Next in a series covering NHL transactions and following last week’s piece on the 13 Worst Trades in NHL History, comes this stocking stuffer; a brief look at the top value draft selections- the most ‘bang for your pick.’
Visualize Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux or Guy Lafleur in their draft years, each a franchise phenom, each a talent touted as the first overall pick.
Imagine springing a deal that would wrestle away the rights to claim one of the stars without surrendering a king’s ransom in return.
Not so for Montreal Canadiens GM and puppet master, Sam Pollock.
Not when Guy Lafleur was concerned
The following is an excerpt from Pollock's Canada's Sports Hall of Fame biography; the background to what many hold as being the League's most brilliant trade, securing the future Hall of Famer as the Canadiens No. 1 overall draft pick in 1971:
"Pollock wanted the first overall selection in the 1971 draft so he could take Guy Lafleur, so he made a deal with lowly California for that team's first choice figuring the Seals would finish last and Montreal would get the first pick. During the 1970-71 season, though, Los Angeles was playing even more poorly than California, so Pollock traded the aging but still valuable Ralph Backstrom to the Kings for two insignificant players. Backstrom's presence lifted the Kings out of last place, the Seals finished at the bottom, and the Habs drafted Lafleur. The rest, as they say, is history."
The anecdote of this “draft robbery” is the somewhat unorthodox inspiration and introduction to an analysis of another branch of “steals” in the NHL draft.
Enter the Top 10 Late Draft Steals.
The following players are assessed according to their status as top producers in the League vis-à-vis their respective late selections in the modern NHL Entry Draft, thus dating back to 1979-1980 onwards.
Late bloomers, those unnoticed, overlooked, ignored, or disregarded who broke out into tremendous talents; the focus is on the best valued selections of forwards who have been drafted no sooner than with the 100th selection.
The ranking formula is a calculation of points produced and respective draft numbers versus career games logged. As such, the list is a mathematical result, not emotionally vested, and will be ordered by DS (Draft Steal) points.