Over the past few weeks, we’ve been counting down the 12 best players to ever be drafted 2nd overall. So far Eric Staal, Tom Lysiak, Jason Spezza, Dave Babych, Trevor Linden, Kirk Muller, Brad Park, Daniel Sedin, Brian Bellows, Marcel Dionne and Patrick Marleau have all been inducted into our own hall of fame, and as it’s Christmas day, it’s time to reveal the 4th Line Podcast’s best number 2 draft pick of the modern NHL Entry Draft Era. He’s the man who used to wield the ban, now he’s the man with the plan. Sorry, Carl, it’s not Gabriel Landeskog!
1. Brendan Shanahan, LW
Drafted 1987, New Jersey Devils
Games Played 1524
By the time the 1986/87 season ended, the New Jersey Devils had firmly established their tradition of not troubling their Spring months with pesky playoff games. Having moved from Colorado in 1982, the Devils’ only consistency was an inability to reach a post-season. The tradition, started in 1979 in Colorado, would stay strictly adhered to until 1988 when a young player drafted from the London Knights turned the Devils into a Cup contender.
Pierre Turgeon was drafted first overall by the New York Islanders, the Devils though, had their eye on the Knights. To date, 29 first round draft picks have been taken from the Knights, and so influential was Shanahan during his time there, that his #19 banner hangs in the rafters. In 115 games in London, Shanahan scored 154 points and tallied 162 penalty minutes. It wasn’t just his NHL career that kicked off in 1987, Shanahan also represented Team Canada in the World Juniors in Czechoslovakia. After a bench-clearing brawl, both Canada and the Soviet team were disqualified and most were given six month bans. An ironic start for the NHL’s future chief disciplinarian.
Shanahan’s start in the NHL was much more promising. The forward (and presumably some other good decisions) spurred the Devils onto their first appearance in the playoffs (since moving to NJ). The Devils went all the way to the conference finals although were knocked out by the Bruins in seven games. The Devils would make the Playoffs twice more before Shanahan reached free agency and joined the St. Louis Blues where he’d stay for a further four seasons.
The trade merry-go-round never stops for some, and the Blues traded Shanahan to the Hartford Whalers, where after a season he was traded again to the Detroit Red Wings. His nine seasons in the Motor City would be some of his best, as he helped the Red Wings lift the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002. In 2006 Shanny was a free agent again and opted for the New York Rangers, although his performance dipped. As the Red Wings picked up their 11th Cup in 2008, Shanahan was falling out of favour in the MSG. Having sat out the start of the 2008/09 season, Shanahan re-joined the Devils although retired after the start of the following preseason.
Internationally, Shanahan has also won gold in the Canada Cup, World Championships and the Olympics. He’s also a member of the esteemed ‘Triple-Gold Club’, which is good for 10% off official 4th Line Podcast Merch. Shanny’s post NHL life has been very much in the public eye. He was quickly NHL’s Vice President of Hockey and Business Development in Charge of Making Outdoor Game Jerseys More Expensive (OK I made some of that up). In 2011 he replaced Colin Campbell as Senior Vice President. With this role came the mighty banhammer which Shanahan wielded over several players during his three years in the role.
In 2014, Shanahan’s role changed again as he became the Toronto Maple Leafs’ President and alternate governor. The ‘Shanaplan’ has been implemented and things are changing in Toronto. Statistically Turgeon and Shanahan are similar in many aspects. Both scored over 1300 points, although more of Shanahan’s were from goals. Turgeon also tallied a lot less in penalty minutes. Both players also had a stint with the St. Louis Blues. Neither the Sabres nor the Devils dropped the ball by drafting the wrong player.
That’s it for the 4th Line Podcast’s Christmas countdown, do you agree with my choices? Comment below or join in the conversation on the twitter. Until them Merry Christmas and a happy new year!