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Detroit and Pittsburgh are draft day gurus

Draft day is the most important day for the future of every NHL franchise and you better believe that each and every NHL team hopes that their picks do not become flops. Both Detroit and Pittsburgh have had great scouting staffs for many years and this is a major reason for their teams' success this year. There have been many 1st overall picks that have been complete busts in the NHL, but the Penguins have really found an up-to-date Mario Lemieux in Sidney Crosby, while the Wings have found many needles in a haystack.

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Here’s the breakdown:

Detroit has consistently finished top 5 every season for what seems like forever and this has led them to consistently having late draft picks. In the past 10 seasons, the Red Wings have never had an earlier pick than 19th overall and only four 1st round picks during this time. The lone survivor of those 4 picks was Niklas Kronwall who was drafted 29th overall in 2000.

But who needs 1st round picks when your scouts can find unknown names with insanely bright futures?

Nicklas Lidstrom may arguably be the best defensemen in NHL history and the Wings chose the Swede 53rd in 1989 as fellow Swedish player, Mats Sundin, was the #1 pick that year by Quebec.

The early 1990’s saw Chris Osgood (54th overall in 1991), Darren McCarty (46th overall in 1992), and Tomas Holmstrom (257th overall in 1994) become a solid base for the Wings, who are all still playing in this year's finals.

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Call it good scouting or just plain luck, either way, the following Detroit draft picks are mind bobbling. How can these players go unseen by other teams?

The Wings chose current all-stars Pavel Datsyuk with the 171st pick in the 1998 draft and Henrik Zetterberg in 1999, 210th overall. It is absolutely crazy to know how late these players went. Stinks even more for Atlanta, who chose Patrik Stefan 1st overall in 1999 who now plays in some jabroni league overseas after only getting 188 points in his NHL career. Zetterberg scored 92 point this season alone.

Other great notables include Tomas Kopecky (38th overall in 2000), Jiri Hudler (58th overall in 2002), Valtteri Filppula (95th overall in 2002), Derek Meech (229th overall in 2002), Johan Franzen (97th overall in 2004) and Darren Helm (132nd in 2005) all are playing and contributed in the 2007-08 President's Trophy team.

Pittsburgh had many rough years starting in the late 1990’s that lead through until the NHL lockout in 2005. Unlike the Wings, the Penguins' disastrous years qualified them for very high draft picks; many of which have all worked out very well.

The Pens have had the #1 pick twice and the #2 pick twice in a four year stretch from 2003 to 2006. It all began by picking franchise goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury 1st overall in 2003 to start the beginning of a young and successful team. The next year they drafted the highly anticipated Evgeni Malkin 2nd overall, after the Washington Capitals took Alexandre Ovechkin #1 in 2004.

The Pittsburgh franchise officially turned around once they won the lottery draft in 2005, confirming that they would take Sidney Crosby. This kid has turned out to be as great as expected as Crosby is now taking the Pens to the glory land while winning the cup would confirm him as the saviour. Having the 2nd pick in 2006, Jordan Staal completed the roster, being a perfect third centerman.

Other great notables include Rob Scuderi (134th in 1998), Ryan Malone (115th in 1999), Brooks Orpik (18th in 2000), Ryan Whitney (5th overall in 2002), Maxime Talbot (234th 2002), Tyler Kennedy (99th in 2004), and Kris Letang (62nd in 2005) are all playing in this years Stanley Cup Finals.

Face the facts folks, the Wings are great in drafting in the late rounds, while the Pens got really took advantage of their early picks. Both Detroit and Pittsburgh show the importance of draft picks and brilliance needed in the scouting department.


By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer

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