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Burrows the unlikeliest of heroes

by Tal Pinchevsky /
On a team full of first-round picks, a free agent led the way again Saturday night.

Despite missing 306 man games during the regular season -- seventh-most in the League, the Vancouver Canucks were able to find enough interchangeable parts to capture the Presidents' Trophy this season. A quick scan of their roster shows where much of that team depth comes from.

If most of the NHL's top young talent is selected in the Entry Draft's first round, then the Canucks enjoy an embarrassment of riches.

The roster Vancouver fielded for Game 2 against the Bruins boasted nine first-round picks -- Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Roberto Luongo, Manny Malhotra, Raffi Torres, Chris Higgins, Cory Schneider, and Jeff Tambellini. That doesn't even include Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard, two first-rounders who didn't play in Game 2. The team also iced three second-rounders in Maxim Lapierre, Mason Raymond, and Victor Oreskovich. That's more than half the roster taken in the first two rounds of the Draft.

But despite fielding among the League's finest collections of Draft Day talent, it was Vancouver's only undrafted player who was the star in Game 2's 3-2 victory. With three points, including the winning goal 11 seconds into overtime, Alexandre Burrows followed a very different path to the Stanley Cup Final.

After being passed over in the Draft, Burrows found an opportunity in the East Coast Hockey League, splitting the 2002-03 season with the Greenville Grrrowl and Baton Rouge Kingfish, two franchises that no longer exist.

A breakout season with the Columbia Inferno in 2003-04 eventually landed him a spot with the AHL Manitoba Moose before the Canucks came calling in 2006. Five years later, Burrows is two wins away from becoming one of the NHL's unlikeliest Stanley Cup heroes. 

Not bad for a guy no one wanted on Draft Day.

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