Have you ever wondered how many career games played you can expect to get for each draft pick? Well if you total all the draft picks from 1995 - 2003 then add the total career NHL games of each player drafted at each pick, you'll get a chart much like the one below.
You can clearly see the drop off after the first half of the first round. If you are a team like Detroit who consistently drafted their first player later than 25 over this time frame, they never have the opportunity to draft where the elite prospects are being chosen. Once you go beyond the 50th pick, the probability of success really levels off. There has been a recent study of NHL Draft probability theory (as written about at the Globe and Mail), but some of the analysis is flawed.