The average hockey fan isn’t going to waste hours of their Saturday to see who their favorite team picks late in the draft. Most of the time, players picked after the fourth round barely even make it to an NHL training camp.
But it’s the ones that do that can be some of the most exciting prospects – the guys nobody expected to be stars that went on to make a nice career for themselves. You can’t build a team of Ryan O’Reillys and Vladimir Tarasenkos – you need the Sammy Blais of the world to fill your roster spots and bring something different to the table.
Teams will have their work cut out for them this year as they look for gems in the later rounds of the draft. Taking a look all the way back to the 2005 draft, who are the best fifth-to-seventh-round draft picks by all 31 NHL franchises?
Anaheim Ducks – Troy Terry, LW, fifth round in 2015 (148th overall)
Terry has just a handful of NHL games under his belt, but he’s set to inherit a top-six role with the franchise next season with Corey Perry out of the picture. Looks like one of the biggest steals of a talented 2015 draft class.
Arizona Coyotes – Louis Dominigue, G, fifth round in 2010 (138th overall)
Arizona’s draft history is very bleak in the later rounds of the draft, with Domingue and Scott Darling being the only two players drafted past the fifth round to play 100 games. Domingue had a great season in Tampa Bay this year but was less than stellar in Arizona.
Boston Bruins – Matt Benning, D, sixth round in 2012 (175th overall)
We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here, but Benning has played the past three years in Edmonton as a depth defender. He never once hit the ice in a Bruins uniform, but with 205 games to his credit, he’s the only Bruins-drafted, late-round pick who has played in at least 100 NHL contests.
Buffalo Sabres – Paul Byron, LW, sixth round in 2007 (179th overall)
Byron played just eight games with Buffalo in 2010-11 but has been a key cog in Montreal’s lineup over the past four years. He’s on pace to reach the 500-game mark in 2020-21 and should hit 200 points this coming season.
Calgary Flames – Michael Ferland, LW, fifth round in 2010 (133rd overall)
Ferland will get a nice contract this summer after hitting 40 points for the second straight year. The Hurricanes power forward plays a physical game and can score 20 goals, too.
Carolina Hurricanes – Frederik Andersen, G, seventh round in 2010 (187th overall)
Andersen has a rare distinction of getting drafted twice, going 100 positions earlier in 2012 after failing to come to terms with the Hurricanes. Andersen is one of the best goalies in the NHL today, being the backbone of Toronto’s rebirth as a competitive team.
Chicago Blackhawks – Andrew Shaw, RW, fifth round in 2011 (139th overall)
The Blackhawks have done a fantastic job at drafting in the later rounds, with Shaw being an important member of the team’s Cup victories in 2013 and 2015. He just fell short of the 50-point mark in Montreal this season and has 233 points in 504 games.
Colorado Avalanche – Will Butcher, D, fifth round in 2013 (123rd overall)
Butcher never signed with Colorado after spending four years at the University of Denver, instead joining New Jersey in 2017-18. Through 159 games, the two-way defender has put up 74 points.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Cam Atkinson, RW, sixth round in 2008 (157th overall)
Derek Dorsett was a great seventh-round pick in 2006, but Atkinson was an even bigger steal in the sixth round two years later. With 186 goals and 342 points in 527 games, including a career-high 69 this year, Atkinson has the 10th-most points from this memorable draft class.
Dallas Stars – Jamie Benn, LW, fifth round in 2007 (129th overall)
Benn could retire today and still be one of the greatest players to ever suit up for the Stars. Despite a so-so campaign this year, Benn has been a big contributor for his entire career, recording 75-plus points four times in his career and he won the Art Ross Trophy in 2014-15.
Detroit Red Wings – Darren Helm, LW, fifth round in 2005 (132nd overall)
Helm had to fight his way to earn a spot on Detroit’s roster in 2008, ultimately helping the team win the Stanley Cup. He’s been a mainstay on the roster ever since, finishing with 30 points on three occasions as a depth forward with over 600 games played.
Edmonton Oilers – Brandon Davidson, D, sixth round in 2010 (162nd overall)
This is an easy one given he’s the only eligible player with 100 games played. Davidson played with three different teams in 2017-18 and suited up for just 16 contests between the NHL and AHL this season.
Florida Panthers – Zach Hyman, LW, fifth round in 2010 (123rd overall)
He never played for the team that drafted him, but Hyman has made a nice career for himself lining up beside Auston Matthews in Toronto. The Panthers acquired Greg McKegg in the Hyman deal, who has bounced around a bit over the past few years after playing 46 games from 2015 to 2017 in Florida.
Los Angeles Kings – Colin Miller, D, fifth round in 2012 (151st overall)
Expected to move on from Vegas this summer in a salary-dump situation, Miller will make a team very happy. He has 99 points in 250 games and played a big role on the expansion club over the past two years. Miller never played with L.A., but had a solid AHL tenure in the organization.
Minnesota Wild – Erik Haula, C, fifth round in 2009 (182nd overall)
The Wild took a chance on Haula, a prep-school kid, and he impressed in the early stages of his career. Like Miller, Haula now makes a living in Vegas but was limited to just 15 games this year after a breakthrough campaign in 2017-18 when he put up 29 goals and 55 points.
Montreal Canadiens – Brendan Gallagher, RW, fifth round in 2010 (147th overall)
Montreal has always been known as a team that drafts well in the later rounds and Gallagher may be the brightest example. Gallagher scored 30 goals for the second straight year after having to pick up the slack left by the departures of Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk. He has become Montreal’s best all-around forward.
Nashville Predators – Patric Hornqvist, RW, seventh round in 2005 (230th overall)
A year after taking Pekka Rinne in the eighth round, something that doesn’t exist anymore, the Preds got another steal in Hornqvist with the final pick. Hornqvist has hit the 50-point mark four times and the 40-point mark on four other occasions. This season was the first where he didn’t score 20 goals.
New Jersey Devils – Alex Kerfoot, C, fifth round in 2012 (150th overall)
Kerfoot never signed with New Jersey due to their depth down the middle a few years back, but he has managed to put up 85 points over two years with Colorado. Looking back, it’s almost like he and Butcher were essentially traded for each other.
New York Islanders – Anders Lee, LW, sixth round in 2009 (152nd overall)
From 2006 to 2009, four Islanders’ draft picks chosen in the fifth round or later have played at least 400 games, but nobody has done as well as Lee. One of the best centers available in unrestricted free agency, Lee has hit the 50-point plateau in the past three seasons.
New York Rangers – Carl Hagelin, LW, sixth round in 2007 (168th overall)
Hagelin had a rough season in 2018-19, playing for three teams and never finding his groove. But he’ll forever be remembered for his impact on Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup run in 2016, scoring 16 points in 24 games in the team’s first of two consecutive titles. Hagelin has been a solid depth forward with 241 points in 546 games.
Ottawa Senators – Mark Stone, RW, sixth round in 2010 (178th overall)
Ottawa seems to draft better in the late rounds than in the early stages. Stone was an absolute steal in the sixth round, with the big forward cementing himself as one of the NHL’s best right wingers after finishing every full campaign with at least 54 points, spending all but 18 regular-season games with the Sens.
Philadelphia Flyers – Patrick Maroon, LW, sixth round in 2007 (161st overall)
Maroon needed six AHL seasons to finally crack an NHL roster, but when he did, it was worth the wait. He never played for the Flyers, but he did have a 27-goal, 42-point campaign in 2016-17 alongside Connor McDavid in Edmonton — and he just won the Stanley Cup with his hometown Blues.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Jake Muzzin, D, fifth round in 2007 (141st overall)
A member of Canada’s World Cup team in 2016, Muzzin was a late-bloomer who didn’t have a role in the Penguins organization, instead embarking on a solid few years with Los Angeles. His limited time in Toronto has been hit with mixed reviews.
San Jose Sharks – Kevin Labanc, RW, sixth round in 2014 (171st overall)
The Sharks have had a lot of nice late-round gems, but Labanc might end up being the best. A pending restricted free agent, Labanc is fresh off a 56-point season and is due for a nice raise.
St Louis Blues – Ryan Reaves, RW, fifth round in 2005 (156th overall)
The Blues haven’t had great success in the later rounds of drafts recently, but Reaves has played 578 games with three teams and is a fan favorite in Vegas as a fourth-line beast.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Ondrej Palat, LW, seventh round in 2011 (208th overall)
There’s no way the Lightning could have expected a seventh-round pick would go on to post 63 points in his third season in the NHL. Injuries have limited his action over the past two years, but Palat brings solid playmaking to the team’s second line.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Anton Stralman, D, seventh round in 2005 (216th overall)
Toronto’s 2005 draft is famous for having two players have tremendous careers elsewhere: Stralman and Tuukka Rask. Stralman has spent the past few years in Tampa Bay’s top-four but never found his groove in Toronto. Funny enough, he’s the type of guy the Leafs need this summer, and he happens to be a UFA.
Vancouver Canucks – Ben Hutton, D, fifth round in 2012 (147th overall)
Hutton’s play in Vancouver is nothing special, but he’s been a great value guy for a rebuilding Canucks franchise. The pending RFA could be moved this summer to make room on a crowded blueline, but Hutton should remain an NHLer next season.
Vegas Golden Knights – Jack Dugan, LW, fifth round in 2017 (142nd overall)
No Golden Knights draft pick has ever played for the main club, but Dugan had an impressive U.S. college rookie season with 39 points in 41 games with Providence.
Washington Capitals – Mathieu Perreault, LW, sixth round in 2006 (177th overall)
The man with one of the craziest hairstyles in the NHL, Perrault had a handful of 40-point seasons with the Jets after not finding much of a place with the Capitals. He’s not a bad option to have in your middle-six.
Winnipeg Jets – Connor Hellebuyck, G, fifth round in 2012 (130th overall)
The current Jets team isn’t even a decade old yet but they did get a steal in Hellebuyck back in 2012. He won 44 games in 2017-18 and will look to rebound after putting up 34 W’s this past season. At his best, he’s one of the top goaltenders in the NHL.