How great players get overlooked

Updated: March 15, 2012, 1:54 PM ET
By Doug McIntyre

For obvious reasons, this space usually focuses on the bluest of blue-chip prospects, the projected lottery picks identified as future NHL superstars by scouts and media types across the globe.

But with the 2012 draft now just three months away, it's important to remember that this spring's Stanley Cup playoffs will be littered with household names who were overlooked initially, were chosen in the late rounds, or who, in some cases, weren't taken at all.

Perhaps no team in the NHL has been better at turning lumps of coal into diamonds than the Detroit Red Wings.

By now it's part of draft lore that Pavel Datsyuk went in the sixth round in 1998, or that 209 players were selected before Henrik Zetterberg was called to the podium a year later. (Zetterberg, not expecting to be drafted, was actually back home in Sweden when the choice was announced.) Heck, even the great Nicklas Lidstrom slipped to the third round in 1989.

It begs the question: What did Detroit see in those players that others didn't? And if they had even the slightest inkling that any of those players would develop into perennial All-Stars, wouldn't they have grabbed them a lot earlier?