The Greatest Picks of the 60 NHL Drafts (#20-1)

The 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft will mark the 60th anniversary of the selection process. That's a lot of great picks, and maybe a few not-so-great ones.

Who were the greatest draft picks ever? Well, that's what set out to find with 60 Diamonds: The Greatest Picks of the 60 NHL Drafts.

But what makes a great draft pick? Is it the first-round selection who outperforms his draft slot? Is it the mid-round find who becomes a team leader? Or the late-round gem who develops into a star? left that question to be decided by a panel of 13 writers and editors. Each member of the panel submitted his or her top 60 draft picks, with No. 1 given 60 points, No. 2 getting 59 points, all the way down to No. 60 receiving one point. Any ties were broken by the players' average place on voters' lists, the total number of ballots the players appeared on, and, if needed, the players' highest ranking on any single ballot.

The voting panel consisted of senior director of editorial Shawn P. Roarke, managing editor Brian Compton, deputy managing editor Adam Kimelman, columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika, senior writer Dan Rosen and staff writers Amalie Benjamin, William Douglas, Tom Gulitti, Mike G. Morreale, Tracey Myers, David Satriano, Paul Strizhevsky and Mike Zeisberger.

Here is the Top 60 of the Past 60, players 20-1:

20. Connor McDavid, F (384 points)

Selected by:Edmonton Oilers, first round (No. 1), 2015

McDavid's dazzling skill set made him an easy choice for the Oilers with the first pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, and the 26-year-old has developed into one of the most offensively gifted players in League history during his eight seasons. His 153 points (64 goals, 89 assists) this season were the most by a player since Mario Lemieux had 161 points in 1995-96. It was the third straight season and fifth time he won the Art Ross Trophy as the League's leading scorer. He also won the Hart Trophy as NHL most valuable player in 2016-17 and 2020-21, and is a finalist again this season.

60 Diamonds No 20 Connor McDavid
19. Sergei Fedorov, F (395)

Selected by: Detroit Red Wings, fourth round (No. 74), 1989

Fedorov was one of the most talented players outside the NHL when the Red Wings selected him, but because of the times, had no idea when or if he'd be able to play in the NHL. Instead, Fedorov defected in 1990 and developed into one of the best two-way players in League history. In 1993-94, his fourth season, he was second in the NHL with 120 points (56 goals, 64 assists) and won the Hart Trophy and the Selke Trophy as the League's best defensive forward. He would win the Selke again in 1995-96, and was so good defensively he occasionally was used as a defenseman. Fedorov helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup three times (1997, 1998, 2002), and when he retired in 2009, led all Russia-born players in goals (483), assists (696), points (1,179) and games played (1,248). He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

"The Red Wings took a risk when they selected Fedorov at the 1989 NHL Draft. There was no guarantee they'd be able to get him out of the Soviet Union. But they helped him defect, sneaking him out the back door of a hotel to a waiting car and whisking him away in a jet, and that fourth-round pick turned into a Hockey Hall of Famer, a Hart Trophy winner and a three-time Stanley Cup champion."-- Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

18. Luc Robitaille, F (427)

Selected by: Los Angeles Kings, ninth round (No. 171), 1984

How much value did the Kings see in Robitaille? They selected another left-shot forward in the fourth round (No. 69), a Massachusetts high school player named Tom Glavine, who opted for a baseball career. It worked out OK for the Kings with Robitaille, who played 14 of his 19 NHL seasons with Los Angeles and is its all-time leader with 557 goals. He had three 50-goal seasons, including 63 in 1992-93. When he retired in 2006, his 668 goals and 1,394 points were the most in NHL history by a left wing. Robitaille was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

60 Diamonds No 18 Luc Robitaille
17. Henrik Zetterberg, F (430)

Selected by: Detroit Red Wings, seventh round (No. 210), 1999

Red Wings scouts were focused on another player at a tournament in Finland when Zetterberg stood out, and they took a flyer on him late in the 1999 NHL Draft. That chance paid off as Zetterberg developed into an outstanding two-way center who scored at least 30 goals four times during his 15-season NHL career, all with the Red Wings. In 2007-08, he had 92 points (43 goals, 49 assists) in 75 regular-season games, then won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after scoring the Cup-clinching goal in Game 6 of the Final against the Penguins.

60 Diamonds No 17 Henrik Zetterberg
16. Brett Hull, F (445)

Selected by: Calgary Flames, sixth round (No. 117), 1984

Despite scoring 105 goals in 56 games with Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League in 1983-84, few scouts had confidence Hull could be an NHL scorer. He proved all the naysayers wrong with 741 goals, fifth-most all-time, in 19 seasons with five teams. That includes 13 30-goal seasons, five with at least 50 and three straight 70-goal seasons (1990-92), topped by 86 in 1990-91 with the St. Louis Blues. He won the Hart Trophy that same season, and won the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999 and the Red Wings in 2002. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

60 Diamonds No 16 Brett Hull
15. Ray Bourque, D (451)

Selected by: Boston Bruins, first round (No. 8), 1979

Bourque was the fourth defenseman chosen in the 1979 NHL Draft but you'd be hard-pressed to name the three who were selected before one of the top players at his position in NHL history (No. 1 Rob Ramage, No. 6 Craig Hartsburg, No. 7 Keith Brown). Bourque had 65 points (17 goals, 48 assists), the most in a season by a rookie NHL defenseman at the time, and won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 1979-80. He also was a First-Team NHL All-Star for the first of 13 times. He won the Norris Trophy five times (1986-88, 1989-91, 1993-94), and is the all-time leader among NHL defensemen in goals (410), assists (1,169) and points (1,579). He capped his 22-season career by helping the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in 2001, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.

60 Diamonds No 15 Ray Bourque
14. Sidney Crosby, F (466)

Selected by:Pittsburgh Penguins, first round (No. 1), 2005

Crosby had huge expectations placed upon him as he entered the NHL as the League was resuming play after the canceled 2004-05 season. But through 18 NHL seasons, he's managed to exceed them. Crosby helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup three times (2009, 2016, 2017) and joined Mario Lemieux (1991, 1992) and Bernie Parent (1974, 1975) as the only players to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in back-to-back seasons (2016, 2017). Crosby has won the Hart Trophy twice (2006-07, 2013-14), led the NHL in scoring twice (2006-07, 2013-14), and the 35-year-old became the 15th player in NHL history to reach 1,500 points on April 8.

"Go through NHL draft history and find a player who has lived up to the incredible amount of hype that preceded him into the NHL better than Crosby. Nobody had more and nobody has done it better. He was the next one before he was able to drive. The Penguins won the 2005 draft lottery to get him and all of a sudden, Crosby had to follow in the footsteps of Mario Lemieux, who is on the NHL version of Mount Rushmore. And Crosby had to do it with the League coming out of a work stoppage that forced the cancelation of the 2004-05 season. Crosby was the new face of the NHL at 18 years old. The weight of it all could have crushed him; instead it motivated him. Now they have to carve a spot for Crosby on the NHL Mount Rushmore. He arguably is one of the five greatest players in the history of the game along with Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr and Lemieux. There's little to debate, really. He has done everything multiple times, winning the Stanley Cup three times, the Conn Smythe Trophy, Hart Trophy, Rocket Richard Trophy as the League's leading goal scorer and the Art Ross Trophy twice each. He has 1,502 points (550 goals, 952 assists) in 1,190 regular-season games and 201 points (71 goals, 130 assists) in 180 playoff games. He turns 36 on Aug. 7 and he's still one of the best players in the world." --Dan Rosen, senior writer

13. Pavel Datsyuk, F (468)

Selected by:Detroit Red Wings, sixth round (No. 171), 1998

Datsyuk was passed over twice in the NHL draft (1996, 1997) before the Red Wings selected him. The Red Wings almost found Datsyuk accidentally, as their scouts attended one of his games in Russia to scout another player. Instead, they were impressed by Datsyuk's work ethic in all areas. The late-round choice worked out exceptionally well as Datsyuk dazzled fans with puck-handling skills that turned his last name into an adjective. During his 14 NHL seasons, all with the Red Wings, he won the Stanley Cup twice (2002, 2008), the Selke Trophy three straight seasons (2007-10) and the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play four straight (2005-09).

60 Diamonds No 13 Pavel Datsyuk
12. Henrik Lundqvist, G (480)

Selected by: New York Rangers, seventh round (No. 205), 2000

The Rangers let Lundqvist develop for five seasons in Sweden before bringing him to North America in 2005, where he was expected to back up veteran Kevin Weekes. Instead Lundqvist dominated the Rangers crease for 15 seasons. He won the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in the NHL in 2011-12, one of five times he was a finalist for the award, and helped the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 11 of his first 12 seasons after they had missed the playoffs the previous seven. His 459 wins are sixth in NHL history and he has the most wins and shutouts (64) all-time among Rangers goalies.

60 Diamonds No 12 Henrik Lundqvist
11. Dominik Hasek, G (489)

Selected by: Chicago Blackhawks, 10th round (No. 199), 1983

The Blackhawks waited seven years for Hasek to come to North America from his native Czechoslovakia in 1990 at age 26. While he had the look of a promising prospect, Chicago also had Ed Belfour on the roster, so Hasek was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in 1992. Taking over as Sabres starter in 1993-94, Hasek won the Vezina Trophy for the first of six times (1993-95, 1996-99, 2000-01), the most since NHL general managers began voting on the award in 1982. Hasek also is the only goalie in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy in back-to-back seasons (1996-98), and helped the Sabres reach the Stanley Cup Final in 1999, where they lost, ironically, to Belfour and the Dallas Stars. Hasek would win the Stanley Cup twice with the Red Wings (2002, 2008). His 389 wins in 16 NHL seasons are 15th, and his .922 save percentage is tied with Ken Dryden for the best in NHL history among goalies to play at least 200 games. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.

"You want to talk about a diamond? How about taking one of the top three goalies in the history of the NHL in the 10th round? Hasek lasted that long largely because his native Czechoslovakia still was under Communist rule and it was unclear when or if Hasek might make the NHL. He did and he dominated. Though Hasek would start 20 games for the Blackhawks in parts of two seasons (1990-92), he would go on to a Hall of Fame career, largely with the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings, finishing with 735 games played (714 starts), 389 wins, a 2.20 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. He won the Hart Trophy twice (1996-97, 1997-98) and the Vezina Trophy six times in eight seasons between 1993 and 2001. Add in winning the Stanley Cup twice with the Red Wings and a gold medal with the Czech Republic at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, and that's not bad for seeing nearly 200 players taken before him, even though Hasek himself didn't actually see anything. The goalie didn't even know he'd been drafted for months." -- Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

60 Diamonds No 11 Dominik Hasek
10. Jari Kurri, F (494)

Selected by: Edmonton Oilers, fourth round (No. 69), 1980

Kurri was one of two Hall of Famers selected by the Oilers in 1980, along with defenseman Paul Coffey (No. 6). Kurri became an outstanding linemate for Wayne Gretzky during Edmonton's championship dynasty. His 474 goals and 1,043 points are second all-time for the Oilers behind Gretzky (583 goals, 1,669 points), and Kurri was part of five Stanley Cup championships (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990). His 601 goals in 17 NHL seasons are 20th in NHL history and second among Finland-born players, behind Teemu Selanne (684). Kurri was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.

60 Diamonds No 10 Jari Kurri
9. Steve Yzerman, F (496)

Selected by: Detroit Red Wings, first round (No. 4), 1983

Yzerman's arrival ushered the Red Wings out of their "Dead Things" era. After reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs twice in 17 seasons before he was selected, Yzerman got Detroit into the playoffs 20 times in his 22 NHL seasons, with Cup championships in 1997, 1998 and 2002, as well as another as a Red Wings executive in 2008. Yzerman is 10th in NHL history with 692 goals and seventh with 1,755 points, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

60 Diamonds No 9 Steve Yzerman
8. Mike Bossy, F (520)

Selected by: New York Islanders, first round (No. 15), 1977

Bossy ranks among the best goal scorers in NHL history, with his average of 0.76 goals per game first all-time among players with at least 150 games. He had nine 50-goal seasons, tied with Wayne Gretzky and Alex Ovechkin for most all-time, and his five 60-goal seasons are tied with Gretzky for the most. He helped the Islanders win the Stanley Cup four straight seasons (1980-83), scored 61 goals in 72 playoff games during that stretch and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs in 1982. Bossy won the Calder Trophy in 1977-78 and the Lady Byng Trophy three times (1982-84, 1985-86), and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.

60 Diamonds No 8 Mike Bossy
7. Mario Lemieux, F (526)

Selected by:Pittsburgh Penguins, first round (No. 1), 1984

Lemieux brought instant credibility to a Penguins team that had won one best-of-7 playoff series in their first 17 seasons. He began his NHL career with six straight 100-point seasons, topped by 199 points (85 goals, 114 assists) in 1988-89. He led the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992, then the following season, came back from Hodgkin's lymphoma to win the scoring title with 160 points (69 goals, 91 assists) in 60 games. Lemieux retired for the first time in 1997 and immediately was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He came back four seasons later, now as Penguins owner, and remained a dominant player. Lemieux retired for good in 2005-06 with 1,723 points (690 goals, 1,033 assists), eighth in NHL history, and his average of 1.88 points in 915 games is second all-time to Gretzky (1.92). He won the Art Ross Trophy six times (1987-89, 1991-93, 1995-97), the Hart Trophy three times (1987-88, 1992-93, 1995-96) and the Conn Smythe Trophy twice (1990-91, 1991-92).

"I can't think of one player in the history of the NHL that has meant more to a franchise than Lemieux has meant to the Penguins. He's one of the three greatest players in the game's history, blending skill, speed, size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and strength in a way no one ever has. The Penguins were a moribund franchise before he arrived in 1984, and within eight years, they had two Stanley Cup championships and were an elite NHL team. He also helped the secure the Penguins' future in Pittsburgh when he worked to find financing for PPG Paints Arena. Off the ice, the Mario Lemieux Foundation has helped raise millions of dollars for cancer research and to help Pittsburgh-area families dealing with the disease. To me, it was really easy to mark down Lemieux as the greatest NHL draft pick ever." -- Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor

6. Jaromir Jagr, F (532)

Selected by:Pittsburgh Penguins, first round (No. 5), 1990

The ageless wonder arrived in time to help the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in his first two NHL seasons. Jagr and Lemieux dominated the NHL scoring race, with one of the two winning the Art Ross Trophy seven straight seasons between 1994-95 and 2000-01. Jagr starred even without Lemieux to deflect attention, winning the scoring title four straight seasons (1997-01); the only player to win it more consecutive times is Gretzky (seven straight, 1980-87). Jagr won the Hart Trophy in 1998-99, the Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player as voted by the NHL Players' Association three times (1998-2000, 2005-06), and his 1,921 points (766 goals, 1,155) points are second all-time to Gretzky. Jagr left the NHL in 2018, after playing 1,733 games in 24 seasons, but at age 51, had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 26 games with Kladno in the top league in the Czech Republic this season.

60 Diamonds No 6 Jaromir Jagr
5. Ken Dryden, G (538)

Selected by:Boston Bruins, third round (No. 14), 1964

In the second-ever NHL draft, the six teams selected a total of 24 players, and Dryden was the only goalie chosen. The pick turned into a steal, but not for the Bruins, who traded Dryden to the Montreal Canadiens just 17 days after selecting him. He turned pro in 1970-71, and after 33 games with the Montreal Voyageurs of the American Hockey League, Dryden made his NHL debut March 14, 1971. He was the surprise starter for the Canadiens when the 1971 playoffs started but backstopped them to the Stanley Cup. It was the first of six championships for Dryden in his eight NHL seasons, including four straight from 1976-79. He's the only goalie in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (1971) and Calder Trophy (1971-72) in back-to-back seasons, and he won the Vezina Trophy five times (1972-73, 1975-79). Dryden went 258-57 with 74 ties and 46 shutouts in 397 games, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.

60 Diamonds No 5 Ken Dryden
4. Martin Brodeur, G (593)

Selected by: New Jersey Devils, first round (No. 20), 1990

The Devils were in need of a goalie heading into the 1990 NHL Draft, but with the No. 11 pick, felt they still could get the player they wanted if they moved back. A trade with the Calgary Flames allowed them to gain an extra second-round pick for moving down to No. 20, and waiting for them was Brodeur, who became the winningest goalie in NHL history during his 22 NHL seasons, all but seven games of it spent with the Devils. Brodeur's 691 wins are 140 more than second-place Patrick Roy (551), and he also holds NHL marks for games played by a goalie (1,266) and shutouts (125). He helped the Devils win the Stanley Cup three times (1995, 2000, 2003), and won the Vezina Trophy four times in a five-season span between 2002-03 and 2007-08. Brodeur retired after seven games with the St. Louis Blues in 2014-15 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.

"There may be a debate of who the best goalie of all time is, but there's no debate that the Devils got a steal when they selected Brodeur. The all-time wins leader wasn't even the first goalie taken in the 1990 draft -- that was Trevor Kidd at No. 11 by the Flames, who played 387 games and had 140 wins, never more than 22 in a season. Brodeur won at least 30 games 14 times and has a packed trophy case, winning the Stanley Cup three times, the Vezina Trophy four times and the Calder Trophy (1993-94). But what stands out for me is his durability. He played at least 70 games 10 straight seasons (1997-2008), rarely got hurt and even scored three goals (two regular season, one playoffs)." -- David Satriano, staff writer

3. Patrick Roy, G (636)

Selected by: Montreal Canadiens, third round (No. 51), 1984

Roy's statistics during his three seasons with Granby of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League were unimpressive; his best season was a 4.44 goals-against average in 61 games in 1983-84. But everything changed after the Canadiens sent him to Sherbrooke of the American Hockey League in 1984, where he mastered the butterfly style under goalie coach Francois Allaire. Roy joined the Canadiens full-time in 1985-86, and as a 20-year-old rookie that season, backstopped Montreal to the Stanley Cup and won the Conn Smythe Trophy. It was the first of four championships for Roy with the Canadiens (1986, 1993) and Colorado Avalanche (1996, 2001), three of which ended with him also winning the Conn Smythe (also 1993, 2001). Roy also won the Vezina Trophy three times (1988-90, 1991-92), and he's one of two goalies, along with Roberto Luongo, to win 200 games with two teams (Canadiens 289, Avalanche 262), and each team retired his No. 33. The first goalie to 500 wins and 1,000 games, Roy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.

60 Diamonds No 3 Patrick Roy
2. Mark Messier, F (677)

Selected by:Edmonton Oilers, third round (No. 48), 1979

The Oilers selected Hall of Famers with their first three NHL draft picks, with Messier chosen between defenseman Kevin Lowe in the first round (No. 21) and forward Glenn Anderson in the fourth round (No. 69). Shifted from wing to center behind Gretzky, Messier was a physical force who bulled his way to four 40-goal seasons and six 100-point seasons. He helped the Oilers win the Stanley Cup five times, including in 1990 as captain. But he cemented his legacy after his trade to the New York Rangers in 1991. He backed up his memorable guarantee of a victory in Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Final against the Devils with a hat trick, then helped the Rangers end a 54-year Cup drought in a seven-game win against the Vancouver Canucks in the Final. As captain of that Rangers team, he is the only person in NHL history to captain two teams to the Stanley Cup. Messier retired in 2004 second all-time to Gretzky in points (1,887), and his 1,756 games played were second all-time to Gordie Howe (1,767). Messier was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.

60 Diamonds No 2 Mark Messier
1. Nicklas Lidstrom, D (683)

Selected by:Detroit Red Wings, third round (No. 53), 1989

Lidstrom was nicknamed "the perfect human" by his teammates, and there are few that would argue. He was a steal, the 19th defensemen selected and the third in the third round, after Bob Kellogg (No. 48, Chicago Blackhawks) and Veli-Pekka Kautonen (No. 50, Calgary Flames), neither of whom played in the NHL. Lidstrom played two additional seasons in his native Sweden after being selected but proved worth the wait. He had 60 points (11 goals, 49 assists) and was a plus-36 as a rookie in 1991-92, the first display of his all-around skill. In the 1997 Stanley Cup Final, he and partner Larry Murphy helped shut down the Philadelphia Flyers' Legion of Doom line of Eric Lindros, John LeClair and Mikael Renberg as Detroit won its first championship since 1955, and helped the Red Wings win the Cup again the following season. In 2000-01, he won the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman for the first of seven times; only Bobby Orr (eight) won it more. Lidstrom won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2002 when the Red Wings won the Cup, and in 2008, he became the first Europe-born captain to win the Cup. Lidstrom won his seventh Norris Trophy at age 40 in 2010-11, and retired in 2012. He's sixth all-time among NHL defensemen with 1,142 points (264 goals, 878 assists) and was a plus-450 in 1,564 games. The Red Wings made the postseason in each of Lidstrom's 20 NHL seasons, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

"Imagine selecting a player in the third round who not only would go on to play more than 1,500 games, but win the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL seven times (2000-03, 2005-08, 2010-11). Lidstrom also was a 10-time First-Team NHL All-Star and helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup four times. He did everything effortlessly -- skating, first pass out of the defensive zone, quarterback the power play. You name it, Lidstrom did it. He also handled the captaincy in Detroit with dignity and grace for six seasons, highlighted by a championship in 2008. To think he was part of a Red Wings draft class in 1989 that also included Mike Sillinger (No. 11), Bob Boughner (No. 32), Sergei Fedorov (No. 74), Dallas Drake (No. 116) and Vladimir Konstantinov (No. 221), it's no wonder why Detroit senior vice president Jim Devellano is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in the builder's category." -- Brian Compton, managing editor