Welcome to the first post in a new series we’re starting here on COTP called ‘Throwback Thursday.’ We’ll be highlighting various moments throughout the history of the Panthers, whether it be a highlight or an interesting fact. For today’s Throwback Thursday, we’ll go back in time to the 2003 NHL Draft and take a look at how the Panthers nearly drafted Alex Ovechkin.
Alex Ovechkin was a highly coveted prospect, and his skill was well-known by many scouts and teams a few years prior to the 2004 Draft (the year he was actually drafted). Knowing this, Rick Dudley, the Panthers’ GM from 2002-2004, attempted to draft Ovechkin several times at the 2003 NHL Draft. His argument? That Ovechkin, who turned 18 on September 17th (2 days after the cut-off), would be eligible for the 2003 Draft if the leap years he lived through were not taken into account. Since he lived through 4 leap years, the Panthers claimed he’d actually be four days older and therefore eligible for the draft a year early. The Panthers reportedly made four attempts to draft Ovechkin, and the NHL denied them each time.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think GM Rick Dudley and the Panthers had a legitimate argument? Let us know in the comments section below or through social media.