GWMHL

6 Biggest Free Agent Steals Since 2006

In BAL, EDH, GLP, IHS, Special Features, STE on October 26, 2011 at 8:53 am

The Free Agent Draft. Used by most teams to fill out bottom-end depth and injury insurance, it’s also a chance for the occasional Hail Mary – take a wild swing (sorry, “intelligently allocate your scouting resources”) and you never know, you might get something good. Even the worst free agent class, especially at the notoriously shallow mid-season signing period, can yield a diamond in the rough.

Almost every Free Agent Draft has a few consensus top picks – players that every team vies for. Stephen Weiss and Martin Hanzal in 2009. Ryan Malone in 2008. Niklas Backstrom in 2007.

But let’s look past those gimmes, the obvious choices, the first rounders, and peer into the darkest depths of recent Free Agent Drafts in search of some of the biggest heists.

6. D Jan Hejda, Ice Harbor (2nd round mid-season in 2007-2008)

Hejda’s not flashy, but he’s a blueline rock on a rebuilding Ice Harbor team – a guy who’s not bad with the puck and excels defensively. And when your D is as young the Storm’s, you need players like Hejda.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
07-08  Ice Harbor Storm           39    0   12   12   -8   14
08-09  Ice Harbor Storm           59    1    6    7   -5   50
09-10  Ice Harbor Storm           82    4    9   13   -9   30
10-11  Ice Harbor Storm           62    2    8   10  -10   34
                  Totals         242    7   35   42  -32  128

5. D Dennis Seidenberg, El Dorado (5th round pre-season in 2006-2007)

El Dorado has an impressive up-and-coming defense corps and Seidenberg, a late-late-late-round steal in 2006, is a big part of it. He was taken one pick before Kris freaking Beech, but now he’s one of the Lynx’s leaders in ice time and will be for at least a few more seasons.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
03-04  Chesapeake Icebreakers     52    5    8   13  -20   12
04-06  Did Not Play
06-07  El Dorado Lynx             64    3   41   44   11   34
07-08  El Dorado Lynx             25    2    3    5    0   12
08-09  El Dorado Lynx             33    0   10   10    0   18
09-10  El Dorado Lynx             41    1   28   29    2    8
10-11  El Dorado Lynx             57    4   24   28   14   37
                  Totals         272   15  114  129    7  121

4. D Mark Streit, Colorado (2nd round pre-season in 2006-2007)

Another defenseman, it’s true, and for good reason – this 2nd round free agent draftee by Colorado (now Baltimore) is his team’s best defenseman by a wide margin, leading all Crab players in ice time and hovering around the 50-point mark for three straight seasons.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
06-07  Colorado Wildfire          39    4   13   17  -16   36
07-08  Kenora Thistles            76   13   19   32   -2   28
08-09  Kenora Thistles            79   10   38   48   -1   26
09-10  Baltimore Crab             73   16   40   56  -26   72
10-11  Baltimore Crab             82    8   41   49  -31   34
                  Totals         349   51  151  202  -76  196

3. C Brooks Laich, Sterling (3rd round pre-season in 2006-2007)

Where would Sterling be without Laich? The versatile forward is one of the keys to the Eagles’ attack and a defensively responsible presence in a group of offensive-minded young players.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
06-07  Sterling Eagles            33    2    4    6    4    8
07-08  Sterling Eagles            73    8    4   12  -12   23
08-09  Sterling Eagles            82   14    6   20  -17   35
09-10  Sterling Eagles            82   31   41   72   20   35
10-11  Sterling Eagles            78   19   28   47  -12   48
                  Totals         348   74   83  157  -17  149

2. RW Alex Burrows, Kenora (2nd round pre-season in 2007-2008)

The other present-day Crab on the list, Burrows has had one of the most surprising emergences in recent GWMHL history, leading his team in goals with 49 and points with 82 in ’10-’11. (Naturally, we included him as one of our most surprising breakthroughs of last season.) Not bad for a guy who, just three seasons ago, couldn’t skate two strides without falling down.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
07-08  Kenora Thistles            42    2    2    4  -10   45
08-09  Kenora Thistles            76   16   21   37    6  215
09-10  Baltimore Crab             82   38   31   69   -6  211
10-11  Baltimore Crab             82   49   33   82   17  155
                  Totals         282  105   87  192    7  626


1. D Stephane Robidas, South Park (4th round mid-season in 2007-2008)

Robidas isn’t the best player on the list, but he’s the clear top pick for the simple reason that he was at drafted in the 4th round at mid-season. That’s almost unheard of. He bounced around early in his career, but he’s a big contributor now – Robidas puts up good offensive numbers (17 goals and 47 points this past season), is often paired with Nik Lidstrom, and is a workhorse who averaged over 27 minutes a game in 2010-2011.

Year   Name                       GP    G    A  PTS  +/-  PIM
01-02  Rosemont Revolution        65    7   13   20   -9   20
02-03  Chesapeake Icebreakers     40    0    1    1   -9    8
03-04  Chesapeake Icebreakers     43    4    0    4   -6   29
04-06  Bristol River Rats         31    3    5    8    0   36
06-07  Farminton Fighting Saint   40    3   10   13  -15   66
07-08  South Park Cows            42    1    8    9   -6   20
08-09  South Park Cows            82    6   15   21   10   98
09-10  South Park Cows            72    2   33   35   19   72
10-11  South Park Cows            82   17   30   47   -5   65
                  Totals         497   43  115  158  -21  414

Honourable Mentions:

Salem’s Craig Anderson (mid-season 2nd rounder in 2007-2008) backstopped his team to the Gump Cup Finals this year, and teammate James Wisniewski (pre-season 2nd rounder in 2006-2007) is a key defenseman on the club; El Dorado’s Matt Greene (mid-season 3rd rounder in ’08-’09) plays over 20 minutes a night and had 33 points two years ago.

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