NHL 2011 Draft in Minnesota: 13 Possible Late-Round Dark-Horse Draft Steals

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NHL 2011 Draft in Minnesota: 13 Possible Late-Round Dark-Horse Draft Steals

NHL teams are always finding mid-to-late round talents; All-Star players who were looked over by many teams through many rounds.  Often times, these players go on to have far better careers than many first and second-round picks in their draft year.  Here's a small sampling of fantastic late-round picks:

  • Datsyuk (171)
  • Zetterberg (210)
  • Lundqvist (205)
  • Brian Campbell (156)
  • Kaberle (204)
  • Vokoun (226)
  • Tim Thomas (217)
  • Daniel Alfredsson (133)
  • Demitra (227)
  • Timonen (250)
  • Anson Carter (220)
  • Khabilbulin (204)
  • Byfuglien (245)
  • Enstrom (239)
  • Mark Streit (262)

The pattern, if there is one, is that for the most part they are European defensemen and goaltenders, or undersized skilled forwards, or players who had all the parts (size, speed, skill, etc.) who just needed to fill out, compete better and learn to be consistent.

Also to be noted is the prototypical "late bloomer."  Sometimes the 17-year-old going into his draft year gets sick, injured or gets stuck on a bad team and just doesn't improve enough to make it onto the scouts' radar in any significant capacity.  As we all know, these regression seasons can happen to NHL players (Stastny this year, for example) but unfortunately for a 17-year-old going into their draft year, it's just a terrible time to get into a funk.

Here are 10 players in this year's draft, in no particular order, who I think could be great players and can be had for a mid-to-late round pick.

The Leafs would be wise to have a good look at these players from the fourth round on.

Projections are from a fantastic NHL drafting website: Draftsite.com.

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