The school of thought for NHL teams going into the draft can be simplified this way: get a future NHL player with your first-round pick – the higher the selection, the higher the ceiling. Then, ideally, one, maybe two, of your other picks in Rounds 2 through 7 can make the grade further down the depth chart.
In Rounds 2 and 3, the odds are far less than 50-50 that you’ll hit on a future NHL regular. By Rounds 5, 6 and 7, the success rate is less than 10 percent that you will find a true contributor. But every team finds these late-round gems from time to time. And some of them become legitimate NHL stars.
Take the 2015 draft, for example. All the focus was on Connor McDavid at the top and Jack Eichel a notch below. Then, later in the first round, difference-makers such as Mitch Marner, Zach Werenski, Mikko Rantanen, Mathew Barzal, Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot, Brock Boeser and a dozen other solid players were chosen. In the second and third rounds, Sebastian Aho, Roope Hintz, Rasmus Andersson, Vince Dunn and Anthony Cirelli were mined.
By Round 5, clubs were picking teens with some flaws in their games. But some blossomed nicely – especially Kirill Kaprizov, Troy Terry and Conor Garland in the fifth round, Andrew Mangiapane and John Marino in the sixth round and Matt Roy in the seventh round.
1. Minnesota Wild
Kirill Kaprizov, 5th (135), 2015
He’s a sure-fire top-10 pick if the 2015 draft is redone today. The Wild practiced patience with Kaprizov. It’s paying off.
2. Winnipeg Jets
Connor Hellebuyck, 5th (130), 2012
He was the 13th goalie selected in 2012. Would you believe 10 still play in the NHL today, led by Andrei Vasilevskiy.
3. Ottawa Senators
Mark Stone, 6th (178), 2010
Stone had 28 points in 39 WHL games in his draft year and slid. Then he flourished with seasons of 106 and 123 points.
4. Carolina Hurricanes
Frederik Andersen, 7th (187), 2010
Andersen went unsigned and was redrafted by Anaheim in Round 3 in 2012. A decade later, he’s back in Carolina.
5. San Jose Sharks
Joe Pavelski, 7th (205), 2003
Ageless Pavelski is a 20-goal year away from catching Eric Staal as the goal-scoring king of the 2003 draft class.
6. Dallas Stars
Jamie Benn, 5th (129), 2007
Benn led the league in scoring in ’14 -15 and is on the cusp of 1,000 games. John Klingberg was also a fifth-rounder in 2010.
7. Anaheim Ducks
Troy Terry, 5th (148), 2015
It took him four NHL seasons to find his groove, but hitting a career-high in goals in November speaks to his progression.
8. Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat, 7th (208), 2011
Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point were second- and third-round gems, but from Round 7, it’s old reliable Palat.
9. Columbus Blue Jackets
Cam Atkinson, 6th (157), 2008
The lack of size scared NHL teams away in his first draft year and five rounds of his second draft year. That was 236 goals ago.
10. Calgary Flames
Andrew Mangiapane, 6th (166), 2015
What about Johnny Hockey, you ask? Gaudreau was a fourth-rounder. Mangiapane was passed over in 2014 as well.
11. Florida Panthers
Mackenzie Weegar, 7th (206), 2013
Weegar is a crucial all-purpose minute-muncher for the Panthers. There were 67 D-men selected before him in 2013.
12. Pittsburgh Penguins
Jake Muzzin, 5th (141), 2007
It’s an oddity that more 500-game NHLers came from Rounds 5, 6 and 7 of 2007 draft than Rounds 2, 3 and 4.
13. New Jersey Devils
Jesper Bratt, 6th (162), 2016
The Devils selected five forwards in 2016’s first four rounds. Their sixth attacker was a ’21 -22 point-per-gamer.
14. New York Islanders
Anders Lee, 6th (152), 2009
The Isles hit on all cylinders in the 2009 draft – John Tavares, Calvin de Haan, Mikko Koskinen, Casey Cizikas and Lee.
15. Montreal Canadiens
Brendan Gallagher, 5th (147), 2010
The undersized warrior is closing in on 700 NHL games and 200 goals. Jaroslav Halak was a ninth-rounder in 2003.
16. Arizona Coyotes
Conor Garland, 5th (123), 2015
Now a Canuck, Garland has blown past the three other right wingers the Coyotes selected before him in 2015.
17. Buffalo Sabers
Victor Olofsson, 7th (181), 2014
Swedish sniper is the latest in a line of late-round gems – Cal Petersen, Paul Byron, Linus Ullmark, Brandon Hagel.
18. Edmonton Oilers
John Marino, 6th (154), 2015
It’s been lean in the late rounds for the Oilers. But D-men Marino and Ethan Bear were late picks in 2015.
19. Nashville Predators
Patric Hornqvist, 7th (230), 2005
A Predator, a Penguin and a Panther for almost 1,000 combined regular-season and playoff games.
20. Philadelphia Flyers
Patrick Maroon, 6th (161), 2007
With TB, he’s gunning for four Cups in a row this spring. Maroon has played for five NHL teams but never the Flyers.
21. St. Louis Blues
Ryan Reaves, 5th (156), 2005
Of all the players drafted in 2005, Reaves ranks top 32 in games, goals, assists, points and penalty minutes.
22. Toronto Maple Leafs
Anton Stralman, 7th (216), 2005
He found his fortune with five other teams, but Stralman did play 88 games with the Leafs at the start of his career.
23. Washington Capitals
Mathieu Perreault, 6th (177), 2006
His post-draft exploits in the QMJHL were seasons of 119 and 114 points before becoming an NHL mainstay.
24. Detroit Red Wings
Nick Jensen, 5th (150), 2009
Petr Mrazek and Darren Helm also came from fifth round, but Jensen is a key top-four rearguard now with Caps.
25. Los Angeles Kings
Matt Roy, 7th (194), 2015
Dominik Kubalik was a nice gem in 2013 as well, but Michigan Tech alum Roy is rising up the Kings’ depth chart these days.
26. Boston Bruins
Nate Thompson, 6th (183), 2003
Nine NHL teams and more than 800 games later, Thompson is a reliable trooper in the twilight of his career.
27. Colorado Avalanche
Brad Richardson, 5th (163), 2003
Six-team NHL journeyman was 34 when he set a career high in goals for Arizona in 2018-19. Now in Vancouver.
28. Chicago Blackhawks
Vinnie Hinostroza, 6th (169), 2012
From the USHL Waterloo Black Hawks to the NHL Blackhawks via NCAA Notre Dame. Buffalo is his fourth NHL team.
29. New York Rangers
Carl Hagelin, 6th (168), 2007
The speedster has become something of a journeyman-for-hire playoff specialist – 141 post-season games now.
30. Vancouver Canucks
Ben Hutton, 5th (147), 2012
Blueliner looked like a budding star leaving NCAA Maine early and stepping right in with Canucks. Now with Vegas.
31. Vegas Golden Knights
Ben Jones, 7th (189), 2017
The sample size is small in Vegas with just five drafts. Third-year pro Jones made his NHL debut this season.
32. Seattle Kraken
Just one draft class – 2021
Nobody yet, but keep an eye on Jacob Melanson (Rd. 5), Semyon Vyazovoi (Rd. 6) and Justin Janicke (Rd. 7).