Dropping Like Flies: The Top Dark Horses in NHL Draft History
Obtaining high draft picks is almost a surefire way of drafting high-end talent. However, sometimes consistent drafting throughout every round could do the job as well. Quite a few of the NHL's best players have been drafted outside of the top rounds. A few have been superstars while the others had and are having solid NHL careers.
#20 Kris Versteeg
Another dark horse from the Chicago Blackhawks, Kris Vertseeg has established himself as a solid top-six forward in the league.
Drafted: 134th overall, 2004 Boston Bruins
#19 Joe Pavelski
The young center was a standout in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs for the San Jose Sharks and has future captain written all over him.
Drafted: 205th overall, 2003 San Jose Sharks
#18 Mark Streit
Drafted at the age of 27 from Switzerland, the Montreal Canadiens made a low risk, high reward pick by drafting Mark Streit who is undoubtedly one of the top defensemen in the league today.
Drafted: 262nd overall, 2004 Montreal Canadiens
#17 Pavol Demitra
Drafted in 1993 by the Ottawa Senators, the Sens did not expect a top-six player hiding in the late rounds. Demitra proved to be one of the best scorers in the 1990s.
Drafted: 227th overall, 1993 Ottawa Senators
#16 Jaroslav Halak
Another late pick by the Montreal Canadiens, Halak was just another reason why Montreal is known as the "goaltending factory." The young goaltender turned heads in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs by standing on his head and taking the underdog Habs to the Eastern Conference finals almost single-handedly.
Drafted: 271st overall, 2003 Montreal Canadiens
#15 Miikka Kiprusoff
Finnish goaltenders aren't fun to play against, and Kiprusoff is one example of a great Finnish goaltender who was drafted in the later rounds by the San Jose Sharks.
Drafted: 116th overall, 1995 San Jose Sharks
#14 Roman Cechmanek
Roman Cechmanek was once a top goaltender in the NHL for the Philadelphia Flyers (surprisingly). Drafted very late in 2000, Cechmanek became an NHL All Star in his first season and finished second in voting for the Vezina Trophy.
Drafted: 171st overall, 2000 Philadelphia Flyers
#13 Vladimir Konstantinov
Before his almost fatal limousine accident in 1997, Vladimir Konstantinov was a stalwart for the Detroit Red Wings. Drafted late in 1989, the Red Wings made the right pick by drafting a talented Russian, something that wasn't done a lot back then even in the later rounds.
Drafted: 221st overall, 1989 Detroit Red Wings
#12 Tomas Kaberle
No one expected the Toronto Maple Leafs to find their future number one defenseman and assistant captain in the late rounds in 1996. Although the past few years have been tough for Kaberle & Co., Kaberle has lead the Maple Leafs' defensive corps with style and skill for years now and he will hopefully re-sign with the team before the next offseason.
Drafted: 204th overall, 1996 Toronto Maple Leafs
#11 Henrik Lundqvist
Arguably the best goaltender in the game today, Henrik Lundqvist was chosen by the Rangers in a late-round effort to attend to their goaltending woes. The pick worked out very well, and Lundqvist has been lights out every season for the New York Rangers.
Drafted: 205th overall, 2000 New York Rangers
#10 Henrik Zetterberg
The Detroit Red Wings had always had a great track record with drafting Swedes whether it be in the first round or the lower rounds. Henrik Zetterberg was no exception, as he has blossomed into one of the best wingers in the game today.
Drafted: 210th overall, 1999 Detroit Red Wings
#9 Daniel Alfredsson
No one expected the Ottawa Senators to draft their future captain in the late rounds of 1994. Alfredsson has had a stellar career nearing a PPG at 0.99.
Drafted: 133rd overall, Ottawa Senators
#8 Pavel Datsyuk
Pavel Datsyuk is one of the premier players in the game today, having won multiple Stanley Cups and Selke Trophies. He is an offensive threat every time he is on the ice and plays a beautiful puck possession game. The Red Wings got him for a bargain price in 1998.
Drafted: 171st overall, 1998 Detroit Red Wings
#7 Peter Bondra
Peter Bondra was one of the most dangerous players of his time, becoming only the 37th player in NHL history to score 500 goals. When and where did the Washington Capitals draft such a fantastic player? In 1990, 156th overall.
Drafted: 156th overall, 1990 Washington Capitals
#6 Steve Larmer
Steve Larmer was one of those players you wanted on your team. He scored a lot and for some reason he brought that extra something that made his team make the playoffs every year. The Blackhawks nabbed him late in 1980.
Drafted: 120th overall, 1980 Chicago Blackhawks
#5 Doug Gilmour
Doug Gilmour was one heck of a hockey player: He did it all. He was relentless on the forecheck, scored a ton of points, and played a solid defensive game. St. Louis Blues committed highway robbery taking him late in 1982.
Drafted: 134th overall, 1982 St. Louis Blues
#4 Theoren Fleury
When you put his personal problems aside, Theoren Fleury portrays one heck of a hockey player. Going through a lot growing up, Fleury barely made it to the NHL in 1987 when the Calgary Flames drafted him. They made the right choice as Fleury grew into one of the best players of his generation.
Drafted: 166th overall, 1987 Calgary Flames
#3 Luc Robitaille
Luc Robitaille finished his career as the highest scoring left winger and Los Angeles King in NHL history. Not too shabby for someone drafted 171st overall in 1984.
Drafted: 171st overall, 1984 Los Angeles Kings
#2 Dominik Hasek
A few fans may disagree with my ranking of Dominik "The Dominator" Hasek, but in my opinion, it is well deserved. Hasek came into an NHL dominated by North American goaltenders.
Once he stepped foot into the league, he changed the game forever. Arguably the best goaltender ever, there were some nights when Hasek would single-handedly win games.
Winning six Vezina Trophies in eight years and two consecutive Hart Trophies, the best goaltender astonishingly was not drafted higher than 199th overall in 1983.
Drafted: 199th overall, 1983 Chicago Blackhawks
#1 Brett Hull
One of the most prolific scorers in the game, Brett Hull finished his career third all-time in goals with 741 in his legendary career. Son of the legendary Bobby Hull, Brett was surprisingly still available to be taken no higher than 117th overall in 1984.
He scored 70+ goals three times (second to Wayne Gretzky) and 50 goals in 50 games twice (also second to Wayne Gretzky). He also scored 86 goals in the 1990-91 NHL season (once again only second to Wayne Gretzky). He has also won two Stanley Cups (he owes one to No. 2 on our list...) and has achieved many more milestones players can only dream to achieve.
Drafted: 117th overall, 1984 Calgary Flames
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