10 Best NHL Draft Steals Since 1990
Over the last week and a half, I have been studying the NHL drafts of the past, starting from the year 1990.
I have come to a conclusion that every first round in the NHL draft produces as many stars as all the other rounds after it combined, so there are many steals to be had in every draft.
If I had to give an exact number, I'd say every NHL draft since 1990 up until 2005 produced about 13 to 15 stars on average—six or seven would come in the first round, while the other six or seven would come in all the other rounds.
Although those first rounds in past NHL drafts usually produce the best players in quantity, they sometimes do not in quality.
Now, let's take a look at some of those quality draft steals since 1990.
Pavol Demitra—Ninth Round, 227th Overall
Pavol Demitra was drafted 227th overall by the Ottawa Senators in 1993.
Pavel's career year came in the 2002-03 NHL season while playing for the Blues, when he notched a career high 93 points.
Pavol has played for five different NHL teams through his career, tallying a total of 752 points in 819 games thus far.
His achievements include a Lady Byng Trophy, three NHL all-star selections, and two Bronze Medals at the World Hockey Championships while playing for Slovakia.
Interesting fact: In his Lady Byng Trophy winning season, he had a total of eight penalty minutes.
Henrik Lundqvist—Seventh Round, 205th Overall
Henrik Lundqvist was selected 205th overall by the New York Rangers in the year 2000.
Henrik's best NHL season came in 2006-07, in which he won 37 games, posted a 2.34 goals against average, as well as a .917 save percentage.
In his four years in the NHL, he has put up some of the best numbers of any goalie with a total of 142 wins with a goals against average of 2.31 and save percentage of .917.
I did not break down his numbers next to other goalies over these past four years, but I gather Henrik would be in the top three.
Outside of his outstanding numbers in the NHL, Henrik also won a gold medal with Sweden in the 2006 Olympics and two silver medals at World Hockey Championships.
Interesting fact: Henrik's brother Joel Lundqvist, who plays with the Stars, was selected 137 spots before Henrik.
Brad Richards—Third Round, 64th Overall
Brad Richards was selected 64th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1998 NHL draft.
Brad's best NHL season came in 2003-04, in which he posted a total of 79 points. He also won a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy that same season.
Through Brad's first nine seasons in the NHL, he has accumulated a total of 548 points in 620 games played.
The 29-year-old already has an impressive resume, which includes a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe Trophy, and a Lady Byng Trophy in his cabinet.
Brad also won a gold medal with team Canada at the 2004 World Cup of hockey.
Interesting fact: Brad holds the record for game winning goals in the NHL playoffs with seven.
Nikolai Khabibulin—Ninth Round, 204th Overall
Nikolai Khabibulin was drafted 204th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in 1992.
Khabi's best statistical year came in the 1998-99 season, when he was playing with the Phoenix Coyotes. He posted 32 wins, a goals against of 2.13, and a save percentage of .920, all career highs.
Khabi's resume rounds out with 299 career NHL wins and counting with a career goals against average of 2.67 and a save percentage of .908.
He also won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004, a Gold Medal with Russia at the 1992 Olympics, a gold medal at the World Juniors in 1992, and a bronze medal at the 2002 Olympics.
Interesting fact: He was the first Russian goalie to ever win a Stanley Cup.
Peter Bondra—Eighth Round, 156th Overall
Peter Bondra was selected 156th overall by the Washington Capitals in 1990.
Bondra's career years came in the 1995-96 and 1997-98 NHL seasons when he scored 52 goals, which are his career highs.
He holds just about every Capitals offensive record.
Bondra became the 37th player in NHL history to score 500 goals. His career NHL goal total is 503 and points is 892.
He was a five-time NHL All-Star over his career.
Interesting fact: Peter is one of 60 NHL players to score five or more goals in a game.
Chris Osgood—Third Round, 54th Overall
Chris Osgood was selected 54th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1991.
In the 1996-96 NHL season, Chris posted his best overall numbers. He won 39 games (career high), had a goals against average of 2.17, and a save percentage of .911.
Chris has had one of the most underrated NHL careers for a goalie. He has a total of 389 wins, which is in the top 10 all time, with a 2.47 goals against average and a .906 career save percentage.
Chris has three Stanley Cups to his name, two Jennings Trophies, and he's a two time All-Star.
Interesting fact: Chris scored a goal against the Hartford Whalers in 1996.
Daniel Alfredsson—Sixth Round, 133rd Overall
Daniel Alfredsson was selected 133rd overall by the Ottawa Senators in 1994.
Daniel's career year came in the 2005-06 season when he scored 43 goals and 60 assists, the only time in his career thus far he has eclipsed the 100 point mark.
Alfredsson is regarded as one of the greatest Swedish players of all time. In his NHL career, he has tallied 921 points in 932 games played.
Other achievements of Daniel include being a six-time NHL All-Star, winning a gold medal with Sweden in the 2006 Olympics, as well as two bronze and two silver medals at World Hockey Championships.
Interesting fact: He won a championship while playing for Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League during the NHL lockout in 2004-05.
Sergei Zubov—Fifth Round, 85th Overall
Sergei Zubov was drafted 85th overall by the New York Rangers in 1990.
Considered by many to be the best Russian offensive defenseman in NHL history, Sergei tallied a total of 767 points in 1,058 games played over his NHL career.
Sergei's resume includes two Stanley Cup rings, three all-star appearances, a Norris Trophy finalist, and an Olympic gold medal with team Russia back in the 1992 Winter Olympic Games.
Interesting fact: He is the NHL's all-time leading scorer among Russian defensemen.
Henrik Zetterberg—Seventh Round, 210th Overall
Henrik Zetterberg was selected 210th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1999.
Henrik's career year came in the 2007-08 NHL season, in which he notched a total of 92 points (which is his career high) as well as winning the Stanley Cup.
Henrik has an amazing resume thus far, even at his early age of 28. He has a total of 405 points in 432 NHL games played.
He's a former NHL All-Star. He won Two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a gold medal with Sweden at the 2006 Olympics and 2006 World Championships, as well as two bronze medals and one silver in his three other World Hockey Championship appearances.
Interesting fact: Henrik is the lowest draft pick to win a Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP).
Pavel Datsyuk—Sixth Round, 171st Overall
Pavel Datsyuk was selected 171st overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.
Pavel's career year came in the 2007-2008 NHL season, in which he tallied a total of 97 points (which is his career high) and captured the Stanley Cup.
Over the course of seven NHL seasons, Pavel has a total of 522 points in 526 games played.
He is a two-time NHL All-Star.
He also has won the Stanley Cup twice, the Lady Byng Trophy four times, the Selke Trophy twice, an Olympic bronze medal with Russia in 2002, as well as a bronze medal in the 2005 World Hockey Championship.
Interesting fact: Pavel went undrafted in the 1996 and 1997 NHL drafts.