NHL Draft: The 50 Best Undrafted Players in NHL History
With the NHL Entry Draft concluding Saturday, most of the collective front offices in the NHL are examining their take and making plans for next week's free agent extravaganza. Lost over the course of the seven rounds of drafting are some players whose dreams came crashing down when the last pick was made.
Fear not, young spark plugs! Don't let your NHL dream die because you didn't hear your name called. Get back on the ice, keep focusing on that conditioning and get your agent on the phone. There are still roster spots to be earned and anything can happen.
Some players are at the tail end of a growth spurt or are the "late bloomers" variety that need a little more time to percolate in the junior leagues. Players mature at different levels, and some players come into their own earlier than later.
The next 50 players you'll see didn't hear their name called at the draft either, and they did just fine for themselves.
Rich Peverley is a nice playmaker who was shunned during the 2004 draft before signing with the South Carolina Stingrays and eventually the Nashville Predators.
Ridley signed with the Rangers in 1984. Traded to Washington in 1986, Ridley averaged almost a point per game in his peak years with the Capitals.
After signing a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Kings, Purcell was traded to Tampa after bouncing between the Kings and Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. He had a breakout season in 2011 and increased his point total last season to 65 points in 81 games.
A staple on the New York Rangers blueline since his call-up in 2007, Girardi literally has played every single game for New York. Girardi was ignored in the 2003 draft and played in the juniors before signing with the Hartford Wolfpack.
Regardless of his legacy in the NHL, Marty McSorley still had a pretty impressive NHL career. As Wayne Gretzky's personal security guard, McSorley found himself in the spotlight for some good reasons and some notably bad ones as well.
Macoun was a steady defenseman for a solid 17-year career. He played in 1128 games and twice lifted the Stanley Cup. Not bad for someone that wasn't drafted in 1982.
Zenon Konopka carved a career out of punching people after being bypassed in the 2002 draft. As long as there is an NHL club looking for a tough guy, Konopka will always have a job. He's played in 250 games with 877 penalties in minutes.
This steady Montreal, Toronto, Colorado and New York defenseman played 945 games in the NHL after going undrafted in 1986. After winning the Stanley Cup in 1996 with Colorado, Lefebvre had his daughter Alexanne baptized in Lord Stanley's chalice.
When healthy, the speedy Blues center is a borderline elite forward, though he's battled an assortment of injuries. After nobody called him during the 2000 draft, McDonald signed with the Anaheim Ducks and won a Stanley Cup with them before being dealt to St. Louis in a salary cap-saving move.
Another player signed by the Ducks in 2003 after going undrafted, Kunitz won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007 and again in 2009 as a Pittsburgh Penguin.
A shot-blocking specialist ignored at the 2002 draft, Gorges was picked up by the San Jose Sharks with a free-agent deal. He will be counted on as a key piece to help turn around the Habs' fortunes around this coming season.
After going undrafted in 1979, Kisio was playing in Switzerland when the Detroit Red Wings came calling. He had a solid career with Detroit, New York Rangers and San Jose before playing his 761st and final NHL game with the Calgary Flames.
Mike Keane played in over 1100 games in the NHL after missing out in the 1985 draft. He signed with the Montreal Canadiens and ended up winning a Stanley Cup with them in 1986, with Colorado in 1996 and again in Dallas in 1999. He's one of only ten NHL players to have won three Stanley cups with three different teams.
The man between the pipes in Anaheim was undrafted in 2007, yet he was thought of so highly that Anaheim put back up Ilya Bryzgalov (yes, that Ilya Bryzgalov) on waivers. Hiller took the job from J.S. Giguere in 2009 and has held it ever since.
As an undrafted free agent in 2004, Curtis Glencross decided to bolt college in Alaska and signed with the Ducks. Four teams and two minor league stints later, Glencross is a potential star on the rise in Calgary, improving his point totals in the last three seasons.
Steve Duchesne was a talented defenseman/nomad who never seemed to find a home wherever he played. Despite being one of the better point producing defensemen, Duchesne was shuttled through six different franchises before finally winning a Stanley Cup in Detroit.
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 1984, Duchesne finished his career with 1,113 games played and 752 points.
Undrafted in 2000, Pascal Dupuis signed with the Minnesota Wild. He bounced around between teams before finally landing in Pittsburgh. With the talented Penguins, Dupuis seemed to find his stride and put up career highs across the board last year.
No, Desharnais is not a fancy marinade, or after hours cordial; he's an undrafted center crafted from the Marty St. Louis school for undersized forwards. Desharnais got a training camp invite from Les Habitants in 2007 and hasn't looked back. Habs fans have to be pumped after his breakout year in 2012.
Giordano signed with Calgary in 2004 after he went undrafted. A short stint in Russia then back to the Flames saw Giordano emerge as one of the top defensemen in Calgary. After his dip in production last season, look for Giordano to bounce back in 2012-13.
From pariah to punchline to Stanley Cup winner, Dustin Penner was better known for underperforming on a huge contract than anything else. A couple of timely goals and a Stanley Cup run can make everything all better, at least for a while.
While Penner's contract runs out this year, we'll see how valuable he is if he hits the open market. Penner was originally signed by the Ducks as a free agent in 2004.
If you hate Sean Avery, then he's done his job. Other than being a fashionista, Avery was a pest and a thorn to everyone he played against and almost everyone he played with, and played for. He was tough enough to fight when needed and good enough to score fairly consistently for a player of his ilk.
He was the most hated player in the league when he played, but he makes my list for this picture alone.
David Clarkson emerged this year as someone who is as capable with his stick as he is with his potent fists. Signed in August 2005, Clarkson had a penchant for finding the penalty box more than the net. After a 30-goal effort this season, Clarkson seems to have found some balance in his young career.
Vernon Fiddler is a gritty, checking forward who has carved out a career in the NHL as a thorn in opponents' sides. Signed by Nashville in 2002, Fiddler has played 538 games in the NHL.
Not many players have parlayed a ball hockey career into a successful NHL career. Alexandre Burrows did just that. Burrows turned pro in 2002 after not being drafted and has worked his way into being a solid goalscoring threat in Vancouver.
Tyler Bozak is part of the optimism in Toronto headed into next season. Last year was solid and saw Bozak emerge as a legitimate scorer. Undrafted in 2008, Bozak signed with the Leafs. After a short stint in the minors, he is a regular in Leaf's lineup.
"The Chief," as he was known, liked to punch opponents and sometimes referees. His mullet and fists flew around the NHL for 1,054 games, five teams and 3149 penalty minutes. He signed with the Flyers in 1986 as an undrafted free agent.
The speedy left winger spent time with five different teams, totalling 799 points over a 17-season career. Courtnall signed with Boston in 1983 after being bypassed in the draft.
One of the most effective and feared enforcers in the NHL, Brashear played in 1,025 NHL games, amassing 2634 penalty minutes. He signed as a free agent with Montreal after going undrafted in 1992.
Greg Adams had the misfortune of playing his college hockey at Northern Arizona University. Shockingly, he was overlooked by scouts but managed to get into the NHL by signing with the New Jersey Devils in 1984.
Adams had some solid years in Vancouver, including netting the overtime game and series-winning goal in 1994 that sent the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final.
Nik Backstrom signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Wild in 2006 after starring in his homeland of Finland. A midseason injury to starter Manny Fernandez thrust Backstrom into a starting role he has yet to relinquish.
Mark Tinordi was signed by the New York Rangers in 1987 and traded to the Minnesota North Stars shortly afterward. His hard-nosed rugged style helped clear the crease for 663 games in Minnesota, Dallas and Washington.
Jason Garrison, on the verge of signing a big free-agent deal, has to feel pretty good about himself after being overlooked in his draft-eligible years at University of Minnesota Duluth. Garrison picked a good time to have his most productive year, setting a record for goals scored by a Florida defenseman in 2011-12.
It's hard to believe everyone missed on Dan Boyle, but he was an undersized gamble during his draft year(s). He signed with the Florida Panthers in 1998 and had a solid start to his career but was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2003.
A Stanley Cup, a big contract and subsequent freak injury resulted in Boyle being shipped off to San Jose. Boyle continues to produce after 833 NHL games.
Roloson toiled as a backup for years before finding some mojo late in his career. He ironically has a substantially better stat line in the playoffs than the regular season. "Roli the Goalie" was signed by Calgary as a free agent in 1994.
CuJo was one of the better goalies in the NHL from 1990-2008. He had some solid years in that time and ended up with 454 wins in his career. He never won a Stanley Cup in spite of playing for some good teams.
Fedotenko signed with the Flyers in 1999 after not being drafted that year. He has since signed about six one-year contracts with four different teams, winning two Stanley Cups along the way (2004, 2009).
The San Jose Sharks' goaltender was undrafted in 2008 before signing with the Blackhawks. He helped lead them to a Stanley Cup in 2010, becoming the first Finnish goaltender to do so.
"Stumpy" Steve Thomas was undrafted before signing with Toronto in 1984. He played 20 years in the NHL for six different teams. A productive player even in his 20th season in Detroit, Thomas played in 1,235 games and had 933 points.
Rafalski travelled to Europe after college, playing five years between Sweden and Finland. He was signed by the New Jersey Devils in 1999, winning two Stanley Cups with them and another with Detroit in 2008.
Signed in 1984 as a free agent, Otto won a cup in Calgary in 1989. He played in 943 games between Calgary and Philadelphia.
"The King," Borje Salming paved the way and set the bar for Swedish defensemen in the NHL. He helped dismiss the notion that players from Scandinavia were "soft" by playing a rough-and-tumble style of hockey.
In spite of his impressive mustache and mullet, Tim Kerr's brief but spectacular career could have been so much better. Four consecutive 50-goal seasons were interrupted by one of the many shoulder injuries that would bring Kerr's career to a close.
He still holds the NHL record for power-play goals in a season with 34.
In a career filled with accolades, Joe Mullen probably has very little to regret. However, he did turn down a chance to play for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team.
Mullen signed with the St. Louis Blues instead, launching a career that would make him the first American to score 500 goals, 1,000 points and three Stanley Cups.
The less famous of the "Hull and Oates" tandem in St. Louis, Oates put together a remarkable career despite being undrafted. Regarded as one of the top passers in the game, Oates finished his career with 1,420 points over an 18-year career.
Ciccarelli is the NHL leader in goals for a draft-eligible player who was not drafted (608). With 1,200 points and one night in jail over his 20-year career, Dino was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
Hall of Fame goalie Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour signed as a free agent with the Chicago Blackhawks. He would win a pair of Vezina trophies (1991, 1993) and a Stanley Cup in 1999 (with Dallas) and sits third on the all-time goalie wins list with 484.
Pavel Datsyuk actually fell through two-and-a-half drafts before being drafted in 1998 at the 171st spot.
Datsyuk benefited from the tutelage of countryman Igor Larionov and Sergei Fedorov, and captain Steve Yzerman. He went from bit-part player in 2001 to star by 2004. Regarded as one of the most complete players in the game, Datsyuk is good for at least four or five highlight reel plays per night.
Martin St. Louis
Despite an impressive NCAA career at Vermont that saw three Hobey Baker award nominations, St. Louis was overlooked in the 1997 draft. He was signed and cut by the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames before finally earning a roster spot in Tampa Bay.
A pile of personal achievement trophies, a Stanley Cup in 2004 and 850 points later, St. Louis is still a premier player in the NHL.
Stastny and his brother Anton defected to Canada in 1980 as the first major stars from the Eastern-bloc to "take their talents" westward. Their brother Marian joined the Stastnys in Quebec a year later.
Peter Stastny played 15 years in the NHL, tallying 1,239 points. He was the first player in history to represent three different countries in international competition.
Loop-hole city here as The Great (Mulleted) One was technically never drafted by an NHL franchise. Gretzky had a "personal services" contract with the Edmonton Oilers and was therefore never entered into the draft pool when Edmonton was absorbed into the NHL.
Almost 3,000 points later, he'll always be the best ever.