Who were the best value draft picks in the NHL from 2004 to 2010? These are all players who have only been under NHL contract in the salary cap system, and the "best value" is calculated by the % amount that the player exceeded expected NHL salary for that number pick (2015/16 salary not included). Maybe Sidney Crosby has the best production of a player drafted in that window, but you tend to expect high production from the first overall pick in a draft. None of the best value picks are 1st round selections.
Sorry, goalies aren't included.
1) Jamie Benn 5th rd, Dallas: Very rarely could you argue that a 5th round pick should have been the #2 overall pick, but this is one of those times. I'd still rather have Patrick Kane, but Benn is the next best from that draft class. Playing in the BCHL in his draft year hurt his draft position.
2) Patric Hornqvist 7th rd, Nashville: He has crushed expectations for a 7th round pick. I have no idea why he dropped this far.
3) Brendan Gallagher 5th rd, Montreal: No doubt he should have been a mid to late 1st round pick. Clearly his size was a factor in him falling to the 5th.
4) Ryan O'Reilly, 2nd rd, Colorado: Very rarely do you see a 2nd rd pick play in the NHL the year after being drafted. From 2003 to 2010, O'Reilly is the only one, and he was fantastic. Did no scouts identify that this kid was ready to play in the NHL immediately and be good? I'd like to know.
5) Kris Letang, 3rd rd, Pittsburgh: This draft pick helped produce 2 Stanley Cups and counting for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He's in the Norris conversation every year.
6) David Krejci, 2nd rd, Boston: Among the best second round picks in over a decade. Boston doesn't win that Stanley Cup or play in another final without this guy.
7) Adam Henrique, 3rd rd, New Jersey: He was a major factor in getting a mediocre New Jersey team to a Stanley Cup final as a 21 year old.
8) Niklas Hjalmarsson, 4th rd, Chicago: Helped win 2 Stanley Cups. Not a flashy player, and it made sense why he fell. He's deceptively effective.
9) Keith Yandle, 4th rd, Phoenix: He was a dominant high school player, but high school players tend to have higher risk because they play against the weakest competition of any talent source. It can be very difficult to predict how skill at this level will translate to the pro level. High school defensemen can be huge busts. This one was not.
10) Paul Stastny, 2nd rd, Colorado: He opted out of his first year of draft eligibility, which doesn't happen very often. I'm not sure if that hurt his eventual draft position, but it's rare for 18 year old NCAA freshmen to score 45 PTS. That combined with his pedigree should have boosted his draft position.
Honorable mentions: Justin Faulk, Alex Edler, Kris Versteeg, Jared Spurgeon, Carl Gunnarsson, Milan Lucic, Tyson Barrie, Brad Marchand, Marcus Foligno, Marcus Kruger, Sergei Kostitsyn