Better Late than Never: A Look at the NHL's Best Late-Round Draft Picks
When it comes to finding talent in the late rounds of the NHL Entry Draft, no team has done it better than the Detroit Red Wings over the years.
It is why they are consistently a threat year after year and always seem to be rich with high-caliber talent. Not too many teams could find 6'5", 220-pound Jonathan Ericsson in the ninth round, 291st overall, then let him season in the minors for five years.
From Pavel Datsyuk to Tomas Holmstrom, the Wings are filled with a plethora of talent they selected in the later rounds of the draft.
While the Atlanta Thrashers used their first overall pick in the 1999 draft to select Patrik Stefan, the Wings took Henrik Zetterberg in the seventh round, 210th overall.
With that being said, I thought it'd be a good time to look back at some other top-notch players that have been picked in the late rounds of the NHL Draft over the years.
10. Steve Sullivan (Ninth Round, 233rd Overall, 1994 NHL Entry Draft)
When the New Jersey Devils selected 5'9", 155-pound Steve Sullivan 233rd overall in 1994, he joined a long list of talented players that weren't drafted until the late rounds because of their size.
If Sullivan hadn't been plagued by injuries over the past six seasons, he may near the top of this list, as he has been a consistent 20-goal man over his NHL career and has 650 points in his 833 games thus far.
Nashville's version of Mighty Mouse is a big reason the Predators are locking down a playoff spot in the Western Conference right now.
9. Mark Streit (Ninth Round, 262nd Overall, 2004 NHL Entry Draft)
The final analysis on Mark Streit is yet to be determined, but from what we have seen over his five-year NHL career, it is safe to say he was a pretty good pick by the Montreal Canadiens in 2004 at 262nd overall.
So good in fact, the Habs couldn't afford to sign him long-term.
Streit has been an offensive juggernaut since coming into the league, putting up 202 points over 348 games thus far, and any team looking to improve its power play would drool at the thought of adding him to the roster.
That's why the New York Islanders signed him to a five-year, $20.5 million contract.
8. Tomas Holmstrom (10th Round, 257th Overall, 1994 NHL Entry Draft)
Tomas Holmstrom has been a model of consistency over his 13-year NHL career and a thorn in the side of opposing goaltenders.
The Wings selected the 6'0", 198-pound Swede 257th overall in 1994, and since then he has gone on to record 208 goals and 248 assists while helping the team capture four Stanley Cups.
Every scout in the National Hockey League has had a sleepless night or two after not selecting this guy.
7. Pavol Demitra (Ninth Round, 227th Overall, 1993 NHL Entry Draft)
In the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, the Ottawa Senators selected a Slovakian center by the name of Pavol Demitra in the ninth round, 227th overall.
Considered by many scouts to be soft, Demitra has put up 303 goals and 458 assists over his 836-game NHL career thus far, proving he could get it done in the pros.
The Senators probably wish they had a redo after letting him walk to St. Louis, where he became a bona fide NHL star.
You have to give the Sens scouts props for selecting him late, though, as he has turned out to be a true diamond in the rough.
6. Tomas Kaberle (Eighth Round, 204th Overall, 1996 NHL Entry Draft)
For all the mistakes over the years when it comes to Maple Leaf selections in the draft, they more than made up for it when they picked Tomas Kaberle 204th overall in 1996.
There isn't an NHL GM out there who wouldn't love to have his presence on their blueline. Kaberle is consistently among the league's defense leaders when it comes to points, and he is a character guy as well.
There is a reason Brian Burke hasn't dealt him, aside from his no-trade clause: He is too damn valuable to the team.
5. Igor Larionov (11th Round, 214 Overall, 1985 NHL Entry Draft)
If there had been a Russian transfer agreement in place back in the '80s, then Igor Larionov and many of his comrades would have been selected much higher.
Give the Vancouver Canucks credit in taking a chance on one of the best Soviet players ever, as it could have been just a waste of a pick.
Though he entered the National Hockey League late, he still managed to be a key ingredient in three Stanley Cup wins with Detroit, finishing with 644 points in his 921-game NHL career.
Larionov is one of only a handful of players to have won a World Junior gold, a World Championship, Olympic gold, a Canada Cup, and a Stanley Cup.
4. Evgeni Nabokov (Ninth Round, 219th Overall, 1994 NHL Entry Draft)
When the San Jose Sharks selected Evgeni Nabokov 219th overall in 1994, they had no way of knowing that he would be as good as he has been for them over his 10-year NHL career.
Aside from not winning a Stanley Cup, Nabakov has been brilliant in the Sharks' net, putting up a record of 286-161-57 so far with a 2.36 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage, and 49 shutouts.
It is only a matter of time before he leads this very dangerous Sharks club to hockey's ultimate prize.
3. Dave Taylor (15th Round, 210th Overall, 1975 NHL Entry Draft)
Numbers-wise, Dave Taylor may be the best find ever in the late rounds of the NHL Draft. He was a member of the Triple-Crown Line in Los Angeles along with center Marcel Dionne and left winger Charlie Simmer.
Taylor put up 431 goals and 638 assists over his 1,111-game NHL career. Not too shabby for a guy who was selected in the 15th round.
2. Henrik Zetterberg (Seventh Round, 210th overall, 1999 NHL Entry Draft)
The script is still being written when it comes to just how good the 29-year-old Zetterberg can be, but so far so good, as the Swede has a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold, a World Championship, and a Conn Smyth Trophy on his resume.
Henrik has also racked up nearly a point a game over his 492-game NHL career, scoring 202 goals while adding 260 assists. The Wings are going to be good for a long time to come thanks to drafting this guy late in 1999.
1. Dominik Hasek (10th Round, 199th Overall, 1983 NHL Entry Draft)
It is hard to argue a better late-round selection than goaltender Domink Hasek, taken by the Chicago Blackhawks 199th overall in 1983.
Though he had an unorthodox style of play between the pipes, Hasek managed to go 389-223-82 over his 735-game NHL career, with a remarkable GAA of just 2.20, a save percentage of .922, and 81 shutouts (tying him for sixth all time).
He won the Vezina trophy for the league's best goaltender six times in his career, as well as the Hart trophy (league MVP) twice.
He also led the Czech Republic to an Olympic gold in 1998, along with winning a Stanley Cup in 2001-02 with Detroit.
Just think, there were actually 198 players selected ahead of him.