Everyone knew Alexander Ovechkin was special. A budding star with Moscow Dynamo in the Russian Superleague at just 16, NHL teams couldn’t wait for the opportunity to select him once he became draft-eligible; even two years ahead, he was the consensus #1 pick in the 2004 Entry Draft. One team was so interested, they attempted to draft him a year early.
Draft-eligible players are those who have turned 18 prior to September 15 of their draft year. Ovechkin would turn 18 just two days after the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, on September 17.
Florida Panthers’ General Manager Rick Dudley, arguing that Ovechkin would be 18-years-old if not for leap years, attempted to draft the future star with their 9th Round Pick. Dudley’s argument was based on the premise that leap-year days are ommitted in calculating years and days in NHL contractual dealings, per the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NHL disagreed, in writing (to satisfy the Panthers’ attorneys), and the Panthers were not permitted to select the draft-ineligible Ovechkin.
Instead, the Panthers selected Dartmouth College center Tanner Glass, who last week was hoisting the Cup with the Vancouver Canucks.