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Draft Day Thieves: Every NHL Team’s Biggest Steal From The Past 10 Years

When we think of superstar players such as Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Carey Price, we remember that they were all drafted in the top five. In fact, a lot of star players in the NHL were drafted in the top ten. What we often forget, however, is that many of those great players were chosen quite a bit later in the draft. For example, we all know what a phenomenal goaltender that Henrik Lundqvist is, but it’s also very surprising that the New York Rangers only drafted him 205th overall in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Another example is the great point-producing defenseman Dustin Byfuglien who was chosen 245th in the eighth round of the 2003 Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. Unbelievable, isn’t it?

This article will detail the biggest draft steals of each NHL team in the past ten years beginning with the 2008 Entry Draft up until this year’s draft in 2017. The Vegas Golden Knights are not in this article because since they are a new team, they have only participated in this summer’s draft; therefore, it’s too early to tell which one of their picks will turn out to be a steal.

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30 Anaheim Ducks – John Gibson

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The Anaheim Ducks chose John Gibson 39th overall in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. This goaltender has spent his whole career with the Ducks beginning with a few games in the 2013-14 season and continuing to this very day. So far he has played a total of 118 regular season games with them and earned 62 wins which includes 12 shutouts, along with a 2.22 goals against average. Last season was his best so far when he produced 25 wins in 52 games.

In 2016, he was awarded the William M. Jennings Trophy which is given annually to the goaltender(s) of the team who had the fewest goals scored against them during the regular season. Gibson’s numbers keep going up and he keeps getting better the more he plays, therefore, he was definitely a great draft steal for the Ducks.

29 Arizona Coyotes – Christian Dvorak

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Christian Dvorak was chosen 58th overall in the second round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Arizona Coyotes. This center had an impressive first season in the NHL in 2016-17 with 33 points in 78 games which ranked him sixth among his teammates. As a matter of fact, he racked up the most points among all centers on the team. He also recorded 5 power play points which included two goals. And his +7 plus/minus rating ranked him the best on the team. As a center, he appeared in over a thousand faceoffs and finished with a 46.8 win percentage.

Dvorak has only played one season so far and has already hit the 30-point mark. So far it is looking very good for this draft steal.

28 Boston Bruins – David Pastrnak

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David Pastrnak was chosen 25th overall in the first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins. So far, this right winger has played three seasons with them and has racked up 123 points, along with a +26 plus/minus rating, in 172 regular season games. His best season by far was in 2016-17 when he produced 70 points in 75 games which ranked him second among his teammates. He also ranked second with 24 power play points, but he did lead the team with 10 goals during the man advantage. And he ranked second on the team with 262 shots on goal.

It’s very surprising that this talented winger didn’t get drafted sooner than 25th, but luckily for the Bruins, they were able to get him as a big draft steal that year.

27 Buffalo Sabres – Marcus Foligno

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The Buffalo Sabres chose Marcus Foligno 104th overall in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. This left winger spent six seasons with the Buffalo Sabres from 2011-12 to 2016-17 (he’s now with the Minnesota Wild) and totalled 116 points in 347 regular season games. Although he’s not a big point producer, his numbers did keep going up with every year that he played for them and had three consecutive seasons where he tallied at least 20 points.

He’s definitely a physical player who can throw his body around and in his six NHL seasons combined, he has totalled 1,023 hits which averages out to 2.9 hits per game. In fact, in three of his six seasons, he averaged over three hits per game. And he isn’t afraid to drop the gloves with a total of 28 majors in his career so far. The Sabres were fortunate to get him so late in the draft.

26 Calgary Flames – Johnny Gaudreau

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Johnny Gaudreau was picked 104th overall in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames. This left winger has played three full-time seasons so far with the Flames (along with one game in 2013-14) and has racked up 204 points in 232 regular season games. He has had three consecutive seasons where he produced over 60 points and even racked up 78 points in 2015-16. In fact, he has led the team in points for the last two seasons. He is one of their top power play guys and has a career total of 58 points which includes 18 goals during the man advantage.

It’s an absolute shock that Gaudreau only went in the fourth round of the draft, and the Flames received a huge gift with this draft steal.

25 Carolina Hurricanes – Sebastian Aho

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Sebastian Aho was chosen 35th overall in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. This right winger played his first NHL season in 2016-17 and produced 49 points in 82 games which ranked him second among his teammates. He also ranked first on the team in power play points (17 points) and game-winning goals (4 goals). He saw a decent amount of ice time with almost 17 minutes per game, and he was one of their top power play guys. He also had 214 shots on goal which was good enough for third best on the team.

For playing just one season in the NHL and being only one point away from reaching the 50-point mark, there’s no doubt that the Hurricanes hit the jackpot with this draft pick.

24 Chicago Blackhawks – Brandon Saad

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The Chicago Blackhawks chose Brandon Saad 43rd overall in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. This left winger played a total of 208 regular season games with them between the 2011-12 and 2014-15 seasons and produced 126 points (which included 22 power play points), along with a +44 plus/minus rating. He had two consecutive seasons with the Blackhawks where he racked up over 45 points. He also won two Stanley Cups with them in 2013 and 2015.

He then went on to spend two seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets where he produced 53 points in each of those seasons. But in a trade during this off-season, Saad is coming back to the place where he began his career. I’m sure the Blackhawks will be quite happy to have their talented draft pick back in the lineup.

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23 Colorado Avalanche – Ryan O’Reilly

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Ryan O’Reilly was picked 33rd overall in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. This center spent six seasons with them from 2009 to 2015 and produced 246 points in 427 regular season games, which included three seasons where he racked up at least 55 points. He earned 59 power play points (which included 20 goals), 4 shorthanded goals, 5 overtime goals, and 881 shots on goal. He was also pretty decent in the faceoff circle with a 51.8% win percentage out of over 5,600 faceoffs. And in 2014, he was awarded the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for showing sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a great playing ability.

The Avalanche were lucky to have drafted O’Reilly in the second round and he turned out to be a great asset to the team for six seasons before joining the Buffalo Sabres in 2015.

22 Columbus Blue Jackets – Cam Atkinson

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The Columbus Blue Jackets chose Cam Atkinson 157th overall in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. So far, this right winger has spent six seasons with them and totalled 227 points in 382 regular season games. He is considered a huge asset on the power play and has a six-year total of 54 points produced during the man advantage which includes 27 goals. With each year that he spends in the NHL, his numbers keep improving. He has had four consecutive seasons where he recorded at least 40 points. And last season, he racked up a career-high 62 points in 82 games which ranked him first on the entire team.

It’s amazing that Atkinson didn’t go earlier than the sixth round of the draft, so there’s no doubt that the Blue Jackets hit the jackpot when they chose this talented player.

21 Dallas Stars – John Klingberg

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John Klingberg was chosen 131st overall in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars. This defenseman has spent three seasons with them and recorded a total of 147 points, along with a +29 plus/minus rating, in 221 regular season games. He produced at least 40 points in each of his three seasons and even racked up 58 points in 2015-16. As a matter of fact, he led his team’s defensemen in points in each of those three seasons. He has also totalled 51 power play points, 10 game-winning goals, and 393 shots on goal in his three seasons combined.

Klingberg is a very talented point-producing defenseman and the Stars were very lucky that he wasn’t picked up much sooner in the draft.

20 Detroit Red Wings – Gustav Nyquist

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Gustav Nyquist was chosen 121st overall in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Detroit Red Wings. So far, this right winger has spent six seasons with them and produced 206 points in 337 regular season games. He has recorded over 40 points in the last four consecutive seasons and even racked up 54 points in 2014-15. So far in his six-year NHL career, he has also accumulated 56 power play points (which includes 29 goals), 15 game-winning goals, 4 overtime goals, and 739 shots on goal.

Nyquist is a huge asset on the power play and can produce a large amount of points. The Red Wings definitely hit the jackpot when they picked him up in the fourth round of the draft.

19 Edmonton Oilers – Jordan Eberle

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The Edmonton Oilers picked Jordan Eberle 22nd overall in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He spent seven seasons with them from 2010 to 2017 and produced 382 points in 507 regular season games. In all but one season, he recorded over 40 points and three times he racked up over 60 points (with one season earning 76 points). He was a huge asset on the power play and recorded an impressive 106 points (including 41 goals) during the man advantage. He also had a total of 1,235 shots on goal.

Although he did get drafted in the first round, it’s surprising that he didn’t get picked up sooner than 22nd. In fact, seven other centers got drafted before him. The Oilers got lucky with this pick and they had a great seven seasons with him on the team (he’s now a member of the New York Islanders).

18 Florida Panthers – Vincent Trocheck

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Vincent Trocheck was chosen 64th overall in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers. So far, this center has spent four seasons with them and produced 137 points in 228 regular season games. The more he plays, the better his totals are. In fact, he has racked up over 50 points in the last two consecutive years and even led the team last season with 54 points in 82 games. He also led his teammates last season with a very impressive 230 shots on goal. And if that wasn’t enough, he averaged two hits per game. He also saw the most ice time of all forwards on the team with an average of 20:49 minutes per game.

Trocheck can produce points, deliver hits and sees a lot of ice time. The Panthers were very fortunate to have gotten him in the third round.

17 Los Angeles Kings – Tyler Toffoli

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The Los Angeles Kings chose Tyler Toffoli 47th overall in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. So far, this center has spent five seasons with them and recorded 175 points, along with a fantastic +90 plus/minus rating, in 293 regular season games. He has had two seasons where he produced over 45 points which included his best season so far which was in 2015-16 when he racked up 58 points in 82 games. He sees a decent amount of time during the man advantage and has a total of 29 power play points (which includes 18 goals) during his career thus far. He also helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2014.

Toffoli is certainly a good asset for the Kings and they were lucky to have picked him up in the second round of the draft.

16 Minnesota Wild – Jason Zucker

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Jason Zucker was chosen 59th overall in the second of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Minnesota Wild. So far, this left winger has spent six seasons with them and produced a total of 108 points, along with a +25 plus/minus rating, in 248 regular season games. He has played a lot more NHL games during the last three seasons and has recorded over 20 points in each of those seasons. As a matter of fact, he produced career-bests last season with 47 points and a +34 rating in 79 games. And his +34 rating tied him for the best plus/minus on the team last year.

Zucker definitely had a breakout season in 2016-17, so it looks like the Wild struck gold with this second-round draft steal.

15 Montreal Canadiens – Brendan Gallagher

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Brendan Gallagher was chosen 147th in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. So far, this right winger has spent five seasons with them and produced 185 points, along with a +52 plus/minus rating, in 324 regular season games. During that time, he had three consecutive seasons where he recorded at least 40 points. He is definitely an asset on the power play with a total of 34 points (including 22 goals) recorded during the man advantage throughout his career thus far. He also has a total of 942 shots which ranks him near the top of the team each season for the highest amount of shots on goal.

You can usually find Gallagher situated in front of the opponent’s net. He’s a hard worker and the Canadiens were really lucky to have gotten him in the fifth round of the draft.

14 Nashville Predators – Viktor Arvidsson

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Viktor Arvidsson was chosen 112th overall in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators. So far, this left winger has played a total of 142 regular season games with them between the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons (he’s still currently with them) and recorded 77 points. He had a fantastic season in 2016-17 when he racked up 61 points in 80 games which tied him for first place among his teammates. He also had a +16 plus/minus rating which was the second best on the team. He was a huge asset while they were a man down and led the team with 7 shorthanded points which included 5 goals.

With Arvidsson’s great season last year, he has turned out to be a huge draft steal for the Predators.

13 New Jersey Devils – Adam Henrique

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The New Jersey Devils picked Adam Henrique 82nd overall in the third round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. So far, this center has played a total of 431 regular season games with them starting with the 2010-11 season and continuing to the present day and has recorded 243 points. He has had five seasons where he produced at least 40 points and twice he racked up at least 50 points. He’s also pretty decent on the power play with a total of 62 points (including 28 goals), as well as while they were a man down with a total of 22 shorthanded points (including 13 goals) throughout his career thus far.

Henrique has certainly been an asset to the Devils and they were quite fortunate to have picked him up in the third round of the draft.

12 New York Islanders – Brock Nelson

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The New York Islanders picked Brock Nelson 30th overall in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. So far, this center has played four seasons with them and produced 153 points in 316 regular season games. He has produced at least 40 points in his last three consecutive seasons, which includes his career-best 45 points in 81 games last season. He’s pretty decent on the power play with a total of 33 points (which includes 17 goals) during the man advantage throughout his career so far. He also has 11 game-winning goals.

It’s a little surprising that Nelson wasn’t drafted sooner, as 12 centers were chosen before him. The Islanders were lucky to have gotten him as the last pick in the first round.

11 New York Rangers – Derek Stepan

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The New York Rangers chose Derek Stepan 51st overall in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. This center spent seven seasons with them from 2010 to 2017 and produced 360 points, along with a fantastic +109 plus/minus rating, in 515 regular season games. He produced over 40 points in each of his seven seasons and racked up over 50 points five times, including the last four consecutive seasons. He is also a huge asset on the power play and has a total of 96 points (including 28 goals) during the man advantage throughout his career. He led his teammates twice for the highest amount of power play points, including last season.

The Rangers were very lucky to have had seven great seasons with Stepan (he’s now a member of the Arizona Coyotes).

10 Ottawa Senators – Mark Stone

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Mark Stone was picked 178th overall in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators. So far, this right winger has played five seasons with them and recorded 187 points, along with a +33 plus/minus rating, in 249 regular season games. He has racked up over 50 points in the last three consecutive seasons, which includes two seasons where he produced over 60 points. So far in his career, he has totalled 43 power play points which includes 17 goals. In fact, he was one of only three Senators players last season who averaged over three minutes of power play time per game and he earned 6 goals during that time.

The Senators definitely hit the jackpot when they picked up Stone late in the sixth round of the draft.

9 Philadelphia Flyers – Shayne Gostisbehere

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers picked Shayne Gostisbehere 78th overall in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. So far, this defenseman has played a total of 142 regular season games starting with the 2014-15 season and continuing to this very day and has produced 85 points. He has led his team’s defensemen in points for the last two consecutive seasons (46 points in 2015-16 and 39 points in 2016-17). So far in his career, he has racked up 45 power play points and has led all Flyers blue liners in that category for the last two seasons. He also has a career total of 352 shots on goal which ranked him pretty high among all of his teammates for the last two seasons.

The Flyers were certainly lucky to have picked up this point-producing defenseman in the third round.

8 Pittsburgh Penguins – Matt Murray

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Matt Murray was picked 83rd overall in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. So far, this goaltender has played two seasons with them and has a fantastic record of 41 wins (including 5 shutouts), 12 losses and 5 overtime/shootout losses, along with a 2.32 goals against average. He also has a phenomenal playoff record of 22 wins in 32 games, along with a 1.95 GAA and helped the Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.

Since Marc-Andre Fleury is now a member of the Vegas Golden Knights, Matt Murray will assume his well-earned spot of being the number one goalie for the Penguins and I’m sure they’re counting their lucky stars that no other team drafted this incredible goaltender.

7 San Jose Sharks – Jason Demers

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The San Jose Sharks picked up Jason Demers 186th overall in the seventh round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. This defenseman played six seasons with them from 2009-10 to 2014-15 and recorded a total of 98 points, along with a +20 plus/minus rating, in 300 regular season games. His best season was in 2013-14 when he earned 34 points in 75 games. He was also pretty decent during the man advantage with a total of 31 power play points during his time with them.

The Sharks were lucky that they picked up a pretty decent defenseman all the way in the seventh round. After six years with San Jose, Demers went on to play for the Dallas Stars and is now a member of the Florida Panthers.

6 St. Louis Blues – Colton Parayko

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Colton Parayko was chosen 86th overall in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues. So far, this defenseman has played two seasons with them and produced 68 points, along with a +35 plus/minus rating, in 160 regular season games. He has recorded over 30 points in each of his two seasons. He sees a lot of ice time and has a two-season total of 17 power play points (including 7 goals), as well as 5 game-winning goals. He also has a total of 353 shots on goal which ranks him pretty high among his teammates.

It’s surprising that this point-producing defenseman didn’t get picked higher, but luckily for the Blues, they came away with a big draft steal that year.

5 Tampa Bay Lightning – Ondrej Palat

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The Tampa Bay Lightning picked Ondrej Palat 208th overall in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. So far, this left winger has spent five seasons with them and produced 218 points, along with a great +86 plus/minus rating, in 307 regular season games. He has produced at least 40 points in the last four consecutive seasons, which includes two seasons where he recorded over 50 points and one where he racked up over 60 points. He also has a career total of 44 power play points, 9 shorthanded points and 16 game-winning goals, as well as 599 shots on goal.

It’s astonishing that this talented winger was not drafted until very late in the seventh round, but fortunately for Tampa Bay, he turned out to be a huge draft steal.

4 Toronto Maple Leafs – Connor Brown

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Connor Brown was chosen 156th overall in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. So far, this right winger has played two seasons with them and produced 42 points in 89 regular season games. He was one of only five Leafs players last season to reach 20 goals which included 2 power play goals, 1 shorthanded goal, and 4 game-winners for this rookie. He did see a decent amount of ice time, especially while they were a man down.

Since he only played seven games in his first season, last year was definitely a great breakout year for him with 36 points in his first full time season. The Leafs should be very happy with their sixth-round draft steal.

3 Vancouver Canucks – Ben Hutton

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Ben Hutton was chosen 147th overall in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks. So far, this defenseman has played two seasons with them and recorded a total of 44 points in 146 regular season games. Last season, he ranked third on the team with an average of 1.5 blocked shots per game. He was also an asset during the man advantage last year as he produced 11 power play points which ranked him third on the entire team and first among his fellow defensemen. He saw the second highest amount of ice time with an average of 20:29 minutes per game, along with over two minutes of power play time per game.

Hutton is a decent defenseman and a good fifth-round steal for the Canucks.

2 Washington Capitals – Braden Holtby

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Braden Holtby was picked up 93rd overall in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals. So far, this goaltender has spent seven seasons with them and has an overall record of 191 wins (including 32 shutouts), 73 losses and 31 overtime/shootout losses, along with a 2.31 goals against average in 307 regular season games. He has racked up over 40 wins in the last three consecutive seasons. In fact, he led all NHL goalies in 2015-16 with 48 wins and was tied for the most wins last season (along with Cam Talbot) with 42 wins.

In 2016, he was awarded the Vezina Trophy for being the best goaltender in the league. Then this past season, in 2017, he was given the William M. Jennings Trophy for being the goaltender of the team who had the fewest goals scored against them during the regular season. The Capitals were extremely lucky to have drafted Holtby in the fourth round.

1 Winnipeg Jets – Adam Lowry

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The Winnipeg Jets chose Adam Lowry 67th overall in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. So far, this center has played three seasons with them and has totalled 69 points in 236 regular season games. He earned career-bests last season with 29 points (including 9 power play points) in 82 games. In fact, he ranked fourth among his teammates with 5 goals during the man advantage. He also led the team with 217 hits which averaged out to 2.6 hits per game.

Although Lowry isn’t a huge point producer, he is decent on the power play, sees a lot of ice time especially while his team is a man down, he’s decent in the faceoff circle, and he plays a physical game. The Jets were lucky to get him in the third round of the draft.

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