A Review of the Carolina Hurricanes First Round Draft Picks Part I: 1997-2007

Taking a look at every Carolina Hurricanes first round draft picks
2019 NHL Draft - Round One
2019 NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Eric Staal
Carolina Hurricanes v Anaheim Ducks / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

2003: Eric Staal ( C ) 2nd 1365GP 455G 608A 854 PIM

Another home run!  The disastrous 2002-2003 season awarded the Hurricanes the second pick in the draft and allowed them to select future captain and star center Eric Staal.  He rushed into the NHL right away at the age of 18, having a subpar rookie season, but greatly benefited from spending the lockout season playing in the AHL. Upon the resumption of NHL play, Staal proved himself to be a bonafide star and difference maker on the Stanley Cup-winning Hurricanes.  He was the leading scorer on the 2006 Cup-winning team with over 40 goals and 100 points.  Staal tallied five 30-goal seasons in a Hurricanes uniform and wore the C during his final 7 seasons with the club.  This was a great draft with many amazing players chosen in the first round (including current ‘Cane Brent Burns), but the Hurricanes made the right choice in Eric Staal for their 2nd overall pick.

Note: Staal is the one of two pro athletes playing for a team in North Carolina to be on the cover of a video game.  Glen Rice for the Hornets is the other.