By Michael Amato
Draft day is behind us and, unfortunately, some young men were left disappointed after not being selected. But that doesn’t mean their quest for the NHL has to end here as more than a few stars have made it without being drafted. One such example is recent retiree Brian Rafalski, who was signed by the Devils as a 25-year-old in 1999. Rafalski went on to capture three Stanley Cups and put up 515 points in a solid career. Let’s look at 10 current players who were passed over.
10. Chris Kunitz
Kudos to the Ducks scouting staff as Kunitz is the first of three players on our list uncovered by Anaheim. He has averaged 20 goals over the past six seasons and has helped Anaheim and Pittsburgh to Stanley Cups along the way.
9. Ville Leino
Leino’s 21 points in the 2010 playoffs tied a rookie record set by Dino Ciccarelli. He followed that up with a respectable 53 points this year. Expect the pending UFA to get a decent pay raise from someone this summer.
8. Dustin Penner
Penner was a key member of Anaheim’s 2007 Stanley Cup team, netting 29 goals that season. He has proven he can be a 30-goal scorer and few can match his combination of size and speed.
7. Jonas Hiller
The Swiss goaltender has constantly improved over his brief NHL career and the Ducks thought enough of him to part ways with Ilya Bryzgalov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Hiller was a Ducks representative at the All-Star Game in 2010-11 and was having a Vezina caliber season before vertigo put an end to his campaign.
6. Alexandre Burrows
The Canucks super-pest-turned-scorer has found a permanent home on the top line with the Sedin twins. With goal totals of 28, 35 and 26 over the past three seasons, Burrows has developed into a consistent offensive threat.
5. Niklas Backstrom
A late arrival to North America after spending his early professional career in Finland, Backstrom hasn’t posted a save percentage below .903 in his five-year NHL career. The 2007 Jennings Trophy winner is the Wild’s most important player.
4. Dwayne Roloson
Roloson has bounced around a little over the course of his career, but the 41-year-old is still going strong. He has a career save percentage of .910 and a goals-against average of 2.65, but has shone brightest in the post-season. Fresh off a conference final appearance with the Lightning, Roloson also carried the Oilers on his back to the 2006 Cup final.
3. John Madden
Madden signed with New Jersey in 1997 as a 24-year-old undrafted free agent and was a key part of two Devils championship teams. He also added a third Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010 and captured the Selke Trophy in 2001.
2. Dan Boyle
The disappointment of not being drafted has long since subsided for Boyle. He is one of the game’s top defensemen and earned a Stanley Cup ring with Tampa Bay in 2004 and an Olympic Gold medal with Canada in 2010.
1. Martin St-Louis
The heart and soul of the Lightning, St-Louis went undrafted after being a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award three times at the University of Vermont. He went on to win the Art Ross, Lester B. Pearson and Hart Trophies in 2004…not to mention the Stanley Cup.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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