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NHL Draft: Biggest steals in 2013

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer


Hunter Shinkaruk could be the steal of the first round. (USATSI)
Vancouver's Hunter Shinkaruk could be the steal of the first round. (USATSI)

More NHL offseason: Rumors | Top 50 Free Agents | Top 50 Prospects | Mock Draft

So often in trying to determine which teams had the best draft, when a player is selected can be just as important as the quality of the player's skills and potential. Sometimes it's those later picks that end up working out best because their value far exceeds their draft slot.

One of the ultimate value picks over the years was Pavel Datsyuk, who went 171st overall to Detroit in his draft year. When a team can get first-round level production out of a guy who was picked in the sixth round, that's pretty nice right?

NHL Draft Grades

Part of getting a good value pick is based on luck. Sometimes a team takes a chance on a guy in the late rounds and he just so happens to pan out. Other times, value is found when a guy who everyone expects to go in the first round somehow falls through the cracks.

Take Brandon Saad, a Calder Trophy finalist this season for the Chicago Blackhawks as an example. He came into his draft year as a lock to go in the first round. Injuries slowed his production and his stock fell. He went unselected in the first round and was passed three times by the Blackhawks even before Chicago took him with the 43rd pick.

It's tough to know which guys are going to end up as the high value picks from this draft on the day they were picked, but there were a few picks that stood out. Below, you'll find 10 picks from the first four rounds that have the potential to become the biggest steals of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Pavel Buchnevich -- New York Rangers -- 75th overall

The Rangers didn't have any picks until the third round, but may have had the good fortune of the “Russian Factor” causing Pavel Buchnevich to tumble. He has first-round skills and could turn out to be a highly productive goal scorer if he reaches his full potential. Seeing as the Rangers didn't have a chance to select in the first round, Buchnevich affords the team a first-round caliber player at a range far below what his skills suggest. If the Rangers can lure him away from the KHL at some point, he could go down as one of the steals of this draft.

Madison Bowey -- Washington Capitals -- 53rd overall

Perhaps buried in a deep class of defensive prospects, Bowey was a guy many believed could end up as a first-round pick. He skates well and has an elite-level shot that helped him score 12 goals in the WHL this season. A good showing at the World Under-18 Championship improved his stock, but apparently not enough. It must've been a pretty easy pick when Bowey was there at 53rd for George McPhee.

Robert Hagg -- Philadelphia Flyers -- 41st overall

Philadelphia took a big gamble when selecting Samuel Morin 11th overall, but may have provided itself a bit of a safety net in taking Hagg with its second pick. He was another defenseman that looked to go in the first round, but was edged out by the high-level forwards. Hagg is a terrific puck-moving defenseman who can take care of his own end. He's a smooth skater and mature player, who is only going to get better as he gets stronger and more confident. I would not be totally shocked if Hagg ended up making it to the NHL before Morin.

Oliver Bjorkstrand -- Columbus Blue Jackets -- 89th overall

Playing on the high-powered Portland Winterhawks, I figured Bjorkstrand would have shown enough to get taken somewhere early in the second round. Instead, he dropped all the way to the late third. The Danish forward has some really exciting puck skills, though his skating may have been what dropped his stock. Still, Bjorkstrand posted 31 goals and 63 points in his first WHL season. When new general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was a draft guru at St. Louis and Ottawa, he had a knack for finding late value. Bjorkstrand could be his latest discovery.

Anton Slepyshev -- Edmonton Oilers -- 88th overall

It might say 88th overall next to Slepyshev's name, but it's more like 298th overall. He was eligible for last year's draft and was a highly rated prospect, but he went undrafted. The Russian Factor was at play again, but this is a guy with some remarkable skill, pro size who also commits himself to playing two-way hockey. He plays for Ufa in the KHL and may be tough to pry away, but if Edmonton can get him to North America, they're probably going to look really, really smart for taking a chance on Slepyshev here.

Jordan Subban -- Vancouver Canucks -- 115th overall

The younger brother of Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban, Jordan earned some late-season hype as his game continued to grow. It was expected he'd go much higher than he did because of some really high-end puck skills that allowed him to compile 51 points in the OHL this season. The younger Subban is a risk taker however, and he's undersized for a defenseman at 5-foot-9. That caused the tumble, but because of those shifty puck skills, there's a chance he could make it into the league a specialist. This is the perfect range for a player like that.

Hunter Shinkaruk -- Vancouver Canucks -- 24th overall

It may seem weird to include a first-rounder as a potential steal, but I think Shinkaruk's surprising tumble down the draft board is going to pay off in a big way for Vancouver. He has had 219 points in three seasons of junior hockey so far with the Medicine Hat Tigers. The kid knows how to produce, he has tremendous hand skills and at one point was considered a lock to be a top-10 pick. His point total dropped a bit this year, which may have scared teams away, but it'll be of great benefit to the Canucks. He's a potentially exciting talent.

Adam Erne -- Tampa Bay Lightning -- 33rd overall

Erne just missed out on the first round, but he had the talent to go much higher than 33rd. Tampa Bay has a really excellent offensive piece in Erne to add with No. 3 overall pick Jonathan Drouin. Erne has good size and strength, skates well and has an NHL release on his shot. Some scouts wonder if he could develop into more of a power-forward style wing with top-six potential. If he reaches his ceiling, Erne could be a force at the next level. Considering a number of forwards that went before him, Tampa is in really good shape with such a high-level forward.

Hudson Fasching -- Los Angeles Kings -- 118th overall

A big power forward with some potential, Fasching was at one point considered one of the best American prospects in his age group. When production failed to meet expectations, his stock fell sharply. That said, he's a big forward at 6-2, 189, who has potential to round out into a two-way winger that can produce. His skill set is underrated, in my opinion, but he'll only continue to improve while at the University of Minnesota starting next year.

Zach Fucale -- Montreal Canadiens -- 36th overall

It is not often the consensus top-rated goalie makes it out of the first round of the draft, but that's what happened when Fucale dropped to 36th. Montreal gets some extra credit here because they had the guts to draft Jacob de la Rose two spots earlier knowing they could lose Fucale. The gamble paid off and Montreal has its perceived heir to Cary Price's throne. Truth be told, I think this was a fair range for Fucale's overall value, but I was really surprised no team went after him earlier given the buzz surrounding this netminder.

 
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