Throughout NHL Draft history, there have been sure-fire #1 overall selections as well as those who didn’t deliver on their initial promise. Obviously, everyone cannot be selected first overall, so how about those players who are not so highly touted?
There have been many players that have been selected in the later rounds of the draft that defied expectations and had great Hall of Fame careers — players like Pavel Datsyuk (sixth round) and Henrik Lundqvist (seventhround) are a few examples of diamonds in the rough. For this list, we will be looking at the biggest steals from the third round and beyond.
10. Brendan Gallagher 2010 Round 5 147th Overall (Montreal Canadiens)
Statistics: GP: 488 G: 151 A: 140 PTS: 291
The little engine that could. Diminutive forward Brendan Gallagher has become the heart and soul of the Montreal Canadiens. What he lacks in height and elite skill he makes up for in effort. Gallagher’s agitating style of play and frequent smile drives opposing goalies and defensemen insane. His leadership on and off the ice made him assistant captain during the 2015-2016 season and he holds that position today. Gallagher has emerged as a quality goal-scorer with 31 in 2017-2018 and 33 in 2018-2019 and is on one of the best deals in the league with a $3,750,000 cap hit until 2020-2021.
9. Mike Hoffman 2009 Round 5 130th Overall (Ottawa Senators)
Statistics: GP: 424 G: 143 A: 157 PTS: 300
Hoffman has been a consistent offensive player since coming into the league full time with the Ottawa Senators during the 2014-2015 season. Since then, Hoffman and his lethal release have averaged 28 goals per season and he’s also a gifted passer with 30+ assists in four of the last five seasons. With Ottawa in a rebuilding period, Hoffman was traded to the San Jose Sharks who then flipped him to the Florida Panthers. Hoffman had a career year in 2018-2019 with 36 goals, 34 assists to reach the 70 point plateau. Hoffman has one more year on his contract at $5,187,500 cap hit until 2019-2020.
8. Viktor Arvidsson 2014 Round 4 112th Overall (Nashville Predators)
Statistics: GP: 278 G: 102 A: 84 PTS: 186
Another small forward on this list, Viktor Advisson has been a scoring machine since entering the league with the Nashville Predators. Ardivsson is averaging 31 goals a season and if it were not for an injury-riddled 2018-2019 season that average would be much higher, (still scored 34 goals in just 58 games)! Ardivsson has elite goal-scoring ability and nice hands with some highlight reel goals. Ardivsson is under a great contract with the Predators with a $4,250,000 cap hit until the end of the 2023-2024 season.
7. Cam Atkinson 2008 Round 6 157th Overall (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Statistics: GP: 527 G: 186 A: 156 PTS: 342
Small forwards get no love in the draft it seems like. Standing at 5’8, Atkinson’s goal-scoring ability has seen him turn into an underrated goal scorer in the NHL. After some productive 20+ goal seasons, Atkinson put up 35 in 2017-2017 establishing himself as a legitimate sniper. Atkinson was given a contract that carries a $5,875,000 cap hit until the 2024-2025 season. Atkinson then proceeded to have a career year with 41 goals and 69 points during the 2018-2019 season as he helped Columbus advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
6. Brayden Point 2014 Round 3 79th Overall (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Statistics: GP: 229 G: 91 A: 107 PTS: 198
The Tampa Bay Lightning have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to elite talent on their roster and Brayden Point is no exception. Point has gotten better every season he’s been in the league as his explosive speed and offensive instincts make him another dangerous player on Tampa. Point racked up a career high 41 goals, 51 assists and 92 points and is set to become a RFA this upcoming summer.
5. John Klingberg 2010 Round 5 131st Overall (Dallas Stars)
Statistics: GP: 367 G: 52 A: 207 PTS: 259
John Klingerg has become an offensive force on the backend since his arrival for the Dallas Stars during the 2014-2015 season. Dallas’ number one defenceman combines smooth skating (common amongst Swedish born defensemen) and great vision to rack up points for the Stars. Klingberg’s best season came during the 2017-2018 season in which he put up a career-high 67 points in 82 games. Klingberg is also on a team friendly contract at $4,250,000 until the end of the 2021-2022 season.
4. Braden Holtby 2008 Round 4 93rd Overall (Washington Capitals)
Statistics: GP: 427 260-111-41 SO: 36 GAA: 2.47 SV%: .918
Achievements: 2015-2016 Vezina Trophy, 2016-2017 William M. Jennings Trophy, 2017-2018 Stanley Cup Champion
The player with the most accolades on this list, Washington Capitals Braden Holtby has established himself as one of the best goalies in the league. Known for his calm demeanor in the net and lightning quick reflexes, Holtby has put together quite the resume thus far in his career. He won the Vezina trophy after the 2015-2016 season as the league’s best goaltender and hoisted Lord Stanley in 2018. While goalies are mostly picked in the later rounds, few are as accomplished as Braden Holtby. He carries a cap hit of $6,100,000 until the conclusion of the 2019-2020 season.
3. Johnny Gaudreau 2011 Round 4 104th Overall (Calgary Flames)
Statistics: GP: 394 G: 133 A: 254 PTS: 387
Achievements: 2016-2017 Lady Byng Award
One of the most shifty players in the league ‘Johnny Hockey’ is an offensive catalyst for the Calgary Flames. Throughout his career, he is averaging just shy of a point per game and always seems to be turning defenders inside out with quick hands and feet. Gaudreau had an MVP type of season in 2018-2019 with a career-high 36 goals, 63 assists for 99 points. Gaudreau has also shown his sportsmanship for the game winning the Lady Byng Award in 2016-2017. For his offensive capabilities, Gaudreau’s contract is a steal at $6,750,000 until the end of the 2021-2022 season.
2. Mark Stone 2010 Round 6 178th Overall (Ottawa Senators)
Statistics: GP: 384 G: 128 A: 194 PTS: 322
One of the most underrated players in the league, Mark Stone can do it all. Stone’s two-way play and knack for takeaways and his ability to finish makes him an extremely talented player. While not gifted with great speed, he makes up for in hockey IQ. Stone was traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Vegas Golden Knights this season in which he had a career year. Stone had 33 goals, 40 assists for 73 points in 77 games. He was then inked to a new eight-year deal which carries a cap hit of $9,500,000 until the end of the 2026-2027 season.
1. Jamie Benn 2007 Round 5 129th Overall (Dallas Stars)
Statistics: GP: 745 G: 281 A: 368 PTS: 649
Achievements: 2014-2015 Art Ross Trophy
A pure power forward, Jamie Benn has been one of the most dynamic players in the NHL in the last decade. The ability to score at will, hit everything in sight and not back down from a fight, Benn embodies the traits of a captain in which the Dallas Stars gave him that honor during the 2013-2014 season. Since that season, Benn has averaged 33 goals and 76 points a season. While Benn had a down 2018-2019 with only 53 points in 78 games, he is still one of the best left wingers in the league. Benn carries a cap hit of $9,500,000 until the end of the 2024-2025 season.