What if there was never an 87 in black and gold? How would that team shape up? What if the Ducks won the lottery and chose Sidney Crosby? Can you imagine Sid with a Ducks' sweater on his back? What would the Penguins look like today?
The Penguins would obviously be a very different team. They would not be nearly as good but to be honest, but they would still be a great team. There was still great talent in that draft. All stars, Carey Price, Anze Kopitar, Marc Staal, Paul Stastny, Kris Letang, and Keith Yandle were in that draft. Price, Kopitar, and Staal were the only all stars selected in the first round. Other great talent, Bobby Ryan, Jack Johnson, Devin Setoguchi, and T.J. Oshie were also selected in the first round. No one knew how these guys would turn out, but the Penguins probably would have chosen one of the players taken in the top 5 that year.
5th overall- Carey Price
Picking price second overall for the Penguins would not have made much sense since they had Marc-Andre Fleury. Carey Price turned out to be a great goaltender but the Penguins would not have picked him at #2.
4th overall- Benoit Pouliot
Pouliot never really panned out for the team that drafted him, the Minnesota Wild. He bounced around the NHL and AHL until he was traded in 2009 to Montreal. He bounced around there for a year and became an NHL regular in 2010-2011. There was better talent on the board for the Penguins to consider at #2.
3rd overall- Jack Johnson
This would have been an interesting pick. The Penguins had an awful defense and this pick could have made sense depending on if they were looking for more help at offense or defense. It also would have been ironic if they picked Sidney Crosby's best friend. I could see them making this pick. He is starting to play very well for the Kings.
2nd overall- Bobby Ryan
The Ducks got a great player in Bobby Ryan. It took him until 2008-2009 to become an NHL regular but he is earning his pay. He has at least 31 goals in each of his three full seasons and scored the best goal of the 2011 Playoffs with a dazzling play. He is a great player who plays on a great line, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. He is turning into a superstar.
My consensus is that the Penguins would have went offense and chose Bobby Ryan. Bobby Ryan would have fit in great with the Penguins. He plays center and left wing but he would look great on a line with Evgeni Malkin as his center. Those two probably would have put up great numbers together. The Penguins would still have a good 1-2 punch down the middle with Malkin and Staal (assuming the Pens still drafted Staal the following year). They would also have more money to sign other players. It probably would have set the Penguins back a few years because Ryan was not NHL ready when he was drafted like Crosby was.
Don't get me wrong, I would much rather have Crosby than Ryan. I am just imagining what life would be like minus Sid. Crosby is a generational talent but there are benefits of being drafted by either team. If he was drafted by the Ducks, he would have stepped into a better situation on the ice. Some of the players on the Ducks were Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry, Petr Sykora, Dustin Penner, Sergei Federov, and the Niedermayer brothers. Imagine that powerplay. Sid would not have gotten as much attention out there because it is harder to showcase Western teams with their late start times. Crosby also may have folded under the pressure in Anaheim because he would not have had the mentor that he has in Mario Lemieux. Lemieux helped Sid out greatly in his first few years. Crosby would be a different player without Lemieux.
The NHL benefited greatly with Crosby in a Penguins' jersey as well. The NHL glorifies the Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry. They play each other 4 times in the regular season. If Crosby was in Anaheim, they would play once, maybe twice. The NHL has also used Crosby in the Winter Classic twice. It is a lot harder to get the Ducks in an outdoor game because of their climate. The NHL also rode the Penguins' back since they were a young team that was turning around their franchise with now frequent visits to the playoffs.
All in all, the Penguins, as well as the entire National Hockey League, are happy that Sidney Crosby is in Pittsburgh. Let's keep Sid happy here and wish him a speedy recovery and hope that he is still the same player as before his injury. Keep it up Sid and get better.