GWMHL

5 Draft Day Near-Rejects Who Made It Big

In DEN, FFS, PIT, Special Features, STE, WIN, WVR on May 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

There’s no art to the late-round draft steal. You take a deep breath and pray… and probably release your pick before he ever plays a game. While quite a few serviceable players have squeaked into the high seventies in the GWMHL Rookie Draft over the years – especially goaltenders – rare is the player taken in the last few picks who makes a real impact.

But here are five taken in the final 10 slots of their respective drafts who defied the odds and made an impact.

5. LW Kyle Calder, 77th overall in 2000 by Staten Island

Winger Calder never lived up to his potential, more or less settling into a 10-15 goal groove for the Staten Island Gems and San Diego Gulls early in his career. But he makes our list for one reason alone: possibly the most surprising single campaign in league history. In 2006-2007, Calder went on a sudden tear, scoring 60 goals and amassing 110 points with the Gulls.

He disappeared just as quickly, chasing his breakthrough with 8 goals total over his next three seasons, then obscurity.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
01-02  Staten Island Gems         24    0    2    2  -13   10
02-03  Staten Isle Gems           81   14   35   49    0   79
03-04  Staten Island Gems         82   12   13   25   -6   36
04-06  San Diego Gulls            40   13   12   25    4   15
06-07  San Diego Gulls            79   60   50  110   23   52
07-08  San Diego Gulls            69    5   10   15  -12   30
08-09  San Diego Gulls            64    2    5    7  -21   20
09-10  San Diego Gulls            61    1    9   10  -11   18
                  Totals         439  106  127  233  -25  242

4. G Olaf Kolzig, 76th overall in 1994 by Tidewater

Kolzig was taken last overall by Portland in ’94, and he’d be much further up the list if his career numbers – a career goals against average way on the wrong side of 3.00 – weren’t so shaky. But Kolzig was a solid starter in the GWMHL for many seasons, despite playing for some struggling teams. He gets major points for longevity.

Year   Name                       GP    W    L    T   GAA     SAV%   SO
95-96  Tidewater Wings            14    3    6    2   4.09    .897    0
96-97  Tidewater Wings            12    4    7    1   3.73    .882    0
97-98  Ottawa IceCaps             19    2   15    0   4.02    .874    0
98-99  Staten Island Gems         53    9   41    2   3.84    .893    1
99-00  Madison River Rats         54   14   35    2   3.12    .905    3
00-01  Madison River Rats         59   21   34    3   3.40    .897    5
01-02  Madison River Rats         37   26    9    0   2.49    .909    2
02-03  Madison River Rats         35   20   12    3   2.69    .899    3
03-04  Bristol River Rats         46   25   16    4   2.38    .907    7
04-06  Altoona Railroaders        42   17   20    5   3.75    .881    1
06-07  Altoona Railroaders        48   16   27    4   3.91    .882    1
07-08  Altoona Railroaders        43   17   21    4   3.20    .911    0
08-09  Altoona Railroaders         6    0    5    0   3.97    .878    0
                  Totals         468  174  248   30   3.31    .896   23

3. LW Ryane Clowe, 75th overall in 2006 by Sterling

Let’s face it – Clowe’s career is just beginning. But, despite being hobbled by injury early on, he’s gotten better every year and is well on his way toward shaking off the ‘tweener’ label and become a regular top-six contributor to the re-emerging Eagles. He’ll find himself near the top of Sterling’s depth chart before long.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
07-08  Sterling Eagles            54   11   11   22  -11   52
09-10  Sterling Eagles            71   13   33   46   -5   22
10-11  Sterling Eagles            64   14   41   55    2   74
                  Totals         189   38   85  123  -14  148

2. D Robert Svehla, 71st overall in 1995 by Chicago

Even when he was playing, Svehla was under-appreciated. But his career numbers tell a different story: of a defenseman who was solid on both ends of the ice and keyed his team’s blueline for eight of his nine seasons.

Svehla played in 639 career games and racked up 356 points, including five seasons with 40 points or more. As late as his retirement year, he was still managing top-4 numbers. He was the very definition of a rock-solid defensive contributor.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
95-96  Chicago Wolves              4    0    0    0   -5    2
96-97  Chicago Wolves             83    7   57   64   12   72
97-98  Chicago Wolves             84    8   38   46   -6   98
98-99  Chicago Wolves             81   12   37   49    9  100
99-00  Chicago Wolves             80   12   27   39   -4   81
00-01  Chicago Wolves             82   10   41   51   15   70
01-02  Chicago Wolves             82    4   28   32   -8   72
02-03  Saint Jean Wolfpack        61    9   31   40   23   72
03-04  Farmington Fight Saints    82    9   26   35   11   32
                  Totals         639   71  285  356   47  599

1. D Brian Campbell, 75th overall in 2000 by Brooklyn

Like Calder, Campbell was drafted in 2000. Also like Calder, he’s on this list in part because of one spectacular season – a 108-point effort in 2008-2009. But Campbell’s remained one of the best puck-moving defensemen in the league. He’ll likely never sniff the 100-point mark again, but he’s already proven he can still be a leading blueliner. For a guy taken fifth-from-last? Not too shabby at all.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
03-04  Illinois Chiefs            32    1    6    7   -1   12
04-06  California Sun Cats        27    2    6    8    8    0
06-07  California Sun Cats        65   10   22   32  -19   16
07-08  California Sun Cats        82    7   48   55   48   26
08-09  Midland Bulldogs           82   11   97  108   62   32
09-10  Midland Bulldogs           82    8   75   83   58   22
10-11  Midland Bulldogs           50    4   19   23    5   24
                  Totals         420   43  273  316  161  132

Honourable Mentions:
We’ve deliberately left out more recent picks who look like they might make an impact, including South Carolina‘s Mikhail Grabovski (71st in 2007), Vancouver‘s Matt Moulson (79th in 2008), and Midland‘s Corey Crawford (76th in 2008). And Boston defenseman Joe Corvo, who’s put up several good offensive campaigns, just missed the cut.

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