I'm listening to the Rolling Stones this morning as I finish off another week of work. Through The Past, Darkly is an pretty great as far as compilation albums go and if you could only have one Stones disc in your collection, it would be a pretty solid choice . Unfortunately, the compilation of players below is not so great. As we gear up for Sunday's Entry Draft, let's take a look at my five worst first-round draft choices in Florida Panthers history.
5) Keaton Ellerby (D) First Round - 10th Overall 2007
We start off with a tough one as I strongly considered Rostislav Olesz and also Anthony Stewart for this spot but decided on Ellerby, who was drafted from the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL. In five seasons with Cats organization, Ellerby played in 125 NHL games, scoring 2 goals and 15 assists. Not particular physical or able to provide much offense from the back-end, Ellerby seemed to be nothing more than a spare part for Florida, who would only play when injuries or a simple lack of depth opened up a spot for him. Part of my reasoning for picking Ellerby over Olesz and Stewart was the Panthers decision to go defense with this pick instead of forward. The jury is still out on Ellerby who seems to be in a much better spot since being traded to the Los Angeles Kings. Better choices for the Cats would have been Max Pacioretty, David Perron or if they had to go with a defender, Kevin Shattenkirk.
4) Denis Shivdki (F) First Round - 12th Overall 1999
Ukrainian-born Denis Shvidki was drafted by the Panthers after an impressive debut season with the OHL's Barrie Colts, which came after two years with Torpedo Yaroslavl of the Russian Superleague (the forerunner to the KHL). In Shvidki's second junior season he broke the 100-point barrier leading to high expectations in Sunrise. As a rookie, Denis played 34 games with the AHL's Louisville Panthers (15G/11A) and 43 games with the big-league Cats (6G/10A). He seemed to be on his way to becoming a solid offensive provider for the Panthers but it wasn't to be. Shvidki would play only thirty-three more games and score five more goals for Florida over the next three seasons. In 2004, Shvidki returned to Russia and has been in Europe ever since. In May 2013 he signed a contract with second-tier German team Heilbronner Falken. Better selections for the Cats that year were Martin Havlat, Nick Boynton and Barret Jackman.
3) Kenndal McArdle (F) First Round - 20th Overall 2005
Forward Kenndal McArdle was drafted from the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL after a 37 goal second season, which was a 29 goal increase from the prior campaign. McArdle spent four years as part of the Panthers organization but most of that time was spent producing lackluster numbers in the AHL. Kenndal managed to play 33 games for the Panthers tallying only one goal and two assists before he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for fellow bust Angelo Esposito. Tuukka Rask was taken right after McArdle and would have been a much better choice for the Panthers, who traded Roberto Luongo after the 2005-06 season.
2) Mike Brown (F) First Round - 20th Overall 1997
Surrey, BC native Mike Brown was drafted by the Panthers after playing two seasons with the WHL's Red Deer Rebels. Brown never played for the Cats and is most notable for being part of the package that netted Florida "The Russian Rocket" Pavel Bure. Brown played professionally for seven seasons, most of which was spent roughing it up in the AHL. In 34 career NHL games that included stints with the Canucks, Ducks and Blackhawks, Brown managed one goal, two assists and 130 PIMs. Two much better choices who were taken after Brown in the first round were Brenden Morrow and defenseman Scott Hannan.
1) Petr Tatíček (F) First Round - 9th Overall 2002
Tatíček was tabbed by the Panthers after putting together a 63 point season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. After spending considerable development time with the San Antonio Rampage, the Czech center played three games for Panthers during the 2005-06 season. He failed to register a point in what turned out to be his one and only stint in the NHL. Tatíček was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 9th, 2006 for defensemen Richard Jackman and was promptly sent to the Penguins AHL affiliate in Wilkes Barre-Scranton. He signed a free-agent deal with the Washington Capitals the next season but after one more game in the AHL, he returned to Europe where he spent 10 games with HC Kladno before quickly moving on to HC Davos in Switzerland where he has played ever since. Players the Panthers could have taken instead of Tatíček include Alexander Semin, Cam Ward and Keith Ballard... oops.
Did I leave someone out or maybe I just got the order wrong? Speak your piece in the comments section. It's always fun to relive the draft-day horrors of the past.