At the best of times, the NHL entry draft can be a crap shoot. Trying to figure out what type of player an 18 or 19 year old kid will become in 10 or 15 years is a difficult task and mistakes can be and are often made. Most of the time, the top end of the draft is the easy part. The challenging and most rewarding portion of scouting is finding that late-round gem that comes out of nowhere to be a star or superstar in the league.
This top 10 is dedicated to those scouts who travel the roads from rink to rink all winter in an effort to find the diamond in the rough that all the others overlook. SenShot presents the Top 10 Late Selections (150th pick or later) at the NHL draft since 1990.
10. Kimmo Timonen (LAK, 10th rd, 250th overall in 1993) - A smaller, agile d-man who makes his mark with the puck. A blueline leader for one of the top clubs in the league after being largely under the radar for years in Nashville.
Tomas Vokoun (MTL, 9th rd, 226th overall in 1994) – A man in need of a supporting cast to show his true talent. Might get that chance this summer as a UFA. He put Nashville on the playoff map before they really deserved to be there.
8. Tomas Kaberle (TOR, 8th rd, 204th overall in 1996) – Spent a number of good years with the Maple Leafs, which is enough to drive most men to an early grave. Not contributing as much as expected in Boston but could still win a cup with the Bruins on Wednesday.
7. Andrei Markov (MTL, 6th rd, 167th overall in 1998) – Among the best all-around defensemen in the game today, Markov is still improving every year. Will be a very sought after man on July 1 if he is not resigned by by the Habs before that date.
Thomas Holmstrom (DET, 10th rd, 257th overall in 1994) – One of the grittiest players ever in the league, made his mark within 3 feet of the opposing goalie’s blue paint. The total distance of his 232 career NHL goals might not reach the other end of the rink. Goalies fear the sight of his butt.
4. Tim Thomas (QUE, 9th rd, 217th overall in 1994) – Took some time to find his way in the league, but a Vezina, a finals appearance (and possible Stanley Cup) and probably a Conn Smythe trophy this year whether the Bruins win or lose.
3. Henrik Zetterberg (DET, 7th rd, 210th overall in 1999) – One of the top all-around players and most versatile forwards in the game today. Could also be considered one of the most underrated, which says a lot about his skill level.
2. Peter Bondra (WSH, 8th rd, 158th overall in 1990) – It is not very often you get a 500 goal scorer in the 8th round. A two time 50 goal scorer, Bondra was the star of the Capitals in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
So from this list you can gain a little bit of insight on why the Detroit Red Wings spent so much of the 2000’s as the league’s model franchise. Not only do they draft well early, but they managed to find a trio of the best late-round picks ever made in the NHL draft.
Who will be the gem of this draft? Only time will tell, which is what makes the draft so intriguing.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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