With just a few days to go before the 2011 NHL Draft, everyone is speculating who will go first overall and evaluating the talents of those players who are expected to go in the first round. That makes sense. Players drafted early on predictably have more potential and they are usually more successful in their careers.
However, there are some players who are picked in the later rounds who manage to have big impacts as well.
Of course, Henrik Zetterberg immediately comes to mind. He was drafted 210th overall in the seventh round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. In 2008 Zetterberg became the lowest-drafted player to ever win the Conn Smythe Trophy when he helped Detroit win the Stanley Cup. However, another player recently broke that record.
Tim Thomas wasn’t drafted by the Bruins, so we’re no even sure if this counts for Zetterberg’s record, but you can’t deny that Thomas has made an impact in the NHL. While Zetterberg has played his entire NHL career with the Red Wings, Thomas was originally drafted way back in 1994 by the Quebec Nordiques. He was selected 217th overall. Thomas only secured a regular NHL job in 2005, but he’s accomplished a lot since then. Last season he set a record for save percentage, he won the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe and he will likely win the Vezina tonight. He also won the Vezina and shared the William M. Jennings Trophy in 2009.
Current Senators’ captain Daniel Alfredsson was chosen 133rd overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. Despite being selected in the sixth round, Alfredsson went on to win the Calder Trophy in 1996 and record over 1000 points in his career. He’s the Senators’ all-time leader in games played, goals, assists and points and he is currently the longest serving captain in the NHL.
Dominik Hasek was drafted 199th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in1983. Before Thomas came around in 2011, Hasek held the record for goals against average in a single season. He also has the highest career save percentage of all time. Along the way he also managed to pick up two Hart Trophies, two Pearson Awards, six Vezina Trophies and three Jennings Awards. He also won two Stanley Cups with Detroit.
Brett Hull was selected 117th overall by the Calgary Flames in 1984. In his career he won the Hart Trophy, the Lady Byng, the Pearson and he scored 50 goals in 50 games twice. In Hull’s best season statistically – 1990-91 – he scored a staggering 86 goals and 131 points. He scored 1391 points (741 one them goals) in his NHL career.
Chosen even later in the 1984 Draft than Hull, Luc Robitaille was selected in the ninth round. He was the 171st overall pick. In his NHL career he won the Calder Trophy and the Stanley Cup, he scored 1394 career points and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Of course, there are many other late-round success stories in NHL history. So, if your team doesn’t draft a blue chip prospect in round one this year, don’t fret. There could be a diamond in round six.