Wed Jun 22 11:10am EDT
The players selected in the first round receive the majority of the attention at the NHL draft, yet each year brings a handful of prospects who slip past the top 30 and go on to have stronger careers than several selected ahead of them.
For instance, in 2007 P.K Subban was eventually drafted 43rd overall by the Montreal Canadiens. With Subban getting off to a much stronger NHL start than several players drafted ahead of him, one would think many scouts wish they had pushed harder for their bosses to consider the Belleville Bulls graduate.
Some other elite NHLers who were squeezed out of the first round include Shea Weber (49th in 2003), David Backes (62nd in '03), David Bolland (32nd in 2004), Paul Stastny (44th in 2005), Milan Lucic (50th in 2006) and Nikolai Kulemin (44th in 2006).
In the spirit of that, here are some projected second-rounders who might be better than advertised.
Ryan Sproul, defence, Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
After playing midget AAA a year ago, Sproul (pictured) has blossomed into one of the most intriguing prospects of this year's draft class. His stock has jumped up the rankings enough for one to think he's a first-round darkhorse.
A mixture of his strong play at both ends of the ice and 6-foot-4, 185-pound frame has grabbed the attention of scouts. Whether he's killing a penalty or scoring a power-play goal, Sproul makes his presence known. And despite scoring an impressive 14 goals and 31 points in 61 regular-season games, several scouts believe he has a lot of untapped offensive potential.
David Musil, defence, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
With Musil being a hard-nosed blueliner, it's easy to compare him to his father, Frantisek, who played 14 seasons in the National Hockey League. However, after scoring 25 points this season and 32 points the year before, some scouts believe he has more offensive upside than his father.
Injuries forced Musil to miss this year's world junior championships and a handful of games with the Giants, after which the Delta, B.C., native fell out of the first round. Then again, it's possible Musil's towering 6-foot-4, 200 pound frame could land him back in the top 30 this weekend.
Boone Jenner, centre, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
If it wasn't for questions about Jenner's skating, he would shoo-in for the first round. The 6-foot-1, 194-pound centre is a solid two-way forward, who seems to do all the little things right. He's strong on faceoffs, throws his weight around and also isn't afraid to drop the gloves.
Jenner, who scored 25 goals and 66 points this season, seems to be one of the safest picks in this year's draft. He may not have enough offensive upside to be a NHL top-line centre, but he plays a good enough all-around game to fill a secondary scoring role.
Stuart Percy, defence, Mississauga-St. Michael's Majors (OHL)
Despite being one of the younger players on a stacked Majors team, Percy was a difference-maker for the Memorial Cup runner-up. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound blueliner seemed to be Mr. Dependable, always playing a positionally sound defensive game. Percy also chipped in offensively, scoring four goals and 33 points in 64 regular-season games and drawing time on the power play in the Memorial Cup.
Percy's stock spiked since scouts had a long look at him with the Majors' extended playoff run and Memorial Cup appearance. If some teams aren't willing to take the risk of waiting for him, there's a chance Percy could sneak into the first round.
Mario Lucia, wing, USA U-18
After scoring 30 goals and 54 points in 27 games with Wayzata in the Minnesota high school rankings. It's unknown where Lucia will play next year, but he's made it clear he won't play for his father, Don, who's the head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the WCHA.
The 6-foot-2, 183-pound winger is known for his strong all around game, showing no blatant holes in any areas. With that being said, Lucia also doesn't have a certain attribute that shines above other players in his draft class.
Adam Lowry, winger, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
Lowry, slowed by mononucleosis early on last season, improved steadily throughout the year. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound wing who scored 18 goals and 45 points isn't afraidto get his hands dirty. Lowry had 84 penalty minutes this season, including a couple fighting majors.
As the son of former NHLer Dave Lowry, and with his brother Joel, a Cornell University commit, also projected to be selected in this year's draft, Adam Lowry's bloodlines have to be worth something to scouts.
Colin Jacobs, centre, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Standing 6-foot-2, 204 pounds, Jacobs could easily be the poster boy for the everything is bigger in Texas slogan. A big reason the Coppell, Texas, native racked up major minutes on a young Thunderbirds squad this season was his versatility. He often has an impact at both ends of the ice, playing on the power play and penalty kill.
The peak of Jacobs' offensive upside has been questioned among scouts. Some doubt whether he can be a top-six NHL forward, while others believe Jacobs has a lot of untapped offensive potential.
Victor Rask, centre, Leksand (Sweden)
Rask was initially one of the most prominent names in the 2011 draft class, but he's slowly dropped among draft rankings. A big reason for Rask's prospect stock dropping is his poor offensive production in the Swedish Elite League. He managed just five goals and 11 points in 37 games with Leksand, bearing in mind he is an 18-year-old playing in a men's league.
Rask's 6-foot-2, 194-pound frame is one of his major selling points. His size and professional hockey experience could make for a relatively smooth transition to the NHL once he's ready.
Shane Prince, wing, Ottawa 67's (OHL)
Prince, who's been invited to USA Hockey's world junior summer camp, showed an offensive flair this season with 25 goals and 88 points in 59 regular-season games. The native of Spencerport, N.Y., is a puck-handling wizard with an endless supply of toe-drags and tape-to-tape passes.
With his 5-foot-11, 185 pound frame, Prince's size and questions about his durability have diminished his stock somewhat. If Prince can get stronger and improve his chances of avoiding injury, he could grow into one of the most impressive forwards of this year's draft class.
Travis Ewanyk, centre, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
After winning nearly every draw at the IIHF world under-18 championship in Germany, Ewanyk grabbed the attention of scouts with his impressive defensive instincts. Whether it is blocking shots or laying bone-crushing hits, Ewanyk is able to change the momentum of a game with his fearless defensive play.
Ewanyk, who had 16 goals and 27 points while playing all 72 games for Edmonton, does need to show he's capable contributing more offensively. Otherwise, he could get pigeonholed as strictly being an energy player in the NHL.
Kelly Friesen is a Western Hockey League writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on twitter @KellyFriesen (photo: CHL Images).