This slideshow shows you the top five players that have been surprisingly spectacular in their time in the NHL, but were still not drafted until late in the first round. These are players that were never expected to shine as much as they have in the NHL.
These are the players that were projected to go 20th to 30th but turned out top players in the NHL. These are the players that make the teams that had the top 15 picks regret their choices.
These are the NHL's top five first round 'steals' from the last decade of hockey.
Players like Hugh Jessiman, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Robert Nilsson were picked before Mike Richards in the 2003 Draft, who, 5 years later, has easily become a top NHL player and one of the league's best gritty, hard working captains.
Richards has now had 3 straight 60+ point seasons and 3 straight 25+ goal seasons. Not bad for the 24th overall pick!
Tuukka Rask is kind of a two-way steal. The Leafs stole him by picking him 21st overall, but then the Bruins stole him from the Leafs when they gave away Raycroft for Rask. And, well, we all know how Raycroft's career has wound up (*cough* on the bench for Luongo *cough*) and how Rask's career has winded up.
He is 20-12-5 on the worst offensive team in the league, with a .930 save percentage (first in the NHL) and a 1.99 GAA (first in the NHL). He's basically the reason Boston is making the playoffs this season.
The second and final goalie to crack the list, Cam Ward has been the key to Carolina's success over the years. During the Hurricanes' 2006 Stanley Cup title, Ward was "lights out" through out the playoffs. Last year they also made it to the conference finals, and Cam was one of the keys of this run, too.
Ward has been mentioned with Luongo, Brodeur, Miller, Fleury, and Lundqvist as the league's best goaltenders and he is definitely up there with three straight 30-plus win seasons until this season when he fell down with injury.
Cory Perry is already an Olympian Gold Medal Winner and also a Stanley Cup Champion at just the age of 24.
He has achieved back-to-back 70-plus point seasons, and has a very respectable production level in the postseason, too, with 35 points in 48 playoff games. Perry went 28th in the first round and has already achieved so much in his young career: he is definitely one of the biggest steals of the decade.
Mike Green is the biggest first round steal over the last decade.
Because he was 29th Overall, passed on 28 times, and yet still turned out to achieve back to back 70+ points as defenseman, amazingly. That also includes an incredible 31 goals last season! Furthermore, Mike Green has achieved three straight 15-plus goal seasons and is a +47 throughout his career. For a defensemen, those achievements are pretty great!