Welcome to a brand new series here at The Hockey Writers called “Road to the Draft.” In this series, our draft contributors will count down from 32nd overall all the way to 1st overall and revisit each player taken with that pick between 2010 and 2020.
The goal of this series is to reflect on some of the biggest steals and some of the biggest busts taken in the first round over the past ten years, as well as to shine light on some players who could potentially see themselves taken with the corresponding pick at the upcoming 2021 NHL Draft.
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
With the Seattle Kraken set to enter the league and take part in their first-ever draft this year, the first round of the draft will see a 32nd overall selection for the first time in league history. With that, let’s take a look at the last ten players to get drafted 32nd overall and see where their careers have taken them since their respective drafts.
2010 – Jared Knight (LW, Boston Bruins)
Affectionately known as the “Taylor vs. Tyler” draft, there’s a good chance you won’t remember Jared Knight’s name unless you’re a Bruins fan or a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. That’s because the Bruins traded Phil Kessel to Toronto in exchange for the second overall pick (that ended up being Tyler Seguin), a first-round pick in 2011 (Dougie Hamilton) and this pick, which ended up being Knight.
The 5-foot-11 winger spent his draft year with the always-dominant London Knights, where he registered 57 points in 63 games. He spent five years in the Bruins’ system before they traded him to the Minnesota Wild during the 2014-15 season in exchange for Zack Phillips. Knight never ended up making his NHL debut, remaining with the Wild organization until 2016-17. He then spent one year with Esbjerg Energy of the Danish league before retiring following the season. This remains the one part of the Seguin/Kessel trade that doesn’t sting for Leafs fans.
2011 – Ty Rattie (RW, St. Louis Blues)
Rattie had some serious hype towards the tail end of his junior career. He was drafted after putting up 79 points in 67 games for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL and followed up his draft year with 121 and 110-point seasons, respectively. He also saw some time with Canada’s World Junior team in 2013, registering three goals in six games.
The story of Rattie’s career in North America is one that’s been told on account of many players. He continued to develop and impress in the AHL, but he could never really get it done upon getting called up to the big leagues. He spent four seasons with the Blues organization, appearing in a total of 29 games for the club while amassing eight points. He was claimed on waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2016-17 season and then signed with the Edmonton Oilers prior to the 2017-18 season. He played in 64 games for the Oilers across two seasons before signing overseas in the KHL. He currently plays for Porin Assat of the SM-Liiga.
2012 – Mitch Moroz (LW, Edmonton Oilers)
An Edmonton native, Moroz achieved the childhood dream of being drafted by your hometown team. Known for having a prominent physical aspect to his game, the Oilers selected Moroz after a 25-point campaign playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. He showed signs of improvement with each junior season following his draft year, registering 34 and 63-point campaigns, respectively.
Despite living out what I’d imagine was a pipe dream of playing for your hometown Junior team and getting drafted by your hometown NHL team, Moroz’s development started to slow down once he reached the AHL. He spent three seasons with the Oilers’ AHL farm teams, the Oklahoma City Barons for one season and then the Bakersfield Condors for two, before spending three seasons with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads. Moroz hasn’t formally announced his retirement, but he hasn’t played since the 2019-20 season.
2013 – Chris Bigras (D, Colorado Avalanche)
Bigras earned himself a second-round selection by the Avalanche after putting up 38 points in 68 games for the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack in his draft year. He slightly regressed in his draft-plus-one season, slipping back to 26 points in 55 games, but had a real statement year in 2014-15 when he put up 71 points in 62 games.
Since then, Bigras has appeared in a total of 46 NHL games, all with the Avalanche, where he amassed four points. They traded him to the New York Rangers midway through the 2017-18 season for defenseman Ryan Graves, and he’s spent the last two seasons in the Philadelphia Flyers’ organization with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
2014 – Jayce Hawryluk (C, Florida Panthers)
After an impressive sophomore OHL season that saw him up his point total from 43 to 64 from his rookie season, Hawryluk was selected by the Florida Panthers in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft. Spending his entire junior career with the Brandon Wheat Kings, he registered 106 points in 58 games during his final season in 2015-16. His team made it to the Memorial Cup that year but came up short.
After two seasons with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds and a brief stint with the ECHL’s Manchester Monarchs, Hawryluk made his NHL debut during the 2018-19 season with the Panthers, putting up 12 points through 42 games. He was claimed off waivers by the Ottawa Senators midway through the 2019-20 season and wound up signing with the Vancouver Canucks in the offseason. He remains with the Canucks today, putting up five points in 30 games with the club in 2020-21.
2015 – Christian Fischer (RW, Arizona Coyotes)
Coming off a solid draft year with the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP), where he finished with a combined 94 points in 91 games, the Coyotes selected Fischer with the 32nd overall pick in the ultra-deep 2015 NHL Draft. While most American players would pursue the NCAA, Fischer opted to join the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires in his post-draft season, where he would finish with 90 points in 66 games.
Since then, Fischer has managed a pretty respectable career with the Coyotes. After making his debut during the 2016-17 season, the Chicago native became a regular NHL player in 2017-18 and just finished his fourth season with Arizona. He has a total of 74 points in 265 NHL games in his career thus far.
2016 – Tyler Benson (LW, Edmonton Oilers)
Benson had an impressive rookie season with the Vancouver Giants that saw him put up 45 points in 62 games. The Edmonton native was rewarded with the captaincy in only his second junior season, as well as a draft selection courtesy of his hometown Oilers. After putting up 28 points in 30 games in his draft year, he followed it up with 42 points in 33 games in 2016-17 and 69 points in 58 games in 2017-18.
Since making his AHL debut with the Bakersfield Condors in 2018-19, Benson has been a consistent producer for the team. He put up 66 points in 68 games in his rookie AHL season and appeared in seven games for the Oilers in 2019-20, managing one assist. He spent the Fall of 2020 with the GC Kusnacht Lions of the Swiss League and put up 36 points in 36 games for the Condors once the AHL returned to action. He hasn’t been able to get consistent NHL minutes yet but has lots of potential.
2017 – Conor Timmins (D, Colorado Avalanche)
Timmins took a huge step forward in his sophomore OHL season, upping his point total from 13 in 60 games to 61 in 67 games. Playing for the Soo Greyhounds, he continued to improve with 41 points in 36 games in 2017-18, along with an appearance for Team Canada at the 2018 World Juniors, where he put up five points in seven games.
After suffering a concussion in his final junior year that caused him to miss the entirety of the 2018-19 season, the St. Catharines native didn’t miss a step. He made his debut with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles in 2019-20, putting up 27 points in 40 games. In 2020-21, he earned himself a full-time job with the Avalanche and fit right in with an electric, young defensive core that featured the likes of Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, and Bowen Byram. He had seven assists in 31 games for the Avs this season.
2018 – Mattias Samuelsson (D, Buffalo Sabres)
An American with a Swedish background, the Sabres drafted Samuelsson after a 2017-18 season with the USNTDP that saw him register a combined 45 points in 81 games. Having committed to Western Michigan University, he had a successful rookie season with 12 points in 35 games and was named team captain for the 2019-20 season. He was also a member of Team USA’s World Junior teams in 2019 and 2020.
After putting up 14 points in 30 games during his second and final NCAA season, Samuelsson signed his entry-level contract in March of 2020 and just finished his first pro season. He spent most of it with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, tallying 13 points in 23 games, and earned himself a call-up. He finished the 2020-21 season with two points in 12 games for the Sabres.
2019 – Shane Pinto (C, Ottawa Senators)
A native of Franklin Square, New York, Pinto spent his draft year split between two USHL teams. He put up 32 points in 30 games for the Lincoln Stars before finishing the season with the Tri-City Storm, where he ended up with 27 points in 26 games. He also amassed nine points in six playoff games for the team, and his performance was good enough for the Senators to use their second-round pick on him.
Having committed to the University of North Dakota for the 2019-20 season, he put up 28 points in 33 games during his freshman season and represented Team USA at the 2020 World Juniors, finishing the tournament with seven points in five games. After a 28-game, 32-point campaign with UND in 2020-21, he made his NHL debut in May of 2021 and finished the season with seven points in 12 games for the Senators.
2020 – William Wallinder (D, Detroit Red Wings)
There isn’t much to say about Wallinder’s hockey career yet, as it’s only just beginning. After a 37-game, 24-point campaign with MODO Hockey J20 of the Swedish Junior League earned him a draft pick by the Red Wings, he spent the 2020-21 season in Sweden’s Allsvenskan league, putting up six points in 43 games for MODO’s top team.
He’s under contract with Rogle BK of the SHL for the 2021-22 season and could see a World Junior appearance at the 2022 tournament.
Players Who Could Be Drafted 32nd Overall in 2021
ALL TIME PLAYERS TAKEN 32ND OVERALL
1969 – Bobby Sheehan (C, Montreal Canadiens)
1970 – Bob Kelly (C, Philadelphia Flyers)
1971 – Joe Noris (D, Pittsburgh Penguins)
1972 – Wayne Elder (D, Boston Bruins)
1973 – Ron Andruff (C, Montreal Canadiens)
1974 – Ron Greschner (D, New York Rangers)
1975 – Terry Bucyk (RW, Los Angeles Kings)
1976 – Mike Kaszycki (C, New York Islanders)
1977 – Ron Areshenkoff (C, Buffalo Sabres)
1978 – Tony McKegney (LW, Buffalo Sabres)
1979 – Lindy Ruff (D, Buffalo Sabres)
1980 – Kevin LaVallee (LW, Calgary Flames)
1981 – Lars Eriksson (G, Montreal Canadiens)
1982 – Kent Carlson (D, Monteral Canadiens)
1983 – Yves Heroux (RW, Quebec Nordiques)
1984 – Tony Hrkac (C, St. Louis Blues)
1985 – Eric Weinrich (D, New Jersey Devils)
1986 – Marc LaForge (D, Hartford Whalers)
1987 – Gord Kruppke (D, Detroit Red Wings)
1988 – Barry Richter (D, Hartford Whalers)
1989 – Bob Boughner (D, Detroit Red Wings)
1990 – Vesa Viitakoski (LW, Calgary Flames)
1991 – Jamie Pushor (D, Detroit Red Wings)
1992 – Jim Carey (G, Washington Capitals)
1993 – Jay Pandolfo (LW, New Jersey Devils)
1994 – Mike Watt (LW, Edmonton Oilers)
1995 – Marc Chouinard (C, Winnipeg Jets)
1996 – Chris Hajt (D, Edmonton Oilers)
1997 – Evan Lindsay (G, Calgary Flames)
1998 – Stephen Peat (RW, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim)
1999 – Michael Ryan (C, Dallas Stars)
2000 – Tomas Kurka (LW, Carolina Hurricanes)
2001 – Derek Roy (C, Buffalo Sabres)
2002 – Janos Vas (LW, Dallas Stars)
2003 – Ryan Stone (C, Pittsburgh Penguins)
2004 – Dave Bolland (C, Chicago Blackhawks)
2005 – Tyler Plante (G, Calgary Flames)
2006 – Carl Sneep (D, Pittsburgh Penguins)
2007 – Brett MacLean (LW, Phoenix Coyotes)
2008 – Slava Voynov (D, Los Angeles Kings)
2009 – Landon Ferraro (C, Detroit Red Wings)
Broadcasting Student at Niagara College. Born and raised Leafs fan since 2005, but fan of the sport in general. Also an avid guitarist.