Drafting and developing players is paramount in the NHL.
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement allows teams to control their players until age 26, and with the current cap it is difficult for franchises to throw wads of cash at popular free agents.
This means that franchises must select the right players on draft day and understand how to develop them—even if they operate in a city free agents would find attractive.
Boston, Chicago and Pittsburgh—three perennial contenders that recently won the Stanley Cup—built their teams around the draft.
In fact, four moribund franchises—the Penguins, Washington Capitals, St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings—turned their fortunes around through the draft.
The San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators—three expansion teams—have become perennial contenders, while the Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets and erstwhile Atlanta Thrashers have struggled since their inception, due to poor drafting and player development.
Certain teams, like the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils, have fewer homegrown players yet remain competitive. Others, like the Buffalo Sabers, have a roster full of skaters from the pipeline but cannot get over the hump.
Two non-traditional market teams, the Florida Panthers and Phoenix Coyotes, do not have a lot of players from their system and use their young talent to supplement their veteran players, rather than the other way around.
Still, generally, the league’s best teams know how to put together a roster full of drafted-and-developed players.
The slideshow places greater emphasis on recent picks and focuses on players on current rosters. However, all drafted players were considered.
Notable Picks are only players currently on the roster of the team that drafted them.
It may be a stretch, but I counted players that are on the roster of the team that drafted them, even if they've played elsewhere during their career.
Therefore, Ryan Smyth and Ed Jovanovski are included in this list.
Thanks to Hockeysfuture.com for prospect information.