The NHL's Top 10 Undrafted Players
I know what you're probably thinking and the answer is yes, I did pilfer this idea from Tony Meyer who, by the way, did a fantastic job with his article, "The NFL's 25 Best Undrafted Players of All Time."
I, however, was inspired by Tony's article to write something that's more up my alley and compose a list of the top 10 undrafted NHL players. Hope you enjoy.
Note: This is a list of all the players who went undrafted after the first complete NHL Draft of 1969 and also doesn't count Wayne Gretzky, who was playing in the WHA for the Edmonton Oilers at the time that league became defunct and the Oilers joined the NHL.
10. Niklas Backstrom
The Helsinki native came into the NHL after having played spectacularly in Finland's top professional ice hockey league, SM-liiga.
Backstrom signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Wild on June 1, 2006 and has since become one of the top goaltenders in the NHL's Western Conference, earning a Williams M. Jennings Trophy in 2007 together with Manny Fernandez.
This season, Backstrom was due to become an unrestricted free agent before signing a lucrative 4-year, $24 million contract extension with the Wild.
9. Dan Boyle
Dan Boyle was signed as a free agent by the Florida Panthers fresh out of Miami University and has since become one of the NHL's top defensemen.
Boyle was a member of the Tampa Bay Lighting when they one their first Stanley Cup in 2004, he has been to two NHL All-Star games, and was a reserve player for Team Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
8. Brian Rafalski
In 1999, Brian Rafalski was named as the best hockey player in the world not playing in the NHL by the Sporting News but his absence from the league would change quickly.
At 26 years old, Rafalski was older than most rookies when he joined the New Jersey Devils at the start of the 1999-2000 season, but the Michigan native would do a little more than make up for lost time.
In eight NHL seasons, Rafalski has been to four Stanley Cup Finals and won three, two with the Devils and one with his current team, the Detroit Red Wings.
Rafalski was also chosen to represent the United States at the Winter Olympics twice (2002, 2006) and won a Silver Medal for Team USA in Salt Lake City.
7. Steve Thomas
The enigmatic Steve Thomas played 20 season in the NHL and his hard work and persistency have made him a hockey idol.
With 933 career points in 1,235 regular season games, Thomas was perhaps better known for being a great playoff performer.
In 174 post-season appearances, Thomas mustered an impressive 107 points, though he never won a Stanley Cup.
6. Curtis Joseph
At 41, "Cujo" may have played his last season as an NHL goaltender, but his mark on the game is sure to go down in history.
Joseph broke into the league in 1989 with the St. Louis Blues and since has become one of the most recognizable names in hockey.
Although Joseph has never won a Stanley Cup, his achievements include being on two Olympic teams and winning a Gold Medal with Team Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, being named to three All-Star teams, and a King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2000.
Joseph also currently holds fourth place in the league for wins among NHL goaltenders with 454.
5. Martin St. Louis
Good things come in small packages... and Martin St. Louis is no exception. At 5-foot-9, 177 pounds, no one thought that the Laval, Quebec native would flourish in the NHL but he would quickly prove his critics wrong.
After being released by the Calgary Flames, St. Louis would go on to become one of the most prolific point producers in the NHL after signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
His career achievements include a Stanley Cup in 2004, being named to five NHL All-Star games, playing for Team Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, an Art Ross Memorial Trophy, a Lester B. Pearson Award, and a Hart Memorial Trophy all in 2004.
4. Ed Belfour
Eddie The Eagle is without question one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history and to think that he went into the league undrafted is mind-boggling.
Belfour's achievements include a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999, being chosen to six NHL-All Star teams, a Calder Memorial Trophy, two Vezina Trophies, four William M. Jennings trophies, and a Gold Medal with Team Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Belfour also currently holds third place for wins by an NHL goaltender with 484.
3. Börje Salming
Perhaps the greatest defenceman of his era, Börje Salming spent most of his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs and played his last NHL season as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
During his 17 years in the league, Salming tallied an astonishing 787 in 1148 as a defenceman and was one of the first European-born players to enjoy success at the NHL level, opening the gate for his successors.
Salming also played on the IIHF Centennial All-Star Team and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996.
2. Peter Stastny
One of the greatest and most revolutionary players to come out of Europe, Peter Stastny was a true pioneer throughout his NHL career.
The Slovakia-native recorded a jaw-dropping 1,239 points in 933 regular season games as well as becoming the first-ever player to collect over 100 points in his rookie year thus winning the Calder Memorial Trophy.
Stastny was named to six NHL All-Star teams, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998, and is still to this day widely considered to be the greatest Slovakian player of all time.
1. Adam Oates
Adam Oates' storybook career began in 1985 when he was signed by the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent after playing in the NCAA.
Oates' career became one to remember as he became one of the greatest playmakers in NHL history.
During the 1990's, Oates had the more assists than any other player in the league except for Wayne Gretzky and he also holds the record as the oldest player to lead the NHL in assists in a single season with 64 at 39 years old in the 2001-2002 season.
Oates played on a total of five NHL All-Star teams and finished his career with a total of 1,420 points in 1,337 regular season games, he is also expected to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame within the next year or so.