Nick Lidstrom wasn’t necessarily a can’t-miss NHL star when he was drafted in 1989. He went in the third round, 53rd overall (there were 21 teams at the time).
He retired yesterday after 20 seasons and many, many well-deserved accolades.
The NHL draft is part science, part opinion, part complete-crapshoot. It’s impossible to predict where most teenagers will end up in their hockey primes, but still, it feels like the right time to rub salt in the wounds of the teams who chose other defensemen over the 2nd best defenseman of all-time (behind only Bobby Orr, in this blogger’s opinion). So, let’s get to the numbers.
Nick Lidstrom versus every defenseman drafted ahead of him – some stats:
Players drafted ahead of Nick Lidstrom: 52
Defensemen drafted ahead of him: 18
Average NHL games played by defenseman drafted ahead of him: 272.67 (4908 total)
Nick Lidstrom’s games played: 1564
Adam Foote (22nd overall) and Patrice Brisebois (30th overall) combined for 2163 of those games.
Average post-season games played by d-men drafted ahead of him: 27.1 (498 total)
Nick Lidstrom’s career playoff game total: 263
Combined Norris Trophies won by defensemen drafted ahead of him: 0
Nick Lidstrom’s Norris Trophy total: 7
Just a bit lopsided.
Combined goals by defensemen drafted ahead of him: 265 (An average of 14.7)
Nick Lidstrom’s career goals: 264
Oh, so close. He almost had all 18 of them.
Combined assists by defensemen drafted ahead of him: 899 (An average of 49.9)
Nick Lidstrom’s career assist total: 878
Ah! One more year Nicky, you’d have ‘em.
Combined points by d-men drafted ahead of him: 1164 (An average of 64.7)
Nick Lidstrom’s career point total: 1142 (6th all-time for d-men)
Stanley Cups won by defensemen ahead of him: 4
Stanley Cups won by Nick Lidstrom: 4
Ouch, all those teams.
The fun part for me is imagining the 1989 debates about which d-man to draft, and knowing that some scout on a team with a higher pick likely ripped him for something, then explained why Player X will turn out better. Egg, meet face.
It was an incredible run for Lidstrom – I hate to see him go, but I’m glad he’s calling it a career without leaving in Chelios-esque fashion.