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The term ‘Mr Irrelevant’ is given the player picked last in the NFL draft, but what happens if we apply it to the NHL? What if instead of just looking at the last player picked, we worked our way backwards and picked an entire team? 12 forwards (four from each position), eight defensemen and two goalies. Mr Irrelevant just became Team Irrelevant. Starting with the 2010 draft, we’ll take a look at each member of our team and explore how their NHL career has panned out since draft day:
Joonas Rask – you might be wondering is Joonas is related to Boston’s Tuukka Rask. Yup, Tuukka is his older brother. Just like his older brother, Joonas was drafted while playing for Ilves in Finland. Instead of moving to Nashville, Joonas signed his entry level contract but was loaned to Helsengin Jokerit. Rask did join Nashville a year later, but only played two NHL games during the 2012-13 season. Having spent most of his season with the Milwaukee Admirals, as soon as his contract was up Rask returned to his native Finland playing for HIFK. He now plays for Orebro HK in Sweden’s SHL along with former Hurricane Rasmus Rissanen and Panther Shane Harper.
Luke Moffatt – Colorado’s last pick of the draft, Moffatt was committed to playing hockey at the University of Michigan, despite playing well as a Wolverine, the Avalanche didn’t offer him a contract. Instead he moved to Europe, playing briefly for Frolunda HC in Sweden, Storhamar Dragons in Norway, Newcastle North Stars in Australia, HC Gherdeina in Italy and Chamonix-Morzine in France. Moffatt finally settled in Manchester (UK) playing two seasons for the Manchester Storm before retiring from the game.
Brett Perlini – Drafted by Anaheim 192nd overall, Brett, the eldest son of former Maple Leaf Fred Perlini, spent six seasons in North American hockey after leaving college, but never made it higher then the AHL. Brett, older brother of Chicago’s Brendan Perlini decided to cross the pond and has spent that last two seasons with the Nottingham Panthers in the UK.
Alex Friesen – The 172nd pick, Friesen was playing for the Niagara Ice Dogs when he was drafted by Vancouver and assigned to the Chicago Wolves while they were briefly the Canucks’ affiliate. Kalamazoo and Utica called, and finally in February 2016 Friesen was called up to the NHL. That loss against the Minnesota Wild would be Friesen’s final NHL appearance, after becoming a free agent he took the journey so often travelled, and set off to Europe. After a season playing for Leksands IF in Sweden, Friesen joined the DEL’s Fischtown Pinguins in June last year where he scored 30 points in his first season.
Brendan Ranford – The Penultimate pick from the 2010 draft, Ranford spent his first six seasons playing for the Kamloops Blazers, during which time he was drafted but not offered a contract by the Philadelphia Flyers. A four season stint with the Texas Stars brought Ranford a call-up to the Dallas Stars. In February 2015 the winger was given nine minutes of ice time against San Jose, although after tallying exactly nothing on every metric, he wasn’t seen again in the NHL. Traded to Arizona and then Colorado, Ranford never made it past the AHL and when free agency beckoned in 2018, departed for Eisbaren Berlin in the German DEL. He’s currently a free agent.
Riley Boychuk – Little is known about Riley Boychuk apart from he was drafted by Buffalo but in 2013 was traded to New Jersey. Boychuk never made the NHL and hasn’t been heard of professionally since 2013, but word count is everything so here are some made-up facts. In 2015 Boychuk was the first man to climb Everest wearing hockey skates. In 2016 he was Eddie Redmayne’s uncredited stunt double in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
John Westin – Sweden’s John Westin was drafted by Montreal but never played in North America. He spent some time at Modo and may or may not currently play for Timra IK. Let’s move on.
Mauro Jorg – Drafted by New Jersey, Jorg wasn’t offered a contract and has played all of his hockey in Switzerland’s NLA and NLB leagues. He currently plays for HC Lugano where he seems to be doing just fine.
Christian Isackson – Picked by the Sabres 203rd overall, Isackson never made the NHL, instead bouncing between the ECHL, France, the UK and ECHL again. He wins the prize for playing for the best named team; the Wheeling Nailers.
Chris Crane – Never played an NHL game, but Crane did spend a lot of his career in the San Jose Sharks’ organisation, albeit with affiliate teams. He’s spent his last few seasons playing for the Allen Americans, Orlando Solar Bears, Norfolk Admirals and Toledo Walleye.
Patrick Holland – Drafted by Calgary but traded to Montreal, Holland played five NHL games in his career, which is five more than any of the other Right Wingers in this list. He may not be a household name but teams must have seen something in Holland as he was involved in trades that also moved Mike Cammalleri, Karri Ramo and Eric Tangradi. After a short spell in Finland, Holland retired from professional hockey.
Randy McNaught – Prior to the 2010 draft, McNaught’s only notable stats were his excessive penalty minutes. The New York Rangers though took a punt and gave McNaught a season with the affiliates. That was the last we heard of him though.
Zach Trotman – 2010’s true Mr Irrelevant and a player with more NHL games to his name than a lot of the players on this list. Drafted by Boston, Trotman cut his teeth with the Providence Bruins in the AHL before being called up to the big team. After five seasons and 67 NHL games with the organisation, Trotman found himself a free agent and signed with the LA Kings in 2016. Assigned to the Ontario Reign, injury struck and Trotman sat out most the season. A free agent again, Pittsburgh came calling and two seasons later Trotman is still a Penguin. Most of his games have been played in Wilkes-Barre but Trotman has seen some NHL action too with the organisation. Right now, he’s still there, with another season left on his contract.
Ricard Blidstrand – Drafted by Philadelphia but never joined the organisation, blueliner Blidstrand now plays his hockey with Bofors IK in his native Sweden. Domestically he never played at higher level than the WHL.
Sawyer Hannay – Played in several different leagues in his career, but Hannay, drafted by Vancouver never played in the upper echelons. A short stint with the Evansville Icemen in the ECHL was the highest level Hannay played it. He seems to have since retired from the professional game.
Ben Marshall – The Detroit Red Wings’ final pick of the 2010 draft, seemingly Marshall and the Red Wings either couldn’t agree terms, or Detroit weren’t interested. Most of Marshall’s pro-hockey has been played with the Providence Bruins and Atlanta Gladiators. Last season Marshall took the well worn path to Europe, playing for Slovakia’s Banska Bystrica HC 05.
Peter Stoykewych – The Atlanta Thrashers’ last ever draft pick, Stoykewych followed his team north of the border (once he’d finished college) where he now captain’s the Manitoba Moose. Oddly, given his high standing with the affiliate, Stoykewych has never played an NHL game.
Bryce Aneloski – A veteran of the AHL and ECHL, Aneloski has bounced between a number of teams. A pretty solid ECHL player, he’s never been able to replicate those numbers in the AHL and despite being on the radar of a lot of NHL teams, has never been able to make the leap.
Mac Carruth – Drafted and signed by Chicago, Carruth was dominant in the WHL for Portland, but adequate in the AHL. The Blackhawks saw potential and did re-sign the goalie and kept him in the affiliates. In 2017 Carruth was left without a team, so he followed many of his draft brethren and sailed for Europe. His last two seasons were spent with Austria’s Fehevar AV19.
Frederik Andersen – The final goalie to be drafted in 2010, Andersen was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes, thanks in part to a decent back-up performance in the 2010 IIHF World Championship. Andersen and the ‘Canes couldn’t agree terms, and in 2012 the Dane was redrafted 87th overall by Anaheim. After a season with the Norfolk Admirals, Andersen was impressing the organisation. In 2014 he became the Ducks’ starting goalie. That year he was named to the NHL writers’ All-Rookie team of the year, and in 2016 was awarded the William M. Jennings award.
A disappointing playoffs led to Andersen being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs where he was poorly received at first, but quickly built a solid fanbase as he helped the team return to the playoffs. Since 2016 Andersen has been the Leafs’ number one goalie.
It goes to show that the draft really is a lottery (if you’ll excuse the pun). Is it possible to scrape together an NHL calibre team from the tail end of the draft? Not even close. It’s barely possible to put together a line for each position that would pique the interest of any of the competitive teams. I wonder if somewhere in Raleigh, a Carolina executive is regretting letting Freddie Andersen slip by.
It’s refreshing to see how many players are still in the game, albeit having crossed the pond to ply their trade in Europe. The competitive streak that got these players drafted in the first place is still present in most, and they’re still striving to play at the top level of whatever leagues they’re in.
If you enjoy hearing from the legends of pro sports, then be sure to tune into “The Grueling Truth” sports shows, “Where the legends speak”
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