by Ron Spence

There’s been considerable bashing of Brian Burke’s and Dave Nonis’ draft selections.

I would start off by saying that it’s unfair to lump Nonis in with Burke. 

Also, Nonis oversaw four drafts, and had to work around Burke’s trades in his first – 2004.

In August, 2003 Vancouver acquired Johan Hedberg for a second round pick. The player whom the Penguins selected was Alex Goligoski:

draftcourtesy of

Burke also dealt his 3rd round pick to Columbus for Geoff Sanderson, and his 7th round pick to Pittsburgh for Marc Bergevin. 

One of Nonis’ smartest draft moves was during that 2004 draft, when he traded his 3rd round pick – for the following season – for Dallas’ 3rd round pick in 2004. That 91st overall pick was Alex Edler. 


I have used Hockey’s Future’s rankings to evaluate Nonis’ drafts:


“8 – First line forward / No. 2 defenseman / No. 1 goaltender 

7 – Second line forward / No. 3-4 defenseman / journeyman No. 1 goaltender 

6 – Third line forward / No. 5-6 defenseman / Backup Goaltender 

— generally speaking, players whose game is defensively-oriented, or whose abilities aren’t quite good enough to land full-time duty on the 2nd line, top two       defensive pairings, or the No. 1 goaltending position. Think Kris Draper, Stephanne Yelle, Igor Ulanov, Brad Lukowich, Jussi Markkanen, Manny Legace.”


“5 – Fourth line forward / No. 7 defenseman / depth goaltender 

— players that populate the 4th line, will fill in for injured defensemen, or have some ability to play goal in the NHL but are mostly very good minor league goaltenders. Think of any enforcer you care to name, or any energy player you care to name, or any unlucky defensemen or goaltenders that don’t quite have enough talent to crack an NHL lineup full time.

4 – Top minor league forward / defenseman / goaltender 

— players unlikely to have long careers in the NHL, but will be recalled when injuries or other circumstances arise.

3 – Average minor league forward / defenseman / goaltender 

— players who will in all likelihood will spend their entire careers in the minor leagues.”

courtesy of hockey’


Over four draft years, Dave Nonis selected three “8’s” and one “7.5” – first line forwards, number 1 goalies and number 2 Dmen.

Nonis also drafted six “7” ranked players – second line forwards, numbers 3 or 4 Dmen and journeymen goalies.


“Any draft that produces two or three NHL players is considered a good one,” wrote Brian Biggane of the Palm Beach Post.

Dave Nonis drafted ten players – ranked 7 or above – in four years, which is 2.5 per year – according to my math.



  1. I hold Delorme responsible for two picks: Patrick White, whom I’ve watched quite a bit and passing on Anze Kopitar for Luc Bourdon. However, given the tragic passing of Luc…and looking at our present defense, we sure could have used the kid this season. Patrick White, as I’ve said before is at best, a long term project who may never play in the show. Burke continually left the cupboard bare wherever he managed a team so yes, Nonis did have to deal with that. Gillis seems to hold onto assets and that will serve him well in the future.

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