One way or another, my brother and I always end up talking about recent NHL drafts. I wouldn’t call it an obsession, but it’s a point of interest for both of us. It’s fascinating to see who drafted who, where the players ended up, and which players turned out well.
Last night we began wondering how the Vancouver Canucks managed to draft both Daniel and Henrik Sedin, respectively, in the 1999 entry draft. Obviously we knew Brian Burke, then Vancouver’s General Manager, traded for 1999′s second overall pick, but we couldn’t figure out who or what was dealt. I mean, it’s kind of a big deal… it’s the second overall pick (read: Phil Kessel. I kid, I kid…).
I was 16 when Vancouver selected the Sedins second and third overall. I wouldn’t have cared at all (I was busy trying to get somewhere with my own not-so-hot minor hockey career), but since my brother and I are twins (by the way, Burgundy, your favourite HOTH writer is a twin… tell your friends!), it caught my attention. I’d like to tell you Vancouver drafting both Sedins gave my brother and I more drive to get noticed playing hockey, but it didn’t. Truth is we were way too busy dying our hair blonde to impress girls. Hey, it was the ‘90s!
Back to the 1999 draft. Here are the top 10 selections of that year:
1. Patrik Stefan (Atlanta)
2. Daniel Sedin (Vancouver)
3. Henrik Sedin (Vancouver)
4. Pavel Brendl (NY Rangers)
5. Tim Connolly (NY Islanders)
6. Brian Finley (Nashville)
7. Kris Beech (Washington)
8. Taylor Pyatt (NY Islanders)
9. Jamie Lundmark (NY Rangers… wow!)
10. Branislav Mezei (NY Islanders… another great first round selection, Milbury)
(see the rest of the 1999 draft here)
As if only six different teams took to the podium in the first 10 picks that year! I doubt we’ll ever see something like that happen again, unless Mike Milbury and Glen Sather are General Managers at the same time (that sounds like a recipe for a bomb…). Although the 1999 draft featured Ryan Miller (138th overall) and Henrik Zetterberg (210th overall), it ranked poorly overall when compared with other drafts in the late ‘90′s and early 2000′s for NHL-ready stars and talent.
While I don’t know for certain, I’m assuming scouts and teams probably didn’t value top picks since the 1999 draft wasn’t very deep. In my opinion that’s probably the second biggest reason Burke was able to land two consecutive top picks in the draft. The biggest reason? The fact that the Sedins made it clear they wanted to play together (there was speculation the Sedins wouldn’t sign with the teams that drafted them and holdout until they become free agents, despite them saying otherwise).
The series of trades that took place for Burke to land the second and third overall picks that year are summed up nicely by Jes Golbez of Fanhouse:
1. The wheeling and dealing began when Vancouver sent defenseman Bryan McCabe and a 2000 first-round pick [Ed. Note. -- This pick was acquired as part of the Pavel Bure trade to Florida.] to the Chicago Blackhawks (which became Pavel Vorobiev, who did next to nothing) for the fourth overall pick (which landed with the Rangers and became Brendl).
2. Brian Burke then sent the No. four selection and a pair of third-round picks to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top overall pick. [Ed. Note. -- According to Burke, this wasn't easy.]
3. Next, Vancouver sent the top pick to the expansion Atlanta Thrashers for the No. two selection and a conditional 2000 third-rounder. The deal was that the Thrashers would take Stefan, leaving the Canucks to take the Sedins in sequential order.
The first 30 seconds of this video shows a little of Burke’s maneuvering minutes before the draft was about to start:
Golbez refers to Burke’s series of trades as “the Sedin Heist” and that’s pretty accurate. The Sedins are hands down the top skaters from this draft. The fact that the Sedins were dead-set on playing together, in addition to the draft being pretty weak created the perfect storm for Burke to make one of the biggest trades in NHL entry draft history. I believe that’s how Daniel and Henrik Sedin were drafted by the Vancouver Canucks.