After being the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Vincent Lecavalier was hyped up to be hockey's answer to Michael Jordan by then-Lightning owner Art Williams. It's always dangerous to throw around such absurd expectations when you're talking about an 18-year-old kid that's never played a professional game, and if "the Michael Jordan of hockey" is the expectation, then Lecavalier's career to this point is a disappointment.
If you're more reasonable with your expectations, the Quebec native has become one of the top players in the NHL, well worth top billing in his draft class.
Draft Year: 1998
After Lecavalier went No. 1, there was, in hindsight, a sizable drop in talent in the top-10: David Legwand (Nashville), Brad Stuart (San Jose), Bryan Allen (Vancouver), Vitaly Vishnevski (Anaheim), Rico Fata (Calgary), Manny Malhotra (New York Rangers), Mark Bell (Chicago), Mike Rupp (New York Islanders), Nik Antropov (Toronto). Some decent players, sure, but not your standard top-10 All-Star level talent.
Why He's On My List
It took him a few years, but Lecavalier eventually became the impact player he was supposed to be, highlighted by his 2006-07 campaign that saw him lead the league with 52 goals and finish third with a career-best 108 points. Prior to this season, he had tallied at least 30 goals six straight years, and would have likely made it seven straight had he not missed the final five games of the season due to injury.
Obligatory YouTube Video
This might be the signature moment of Tampa Bay's Stanley Cup win in 2004 - Lecavalier drops the gloves and brawls (sort of) with Calgary's Jarome Iginla in a captain vs. captain bout. Doesn't get much better than this in the Stanley Cup Final.