When it comes to drafts in professional sports, we all know that they can be a crapshoot in terms of landing talent, even if you happen to have a high selection.
But every now and then, something special happens and you land a player in a later round who turns out to be one of the all-time greats. We call those picks, “draft steals.”
Here are the 5 biggest draft steals in Detroit sports history, in reverse order.
5 – Lou Whitaker (Detroit Tigers)
Lou Whitaker was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 5th round (99 overall) in the 1975 MLB Draft. He went on to play 19 seasons in the Motor City, winning a Rookie of the Year Award, being selected to five All-Star Games, and helping the Tigers to win the 1984 World Series. Though Whitaker is not officially in the Hall of Fame, anyone with a brain knows he deserves to be there.
4 – Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit Red Wings)
Henrik Zetterberg was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the 7th Round (210 overall) of the 1999 NHL Draft. He went on to play 15 seasons for the Red Wings, scoring 337 goals and racking up 623 assists. Zetterberg was named the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2008 as the Red Wings won the cup.
3 – Sergei Fedorov (Detroit Red Wings)
Sergei Fedorov was selected by the Red Wings in the 4th Round (74th overall) of the 1989 NHL Draft. He went on to play 13 seasons with the Red Wings before moving on. During his time with the Wings, Fedorov was a 3-time Stanley Cup Champion. In 13 seasons in Hockeytown, Sergei scored 400 goals and dished out 554 assists. He was named to five All-Star teams during that time.
2 – Joe Schmidt (Detroit Lions)
Joe Schmidt was selected by the Lions in the 7th Round (85th overall) in the 1953 NFL Draft. In 13 seasons with the Lions, he won 2 NFL Championships and was an NFL First-Team All-Pro on eight occasions. Schmidt was also named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year twice. He is also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
1 – Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings)
Nicklas Lidstrom was selected by the Red Wings in the 3rd Round (53 overall) of the 1989 NHL Draft and he went on to become arguably the best defenseman in league history. In 20 seasons in Detroit, Lidstrom won four Stanley Cups and was named to 12 All-Star teams. Oh, by the way, Lidstrom was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.