In the February 14th, 2011 issue of The Hockey News it is argued that the class of 2003 was the best draft class ever. They make a real convincing argument when they present their all 2003 first round dream team roster:
Zach Parise - Eric Staal - Corey Perry
Thomas Vanek - Ryan Getzlaf - Dustin Brown
Jeff Carter - Ryan Kesler - Nathan Horton
Brian Boyle - Mike Richards - Anthony Stewart
Ryan Suter - Brent Seabrook
Braydon Coburn - Brent Burns
Dion Phaneuf - Mark Stuart
* Crawford was actually a 2nd round pick, but Fleury was the only goalie selected in the first round.
By only picking players in the first round, THN did not even get a chance to mention Loui Eriksson, Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber, Joe Pavelski, Tobias Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien or Jaroslav Halak.
Even more impressive is the fact that these players are now in their prime and still have many years ahead of them.
Maybe we should wait and see how time treats these guys, but The Hockey News is right in saying the draft class of 2003 may prove to be better than 1979, the accepted consensus best draft of all time.
The top 30 picks from 1979 (that draft only had 21 picks in the first round back then) did not have the same roster symmetry to pick a dream team - no goalies, surprisingly no good centers. But the top 30 did include a wealth of wingers and defensemen, including three Hall of Famers:
Mike Gartner, Rick Vaive, Mike Foligno, Brian Propp, Michel Goulet
Raymond Bourque, Kevin Lowe, Rob Ramage, Craig Hartsburg, Paul Reinhart, Brad McCrimmon.
The top 30 picks of 2003 would appear to be stronger than the top 30 in 1979. But will the draft's depth match 1979? Later round picks in 1979 include:
Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Guy Carbonneau, Dale Hunter, Thomas Steen, Neal Broten, Mats Naslund, John Ogrodnick and Dave Christian.