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So you’re saying there’s a chance: seventh-round wonders — Part 1

Do you get tired of hearing about the high probability that a late round pick won’t make it? How about a look at the ones who did.

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Do you want a scientific survey of late round successes? This isn’t it. This is a fun tour of the seventh rounds of recent drafts to see who made it while we ignore the bulk of the picks that did not.

No one expects much of the seventh round, but we call them lottery-ticket picks for a reason: Some of them come in winners.


Would you expect there to be a seventh rounder from 2017 to already have NHL games played? Me neither, and technically it’s only one game.

Dylan Ferguson, the goaltender selected by the Dallas Stars and traded to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Marc Methot deal, started one game for Vegas during their “all our goalies are broken” phase. He went back to junior hockey afterwards, but he got an NHL pay cheque for a few weeks.


No one has played an NHL game from this draft yet. There are some familiar names, though, all forwards. Toronto took Nikolai Chebykin first in that round, and you won’t see him in the NHL.

Rodrigo Abols was taken by the Canucks, and he was at the Leafs development camp this summer, and might want an AHL job someday.

Ty Ronning was taken by the Rangers at 201st after going to the combine due to his famous name and his highly personable manner. He might be calling a game you watch someday.

Otto Somppi, taken by the Lightning at 206th had a great final year in junior last year and is on an ELC now and will play in the AHL. He’s my bet to be the best of the bunch someday.


There are two defenders in this seventh round, both Finns, both really exciting players who have hit the NHL.

Markus Nutivaara has already cemented himself into the Columbus rotation, and has 127 games played for the team that drafted him 189th.

Sami Niku was on fire in the AHL last year, and he easily won the top defender award. He has one NHL game played for the Jets, who took him 198th, but you haven’t heard the last of him.

Toronto took Nikita Korostelev in that round, and he’s on a try out with CSKA in the KHL after finishing his junior career unsigned by the Leafs, while they chose his linemate Semyon Der-Arguchintsev this year.


There is only one jewel in this seventh round, but he’s pretty shiny. Ondrej Kase, taken 205th by the Ducks, has played 119 games for them and has 53 points. Many think he might have more to offer higher up the lineup.

Toronto took Pierre Engvall in that draft, and we know he’s really fun in the AHL, which on the probabilities is still a big win.

The most likely to succeed out of the rest is Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson, who should play in North America this year.


There’s not a lot of resounding success in this seventh round, not yet, anyway.

Joel Vermin played 24 games for Tampa before returning to Switzerland.

John Gilmour, a defender, has played 28 games, but not for Calgary who drafted him, rather for the rebuilding Rangers last season. He had five points.

Some fellow named Andreas Johnson was taken 202nd by the Leafs. The addition of another s has catapulted him to the NHL and he should add considerably to his nine games and three points.

But Johnsson has to work it to catch up to MacKenzie Weeger. A defender, he was taken by Florida at 206th, and he already has 63 games played and eight points. I’m confident Johnsson will bust through in points before he does in games played.


At 184th, Phoenix took goalie Marek Langhamer, and Arizona has played him in two games one each last year and the year before. He’ll be in the Czech league this coming year, and that seems like that for his NHL career.

At 192nd, Colorado took Colin Smith. He played in one NHL game for them, and then he ended up on their AHL team, then the Marlies, then theirs again, and he toured through two more last year. Next year, he’s playing for Eisbären Berlin in the DEL.

At 193rd, Buffalo took Brady Austin, a defender, who played 5 games for them two years ago. He got an AHL deal last season after a tryout, and doesn’t have a contract currently, so that counts as a mistaken ELC.

At 195th, the Capitals made no mistake when they took a different defender, Christian Djoos, and he’s been drinking juice out of the Stanley Cup all summer after playing 63 games for them last year.

At 198th, the Sharks took Joakim Ryan, another defender, and he played in 62 games, and signed a new contract with them. He’s an intriguing looking player, who seems to compliment Brent Burns well enough.

The Leafs selected defender Viktor Loov at 209th, and after being traded to the Devils and not re-signed, he’s gone to the KHL for this season. He played four games for the Leafs.

The Ducks took Jaycob Megna, a defender at 210th, and he has 15 games, mostly last year when they had injury troubles.

The best player selected in that seventh round, without question, is Tampa’s 202nd choice of Nikita Gusev. He’s the best player in the world not in the NHL, and he’ll likely never play here unless Vegas, who now own his rights, can wave enough money at him to tempt him over.


This was a very good year for late picks.

At 184th the Panthers took Iiro Pakarinen who has 134 games played and 23 points, all for the Oilers. He’s moving to Metallurg in the KHL this year, but he almost made it.

At 188th, Columbus took goalie Anton Forsberg. He’s had 45 games so far, most with Chicago last year, where he was supposed to be the backup. They signed Cam Ward, so depending on Corey Crawford’s health, he might be back in the AHL.

At 190th, the Leafs took Garret Sparks, who has 17 NHL games in the tank during Auston year, and he certainly has nothing left to prove in the AHL.

At 191st, the Wild took Tyler Graovac, who has played 62 games, but has now moved to a new team, and looks to be an AHLer or a call-up at best.

The Hurricanes took Brody Sutter at 193rd, and he saw 12 NHL games on the strength of his last name. He has 0 NHL points. Brody Smith would have never signed an ELC. On the strength of an okay AHL career, he’s moved to the Liiga to play next year.

Dallas took Jyrki Jokipakka, a defender, at 195th, and he has 28 points in 150 NHL games, split between teams. He plays for Sochi in the KHL now.

Chicago took Alex Broadhurst at 199th, and he got in two games last year for Columbus. His AHL results are fairly good, so he might get a callup.

Tampa took Matthew Peca at 201st, and while he played 20 games for them, he looks like a very good AHLer/call-up, not an NHL roster player.

Ottawa took Ryan Dzingel at 204th, and he has 190 games played for them with 82 points. He seems like a good depth player.

Detroit chose Alexei Marchenko, a defender, at 205th, and he played 121 NHL games, 11 of them for the Leafs on his way to the KHL where he still plays for CSKA.

And now the cream of the crop: Tampa chose Ondrej Palat 208th overall, and he has 363 NHL games played with 253 points.

Taken one spot later by the Penguins was Scott Wilson, who has 46 pints in 172 NHL games. He had a strange year last year. He was traded first to Detroit and then to Buffalo. Laugh all you like, but he might be Jeff Skinner’s opposite wing this year.

So that’s the first part of the tour. Part 2 will go Thursday. The theme of a lot of defenders turning out to be the hidden gems, or at least close to it has already been revealed here, and we’ll see more of that in part 2.

Another interesting trend is that most of the players teams give an ELC to these days are really close to NHL-level. At worst they’re high-end European league players or very good NHLers with some callup value.

There are some occasional cases where it’s impossible to imagine why the team signed them, but the answer might be lack of organizational depth. There’s a couple of teams that keep finding great players in the seventh round, or at least potential. The Sharks show up a lot, so does Tampa.

The Leafs do okay in this segment, but part 2 is where there is very little good Leafs news, but there are still some familiar names.