Top 15 NHL Draft Steals Since 2000
Top 15 NHL Draft steals since 2000
The NHL Entry Draft produces many talented individuals. Some do better than anyone could ever imagine while others have a difficult time finding their groove, not to mention performing, at such a high level. I'll be taking a look at the top 15 NHL draft steals since 2000 based on how late they were drafted and how well they've fared statistically since entering the league. I also plan to take into account whether the player's won a Stanley Cup or, at the very least, played a large role in their team advancing to the Cup finals.
From the barely drafted Jaroslav Halak to mid second rounder Patrice Bergeron, each of these players have done better than they, or their teams, could have ever dreamed. You'll find those who haven't been in the NHL for long, yet have already begun to make a name for themself, along with those who've been in the league for years. There are even those who might not be completely well-known, thus overlooked at times, yet they've continued to produce at a relatively high level.
Since the NHL boasts a lot of quality players some you like may not have made the cut. However, I feel as if I made the best selections possible given the criteria used and the fact I could only choose 15. Things could easily change in the next few years, either through injuries, trades or new young prospects coming up, therefore some could be replaced. Truly you never know what might happen. Regardless, I hope you enjoy!
Adam Henrique was drafted 82nd overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 2008 Entry Draft. After spending much of his career with the OHL's Windsor Spitfires Henrique finally made it to the big leagues last season, splitting time between New Jersey and the AHL's Albany Devils. He registered 51 points in 74 regular season games with New Jersey. It wasn't until the 2012 playoffs that Henrique started making a name for himself though, recording 13 points in 24 games. Even more impressive is the fact five of those 13 points came off goals, with two of them being series-clinchers against the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers, helping lead New Jersey to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since they won it all in 2003. Regardless, Henrique's future remains bright and New Jersey looks to be a perennial playoff contender for years to come.
Patrice Bergeron was drafted 45th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 2003 Entry Draft. After spending two seasons in the QMJHL Bergeron was finally summoned to the big leagues where he quickly made a name for himself. In 537 regular season games with Boston Bergeron's registered 401 points. He's done well in the playoffs as well, evidenced by his 42 points in 61 games. 2011 was by far his best though as he recorded 20 points in 23 games, culminating with Boston besting the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win their first Stanley Cup in decades. Regardless, Bergeron's got a bright future ahead and with the young talent Boston has they should continue to be a playoff contender.
Kristopher (Kris) Letang was drafted 62nd overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2005 Entry Draft. After spending a few years in the QMJHL Letang was deemed ready for the big leagues. He hasn't disappointed, registering 171 points in 350 regular season games with Pittsburgh. Letang's also stepped up his play during the playoffs, evidenced by his 31 points in 65 games. He also played a key role in Pittsburgh's back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2008 and 2009. After 2008's heartbreaking loss to the Detroit Red Wings it should come as no surprise that Letang and his teammates were determined to make 2009 their year. They did just that, besting Detroit in a hard-fought seven game series to capture the Stanley Cup. Make no mistake though, Letang still has a bright future ahead. Playing him alongside superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin just make Pittsburgh a team to reckon with for years to come as well!
Maxime (Max) Talbot was drafted 234th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2002 Entry Draft. After four seasons playing in the QMJHL Talbot was deemed ready for the big leagues. He didn't disappoint, registering 142 points in 469 regular season games. However, only 108 of those points came with Pittsburgh as Talbot signed with the Philadelphia Flyers during the summer of 2011. His playoff career is also one to remember as Talbot produced 33 points in 66 games with Pittsburgh. He even had what turned out to be the game-winning and Stanley Cup-clinching goal in 2009 when Pittsburgh beat the Detroit Red Wings. Talbot still has a bright future ahead of him and whatever team he's with will definitely benefit!
Jaroslav Halak was drafted 271st overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2003 Entry Draft. After spending four years either in juniors or the minor leagues Halak was ready to make the leap to the big league level. However, he didn't receive much playing time with Montreal until 2008-09'. Since then Halak's put up some outstanding numbers, with a goals-against average (GAA) no higher than 2.90 and save percentage between .910 and .925. Prior to the 2010-11' season Halak signed with the St. Louis Blues where he flourished. Last season, he and fellow goaltender Brian Elliott helped lead St. Louis to a Central Division title and their first playoff berth in years. Regardless, Halak still has a lot to offer and until he's done St. Louis will remain a playoff contender!
Patrick Sharp was drafted 95th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2001 Entry Draft. After spending a few years in college or the minors it seemed he was ready for the jump to the big leagues. However, he never really panned out with Philadelphia, recording only 15 points in 66 regular season games. Sharp was then traded to the Chicago Blackhawks midway through the 2005-06' season. It was there that he finally flourished, registering 370 points in 501 regular season games. In the playoffs he produced even more, putting up 39 points in only 52 games. He also was key in Chicago's 2010 Stanley Cup win over his former team Philadelphia. Even so, Sharp still has a lot to offer and the combination of him and Patrick Kane should make Chicago a perennial playoff contender for years to come!
Valtteri Filppula was drafted 95th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2002 Entry Draft. After only two years in juniors and half a season in the AHL Filppula was deemed ready for the big leagues. He didn't disappoint once he got there, registering 234 points in 442 regular season games. He came to play during the postseason as well, evidenced by his 51 points in 91 playoff games. Filppula also helped Detroit win the 2008 Stanley Cup over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Regardless, Filppula's got more to offer and until he hangs up his skates Detroit will continue to be a force!
Jason Pominville was drafted 55th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2001 Entry Draft. After spending a year in juniors and three in the AHL Pominville finally seemed ready for the big leagues. He certainly didn't disappoint, registering 431 points in 540 regular season games. Pominville's playoff numbers aren't too shabby either, evidenced by his 28 points in 45 games. He hasn't yet won a Stanley Cup but he was honored by being named Buffalo's captain. Regardless, Pominville still has plenty to offer and if he keeps producing the way he has been Buffalo, and Pominville, will soon win the Stanley Cup!
Ryan Callahan was drafted 127th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2004 Entry Draft. After spending about three years in juniors or the minor leagues Callahan was deemed ready to enter the big leagues. Though bounced between the AHL and NHL for a couple of years Callahan did alright, registering 198 points in 360 regular season games. Callahan doesn't have much playoff experience. He did quite well though, recording 19 points in 47 games. The Rangers haven't won a Stanley Cup in years, coming the closest last season, but ultimately falling to the New Jersey Devils. Regardless, Callahan was honored by being awarded the Rangers' captaincy. With that in mind, Callahan's still got plenty to offer and until he hangs up his skates the Rangers will remain a force!
Pekka Rinne was drafted 258th overall by the Nashville Predators in the 2004 Entry Draft. After spending five years waiting his turn in the AHL Rinne was deemed ready to make the leap into the big leagues. He made the most of this opportunity, posting an GAA no higher than 2.60 and a save percentage between .911 and .930. Rinne's also led Nashville to the playoffs the past few years, though they never made it past the second round. Regardless, Rinne has a lot still to offer and until his skates, pads and blocker are hung up Nashville will be a force to reckon with!
Henrik Lundqvist was drafted 205th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2000 Entry Draft. After spending five seasons in the Swedish Elite League Lundqvist was ready to make the leap into the big leagues. During his time here he's flourished, with an GAA no higher than 2.50 and save percentages between .912 and .929. He's done pretty well in the playoffs as well, though the Rangers haven't made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in many years. Lundqvist was honored though, as he won the 2012 Vezina Trophy given to the league's top goaltender. Regardless, Lundqvist still has plenty to offer and until he decides to hang up his skates the Rangers will remain a force!
Ryane Clowe was drafted 175th overall by the San Jose Sharks in the 2001 Entry Draft. After spending five seasons between the QMJHL and the AHL Clowe seemed ready to enter the big leagues. Once he did people started taking notice, as he recorded 260 points in just 395 regular season games. He also did quite well in the postseason, registering 45 points in 68 playoff games. However, he hasn't yet made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Regardless, Clowe has plenty of time left and a lot still to offer so San Jose could get a Cup here soon. Either way, they'll be a force to reckon with!
Jarret Stoll was drafted 46th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 2000 Entry Draft. However, he was never signed by Calgary and therefore could be drafted again. That happened, as the Edmonton Oilers selected him 36th overall in the 2002 Entry Draft. After spending a couple of years bouncing between the AHL and NHL Stoll was finally ready to make a name for himself at the NHL level. He did just that, producing 317 career points in 593 regular season games. However, Stoll chose to sign with the Los Angeles Kings during the summer of 2008. That decision seemed to pay dividends, as Los Angeles beat the New Jersey Devils in six games to capture the 2012 Stanley Cup. Regardless, Stoll has plenty more to offer which means Los Angeles will remain a force to reckon with!
Anders Lindback was drafted 207th overall by the Nashville Predators in the 2008 Entry Draft. After spending a couple of years in juniors Lindback seemed ready to enter the big leagues. However, he spent much of his time behind Pekka Rinne, only starting 38 games, in Nashville. Lindback made the most of what little playing time he got though, posting an GAA no higher than 2.60 and save percentage between .912 and .915. Those numbers, along with his height (around 6'0), earned him a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning this past summer. Though Lindback hasn't yet played a game for Tampa Bay, thanks to our current lockout, all signs point toward an even brighter future. If that's the case Tampa Bay could become a perennial playoff contender!
Jonathan Quick was drafted 72nd overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2005 Entry Draft. After spending four seasons in juniors or the AHL Quick seemed ready to enter the big leagues. He hasn't disappointed in the least, with an GAA no higher than 2.64 and save percentage between .907 and .928. Those numbers led to Quick being named Los Angeles' starter a few years ago. Quick's also had some postseason success as he almost single-handedly won Los Angeles the 2012 Stanley Cup. For this he was awarded the 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the playoff MVP. Don't think he's done yet though. Quick still has plenty to offer and until he decides to hang up his skates Los Angeles will remain a perennial playoff contender!
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