round pick
+ A bunch of guys you've never heard of

Phoenix Coyotes:
Ilya Bryzgalov - Waiver Pickup
Shane Doan - Jet lifer
Keith Yandle - 4th round pick
Ed Jovanovski - UFA signing
Wojtek Wolski - Trade
Ray Whitney - UFA signing
Scottie Upshall - Trade
Radim Vrbata - Trade
Martin Hanzal - Late 1st round pick

Vancouver Canucks:
Sedin Bros - Top Picks that took 8 years to emerge as dominant NHL studs
Roberto Luongo - Trade
Ryan Kesler - Late 1st round pick
Alexander Edler - 3rd round pick
Christian Ehrhoff - Trade
Mason Raymond - 2nd round pick
Mikael Samuelsson - UFA signing
Alex Burrows - ECHL walk-on

c. 2009-10 New Jersey Devils:
Martin Brodeur - Devil Lifer
Zach Parise - Late 1st round pick
Patrik Elias - 2nd round pick
Travis Zajac - Late 1st round pick
Jamie Langenbrunner - Trade
Paul Martin - 2nd round pick
Brian Rolston - UFA signing
Ilya Kovalchuk - Trade
Jason Arnott - Trade
Andy Greene - College UFA

c. 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks (omitting Kane-Toews):
Duncan Keith - 2nd round pick
Marian Hossa - UFA signing
Patrick Sharp - Trade
Brent Seabrook - Mid 1st round pick
Brian Campbell - UFA signing $$$$$
Anti Niemi - Euro UFA signing
Dustin Byfuglien - 8th round pick
Andrew Ladd - Trade
Kris Versteeg - Trade
Dave Bolland - 2nd round pick
Troy Brouwer - 7th round pick
Tomas Kopecky - UFA signing
Nicklas Hjallmarsson - 4th round pick
John Madden - UFA signing
Cristobal Huet - Terrible UFA deadweight signing


True or false: you need to draft a #1 overall pick offensive superstar to be a worthwhile NHL team.

I hope I have shown the disbelievers that the Kane/Toews, Crosby/Malkin, Ovechkin/Backstrom models of superstar-centred team building are the exceptions and not the rule. There is a reason why these players are considered generational talents and the NHL elite - they are few and far between.


I have lots of patience to see what Brian Burke will do in his remaining years with the Leafs (this contract or beyond). Many good teams are built by making smart moves over a wide span of time, not just by lucking into #1 picks that are the poster children of the NHL. I see no reason to panic or show frustration.


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