Dropping Like Flies: The Top Dark Horses in NHL Draft History

John TaboneCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2010

Dropping Like Flies: The Top Dark Horses in NHL Draft History

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    BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 2:  Goaltender Dominik Hasek #39 of the Detroit Red Wings takes in fluids during a break in NHL game action against the Buffalo Sabres on March 2, 2008 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. The Red Wings defeated the Sabres 4-2. (Photo b
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    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

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    PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 09: Kris Versteeg #32 of the Chicago Blackhawks hoists the Stanley Cup after the Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime to win the Stanley Cup in Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Wachovia Center on
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    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

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    SAN JOSE, CA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Joe Pavelski #8 of the San Jose Sharks in action against the Anaheim Ducks during their preseason game at HP Pavilion on September 24, 2010 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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

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    NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 10:  Mark Streit #2 of the New York Islanders warms up before playing against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on April 10, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    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

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    GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 10:  Pavol Demitra #38 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on March 10, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 4-3 in an overtime shoo
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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

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    ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 21: Jaroslav Halak #41 of the St. Louis Blues makes a save against the Colorado Avalanche during a pre-season game at the Scottrade Center on September 21, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    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

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    CALGARY, AB -APRIL 6: Miikka Kiprusoff #34 of the Calgary Flames stretches as he is introduced before playing the San Jose Sharks in the NHL game on April 6, 2010 at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta. (Photo by Mike Ridewood/Getty Images)
    Mike Ridewood/Getty Images

    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

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    PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 2:  Goalie Roman Cechmanek of the Czech Republic deflects a Switzerland shot on goal in the teams' Group E qualifier match at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship May 2, 2004 in Prague, Czech Republic.  T
    Sean Gallup/Getty Images

    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

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    DETROIT, MI - JUNE 13:  Former Red Wing Vladimir Konstantinov is helped across the ice as Detroit celebrates winning the Stanley Cup after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes during game five of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 13, 2002 at the Joe Louis A
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    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

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    TORONTO - SEPTEMBER 27: Tomas Kaberle #15 of the Toronto Maple Leafs shoots during warmup before a preseason NHL game at the Air Canada Centre September 27, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
    Abelimages/Getty Images

    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

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 01: Goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers makes the winning save on a shot from Peter Regin #13 of the Ottawa Senators during their preseason game on October 1, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo b
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    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

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    GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 14:  Henrik Zetterberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings skates with the puck in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 14, 2010 in
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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

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    KANATA, ON - SEPTEMBER 29:  Daniel Alfredsson #11 of the Ottawa Senators carries the puck up ice while avoiding the checking of Mikhail Grabovski #84 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during a game at Scotiabank Place on September 29, 2010 in Kanata, Canada.  (P
    Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

    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

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    DETROIT - APRIL 20:  Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates his third-period goal with Johan Franzen #93 while playing the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 20
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    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

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    LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 1: Peter Bondra #12 of the Chicago Blackhawks waits on the ice against the Los Angeles Kings during the game on February 1, 2007 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Blackhawks beat the Kings in overtime 3-2. (Photo
    Juan Ocampo/Getty Images

    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

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    1993-1994:  Steve Larmer of the New York Rangers moves down the ice during a game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Montreal Forum in Montreal, Quebec. Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge  /Allsport
    Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    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

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    MONTREAL - APRIL 25:  Center Doug Gilmour #93 of the Montreal Canadiens skates with the puck during game four of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Boston Bruins at the Molson Center in Montreal, Canada on April 25, 2002. The Bruins won 5-2.  (Photo by
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    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

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    28 Oct 1998:   Rightwinger Theoren Fleury #14 of the Calgary Flames looks on during the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Canadien Airlines Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Penguins defeated the Flames 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Ian Tomli
    Ian Tomlinson/Getty Images

    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

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    LOS ANGELES - MARCH 21:  Former Los Angeles Kings player Luc Robitaille walks out to center ice for the ceremonial face off before the game against the Dallas Stars on March 21, 2007 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Stars won 4-2. (Photo
    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    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

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    BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 2:  Goaltender Dominik Hasek #39 of the Detroit Red Wings takes in fluids during a break in NHL game action against the Buffalo Sabres on March 2, 2008 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. The Red Wings defeated the Sabres 4-2. (Photo b
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    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

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    MONTREAL - AUGUST 31:  Brett Hull #16 of Team USA handles the puck against Team Canada during the World Cup of Hockey on August 31, 2004 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  Canada defeated USA 2-1.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    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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