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NHL teams find gems in undrafted players

by John Kreiser / Vancouver Canucks

There will be 211 players chosen at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh this weekend. That doesn't mean there aren't some gems that will slip through the cracks.

Just as being drafted is no guarantee that a player will make it to the NHL, not being selected doesn't mean that a player won't make it.

Hall of Famers Ed Belfour, Joe Mullen, Peter Stastny and Dino Ciccarelli were never drafted. Neither was goaltender Antti Niemi, who led the Chicago Blackhawks to the 2010 Stanley Cup -- or his current San Jose teammate, All-Star defenseman Dan Boyle. Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay, winner of the Hart and Art Ross Trophies in 2004 and the Lady Byng in 2010 and '11, never heard his name called on draft day. Neither did Niklas Backstrom, Rene Bourque, Alexandre Burrows, Curtis Glencross or dozens of other players who wore NHL sweaters this season.

Here are some of the best players never to be drafted by an NHL team:

Pre-1990 (majority of career before 1990):

Goaltender: Curtis Joseph
Defense: Borje Salming
Defense: Mike Milbury
Forward: Dino Ciccarelli
Forward: Peter Stastny
Forward: Joe Mullen


Goaltender: Ed Belfour
Defense: Steve Duchesne
Defense: Brian Rafalski
Forward: Steve Thomas
Forward: Adam Oates
Forward: Mike Ridley


Goaltender: Antti Niemi
Defense: Dan Boyle
Defense: Dan Girardi
Forward: Martin St. Louis
Forward: Andy McDonald
Forward: Chris Kunitz

All active team (players who were active in 2011-12)

Goalie: Antti Niemi, San Jose
Goalie: Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota
Goalie: Jonas Hiller, Anaheim
Defense: Dan Boyle, San Jose
Defense: Dan Girardi, N.Y. Rangers
Defense: Jason Garrison, Florida
Defense: Mark Giordano, Calgary
Defense: Andy Greene, New Jersey
Defense: Zbynek Michalek, Pittsburgh
Forward: Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay
Forward: Andy McDonald, St. Louis
Forward: Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh
Forward: Alexandre Burrows, Vancouver
Forward: Curtis Glencross, Calgary
Forward: Pascal Dupuis, Pittsburgh
Forward: Chad LaRose, Carolina
Forward: David Clarkson, New Jersey
Forward: Dustin Penner, Los Angeles
Forward: Rene Bourque, Montreal
Forward: Tyler Bozak, Toronto
Forward: Ruslan Fedotenko, N.Y. Rangers

Coaching Staff (former NHL players who were never drafted):

Dave Tippett, Phoenix
Peter Laviolette, Philadelphia


Glenn Healy
Nick Kypreos
Mike Milbury

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