Everyone remembers a stand-out first round pick. Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and even players that are making impacts this season like Connor Bedard and Brock Faber. 

What about those that weren’t as fortunate, or maybe had to put in more work than others? Late round draft steals happen all the time, and some even feature franchise-altering talent. In this series, we go over these kinds of players, or put simply, the best of the rest.

On the opposite end of the previous article, the 2015 draft has been regarded by some as one of the deepest and best classes in recent memory. Picking first overall for the fourth time in six years, the Edmonton Oilers selected Connor McDavid from the Erie Otters. His impact in the NHL can’t possibly be understated. There are quite a few others that are blossoming/have developed into solid NHL talents outside of round one.

Anthony Cirelli

A back-to-back Stanley Cup champion, not bad for a homegrown depth pick. Cirelli was selected 72nd overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning. While he put up impressive numbers in the Ontario Hockey League, his first taste of professional hockey was not so sweet. The Woodbridge, Ontario native took his two time OHL champion pedigree to the Syracuse Crunch, Tampa Bay’s AHL affilliate, and collected zero points in six games. The following season, Cirelli tallied 37 points in 51 AHL games and 11 points in his first 18 NHL games. He would then go on to prove himself invaluable to the Lightning organization. Stapling himself to the middle six and contributing to the 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup championships.

Though, he might have better numbers through a bigger stroke of luck.

Adin Hill

Another recent champion and 76th overall pick. Hill has not gathered the individual success as some of his peers. He has made himself a well-known name across the NHL. Coming from a less than stellar Junior A experience, Hill went to Portland of the Western Hockey League and was lights out from the day he entered until the day he left; averaging a .923 save percentage across just over two seasons. However, he had a rocky start to his pro career, splitting time between all three of the ECHL, AHL, and NHL for the first four seasons and posting mediocre-to-good numbers in the A.

In 2019, Hill managed to pull it all together and became quite a solid backup for Arizona as well as San Jose. Cue the 2022-23 season, and Hill gets dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights, where he would get his only NHL playoff experience to date, leading his team to their first-ever Stanley Cup.

Andrew Mangiapane

The latest draft pick of this article, Mangiapane was selected 166th overall by the Calgary Flames. Coming off back-to-back 100+ point seasons with the Barrie Colts, he had a lot of momentum and drive to prove he was more than what his draft position showed. Two impressive showings in AHL Stockton later, “Bread Man” found himself in a spot on the main roster; unfortunately for him, it would be short-lived as zero points in 10 games would not cut it.

From there, Mangiapane would show constant growth: 17 points in 15 games in his final AHL stint, then 13/32/32/55 point campaigns immediately following (complete with a 35-goal run). Since 2022 his production has fallen slightly, just 83 points in his last two seasons, but a change of scenery to Washington may rejuvenate his game once again.

Vince Dunn

Vince Dunn, to some, was and still is a sneakily productive player. Despite being selected 56th overall by the St. Louis Blues, he trails just four other blueliners in total points from his class; three of them drafted in the top ten (the other being 28th). While not putting up elite goal totals, Dunn has been a reliable 30-45-point defender for his entire career. Alongside fellow draft steal Colton Parayko, he was able to help lead his Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup. Dunn would go on to enjoy a couple more seasons in St. Louis before being claimed in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, where he has broken out even further, tallying a 64-point season in 81 games.

Plus, he scored a pretty big goal for them too.

Sebastian Aho

The final entry on this list, Aho has more than proven himself capable at the NHL level. Finding himself selected just outside round one at 35th overall, he has gone on to become a near point-per-game player as he approaches the 600-game mark this upcoming season. Already coming in with winning experience, clinching a championship with Karpat in his native Finland, Aho went straight to the top of the depth chart in Carolina and hasn’t looked back. Since entering the league, the Fin sits comfortably in 4th place in points among other 2015 draftees.

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