There is always the story, not even apocryphal, of the junior player who is so sure of being taken in the first round that he decides not to pack a change of clothes in case he has to wait until the Saturday to hear his name on the NHL draft floor. But it's clearly not the end of the world to slip through the first round. Assessing a 17- or 18-year-old's potential is an inexact craft. It's not necessarily damning that a player carries enough boom-or-bust risk that it becomes a case where if he doesn't go in the first 10-15 picks, then there are teams in the back half of the first round who won't touch them with two of Zdeno Chara's sticks taped together. Point being, 12 months out from the 2011 draft, there are are a good-sized handful of prospects who are showing that a few NHL teams missed their chance on that fateful Friday night.
Ty Rattie (32nd overall, St. Louis Blues) — Going into the draft, it was a six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other deal with Rattie and his Portland Winterhawks teammate Sven Bärtschi. Each seemed to be a likely first-rounder. Bärtschi, who has a late 1992 birthdate, went 13th overall to the Calgary Flames and since scored his first NHL goals while still shy of 20 years old. Rattie, though, had to wait a day to be selected. There were concerns about his acceleration and his compact frame. But Rattie went back to Portland and tallied 121 points and another 33 in the post-season to bring the Winterhawks to within one game of a league title. He's a possibility as a top-6 forward for Canada's national junior team this season.
Boone Jenner (37th, Columbus Blue Jackets) — Jenner made Team Canada last season by virtue of being a physical player who could antagonize opponents. His knacks for agitating, winning faceoffs and killing penalties were evident during his draft season with the Oshawa Generals, but there was a lingering reputation that his skating might hamper him at the next level. The fact Hockey Canada chose him for the world junior, which is more of a skating tournament than league playoffs or the MasterCard Memorial Cup in the CHL, showed that he had brought that up to speed. Jenner captained the Generals this season and now looks like a surefire NHLer. Combining the regular season and playoffs, he outscored Oshawa teammate Nicklas Jensen, whom the Vancouver Canucks took with the penultimate pick of the first round in 2011.
Brandon Saad's rookie season number was also his draft slot (Getty Images)Brandon Saad (43rd, Chicago Blackhawks) — Inconsistency during the second half of the season with the Saginaw Spirit sank Saad's stock, so teams shied away from the 6-foot-2 centre with mad playmaking skills. Saad went on to make the Blackhawks out of training camp and also earned a call-up during their first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes. He had a meh world junior tournament for Team USA, but laid waste to the Ontario League with 76 points in just 44 games.
Ryan Sproul (55th, Detroit Red Wings) — The 6-foot-3 offensive defenceman was at best an outside possibility for the first round, but the Wings got a steal when they took him near the end of the second. Sproul was only an even 6-foot when the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds made him a sixth-round selection in the OHL priority selection draft. He dallied with going the NCAA route, had a growth spurt, adapted to his new body and became a force in the second half of his age-17 season with the 'Hounds. Sproul earned OHL all-star recognition this season, which is hardly an easy task for a defenceman on a ninth-place team.
Nikita Kucherov (58th, Tampa Bay Lightning) — This is one of the guys who can be brought up as an exemplar of Russian chill, not Nail Yakupov or Alex Galchenyuk. Kucherov surpassed Yakupov at the 2011 world under-18 championship — and keep in mind they are only 3½ months apart in age. The Russian factor mixed in with concerns about his drive and work ethic that would have been raised if he was the exact same player, only named Nick Smith and from Smiths Falls, Ont., led to teams taking a pass. The Lightning, who had already taken one Russian when they nabbed London Knights centre Vladislav Namestnikov with the No. 27 pick, bit on Kucherov late in Round 2. He played in the KHL this season and contributed to Russia winning a world junior silver medal, scoring seven points in as many games.
Point being, as much the media attention will zero in Round 1, it's not the be-all, end-all. It barely needs pointing out the Detroit Red Wings' cupboard stays stocked even though they seldom have a high pick.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.