If it was just size, speed and skill, then we’d be leaving out a veteran like 5-foot-9, 185-pound Martin St. Louis, who has one Stanley Cup ring already, or a YoungStar like 5-10, 163-pound Patrick Kane, who was the first pick in last summer’s Entry Draft.
"Great players come in all sizes, shapes and tongues. Just look at my roster in Detroit," said Western Conference All-Star coach Mike Babcock. "My right arm with the Red Wings is (GM) Kenny Holland, (assistant GM) Jim Nill and (chief European scout) Anders Hakansson. They find players all over the world."
And the universal language is hockey.
Looking at the 65 players named to play or replace a player in the All-Star Game and YoungStars this weekend in Atlanta, 32 come from Canada, 10 from the United States and 23 from other countries (eight from Russia, seven from Sweden, four from Czech Republic, two from Slovakia and one each from Finland and Slovenia).
For those who think that every great has to be spotted immediately and becomes a first-rounder, here’s a breakdown that might surprise you:
* Twenty-nine of the 65 players in Atlanta for the All-Star Game were first-round picks.
* A total of 10 were first-overall picks in the draft (Kane, Erik Johnson, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Rick Nash, Ilya Kovalchuk, Rick DiPietro, Vinny Lecavalier, Joe Thornton, Ed Jovanovski).
* Five were second overall (Eric Staal, Evgeni Malkin, Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, Chris Pronger).
* Four were third overall (Jack Johnson, Marian Gaborik, Henrik Sedin
, Scott Niedermayer).
How about individual drafts? What stands out?
* The first three players were named from the 2000 draft (Kovalchuk, Heatley and Gaborik).
* The 2003 draft, which has been proclaimed the most productive class in recent years, surpassing 1993 or 1990 and someday being considered comparable to 1979, which produced Hall of Famers Mike Gartner, Ray Bourque and Michel Goulet, plus major contributors like Mike Foligno, Rick Vaive, Craig Hartsburg, Mike Ramsey, Paul Reinhart, Brian Propp, Brad McCrimmon, Duane Sutter and Kevin Lowe.
But there are five players each here from the first round of the 2003 and 2005 drafts -- Eric Staal, Dion Phaneuf, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards and Corey Perry from ‘03 and Crosby, J. Johnson, Anze Kopitar, Marc Staal and Matt Niskanen.
There are three players from the 2006 (E. Johnson, Niklas Backstrom and Peter Mueller), 2000 (DiPietro, Heatley and Gaborik) and 1997 (Thornton, Roberto Luongo
and M. Hossa).
We know the dramatic stories of Detroit finding Pavel Datsyuk 171st in 1998 and Henrik Zetterberg 210th in ‘99. But here’s a sampling of some other late gems:
188 -- Manny Legace in 1993.
204 -- Tomas Kaberle in 1996.
217 -- Tim Thomas in 1994.
219 -- Evgeni Nabokov in 1994.
226 -- Tomas Vokoun in 1994.
239 -- Tobias Enstrom in 2003.
250 -- Kimmo Timonen in 1993.
Want a goalie? DiPietro, Luongo and Brodeur were first-rounders, but that last draft fact tells us you can find all All-Star netminder way past the fifth round.
Go back to 1993 and you’ll find Manny Legace 188th. One year later, NHL teams hit the mother lode late with Tim Thomas (217), Evgeni Nabokov (219) and Tomas Vokoun (226).
But we also know that some great players were never drafted, don’t we? Martin St. Louis and David Clarkson represent that group.
For more features like this and more info about the 2008 All-Star weekend, visit NHL.com/allstar/2008