In the summer of 1999, the Philadelphia Flyers were aware that they needed to address their situation between the pipes. Ron Hextall had decided to retire, and John Vanbiesbrouck was not getting any younger. The team’s General Manager, Bobby Clarke, concluded that he could find a solution in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.
That solution came in the shape of a netminder out of Beauport, Quebec by the name of Maxime Ouellet.
How Did it Work Out?
Ouellet, taken 22nd-overall, played his Major Junior hockey in the QMJHL, playing his first three years with the Quebec Remparts. In his best season with the Remparts, Ouellet played 53 games going 31-16-4 with a 2.67 Goals Against Average and .916 Save Percentage. He then played his final season in the QMJHL with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, going 18-6-1 in 25 games with a 2.65 GAA and .913 SV%.
Unfortunately, the Ouellet solution would not go as planned for Clarke and the Flyers. He would play in parts of two games during the 2000-01 season, allowing three goals on 27 shots. Philadelphia would eventually trade Ouellet to the Washington Capitals along with a first, second, and third-round draft pick in 2002 in exchange for Adam Oates.
While with the Capitals organization, Ouellet spent most of his time playing in the American Hockey League for the Portland Pirates. In fact, he had quite a productive career with Portland, holding several franchise records. Washington would then trade Ouellet to the Vancouver Canucks in December of 2005 in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft (Maxime Lacroix). He would play four games with the Canucks in 2005-06 but spent the rest of his career in either the AHL or the ECHL.
A discussion about who the Flyers missed out on is complicated because the best players to come out of the 1999 draft were not selected until later rounds. It is unfair to state that Philadelphia should have used their first-round pick on the likes of Henrik Zetterberg, Radim Vrbata, and Martin Erat because they were not picked up by any team until the seventh round. These three gentlemen had terrific NHL careers, and a lot of organizations missed out on bringing them aboard numerous times.
Of other players drafted in the first round after Ouellet, the only one that stands out is Martin Havlat, who recorded 594 points in 790 games. In regards to other goalies, Craig Anderson was selected in the third round by the Calgary Flames. Of course, hindsight says this would have been a better option.
Draft Grade: F
It is challenging to give this pick anything more than an “F” because it accomplished nothing for the Flyers. Selecting Ouellet 22nd-overall meant Philadelphia had high expectations. Unfortunately, those expectations were not even close to being met. To put it simply, GM Bobby Clarke whiffed big time with this pick.