The dream of playing in the NHL often starts at an early age. Youngsters who show off their talent may get a chance to play junior hockey or play the game at the college level.
At that point, if they continue to improve and show enough of a feel for the game, they may get drafted sometime after they turn 18.
The best players—like Edmonton's Taylor Hall and Boston's Tyler Seguin—may get a chance to play immediately. Others will have to play in the minor leagues for a few years before they make it to the show.
However, not all players follow the usual route. Some may never get drafted while others will play in Europe for many years before they get their chance in the National Hockey League.