With two Stanley Cup championships in the past five seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks are an excellent illustration of the value of solid drafting. The Blackhawks went from a down-and-out team to an elite franchise in large part because of their success at the draft table.
Every team has had its ups and downs since the NHL Draft began in 1963. Here's a look at the hits (and some of the misses) for the seven teams in the Central Division.
Best first-round pick: Jonathan Toews (2006) -- There is no area of the game in which Toews does not excel. He was 20 when he was named captain of the Blackhawks; at 26 he has seven 20-goal seasons, 440 points in 484 games, two Stanley Cup rings (and two Olympic gold medals), the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2010 and the Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward last season. He's a terror on faceoffs (57.2 percent this season), among the NHL's best at the shootout (34-for-68 in his career) and is in the mix when discussion turns to the best player in the game today.