Special Report

Deepest Drafts in Sports History

Deepest draft classes in NHL history:
Source: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

5. 1990 NHL Draft
> Top overall pick: Owen Nolan
> Total Hall of Famers: 2
> Best player: Martin Brodeur

Two members of the 1990 NHL Draft have already been selected to the Hall of Fame, and Jaromir Jagr will certainly be selected there soon. Jagr played 24 NHL seasons from 1990 to 2018, making eight All-Star teams, winning two Stanley Cups and a Hart Trophy. Perhaps the most decorated member of the 1990 class is Martin Brodeur, who was selected 20th overall. The Devils goalie won three Cups, along with five Jennings and four Vezina Trophies.

Hockey Hall of Famer Sergei Zubov was not selected until the fifth round. He would go on to play 16 seasons and win two Stanley Cups. Other multiple time Cup winners like Sergei Nemchinov and Vyacheslav Kozlov were not selected until later as well.

Source: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

4. 1993 NHL Draft
> Top overall pick: Alexandre Daigle
> Total Hall of Famers: 2
> Best player: Chris Pronger

Though Pavol Demitra and Kimmo Timonen were not selected until the ninth and 10th rounds, respectively, each played 16 seasons in the NHL. Other late round selections like Todd Marchant and Miroslav Satan played well over a decade as well. Though like many drafts, the best players were drafted early. Second pick Chris Pronger and fourth pick Paul Kariya have both been elected to the Hall of Fame. Seventh overall pick Jason Arnott played more games than any other 1993 draftee, at more than 1,200. Arnott won the 2000 Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils.

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3. 1984 NHL Draft
> Top overall pick: Mario Lemieux
> Total Hall of Famers: 4
> Best player: Patrick Roy

The 1984 NHL Draft had Hall of Fame talent at all levels. As the top overall pick, Mario Lemieux’s legendary Penguins career — three Hart Trophies, two Cups, and nine All-Star selections — was not shocking. But, at the 51st pick, Patrick Roy was only the third goalie selected. Roy racked up four Cups, five Jennings Trophies, and three Vezina Trophies with the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche. Hall of Famers Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille were not selected until the sixth and ninth rounds, respectively. Other All-Star players like Gary Suter and Kirk McLean had more than 100 players selected before them as well.

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2. 2003 NHL Draft
> Top overall pick: Marc-Andre Fleury
> Total Hall of Famers: N/A
> Best player: Marc-Andre Fleury

More than 20 players selected in the 2003 NHL Draft are still playing in 2020. It was a terrific draft for goalies — from top overall pick and three-time Cup winner Marc-Andre Fleury to 271st pick and Jennings Trophy winner Jaroslav Halak. Corey Crawford won two Cups with the Blackhawks and two Jennings Trophies, while 291st overall pick and Jennings winner Brian Elliott is still playing as well. There were also a number of terrific defensemen available, like All-Stars Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. Dustin Byfuglien was drafted 245th overall and All-Star center Joe Pavelski was not selected until the 205th pick.

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1. 1979 NHL Draft
> Top overall pick: Rob Ramage
> Total Hall of Famers: 5
> Best player: Ray Bourque

The 1979 NHL Draft was the first of its kind, and also happened to have the most quality players of any draft. There were a staggering 44 players from that draft who played over 500 NHL games. The best of the bunch was eighth pick Ray Bourque. In 22 seasons, Bourque made 19 All-Star teams, winning five Norris Trophies as the NHL’s top defenseman. Other first rounders like Mike Gartner and Michel Goulet made the Hall of Fame too — as did Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson. Messier was taken in the third round and Anderson in the fourth. Those two were teammates on six Stanley Cup-winning teams — five with the Oilers and one with the New York Rangers in 1994.