When teams sit down at their tables during the Entry Draft, most teams expect their first round picks to make the NHL. With each passing round, the chances of those players eventually making it to the pros get slimmer and slimmer. It is unlikely any late round pick ever sees the NHL, but sometimes, the last overall pick in the draft defies all the odds and makes a career for himself at the NHL level.
Number 5- Gerry Meehan
Meehan holds the distinction of being the first player in league history to make the NHL after being selected last in his draft year. Taken 21st overall in 1963 by the Maple Leafs (yes, that was last overall back then) he went on to play a prominent role for the Buffalo Sabres in the early 1970’s. He earned the role of captain of the Sabres, a role he would also hold with the Washington Capitals later in his career. Meehan holds some negative resentment by Flyers fans, as he scored a last second goal in the 1971-72 season that cost the Flyers a playoff spot. He also eventually became the general manager of the Sabres in 1986 and build a great team until he was promoted to vice-president in 1993.
Number 4- Andy Brickley
Drafted by the Flyers last overall in 1980, in 1983 became the second player to make the NHL after being selected last. He was quickly traded to the Penguins, who after two seasons would lose him to the Devils on waivers. He was again picked up on waivers, this time by the Bruins but the injury bug would strike him hard. He would take multiple pucks to the face during his career, one of which was awarded a goal, cost him five teeth and over 35 stitches. Brickley dealt with multiple injures and bounced back and forth from the AHL to the NHL before calling it a career in 1999. He finished his career with 385 NHL games and 222 points.
Number 3- Jonathan Ericsson
The long-time Red Wing was drafted in 2002 and bounced around Sweden until he made his move to the Red Wings AHL affiliate in 2006. He made his full-time NHL debut in 2008 and has been a consistent member of the Red Wings blueline for the past decade. So far, he has played in 680 NHL games registering 125 points and 535 penalty minutes.
Number 2- Kim Johnsson
The last overall pick of the 1994 draft made his NHL debut for the New York Rangers during the 1999-00 season and became a decent serviceable defenseman. He was shipped to Philadelphia Flyers as part of the Eric Lindros deal and became a star on the Flyers blueline. He spent four years in the orange and black, posting the best seasons of his career. Johnsson later signed as a free agent with the Wild where he would spend four more seasons. He was later dealt to the Blackhawks and technically won a Cup with them, but his name wasn’t included on the Cup. He finished his NHL career playing 739 games over 10 seasons.
Number 1- Patric Hornqvist
Selected 230 overall by the Predators in 2005, Hornqvist left Sweden for North America for the 2008-09 season. He debuted for the Preds AHL team and made a decent first impression, eventually earning a call-up to the main roster. He quickly developed into a gritty power forward who scored 30 goals during his first full NHL season. During the summer of 2014, Hornqvist was traded to the Penuins as part of the James Neal trade. He won two Cups in Pittsburgh, even scoring the series winning goal against his former team in 2017.
Hans Jonsson– Jonsson is a defenseman mainly known for his 16 seasons playing for MODO in Sweden. He spent four seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1999 to 2003 playing 242 games scoring 10 goals and 48 points.
Paul Maurice– This one is actually a deviation from the rest of the list, as Maurice never played an NHL game. An eye injury during his last season of Junior hockey with Windsor Spitfires cost him his career as a player, but he adjusted to life as a coach. He coached Juniors and midget teams until he debuted in the NHL as an assistant coach for the Hartford Whalers in 2005. Today, he coaches the Winnipeg Jets and has coached for the Maple Leafs, He also had two separate stints in Carolina.
Zach Trotman– The most recent pick on this list, taken in 2010, Trotman spent the first four seasons of his career mainly playing for the Bruins AHL affiliate. He made the Bruins roster as the seventh defenseman, playing 67 games over two years. He then signed as a free agent in LA, but missed most of the season due to injury. The following season he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins where he has bounced from the NHL to AHL since 2017.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: sydsvensken.se