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NHL Draft: Which teams have been striking gold with depth picks

The Dallas Stars have been doing a very solid job of making good depth picks in late rounds, with All-Star Jamie Benn (5th round, 2007) their big prize. Photo:

The Dallas Stars have been doing a very solid job of making good depth picks in late rounds, with All-Star Jamie Benn (5th round, 2007) their big prize.

So, you're hearing your favorite team found the next Milan Lucic in the third round or snagged the steal of the draft with an offensive spark plug in the sixth. It's just a matter of time now before these fortuitous picks are part of a team that brings Stanley Cup glory to your town.

Not so fast, Bub.

Sure, there are gems to be found in rounds 3-7 and it's likely that more than a couple were stockpiled for the future this past weekend in Philadelphia. But unless you're a fan of Columbus or Nashville or Los Angeles, you might want to refrain from planning the parade route just yet.

There's a reason why players slip down to the late rounds. Maybe they're not big enough or there's problem with their skating or they don't have the hockey sense to match their talent. Separating the ones that catch your eye from the ones that might eventually put it all together is as much about luck as scouting skill, but some franchises seem to have an edge over others in identifying that latent talent.

Who are those teams?

To find out who has been doing the best job of mining NHL talent in the deep cuts, we looked at the past nine drafts, dating back to the post-lockout class of 2005. We tabulated the total selections that each team made (from a low of 37 for the Coyotes to a high of 55 by the Blackhawks), the number of players who appeared in at least one NHL game (the Yotes had just four, the Maple Leafs dressed 16), how many appeared in at least 100 games (the Blue Jackets had eight; several teams had zero), and most importantly, the total games played for each organization by late picks (from a woeful 71 for the Canucks up to 2,152 for the Jackets).

We also looked at the scoring production each team got from its late-round selections, even if there's not a clear apples-to-apples comparison to be made. It's worth noting which teams were able to find offensive punch like Jamie Benn (129th overall by the Stars, 2007) while others fired blanks, although that's not the only measure of a successful pick. Getting 300-plus games of energetic fourth line work is tremendous value from a seventh-rounder like Derek Dorsett (189th overall by the Jackets, 2007), even if he has potted just 31 goals during his career. Defensemen like two-time Cup winner Niklas Hjalmarsson (108th by the Blackhawks, 2005) can be valuable and consistent contributors without putting up big numbers.

We also included goalies in the counts because you can't ignore the acumen/luck that went into scouting them even they don't do much for the scoring totals. Jonathan Quick (72nd overall by the Kings, 2005) has produced just eight assists during his career, but his two Stanley Cup rings suggest he was a nice pickup. Ben Bishop (85th by the Blues, 2005), a 2014 Vezina Trophy finalist, was a nice call, too, although he reached elite status with the Lightning after a stop in Ottawa.

What does all this reveal? Well, Vancouver's scouting, by any standards, has been an "Ender's Game"-scale disaster. Of course, that's not news to the team's fans, who have long believed that anyone could have done a better job than former director of amateur scouting Ron Delorme. Looking at these results, they're probably right.

Edmonton, Florida, Winnipeg and Calgary haven't done themselves any favors, either. The inability to identify deep talent has kept them buried near the bottom of the standings for years.

On the other end of the scale are teams like the Jackets and the Predators. While their drafting prowess hasn't translated into playoff success yet, it has allowed them to stay competitive despite lower payrolls.

And the Kings? They don't win those two Cups without late-round support pieces Alec Martinez (95th, 2007) and Dwight King (109th, 2007) and, of course, Quick.

The draft may be a crapshoot, but it's clear that some teams have better aim than others after the first two rounds, where the low-hanging fruit is found.

fruitful PICKS AFTER SECOND ROUND SINCE 2005
 
team picks played in nhl total games points best pick
Ducks  41

8 (19.5 percent)

2 played 100 or more games

556 65-92-157 Matt Belesky, #112 (2006): Finished season on team's top line.
Coyotes 37

4 (10.8 percent)

2 played 100 or more games

742 92-237-329 Keith Yandle, #105 (2005): Top two defenseman
Bruins  40

11 (27.5 percent)

2 played 100 or more games

722 130-185-315 Brad Marchand, #71 (2006): Three-time 20-goal scorer
Sabres  50

9 (18 percent)

3 played 100 or more games

1,049 93-210-303 Chris Butler, #96 (2005): Closing in on 400 games as depth defender
Flames 46

10 (21.7 percent)

3 played 100 or more games

516 21-81-102 T.J. Brodie, #114 (2008): Averaged 24:03 TOI last season, second on team
Hurricanes  42

7 (16.7 percent)

0 played 100 or more games

305 18-29-47 Drayson Bowman, #72 (2007): Yo-yo player may have run out of chances with 'Canes
Blackhawks 55

7 (12.7 percent)

3 played 100 or more games

875 94-165-259 Niklas Hjalmarsson , #108 (2005): Steady top four d-man nearing 400 games
Avalanche 41

11 (26.8 percent)

3 played 100 or more games

608 58-120-178 Tyson Barrie, #64 (2009): Prototypical puck-mover shows real promise
Blue Jackets 48

14 (29.1 percent)

8 played 100 or more games

2,152 175-281-456 Matt Calvert, #127 (2008): Heart and soul of new Jackets
Stars 40

12 (30 percent)

5 played 100 or more games

1,166 192-268-460 Jamie Benn, #129 (2007): NHL 1st team All-Star at LW for 2013-14
Red Wings 46

10 (21.7 percent)

2 played 100 or more games

603 94-109-203 Gustav Nyquist, #121 (2008): First-year forward showed off first-line potential
Oilers 40

8 (20 percent)

1 played 100 or more games

400 22-52-74 Theo Peckham, #75 (2006): Hard-nosed defender enjoyed one year as NHL regular
Panthers 49

9 (18.4 percent)

0 played 100 or more games

197 17-33-50 Vince Trocheck, #64 (2011): His 2013-14 debut hinted at possible top-six role
Kings 51

9 (17.6 percent)

5 played 100 or more games

1,042 79-112-191 Jonathan Quick, # 72 (2005): Two Cup rings and a Conn Smythe. Boom.
Wild 39

8 (20.5 percent)

2 played 100 or more games

689 85-83-168 Cal Clutterbuck, # 72 (2006): More than 400 games as a premier agitator
Canadiens 43

7 (16.3 percent)

5 played 100 or more games

1,1223 170-244-414 Brendan Gallagher, #147 (2005): Spark plug for their offense.
Predators 53

15 (28.3 percent)

5 played 100 or more games

1,388 222-355-577 Patric Hornqvist, #230 (2005): Four seasons of at least 20 goals
Devils 45

10 (22.2 percent)

4 played 100 or more games

1,077 120-171-291 Adam Henrique, #82 (2008): Top-six forward, playoff hero
Islanders 54

15 (27.7 percent)

4 played 100 or more games

1,191 89-218-307 Andrew MacDonald, #160 (2006): Top-pair defender dealt to Philly at deadline
Rangers 41

9 (21.9 percent)

3 played 100 or more games

809 91-120-211 Carl Hagelin, #168 (2007). Top-six forward entering prime years
Senators 49

13 (26.5 percent)

3 played 100 or more games

1,119 122-165-287 Colin Greening, #204 (2005). Useful depth forward
Flyers 46

13 (28.3 percent)

1 played 100 or more games

495 42-55-97 Zac Rinaldo, #178 (2008): Presented without comment
Penguins 42

12 (28.6 percent)

4 played 100 or more games

1,093 104-279-383 Kris Letang, #62, (2005). One of the game's premier offensive d-men
Sharks 47

11 (23.4 percent)

6 played 100 or more games

 

1,195 93-224-317 Jason Demers, #186 (2008). Top-four defender
Blues 44

8 (18.2 percent)

2 played in 100 or more games

418 14-22-36 Ben Bishop, #85 (2005). Vezina finalist in 2013-14
Lightning 49

10 (20.4 percent)

3 played in 100 or more games

668 71-125-196 Ondrej Palat, #208 (2011). Calder finalist could become top-line winger
Maple Leafs 47

16 (34 percent)

5 played in 100 or more games

1,403 121-258-379 Anton Stralman, #216 (2005). Top-four defenseman nearing 400th career game
Canucks 40

5 (12.5 percent)

0 played in 100 or more games

71 4-7-11 Frankie Corrado, #150 (2011). Blueliner is just potential at this point, but the best of a bad lot
Capitals 45

9 (20 percent)

4 played in 100 or more games

726 94-139-233 Cody Eakin, #85 (2009). Developing into aggressive third center in Dallas
Jets 50

9 (18 percent)

0 played in 100 or more games

135 11-23-34 Paul Postma, #205 (2007). Hard to believe this team struggles to make playoffs
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