In a way, the 2005 NHL Entry Draft draws a comparison to the upcoming 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Both of these drafts are coming off of a gap in league play. For what would have been the 2004-2005 NHL season, the games were canceled because of a lockout. While teams didn’t play because of a labor dispute in 2004-2005, 2019-2020 has been suspended due to the COVID19 pandemic. This was similar to the 2012-2013 lockout when the season was condensed to 48 games.
A heavy emphasis was placed on the NHL offseason heading into 2005-2006 because of the 2004-2005 lockout. For the NHL as a league, this was a big draft to draw hockey fans. When there is a gap between any constant, it’s normal to see a decrease in demand. The first overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft was Sidney Crosby. The demand and hype he received going into the 2005-2006 season absolutely brought the focus back to the NHL.
This was a unique draft for every NHL franchise because they all were coming into 2005-2006 cold. The Philadelphia Flyers needed another goaltender by way of free agency or the 2005 NHL Entry Draft to compliment Robert Esche. A replacement for Mark Recchi was important. A draft lottery took place which was weighted on playoff appearances through 2001-2003 and first overall picks during the 2001-2004 NHL Entry Drafts. Three lottery balls were given to teams with no playoff appearances and no first overall picks during those timeframes.
In that draft lottery, the Philadelphia Flyers only received one ball because they had playoff appearances in each of those seasons. The teams put in the best position for the “Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes” were the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Without further ado, the Flyers had the 29th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The following are their selections and their stories:
Steve Downie, RW (Round 1; #29)
Kicking off the 2005 NHL Entry Draft for the Philadelphia Flyers was Steve Downie. This 29th overall pick came from the Florida Panthers. The trade, from the Flyers, included the 20th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft for this pick and a 2006 second-round pick. Downie wouldn’t make his debut in Philadelphia until the 2007-2008 season. By 2008-2009, he was shipped to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Steve Downie did return to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2013-2014, coincidentally after another NHL lockout, after time with the Colorado Avalanche. Considering the Flyers traded down from the 20th pick to the 29th pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft with the Florida Panthers to get him, the trade didn’t work out. In direct comparison to the Panthers, Downie was truly a better selection than Kenndal McArdle. Had Philadelphia not made that transaction, Tuukka Rask, TJ Oshie, and Matt Niskanen were all on the board. If the intention was to draft a right-wing, there is a high probability that the Flyers would have selected Oshie at 20th overall.
His career was over by the conclusion of the 2015-2016 NHL season. In 2014-2015, Steve Downie had a boom year with the Pittsburgh Penguins but never surpassed his numbers from 2009-2011 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Oskars Bartulis, D (Round 3; #91)
In the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers sent three picks to the Tampa Bay Lightning for their 2005 third-round pick. Only two selections before, the Flyers traded Chris Lawrence, selected 89th in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, and the 102nd overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft to the Lightning for a 2006 second-round pick. After the trading in this round with Tampa Bay, Philadelphia was on the clock with pick 91. The Flyers selected a defenseman. Oskars Bartulis only played two NHL seasons, notably when Philadelphia made a run for the Stanley Cup against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009-2010.
At 89th overall, Chris Lawrence was a downgrade from Oskars Bartulis. Bartulis at least played at the NHL level. Looking back, the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired three picks in 2004 from the Philadelphia Flyers, but only one of those picks played in the NHL. The Lightning selected Karri Ramo in the sixth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft using the Flyers draft capital. While Ramo had a longer NHL career, his impact was on par with Bartulis.
In two seasons, Oskars Bartulis finished with nine points and a +/- of -16. By the 2011-2012 AHL season, Bartulis was out of the Philadelphia Flyers system and continuing hockey in Latvia. He finished his hockey career after one season in the KHL, tallying 88 penalty minutes, which was a personal high regardless of the hockey league he played in.
Jeremy Duchesne, G (Round 4; #119)
Earlier in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers traded their second-round pick to the Phoenix Coyotes for this pick and a 2006 second-round pick. The only reason why the Flyers won that trade with the Coyotes is that in 2006, that second-round pick became Andreas Nodl. Besides that, Jeremy Duchesne played in one NHL game, which he didn’t start nor get a decision. The pick Philadelphia traded to Phoenix in the second round became Pier-Olivier Pelletier, who never played an NHL game. Without making that trade in the second round, goaltenders Jonathan Quick and Ben Bishop were available.
Josh Beaulieu, C (Round 5; #152)
This is the first pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft that doesn’t involve a trade including the Philadelphia Flyers. Josh Beaulieu never played a game in the NHL. A player who could have been drafted here is Ryan Reaves, who is now finding his best NHL success with the Vegas Golden Knights.
As of 2019, Josh Beaulieu is now coaching the London Junior Knights youth hockey team.
John Flatters, D (Round 6; #174)
The second to last pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft for the Philadelphia Flyers was John Flatters. He, like Josh Beaulieu, never played in an NHL game. Still on the board was Anton Stralman who is actively on the Florida Panthers roster.
Matt Clackson, LW (Round 7; #215)
As the final pick for the Philadelphia Flyers, Matt Clackson was selected a pick before Anton Stralman. Clackson’s NHL career trajectory compares directly to Josh Beaulieu and John Flatters. In the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, “Mr. Irrelevant” was anything but. The final pick in the entire draft class was Patric Hornqvist. In every round, there is always some kind of value.
In the 2011-2012 preseason, Matt Clackson was illegally hit from behind by Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. This was the debut of Brendan Shanahan’s trademark NHL rule explanations as he dished a five-game suspension to Letourneau-Leblond. Clackson was packaged by the Philadelphia Flyers with a 2012 third-round pick and future considerations for Ilya Bryzgalov.
Of all the picks in this 2005 NHL Entry Draft for the Philadelphia Flyers, Oskars Bartulis is probably the pick that wouldn’t have changed. At that position in the third round, considering all the trading in 2004, Bartulis wasn’t the worst option. However, all the other picks could have drastically been improved. To trade down and select Steve Downie when TJ Oshie or Tuukka Rask is there hurt a lot. Engaging to trade a second-round pick to ultimately select Jeremy Duchesne when Jonathan Quick or Ben Bishop was available really put the Flyers behind the curve.
Too many trades were made, which inversely effected the Philadelphia Flyers. Overthinking on the draft day cost the Flyers a top goaltender. By not trading out of the second round, Philadelphia likely never had to grossly overpay Ilya Bryzgalov and would have had Jonathan Quick as their ace. Overall, the 2005 NHL Entry Draft for the Flyers was a flop. Currently, Philadelphia has turned around their draft misfires and we hope to see that trend continue in 2020.
Mandatory Credit – © Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports