To me, the 2006 NHL Entry Draft saw quite a few great second line forwards. There is a huge lack of defensive talent in this draft, despite the first overall pick being Erik Johnson. Honestly he is probably the best defenseman in this draft besides maybe Jeff Petry. However, neither of those guys crack my top 10.
10.) Nick Foligno
Foligno was picked 28th overall by Ottawa where he played five seasons before being traded to Columbus for Marc Methot. Foligno has had a very strange career, highlighted by a 73 point season in 2014/2015. He has averaged about 18 goals per season since entering the league in 2007/2008. Foligno has been a solid second line winger his whole career.
9.) Milan Lucic
Despite his current contract situation, Lucic is still a solid player. After being picked in the second round by Boston, he became a staple in the Bruins lineup as a physical force. He has been a consistent 50-60 point guy since 2010/2011 when the Bruins won the cup.
8.) Kyle Okposo
Okposo is another case of a solid player with a bad contract. Okposo has been a consistent 60 point guy since 2014. Another guy who has battled injuries that may have hindered him from becoming even better than what he is.
7.) Bryan Little
Bryan Little has been one of the more underrated players in the league over the tenure of his career. One of only three remaining players drafted by Atlanta on the Jets. Despite battling injuries for the past few seasons, Little has been an excellent playmaking center. He has played at about a 60 point pace in the past five seasons.
6.) Jordan Staal
Jordan Staal has been one of the best shutdown centermen in the NHL after being picked second overall by Pittsburgh. He has never topped his career high of 50 points back in the 2012 season, but he has been a very consistent 15-20 goal, 40 point guy his entire career. A very effective penalty killer and faceoff guy as well.
5.) Brad Marchand
The biggest steal of this draft after being taken in the third round by Boston. Marchand has evolved from an annoyance on the ice to an effective and dynamic offensive player. The past two seasons Marchand has nearly hit 40 goals and has 146 points in 157 games.
4.) Phil Kessel
One of my favorite players in the NHL was taken fifth overall by Boston. Boston did extremely well in this draft. Kessel receives alot of unnecessary criticism because of infamous trade to Toronto which sent Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton to Boston. Despite that, Kessel has been a very consistent player and an iron man everywhere he has played. He hasn’t missed a game since 2009 after coming off shoulder surgery. He has been a consistent 25-30 goal scorer since 2009. He is a great playoff performer as well as he has 66 points in 71 games. A huge part of the Penguins recent cup runs.
3.) Claude Giroux
Despite having an off year in 2017, Claude Giroux has been one of the NHL’s best scorers. He has four 70+ point seasons in his career including a 48 point season during the lockout season. He has been a huge playoff performer for Philly as well, he has 62 points in 63 playoff games. He was also a solid steal in this draft, going 22nd overall to the Flyers.
2.) Jonathan Toews
Jonathan Toews is probably number one for most people who would make this list. 3-time Stanley Cup champion, shutdown center, playoff performer, consistent 60 point guy while facing the oppositions top guys. I can see the case for Toews being the best player in this draft. However, his recent regression is what lures me away from taking Toews with my first pick.
1.) Nicklas Backstrom
Backstrom has the best playmaker in the National Hockey League besides Joe Thornton. He has seven 50+ assist seasons including four 60+ assist seasons. In addition, he has been reliable defensively as a top line center and can kill penalites. He is a huge reason the Capitals have been so successful in the Ovechkin years. Despite the Capitals being a dreadful playoff team, Backstrom has been a good playoff performer scoring 75 points in 96 games.
Honorable Mentions : Matthieu Perreault, Semyon Varlamov, Derick Brassard, Michael Frolik, Artem Anisimov
There are only truly five high-end guys in this draft in my eyes. Despite that, there are some very good mid-tier level guys in here.