Most of us start loving sports from a very young age, and it usually starts one of two ways: when we begin playing sports in school, or by viewing teams playing against each other on the television. Everyone has a favorite sport that they love to play and/or watch, whether it be a single player sport like tennis and golf, or team sport like soccer, baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. When someone truly does love a particular team sport though, they often times end up playing that sport all the way through their high school and even college years, and it is usually during that time of adolescence that young athletes develop real dreams of one day playing in either the MLB, NBA, NFL, or NHL.
Of all the major professional sport leagues, the National Hockey League has some of the most passionate fans in the world, with the game of hockey being a sport that is played by many people of all ages throughout most places in the world. Since there are so many young hockey athletes in the world who dream of playing in the NHL, many decide to enter into the league’s draft every year at the age of eighteen, and many of them do end up being drafted by a team. It is up to the scouts of each team to find the best players that they believe have the most potential to help their respective team be successful in the future, and sometimes, a scout’s job is easy, but most of the time drafted players never play a single game in the NHL. More often than not though, scouts and teams get extremely lucky with some of their draft picks, and these lucky picks are usually players who were taken in the late rounds of the respective draft year. These players turn out to be much better than their draft number initially indicated, which is why they are considered by other teams to be “steals”. Here is a list of top players who were drafted late in every draft since 2000.
16 Henrik Lundqvist - 2000: Round 7, 205th Overall
15 Kevin Bieksa - 2001: Round 5, 151st Overall
14 Dennis Wideman - 2002: Round 8, 241st Overall
13 Joe Pavelski - 2003: Round 7, 205th Overall
12 Pekka Rinne - 2004: Round 8, 258th Overall
11 Patric Hornqvist - 2005: Round 7, 230th Overall
10 Andrew MacDonald - 2006: Round 6, 160th Overall
9 Jamie Benn - 2007: Round 5, 129th Overall
8 Braden Holtby - 2008: Round 4, 193rd Overall
7 Marcus Kruger - 2009: Round 5, 149th Overall
6 Mark Stone - 2010: Round 6, 178th Overall
5 Andrew Shaw - 2011: Round 5: 139th Overall
4 Andreas Athanasiou - 2012: Round 4, 110th Overall
3 Jordan Subban - 2013: Round 4, 115th Overall
2 Axel Holmstrom - 2014: Round 7, 196th Overall
1 Michael Spacek - 2015: Round 4, 108th Overall
The city of Winnipeg initially had an NHL franchise which was called the Jets, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, the team ended up being relocated in 1996 to Phoenix where the team came to be known as the Coyotes. In 2011 though, Winnipeg got their team back (along with the Jets name) as the Atlanta Thrashers franchise was relocated due to economic troubles. This Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise has landed some very notable draft picks in the past like Dany Heatley, Evander Kane, and Ilya Kovalchuk, and they continue to draft offensive minded players today. In last year’s draft, Winnipeg drafted Czech winger Michael Spacek in the fourth round with the 108th overall pick, and not surprisingly, he has not played a single game for the Jets, but last season he played in the Western Hockey League where he scored 54 points split between 18 goals and 36 assists in only 61 games. Numbers like that are enough to show that Spacek has what it takes to put the puck in the net, which is not something many players drafted after the second round are known for.
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