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The History of Hockey Relive great moments in hockey history and discuss how the game has changed over time.

Stars that came from Nowhere

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Old
02-07-2010, 12:15 AM
  #1
Topgoon
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Stars that came from Nowhere

Who are some players who were never expected to excell in the NHL, struggled early to maintain a career in the NHL (showing limited potential), and then ultimately developed and exploded to reach elite status? I'm wondering who are the players that had the largest gap between expectations and the final result.

A lot of late round picks end up having a decent career as a top 6 player or a good checker. For the purpose of this discussion, we're talking about players who peaked at least as a top 10 player in the league, while weren't expected to do much when they first started. Players who took a long time to reach their potential shouldn't count.

Marty St. Louis would a good example of a player that fits into this category. Undrafted, struggled as a fringe NHLer for a couple of seasons, and then progressed into a hart trophy winner. Since my knowledge of the hockey world consists of pretty much the last decade, I was hoping the board would be able to enlighten me on this topic?

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02-07-2010, 03:27 AM
  #2
VanIslander
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Comes immediately to mind: Brian Rafalski was from Michigan and was not drafted (not expected to ever make the league) and so went to Europe and bounced around in Swedish and Finn leagues before making the NHL as a 26 year old, going on to three Stanley Cups and five Stanley Cup Finals with two franchises.

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02-07-2010, 05:31 AM
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Wet Sprocket
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Dan Boyle is another...undrafted after juniors, plays 4 years at Miami University in Ohio and signs with the Panthers. After a year in Kentucky, he splits time as a bottom pairing Dman and an AHLer for several seasons, traded to Tampa in 2002 and turns into a 50 pt guy and slowly develops a solid two way game while quietly helping the Lightning win a Cup. Traded to San Jose, his game has improved to the point that at 34, he's a Canadian Olympian and a Norris candidate.

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02-07-2010, 08:53 AM
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reckoning
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Charlie Simmer: A 3rd round pick by the California Seals, his first four seasons were primarily spent in the minors with some time in the NHL where he was unable to keep his spot on the roster. He ended up with the Kings organization, and midway through the '78-'79 season was called up from the farm team. They tried him on a line with Marcel Dionne and they just clicked. Next season, Simmer led the NHL in goals.

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02-07-2010, 09:37 AM
  #5
Heat McManus
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Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.

Damn you, Ken Holland!

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02-07-2010, 10:22 AM
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MiamiScreamingEagles
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Tim Kerr. Four straight 50+ goal seasons.

http://www.legendsofhockey.net/Legen...p?player=10777

Quote:
Kerr grew up in Tecumseh, a community near Windsor in southwestern Ontario. He played junior with the Windsor Spitfires and the Kingston Canadians of the OHA, where he was a decent scorer even if he wasn't prolific. Had he not grown so much as a teenager, he would have put up bigger numbers. As it was, he soldiered on as his coordination slowly caught up with his size.

With 230 pounds on his 6'3" frame, Kerr was known around the junior leagues as a slow skater who parked himself in the slot, collecting his share of "garbage" goals. He was never drafted by an NHL team but was signed by the Flyers after a 40-goal season in junior in 1979-80. He suited up immediately with their AHL affiliate in Portland, Maine, where he scored six points in seven games. He played decently at Philadelphia's training camp in 1980 but didn't convince everyone that he could succeed in the NHL. In the end, he made the team because a broken leg suffered by Ken Linseman opened a spot on the roster. Kerr registered 22 and 21 goals in his first two seasons and established himself as an NHL regular. In 1982-83, he was on pace to top the 40-goal mark when a serious knee injury ruined his season.

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02-07-2010, 10:25 AM
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Chairman Maouth
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Alex Burrows. Undrafted ball-hockey player makes good, now a member of one of the top lines in the NHL.

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02-07-2010, 10:35 AM
  #8
DaveG
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Luc Robitaille. Picked in the 9th round of the draft by the Kings in 84.

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02-07-2010, 10:50 AM
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Adam Oates. Undrafted.

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02-07-2010, 10:56 AM
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Brett Callighen

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02-07-2010, 01:26 PM
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Ziggy Stardust
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Does Brett Hull qualify? He wasn't expected to be a star, was drafted in the sixth round by the Flames and was considered to be an out of shape player (having weighed 220 pounds as a junior, and it wasn't all muscle! The Flames gave up on him prematurely and he went on to become one of the most prolific scorers in NHL history.

http://www.hockeydraftcentral.com/1984/84117.html
http://www.legendsofhockey.net/Legen...p?player=10681

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02-07-2010, 01:31 PM
  #12
lextune
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Does Brett Hull qualify?
Absolutely.

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02-07-2010, 01:35 PM
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Wet Sprocket
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I wouldn't say Luc Robitaille qualifies as he wasn't a fringe NHLer at any point during the early part of his career. In fact he was a Calder winner and 50 goal guy by his 2nd year. I wouldn't consider that "coming out of nowhere," even if he was drafted really late.

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02-07-2010, 02:01 PM
  #14
crump
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after 3 good years at NCAA, Joe Nieuwendyk became an instant 90 point NHL player.

Back then NCAA players had a lower profile than today's and having not played in a Canadian junior league, he was "Joe Who" for me at that time.

He is one of the biggest "stars from nowhere" players for me.

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Old
02-07-2010, 03:08 PM
  #15
mco543
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
Luc Robitaille. Picked in the 9th round of the draft by the Kings in 84.
I still think it's absolutely hilarious that the Kings drafted Tom Glavine ahead of Robitaille that year.

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Old
02-07-2010, 04:27 PM
  #16
ted1971
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John Leclair

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02-07-2010, 06:37 PM
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Old
02-07-2010, 07:05 PM
  #18
pappyline
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Gordie Howe. First 3 seasons scored a total of 35 goals. In season number 4, scored 35 in one season.

Bobby Hull. Unknown junior (Mahovolich had all the press clippings) who surprisingly made the Blackhawks in 57-58. Scored 31 goals over his first 2 seasons. exploded for 39 and an art ross in season # 3.

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Old
02-07-2010, 07:19 PM
  #19
VanIslander
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lextune View Post
Adam Oates. Undrafted.
made the NHL allrookie team, so isn't the sort of guy this thread is supposed to be about

Quote:
Originally Posted by crump
after 3 good years at NCAA, Joe Nieuwendyk became an instant 90 point NHL player.
he also isn't the sort of slowly developing player the op is talking about

Quote:
Originally Posted by topgoon
Who are some players who were never expected to excell in the NHL, struggled early to maintain a career in the NHL (showing limited potential), and then ultimately developed and exploded to reach elite status? I'm wondering who are the players that had the largest gap between expectations and the final result.

A lot of late round picks end up having a decent career as a top 6 player or a good checker. For the purpose of this discussion, we're talking about players who peaked at least as a top 10 player in the league, while weren't expected to do much when they first started. Players who took a long time to reach their potential shouldn't count.

Marty St. Louis would a good example of a player that fits into this category. Undrafted, struggled as a fringe NHLer for a couple of seasons, and then progressed into a hart trophy winner. Since my knowledge of the hockey world consists of pretty much the last decade, I was hoping the board would be able to enlighten me on this topic?

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Old
02-07-2010, 08:41 PM
  #20
MS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pappyline View Post
Gordie Howe. First 3 seasons scored a total of 35 goals. In season number 4, scored 35 in one season.

Bobby Hull. Unknown junior (Mahovolich had all the press clippings) who surprisingly made the Blackhawks in 57-58. Scored 31 goals over his first 2 seasons. exploded for 39 and an art ross in season # 3.
Definitely not Howe. Howe was an NHL regular at 18, unheard-of at the time. At 19, he was 9th in the NHL in assists. At 20, he was a 2nd Team All-Star. And then at 21, he exploded into the best player in the NHL. But he was a golden child from the time he was 16.

Hull might have been less-heralded than Mahovlich (probably mostly because Mahovlich was Maple Leaf property) but it's hard to say a guy is an 'unexpected star' when they put together the best 18 y/o season in the NHL between WW2 and Bobby Orr.

Of O6 players, maybe the best example is Pierre Pilote - didn't become an NHL regular until he was 25, and ended up being the best defender of the 1960s.

Allen Stanley and Johnny Bower also kicked around as journeymen for years before building most of their HHOF portfolios after the age of 30.

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Old
02-07-2010, 08:55 PM
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MS View Post

Allen Stanley and Johnny Bower also kicked around as journeymen for years before building most of their HHOF portfolios after the age of 30.
Actually, Stanley was kicked around because he failed to meet expectations, so I really, really doubt it's what the OP was looking for.

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Old
02-07-2010, 10:04 PM
  #22
vadim sharifijanov
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the 3x50 goal season thread reminded me of john leclair. granted, he wasn't one of those luc robitaille-type late round picks that no one expected to stick, but i don't think too many people had him on their radar as even a 30 goal scorer when he went to philadelphia in the desjardins for recchi trade. in fact, between him and gilbert dionne, he was probably the considered less likely to be anything more than a 2nd/3rd line tweener, and his great '93 playoffs, at least as far as i can remember, was thought of as one of those chris kontos or john druce-type lightning in a bottle runs, rather than as a sign of things to come.

EDIT: daniel alfredsson was another guy where, in his rookie year people were saying "where did this guy come from?" he never played in the WJC and was drafted as a 21 year old out of the SEL. there were a bunch of highly anticipated young forwards in ottawa at the time: yashin, daigle, bonk, straka, even demitra, who was also a late round pick but put up some great numbers in the AHL after he was drafted. but it was alfredsson who led the sens in scoring that year while yashin held out for the first half of the year.


Last edited by vadim sharifijanov: 02-07-2010 at 10:18 PM.
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Old
02-08-2010, 12:44 AM
  #23
Telos
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mco543 View Post
I still think it's absolutely hilarious that the Kings drafted Tom Glavine ahead of Robitaille that year.


They think it is hilarious too. At least we can laugh about it now Wouldn't want to be Luc back then when it happened. Though he is a great guy. He went down to their drafting table and introduced himself, thanked them, and promised to play hard for LA - boy did he work hard...

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Old
02-08-2010, 01:25 AM
  #24
Sadekuuro
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Johan Franzen went from checking center to goal-scoring machine pretty abruptly, about two years ago.

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Old
02-08-2010, 01:50 AM
  #25
TheDevilMadeMe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VanIslander View Post
made the NHL allrookie team, so isn't the sort of guy this thread is supposed to be about

I believe Brian Rafalski made the NHL all-rookie team (albeit as a 26 year old who had done his time in Europe).

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