To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first NHL Draft, NHL.com assembled a 13-member panel to select the best first-round picks of all time, based on selection number. NHL.com will feature one of the top first-round picks each day, beginning with the best No. 30 pick on June 1 and culminating with the all-time No. 1 pick on June 30, the day of the 2013 NHL Draft.
Today: The best No. 16 pick: Dave Andreychuk, Buffalo Sabres, 1982
Dave Andreychuk was a power forward before the term became commonplace. Blending size, strength and outstanding hands over 23 NHL seasons, Andreychuk ranks among the League's all-time best in a number of offensive categories.
He also earns recognition as the best No. 16 pick in NHL.com's Dream Draft.
The Sabres selected Andreychuk after he had 57 goals and 100 points in 67 games with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. Buffalo plugged him right into the NHL lineup at the start of the 1982-83 season, and he had 14 goals in 43 games.
The next season he had a team-best 38 goals, then continued to fill the net at a prodigious pace. He scored at least 30 goals in seven of his first nine full seasons and reached the 40-goal mark twice.
During the 1992-93 season, his 11th with the Sabres, Andreychuk was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of a deal that sent Grant Fuhr to Buffalo. After scoring 29 goals in 52 games with the Sabres, Andreychuk finished with 25 in 31 games with the Maple Leafs to finish with a career-best 54 goals and 99 points. He also had 32 power-play goals, the second-best single-season mark in League history (Tim Kerr, Philadelphia Flyers, 34, 1985-86), then scored a team-best 12 goals in 21 games as Toronto reached the Campbell Conference Finals.
Andreychuk scored 50 again the following season, with his 53 goals standing as the second-best single-season total in Maple Leafs history (Rick Vaive, 54, 1981-82), and he helped them get to the Western Conference Finals with five goals and 10 points in 18 games.
His numbers slipped in 1994-95, and during the 1995-96 season he was dealt to the New Jersey Devils for a pair of draft picks.
After scoring 27 goals in 1996-97, Andreychuk's streak of 14 straight 20-goal seasons ended when he had 14 in 75 games in 1997-98. He spent one more season with the Devils then signed as a free agent with the Boston Bruins. Andreychuk lasted 63 games with Boston in 1999-2000 before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche along with Ray Bourque. He had three points in 14 games, and five points in 17 Stanley Cup Playoff games as the Avalanche lost in the second round of the playoffs.
Andreychuk returned to Buffalo for one season, then signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning in July 2001 and had a team-best 21 goals in 2001-02. He was named captain prior to the start of the 2002-03 season and had 20 goals. Guiding an emerging core of young players that included Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and Dan Boyle, he helped the Lightning snap a six-year playoff drought and reach the second round.
The 2003-04 season saw Andreychuk reach the high point of his career; despite scoring one goal in 23 playoff games, he was the first player to take the Stanley Cup from Commissioner Gary Bettman after the Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames in Game 7 of the Final.
After sitting out during the 2003-04 lockout, Andreychuk returned to the team in 2005-06, but at age 42, his skills had slipped precipitously, and he played his final game Jan. 7, 2006. He was placed on waivers three days later and officially announced his retirement in October 2006.
Andreychuk left the game as one of the most prolific scorers in NHL history. His 274 power-play goals are the most in League history, his 640 total goals are 14th, and his 1,338 points are tied for 28th. He also was durable, sixth all-time with 1,639 games played.
"He was a force around the net," NHL Network analyst and former NHL player Dave Reid said. "He was probably the toughest 1-on-1 player to defend in front of the net because of his size and hand skills."
Voting: Dave Andreychuk, Buffalo (1982) 11; Markus Naslund, Pittsburgh (1991) 2
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