It's easy to evaluate the elite NHL Draft picks, players such as Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews. It's also easy to determine rookies who can now be classified as busts such as Magnus Paajarvi, Jordan Schroeder or Nail Yakupov. But for the follow 15 players, their evaluation by management and fans have left them at times under-appreciated and often insanely underrated.
Sometimes for young NHL players, their level of expectations are set so high that they cannot ever match their professional projections. For others, they were or have been selected by a team in which their talents didn't fit in with the team and once they were given a fresh start, they blossomed into a valuable commodity.
While credit is certainly given to the players themselves for their on ice production, a nod has to be given to the scouting staff that went through the process of finding these diamonds in the rough and making the other 29 NHL teams regret passing on these talented, overlooked individuals.
15 Wayne Simmonds
He may not be as underrated as others on this list and deservingly so, but there are still many throughout the league and the NHL fan base that don't give the Philadelphia Flyers Assistant Captain the credit that he warrants.
14 Ben Bishop
It's well known that goalies take longer to develop into the NHL game more so than forwards and for good reason. Ben Bishop is proof of this. After being drafted with the 85th pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, average hockey fans are just now finding out how good the 30 year old Colorado native really is. After spending the last three and a half years in Tampa Bay as their number one netminder, in which Bishop posted at least 35 wins each season, the Lightning moved their starting goalie to the LA Kings just prior to the NHL Trade Deadline rather than risk losing him to free agency this summer.
13 Viktor Arvidsson
Standing at 5'9", the Nashville Predators forward will struggle to find a time in which he isn't the smallest player on the ice, but that hasn't stopped the talented right winger from giving his team every reason to showcase the Swede on the top line. Yes, Pekka Renne and newcomer P.K. Subban have dominated the headlines, but for the third year forward, 2016-17 looks to be his breakout season.
12 Shayne Gostisbehere
His name is a mouthful to say, but if he continues along the path that he's set in his first two years in the league, the Philadelphia Flyers 23 year old defenseman has a chance to become a household name for many years to come.
11 Evgeny Kuznetsov
Usually a first round selection isn't considered to be an underrated talent, but very few people outside of Washington (and Russia) knew of the Capitals 26th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft.
10 Anthony Duclair
He may be in the middle of a massive sophomore slump, but if the Arizona Coyotes young left winger, who is a former 80th overall pick, can find a way out of the muck and back to the level of play he displayed during his first full season in the NHL, the Coyotes will have made a steal of a trade with the New York Rangers.
9 Tyson Barrie
He was drafted with the 64th pick in 2009 by the Colorado Avalanche and did not post his rookie season until February 2012, but the Victoria BC native has done his part in making sure that he remains a part of the Avs long-term future.
8 Jaden Schwartz
He was a top twenty selection in the 2010 NHL Draft (14th to be exact), but not many people relate Jaden Schwartz to the level of someone who warrants such a pick. After joining the club full time in 2012, the speedy forward dropped back-to-back 25+ goal seasons the next two years before an elbow injury limited his production to just 33 games last year.
7 Vincent Trocheck
The Florida Panthers plucked the high scoring middle man in the third round of the 2011 NHL Draft with the 64th overall pick. After getting his feet wet with a twenty game schedule in 2013-14, Trocheck also split time between the main roster and the farm the following season, with the heavy part of his commitment as a Panther.
6 Brock Nelson
When you play behind John Tavares, it's very easy to go unnoticed, but for the 30th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, it's only a matter of time before his talents become appreciated on a grander scale. Averaging 40+ points and 20+ goals in each of the previous two seasons, Nelson is on pace to add a third year to that streak at the completion of the 2016-17 season.
5 Jaccob Slavin
Quick, name one of the Carolina Hurricanes best young players. Go ahead, take a moment. Chances are, with a less than impressive record that has the team out of the Eastern Conference playoff race, you would be lucky to come up with more than one name. Most of you might be able to come up with Jeff Skinner or Sebastian Aho. But chances are you're forgetting about one of the best up-and-coming young defensemen.
4 Ondrej Palat
In just his fifth year in the NHL, Tampa Bay left winger Ondrej Palat has been a major reason why the Lightning remain relevant in the Eastern Conference despite the loss of Superstar Steven Stamkos. Chances are you have no idea that Palat was actually drafted 208th overall (in the 7th round) when you look at how polished his game is.
3 Gustav Nyquist
The Detroit Red Wings have a knack for finding diamonds in the rough during the NHL Draft and the Swedish winger is just one of their latest finds. Selected 121st overall, the Wings didn't commit to Nyquist for a full season until 2014-15. After bouncing back and forth between the NHL and AHL for his first could of years, Nyquist's last two years have been placed on either of the top two lines as the team tries to climb out of the Eastern Conference basement and back into becoming the constant playoff contender that they were once known for.
2 Brandon Saad
When you start your NHL career playing with the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith, it's hard to get noticed, but the young left winger from Pittsburgh did his best during his four years with the Blackhawks.
1 Brad Marchand
He's a player that you hate to play against, but would no doubt love to have on your team. And while he has a reputation of being an annoying little gnat, Marchand has turned into one of the leagues top scorers this season, joining such elite players as Patrick Kane and Connor McDavid atop this seasons scoring race.
Selected with the 71st pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Marchand has been known more for the amount of time he's spent in the sin bin than for the pucks he's put or helped put in the net. After joining the Boston Bruins full time in 2010-11, Marchand proved that he could be a valuable two way asset, one that helps with the scoring load, but also gets under the skin of opponents. Two years ago, Marchand posted a career high 95 penalty minutes with only 42 points. Last year, he shaved off five minutes of jail time and increased his point total to 60 in 77 games. This season with only 62 PIMs to date, Marchand has posted a career high 79 points. Maybe bad boys really can change their ways.
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