NHL Draft 2014: Breaking Down the Biggest Steals from Day 2

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NHL Draft 2014: Breaking Down the Biggest Steals from Day 2
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Every year, the collective eyes of the hockey world focus on the prospects tabbed as first-rounders at the NHL draft, and rightfully so, as they're the guys who possess the best probability of blossoming into valuable assets at the next level. 

But when looking at the rosters of past Stanley Cup champions, it's impossible to ignore how many key players were taken outside of Round 1. 

Detroit is a perfect example of this, as past and present franchise cornerstones such as Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom, Sergei Fedorov and Jimmy Howard all fell to the Red Wings beyond the opening round of their respective drafts. 

And at the 2014 NHL draft, there were a handful of players selected during Day 2 who already stick out as potential standouts. 

With that in mind, here's a look at the biggest steals from the second and final day of the draft. 

 

Thatcher Demko, Vancouver Canucks

Jim Benning, who is just a matter of weeks into his tenure as general manager of the Canucks, should thank his lucky stars for having Thatcher Demko slip into Vancouver's grasp at No. 36. 

Since former GM Mike Gillis dealt both Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider within the span of a year, the Canucks have been in dire need of a franchise stopper, and Demko projects to one day become just that.

As Boston College's youngest player in 2013-14, Demko's come a long way since playing midget-level hockey just two years ago, and if he continues on his current trajectory, there's no reason he couldn't wrestle the No. 1 spot away from incumbent starter Eddie Lack.

And it's certainly not as if the Canucks haven't done well when drafting B.C. goaltenders in the past, as Schneider was a star with the Golden Eagles prior to his prolonged battle with Luongo for the starting job. 

He's the No. 1-ranked North American goalie available on NHL Central Scouting's final list, and despite Gillis' mishandling of Luongo and Schneider, Vancouver will have a legitimate No. 1 goaltender in Demko very soon. 

 

Brendan Lemieux, Buffalo Sabres

After the Buffalo Sabres hit Day 1 home run in center Sam Reinhart at No. 2 overall, it looks as if they may have done the same with the first pick of the second round with the Barrie Colts' Brendan Lemieux. 

His 27 goals and 67 points in the OHL in 2013-14 are impressive, but if his bloodlines mean anything, he'll bring a lot more to the table than offensive production.

Brendan's father, Claude Lemieux, is a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner and is among the most notoriously competitive NHL players in recent memory. While he tended to cross the line with his actions on the ice once in a while, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who would say he wasn't an extremely valuable player at his peak. 

And according to Yahoo! Sports' Sean Leahy, his son sounds like he's already got a chip on his shoulder after unexpectedly falling out of Round 1.

“I was disappointed,” Lemieux said. “I expected to be a first round pick and never really looked at the second round. But that being said, things have a way of working out. I think it could be a blessing in disguise that I had to wait it out."

For the Sabres, who have quietly piled up a pretty impressive collection of prospects, this selection may be one that pays off come postseason time down the road. 

 

Roland McKeown, Los Angeles Kings

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After being pegged at No. 15 by NHL Central Scouting among all North American skaters last winter, Roland McKeown slipped to 27th in the predraft rankings, so it wasn't a complete shock that the 6'0" rearguard fell to the Kings at No. 50. 

That being said, McKeown's undoubtedly one the best defensemen in this year's class, and it certainly doesn't hurt that the guy's a proven winner: 

He's a solid two-way blueliner and, perhaps more importantly, is a leader, as he served as the captain of Team Canada's team at the World U-18 Championships earlier this season.

While offensively capable, as demonstrated by his 11 goals and 43 points in 62 games, arguably his biggest strength is his hockey sense, because it isn't often you find the Kingston product out of position.

L.A. is loaded on the back end, so McKeown will get time to develop, and once he does, you can count on the reigning Stanley Cup champs' already strong defensive core getting a little bit better. 

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