Even in an information age where boundless information lies a few clicks away, talented players slip through the cracks.
Jamie Benn won the Art Ross in 2014-15 and came in second place last season, yet 128 players were selected before him in 2007. No-brainer Vezina Trophy-winner Braden Holtby was selected in the fourth round.
We haven’t even covered quality players who weren’t even drafted.
Artemi Panarin stands as an especially mind-blowing example. He went from undrafted free agent to the 2016 Calder Trophy winner after developing – and eventually breaking through – overseas.
As we learned from Vladimir Tarasenko‘s recommendations to the Blues, Panarin was readily available in the summer of 2015, making his 30-goal, 77-point season burn plenty of executives and scouts.
While there are examples of players who fall through the cracks, Panarin feels pretty unusual. Still, NHL Tonight sets out to name a few international players who could make a Panarin-type impact … and, of course, one of those players could suit up for the Chicago Blackhawks:
If you choose not to watch the video, two of the names highlighted were Michal Kempny of the Blackhawks and Nikita Zaitsev of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
As defensemen, both overseas signings aren’t likely to make a Panarin-type splash on the scoreboard, but they remain interesting names to watch.
Not quite a Panarin parallel, but …
Allow for a comparison that breaks the rules quite a bit: Alex Radulov stands as likely the biggest impact import of all.
As the 15th pick of the 2004 NHL Draft and with a very high profile, he won’t slip in under the radar like Panarin did last summer.
Still, this is a player who already has 102 points to his name at the NHL level (in 154 regular season games), and despite the playoff drama with Nashville, he also has 14 career playoff points in 18 NHL postseason games.
Honestly, the Radulov signing might be the best move Montreal made during a turbulent off-season.
If any other import can compare to Radulov or Panarin, that team should be very, very happy.
Chances are, we won’t know who to expect, but feel free to name your own choices.