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One Minute Remaining: Hawks find success with the draft's hidden gems

by Harvey Wittenberg / Chicago Blackhawks
Just because the Blackhawks won't be picking another Jonathan Toews doesn't mean there isn't quality later in the draft.

There's no bigger accomplishment in the NHL than bringing home the Stanley Cup! It's a good problem to have, but the only slight downside for the Blackhawks is not getting a shot at a top draft pick.

But just because the Blackhawks won't be drafting this year's edition of Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews doesn't mean they won't be getting a quality player. After this postseason's amazing run, no one would dare argue the contributions from the likes of Dustin Byfuglien (8th-round pick in 2003), Troy Brouwer (7th round in '04) or Niklas Hjalmarsson (4th round in '05).

Though they weren't drafted by Chicago, Brian Campbell (6th round in 1997) and Kris Versteeg (5th round in 2004) were also integral pieces in the championship season.

The Blackhawks' stellar drafts are as big a reason as any for Lord Stanley's return to Chicago; 14 members of the Stanley Cup champion team were drafted by the Hawks.

Through the history of the entry draft, the Hawks have made a habit of finding hidden gems; some of the best Blackhawks to ever wear the sweater were acquired in later rounds. Among the Hawks' best steals are Darryl Sutter (178th overall pick in 1978) and Steve Larmer, who snuck under radar in 1980 when he was selected in the 120th overall, but now ranks in the Blackhawks' top-five in points, goals and assists. Eric Daze, a fourth-rounder in 1993, scored 226 goals in his Blackhawks career, 11th-best all-time.

Though they may not be in the running for Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin, I don't think you'll find many Blackhawks fans who would happily trade a higher draft pick for the 2010 Stanley Cup championship. But imagine how much Hawks fans would delight in finding the next Hjalmarsson, Byfuglien or Brouwer among this year's draftees.
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