Top 10 Best NHL Draft Classes Of All Time
The annual NHL Entry Draft gives every team a shot at a better future. Some years are far better than others when it comes to the talent available. Ranking the 10 greatest draft classes in NHL history.
The recent National Hockey League Entry Draft was another exercise in hope. All 32 NHL teams had a chance to select players who could become a big part of their franchises’ futures. They could also be total busts. That’s because, like it or not, the draft is something of a crapshoot, particularly once you get past the first two rounds.
Most first-round picks play at least a few games in the NHL, but several – including some highly-regarded ones – have failed to make it to hockey’s highest level. On the other hand, some of the greatest players in NHL history have been selected in late rounds, including goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who was just elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame despite having been a seventh-round pick.
NHL scouts get it wrong sometimes, but one thing they can’t control is the depth of each year’s draft pool. There have been some awful draft classes in the past that yielded relatively few NHL-caliber players, but there have also been some abundant classes in which future Hall of Famers were available in almost every round.
The 2023 NHL draft was exceptional because it included a generational player in Connor Bedard, but its overall depth remains to be seen. Bedard’s membership in this group is a good sign, however, since several of the best draft classes of all time also just happened to include a generational player at the top.
In honor of Bedard and the 2023 draftees, let’s take a look back through NHL Entry Draft history to determine the 10 greatest draft classes of all time.
What is the best NHL draft class ever?
Let’s start with this stipulation: Wayne Gretzky is the best player to have entered the league since the NHL draft began in 1963. He is also the best player of all time. So, it should be no surprise that Gretzky would have been part of the best draft class in NHL history, the class of 1979. Ironically, however, Gretzky was never drafted due to a technicality related to the merger of the NHL and the former World Hockey Association. You can read about that technicality toward the end of this list, but it is certainly fair to look back at that draft pool as the one that would -- and perhaps should -- have included The Great One.
Ranking the Top 10 NHL Draft Classes of all time
- 1997 NHL Draft Class
Hall of Famers (2): Marian Hossa, Roberto Luongo
Likely Future Hall of Famers (2): Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau
Major Awards Won (3): Hart Trophy (Thornton), Calder Trophy (Sergei Samsonov), Art Ross Trophy (Thornton)
No hockey player appeared in more NHL games than league record-holder Patrick Marleau, the No. 2 pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. His 1,779 NHL games over 23 seasons are a remarkable achievement – a record that might never be broken since Marleau never had to struggle with injuries during his career.
Longevity was the theme of the 1997 draft class, as each of the top five picks that year went on to play more than 1,000 career NHL games.
Joe Thornton, picked No. 1 by the Boston Bruins, played most of his 1,714 games alongside Marleau in San Jose. No. 3 pick Olli Jokinen, taken by Los Angeles, appeared in a total of 1,231 games playing for 10 different NHL teams. Hall of Fame goaltender Roberto Luongo, taken by the New York Islanders, ranks second in career games by a goalie with 1,044. The Islanders also took defenseman Eric Brewer at No. 5, and he went on to play in 1,009 games.
Another five players from the 1997 draft class also played in 1,000 NHL games. They were Hall of Famer Marian Hossa (No. 12 pick by Ottawa), defenseman Scott Hannan (No. 23 by San Jose), forward Jason Chimera (No. 121 by Edmonton), forward Matt Cooke (144 by Vancouver), and defenseman Brian Campbell (No. 156 by Buffalo).
Former league MVP Thornton, of course, was the star of this draft class, and he will likely enter the Hall of Fame in 2025, just one year after Marleau goes in next year.
- 2008 NHL Draft Class
Hall of Famers: None yet
Likely Future Hall of Famers (6): Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Alex Pietrangelo, Erik Karlsson, John Carlson, Roman Josi
Major Awards Won (8): Norris Trophy (Karlsson 3, Doughty, Josi), Vezina Trophy (Braden Holtby), Rocket Richard Trophy (Stamkos 2)
The 2008 NHL Entry Draft featured an outstanding crop of defensemen that included three future Norris Trophy winners in Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, and Roman Josi. Doughty (No. 2 overall selection) and Karlsson (No. 15) were both first-round picks, while Josi was taken in the second round. Fifteen years later, both Doughty (Los Angeles Kings) and Josi (Nashville Predators) remain with the teams that drafted them.
Karlsson, the 2022-23 Norris Trophy winner, was the best of the great defensemen taken in 2008, even though The Hockey News had ranked him as only the draft’s No. 71 prospect beforehand. The Senators essentially went off the board to get Karlsson in the first round, and that gamble paid huge dividends.
The remarkable 2008 defense crop also included two-time Stanley Cup champion Alex Pietrangelo and Washington Capitals star John Carlson. The top forward in the draft was No. 1 overall pick Steven Stamkos, who has lived up to his billing with two Stanley Cup championships as a member of the Tampa Bay team that drafted him.
Braden Holtby and Jacob Markstrom were the best goaltenders to come out of the 2008 draft. Holtby won the Cup along with Carlson as a member of the 2017-18 Capitals just two years after winning the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best netminder.
- 1990 NHL Draft Class
Hall of Famers (2): Martin Brodeur, Sergei Zubov
Likely Future Hall of Famers (1): Jaromir Jagr
Major Awards Won (14): Hart Trophy (Jagr), Vezina Trophy (Brodeur 4), Calder Trophy (Brodeur), Art Ross Trophy (Jagr 5), Pearson/Lindsay Trophy (Jagr 3)
The presence of Jaromir Jagr at forward and Martin Brodeur in goal make the 1990 NHL Entry Draft class one of the best in league history, even though they were not the most highly-rated players going into their draft year.
In the weeks before the 1990 draft, all of the NHL draft buzz centered on the players who made up the draft’s top four – Owen Nolan (No. 1 to Quebec), Petr Nedved (No. 2 to Vancouver), Keith Primeau (No. 3 to Detroit), and Mike Ricci (No. 4 to Philadelphia). All of them had solid NHL careers, but the fifth overall selection who made the big four look small.
Czech superstar Jaromir Jagr, the ageless wonder who was still playing hockey in 2022-23, scored 1,921 points in 1,733 NHL games. Only Wayne Gretzky scored more points than Jagr, a two-time Stanley Cup champion who sacrificed three seasons worth of NHL stats to play in the fledgling KHL.
Brodeur, meanwhile, went on to win three Stanley Cup championships with New Jersey after the Devils chose him with the first round’s No. 20 overall pick. His 1,266 games are the most ever played by an NHL goaltender, and he also holds the seemingly unbreakable NHL record of 691 career wins.
Defenseman Sergei Zubov, selected 85th overall in Round 5 by the Rangers, has also made it to the Hall of Fame, but there are two more players from this draft who probably should be there with him. Keith Tkachuk, chosen 19th overall by Winnipeg, scored 538 career NHL goals. Peter Bondra, taken by Washington in Round 8, scored 503. Both players are still waiting to hear from the Hall.
Other star players from the 1990 NHL draft include defenseman Derian Hatcher and forwards Doug Weight, Slava Kozlov, and Alexei Zhamnov. There was also an outstanding future NHL referee in the mix, because Wes McCauley was chosen at No. 150 overall by Detroit.
- 2005 NHL Draft Class
Hall of Famers: None yet
Likely Future Hall of Famers (4): Sidney Crosby, Anze Kopitar, Kris Letang, Jonathan Quick
Major Awards Won (18): Hart Trophy (Crosby 2, Carey Price), Vezina Trophy (Tuukka Rask, Price), Selke Trophy (Kopitar 2), Art Ross Trophy (Crosby 2), Pearson/Lindsay Award (Crosby 3, Price), Rocket Richard Trophy (Crosby 2), Conn Smythe Trophy (Crosby 2, Quick)
Coming off a lost season due to the 2004-05 owners’ lockout, the league needed a fresh infusion of exciting talent, and it got that in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. No name, of course, was bigger than Sidney Crosby, the No. 1 overall pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Crosby is a generational player who has lived up to all his pre-draft hype. A three-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time league MVP, he set the standard for what it means to be picked No. 1, and it’s no surprise that he was idolized by the latest future superstar, Connor Bedard.
Three great goaltenders also came out of the draft. Carey Price, the NHL’s MVP in 2014-15, was the No. 5 overall pick by Montreal. Tuukka Rask, who won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie a year before Price, was taken by Toronto at No. 21 but was eventually traded to Boston for Andrew Raycroft while Rask was still playing in Finland. Jonathan Quick, a two-time Stanley Cup champ and former playoff MVP who recently signed with the New York Rangers, went to Los Angeles with pick No. 72.
A trio of outstanding defensemen was also part of this draft class. The group includes future Hall of Famer Kris Letang (No. 62 to Pittsburgh), Marc Staal (No. 12 to the New York Rangers), and all-time NHL Iron Man Keith Yandle (No. 105 to Phoenix), who played in 989 consecutive games between March 2009 and April 2022.
After Crosby, the 2005 draft did not lack for star forwards, either, as future Hall of Famer Anze Kopitar (1,141 career points) led a group that included T.J. Oshie , James Neal, and Paul Stastny.
- 1988 NHL Draft Class
Hall of Famers (4): Mike Modano, Teemu Selanne, Mark Recchi, Rob Blake
Major Awards Won (5): Norris Trophy (Blake), Calder Trophy (Selanne), Selke Trophy (Rod Brind’Amour 2), Rocket Richard Trophy (Selanne)
The 1988 NHL Entry Draft produced four Hall of Famers, but this draft class is also remarkable for the number of deserving Hall of Famers who have essentially been snubbed by the selection committee.
Consider the following 1988 draftees who are not in the Hall of Fame: No. 2 overall pick Trevor Linden (by Vancouver) scored 375 goals in 1,382 games. No. 8 overall pick Jeremy Roenick (by Chicago) scored 513 goals and 1,216 points in 1,363 games. No. 9 overall pick Rod Brind’Amour (by St. Louis) scored 452 goals and 1,184 points. No. 68 overall pick Tony Amonte (by the Rangers) scored 416 goals, and No. 89 overall pick Alexander Mogilny (by Buffalo) scored 473 goals and 1,032 points in 990 games.
None of those guys are in the Hall despite having numerous years of eligibility behind them. Of this group, Mogilny’s is the biggest snub, since he averaged more than a point per game. Roenick is also a major snub, since most 500-goal scorers find their way to Toronto. Brind’Amour is yet another glaring absence, particularly since he won the Stanley Cup and has 111 points in 159 career playoff games.
The three forwards who did make it to the Hall from this draft -- No. 1 overall pick Mike Modano, No. 10 pick Teemu Selanne,and No. 67 pick Mark Recchi – each exceeded 1,300 career points and 1,400 career games, so the 1988 bar is set pretty high. Defenseman Rob Blake, the fourth Hall of Famer, reached three Stanley Cup finals, won the Cup with Colorado in 2001, and played 1,270 games.
Other notables from the class of 1988 include Tie Domi (No. 27), Joe Juneau (No. 81), and Valeri Kamensky (No. 129). Longtime broadcaster Keith Jones, now a Flyers executive was taken in the seventh round, just 11 picks after Kamensky.
- 1984 NHL Draft Class
Hall of Famers (4): Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille
Major Awards Won (26): Hart Trophy (Lemieux 3, Hull), Norris, Vezina Trophy (Roy 3), Calder Trophy (Lemieux, Gary Suter, Robitaille), Art Ross Trophy (Lemieux 6), Pearson/Lindsay Award (Lemieux 4, Hull), Conn Smythe Trophy (Roy 3, Lemieux 2)
The four Hall of Famers from the 1984 NHL Entry Draft class are among the greatest players in league history. Even if every other player in this draft had been a bust – and they certainly weren’t – the group would merit inclusion on this list.
Two-time Stanley Cup champion and three-time league MVP Mario Lemieux’s 1,723 career points rank eighth in NHL history. His 1.88 points-per-game average ranks second behind Wayne Gretzky. Enough said about him.
Patrick Roy won four Stanley Cup championships and was the playoff MVP in three of those years. He was also a three-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s best goaltender. His 551 regular-season wins are second all-time behind Martin Brodeur, and his 151 career playoff wins are a league record. He revolutionized the goaltending position.
Brett Hull scored 741 goals during his NHL career to rank fifth in league history and is one of only four NHL players to have scored more than 100 goals in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Hull led the league in goals for three straight seasons from 1989-90 to 1991-92, including a career-high 86-goal season in 1990-91. Only Wayne Gretzky scored more goals in a single season than Hull. Ironically, Hull was picked only 117th overall because scouts didn’t think he would ever live up to the greatness of his father, Bobby Hull.
Luc Robitaille (drafted 171st overall by Los Angeles) scored 1,394 points in 1,431 games and set the NHL single-season records for goals (63) and points (125) by a left wing in 1992-93. His 668 career goals rank 13th all-time. In 2002, he won the Stanley Cup as Hull’s teammate in Detroit.
The four superstars drafted in 1984 tend to overshadow some other great players who were also picked that year. The group of forwards included Kirk Muller, Ed Olczyk, Gary Roberts, Stephane Richer, Michal Pivonka, and Ray Sheppard. Defensemen included Al Iafrate, Petr Svoboda, Sylvain Cote, Kevin Hatcher, Don Sweeney, and Gary Suter. The best goaltender chosen after Roy was Kirk McLean, who went to the Stanley Cup Final with Vancouver in 1994.
One more Hall of Famer came out of this draft class – a Baseball Hall of Famer. Never forget that Atlanta Braves pitching legend Tom Glavine was also a hockey star in high school and was taken by Los Angeles with the No. 69 overall pick in the 1984 draft.
- 2015 NHL Draft Class
Hall of Famers: None yet
Likely Future Hall of Famers (5): Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Mitch Marner, Mikko Rantanen, Kirill Kaprizov
Major Awards Won (15): Hart Trophy (McDavid 3), Calder Trophy (Mathew Barzal, Kaprizov), Art Ross Trophy (McDavid 5), Lindsay Award (McDavid 4), Rocket Richard Trophy (McDavid)
Maybe it’s too soon to tell, but the 2015 NHL Entry Draft class is already shaping up as one of the greatest in league history.
At the top of the list, of course, you’ll find No. 1 pick Connor McDavid, who stands alone when it comes to greatness in today’s game. He’s not alone in his draft class, however, when it comes to future Hall of Fame credentials.
Four other members of this class are on track for Hall of Fame careers, including Vegas’ Jack Eichel (pick No. 2 by Buffalo), Toronto’s Mitch Marner (No. 4), Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen (No. 19), and Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov (No. 135). Two of the four (Rantanen and Kaprizov) have already registered 100-point seasons, while a third (Marner) scored 99 points this past year.
Eleven of the top 20 drafted players are already considered NHL stars. Forwards in that group include McDavid, Eichel, Rantanen, Timo Meier, Mathew Barzal, Kyle Connor, and Joel Eriksson Ek. Defensemen chosen in the top 20 included Ivan Provorov, Zach Werenski, and Thomas Chabot.
Recent playoff stars Roope Hintz of Dallas, Sebastian Aho of Carolina, and goaltender Adin Hill, a key member of Vegas’ Stanley Cup championship team, were also taken in this draft.
Yes, it is early, but the returns are coming in fast for a group drafted just eight short years ago.
- 2003 NHL Draft Class
Hall of Famers: None yet
Likely Future Hall of Famers (6): Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Suter, Brent Burns, Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron, Joe Pavelski
Major Awards Won (11): Hart Trophy (Perry), Norris Trophy (Burns), Vezina Trophy (Fleury), Selke Trophy (Bergeron 6, Ryan Kesler), Rocket Richard Trophy (Perry)
The 2003 NHL Entry Draft was arguably the deepest draft in history, and its first round quite likely was the deepest. No one from this class has made the Hall of Fame yet, simply because its best players are all still going strong a full 20 years after they were drafted. In theory, there could be up to 10 Hall of Famers who come out of this group.
Consider the first round alone. All 30 players drafted reached the NHL for at least one game. A full 29 played at least 100 games (the lone exceptions being Rangers pick Hugh Jessiman and Blues pick Shawn Belle). Twelve of the round’s 30 players have appeared in more than 1,000 NHL games, and two players (No. 2 pick Eric Staal and recently retired No. 19 pick Ryan Getzlaf) have broken 1,000 career points.
Round 1, led by No. 1 overall pick Marc-Andre Fleury, produced 12 NHL stars. Round 2 featured three more players who went on to play 1,000 games, including Boston Bruins great Patrice Bergeron.
Even the late rounds were stellar, with Joe Pavelski (1,001 career points in 1,250 career games) going in the seventh round, four-time All-Star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien going in the eighth round, and longtime NHL goalies Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott chosen in the ninth round.
Anyone who viewed this draft on ESPN might recall hearing on-air analyst Pierre McGuire scream about how the New York Rangers and Islanders had made a huge mistake in letting Zach Parise fall to the New Jersey Devils at No. 17 overall. As it turned out, McGuire was right. Jessiman played only two NHL games (both for Florida) and Nilsson played in only 252. Parise, meanwhile, went on to play in 1,224 games, becoming an All-Star in the process.
- 1983 NHL Draft Class
Hall of Famers (8): Pat LaFontaine, Steve Yzerman, Tom Barrasso, Cam Neely, Vladislav Tretiak, Viacheslav Fetisov, Dominik Hasek, Sergei Makarov,
Major Awards Won (16): Hart Trophy (Hasek 2), Vezina Trophy (Hasek 6, Barrasso), Calder Trophy (Barrasso, Makarov), Selke Trophy (Yzerman), Pearson/Lindsay Award (Yzerman, Hasek), Conn Smythe Trophy (Claude Lemieux, Yzerman)
The 1983 NHL Entry Draft produced eight Hall of Famers, 20 NHL All-Stars, 21 Stanley Cup champions, and 34 Olympians.
This draft featured some of the greatest international talent of all time. In fact, three of the eight 1983 Hall of Famers (Vladislav Tretiak, Viacheslav Fetisov, and Sergei Makarov) are in the Hall more for their IIHF achievements than for anything they did in the NHL. Tretiak, for his part, never played a single NHL game due to Soviet-era restrictions on Russian players, although the Montreal Canadiens relentlessly tried to bring him into the NHL after drafting him.
The irony of the 1983 draft is that its top two picks were poor choices, while its third, fourth, and fifth picks went on to Hall of Fame greatness. Few people can remember the careers of No. 1 pick Brian Lawton and No. 2 pick Sylvain Turgeon, but everyone remembers the heroics of Pat LaFontaine (No. 3 to the Islanders), Steve Yzerman (No. 4 to Detroit), and Tom Barrasso (No. 5 to Buffalo).
Indeed, because of the talent among those who followed him, one can make the case that Lawton was the biggest draft bust in NHL history. His career wasn’t awful, as he played in nearly 500 NHL games, but it was nothing like what the Minnesota North Stars might have had if they went with LaFontaine or Yzerman.
Hall of Famer Cam Neely was also picked in the first round of this draft, although the Vancouver Canucks gave up on his potential way too early when they traded him to Boston in 1986. Future Stanley Cup MVP Claude Lemieux was drafted in the second round by Montreal, and all-time great enforcer Bob Probert went in the third to Detroit.
There were four future 50-goal scorers to be had in this draft. They included first-rounders LaFontaine, Yzerman, and Neely, plus Kevin Stevens (sixth round to the Kings). The 1983 draft even held a future Stanley Cup champion coach in Bruce Cassidy, who won it with Vegas this year, as well as multi-Cup champions Jeff Beukeboom and Esa Tikkanen, who captured rings in both Edmonton and New York.
The most valuable hidden prize in this draft was claimed by Chicago in Round 10, of all places. That’s where the Black Hawks (who did not rename themselves the Blackhawks for another two years) had the nerve to select goaltender Dominik Hasek, even though Communist Czechoslovakian officials had no desire to let Hasek play in the NHL. Everyone knew Hasek was great, but in 1983 nobody thought he would ever leave Eastern Europe.
When the Iron Curtain collapsed six years later, however, Chicago was ready to welcome Hasek. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they prematurely traded him to Buffalo, where he became the only goaltender in NHL history to win multiple MVP awards – a feat he achieved in back-to-back years.
While there were many winners at the draft table in 1983, the biggest losers were the St. Louis Blues, who failed to participate in one of the greatest drafts ever. St. Louis was in the middle of an ownership change, and the front office was so disorganized that it neglected to send any representatives to the draft. The Blues certainly picked the wrong year to skip the event, and they remain the only team in league history to miss an entire draft.
- 1979 NHL Draft Class
Hall of Famers (7): Mike Gartner, Ray Bourque, Michel Goulet, Kevin Lowe, Guy Carbonneau, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson
Undrafted Hall of Famer: Wayne Gretzky
Major Awards Won (15): Hart Trophy (Messier 2), Norris Trophy (Bourque 5), Vezina Trophy (Pelle Lindbergh), Calder Trophy (Bourque), Selke Trophy (Carbonneau 3), Pearson/Lindsay Award (Messier 2), Conn Smythe Trophy (Messier)
Wayne Gretzky, the greatest player in NHL history, should have been drafted in 1979. The fact that he wasn’t speaks to just how chaotic the greatest draft year in NHL history actually turned out to be.
In 1979, the NHL merged with the former World Hockey Association, ending a seven-year hockey war that saw many great players turn their backs on the NHL for more money in the upstart WHA. One competitive move the WHA made was allowing underage players to join its league at a time when the NHL required all entering players to be at least 20 years old.
Eager to start his pro career, Gretzky was one of the underagers who jumped to the WHA for its final 1978-79 season. He was soon a major force in that league, and the NHL’s desire to control his playing rights was a big reason for the 1979 merger that brought Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers team, the Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets into the NHL.
In order to allow younger WHA players into the NHL, the league dropped its draft age to 18 for anyone who had played in the WHA and 19 for all other junior players. The draft itself was renamed from the Amateur Draft to the Entry Draft to reflect the inclusion of players with professional experience.
Gretzky should therefore have been a member of the 1979 draft class, but the NHL granted the Oilers permission to remove him from talent pool as one of four WHA roster players each incoming team was allowed to protect.
So, Gretzky, an honorary member of this draft class, was never actually drafted, unless one considers the Oilers to be the team that “drafted” him. Even without the Great One, the 1979 class was incredibly special and miles ahead of every class that followed.
Because of the chaos surrounding the WHA-NHL merger, the 1979 NHL Entry Draft was delayed until August. To make it easier for teams to sign all their picks before the season began, the draft was cut down to six rounds – the shortest draft in post-1969 NHL history.
With only 126 players chosen, this draft produced an incredible seven Hall of Famers (Gretzky would have made it eight). Its most remarkable achievement was in the number of drafted players who reached the NHL. More than 80 percent of the draftees played at least one NHL game. No other draft has ever come close to that.
Gretzky wasn’t the only NHL superstar in the draft-eligible group. Mike Gartner, Michel Goulet, and Mark Messier (third round!) also came over from the WHA that year. Picks from the junior ranks included Ray Bourque, Kevin Lowe, Brian Propp, Guy Carbonneau, and Dale Hunter.
Swedish stars in the draft pool were goalie Pelle Lindbergh (a likely Hall of Famer had he not died in a tragic 1985 car crash), Mats Naslund, and Thomas Steen. The college ranks provided defenseman Mike Ramsey, Dave Christian, Neal Broten, and Glenn Anderson. The list goes on and on.
Some 23 of the 126 players taken in this draft played in NHL All-Star Games, and 23 also won the Stanley Cup. This draft was so good that it was almost impossible to make a mistake.
The Colorado Rockies (who later relocated to New Jersey and became the Devils) used the 1979 draft’s No. 1 overall pick to select defenseman Rob Ramage. He had a strong NHL career – playing over 1,000 games, scoring more than 500 points, and winning two Stanley Cup championships – but he was not a Hall of Famer like Ray Bourque, whom Boston grabbed seven picks later, or Kevin Lowe, who went to Edmonton with Round 1’s final pick.
Parameters of Rankings
This ranking of the best draft classes in NHL history relies on five key factors. These factors are the number of Hall of Famers and All-Stars each draft produced, the percentage of drafted players who reached the NHL, the availability of numerous future NHL stars beyond the first round, the amount of future Stanley Cup champions produced by each draft, and the presence of a generation player in the draft pool.
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