There was a day and age when the NHL had 9 rounds in their annual draft, rather than just the 7 that we have now. But this came to an end after the 2004 draft, and the league has never looked back. It makes sense in many regards, as the players drafted so late rarely have a chance of cracking the big league roster, and their odds as a free agent are better in terms of finding a fit for them.
But there were in fact some players that slipped through the cracks and went drafted in the late rounds before they chopped off the final two sets of picks. While not quite Mr. Irrelevant, Pierre-Alexandre Paraenteau was drafted 264th overall, in the 9th round, by the Ducks in 2001.
Little was expected of him, as he split his draft year between the Moncton Wildcats and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, and posted just 51 points in the wide open QMJHL. But his next season made him look like a late round steal for Anaheim. He posted 118 points and 120 PIM’s in just 68 games. Lofty numbers for a 9th round pick. But that wasn’t enough to crack an NHL roster.
So Paranteau, now known as PA, continued to work on his craft in the Q. He never name close to replicating those numbers that he posted in 2001-2002, but he was a productive player while battling injuries during his time in junior hockey.
After he finished up his work in junior, it was time for PA to make the jump to pro hockey. He made the jump to the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks and continued his stellar play with 30 points in 66 games of his first pro season. Still not earth shattering, but solid play again. This started a lengthy stint in the NHL’s minor leagues, as he played for four different teams before finally getting the call in 2006-2007.Cinci, Portland, Augusta and Norfolk were stops that PA made along the way. The proverbial suitcase as he earned his stripes all over the minors. After getting his cup of coffee for five games with the Blackhawks, it was back down to the farm.
It was another two and half seasons with the Hartford Wolf Pack before that phone rang again. Some may call it languishing, but Paranteau was mastering his craft at his own pace. He was never the player that was going to crack a roster as an 18-year old, but he was also not one who would give up if he didn’t make it immediately.
That call came again in 2009-2010 when the Rangers had him for 22 games. He tallied his first NHL goal, and finished with 8 points. The Hull, Quebec native had played 450 AHL games by that point and scored 403 points. So to say that he had worked hard to make it to the big time is an understatement.
He put up some big seasons for Hartford, finishing 4th (2007-2008) and 9th (2008-2009) in scoring for the Wolf Pack. So when the Islanders signed him before the 2010 season, hopes were high for him.
But few expected him to step right into the lineup and play 81 games. Fewer still thought he would adjust to the game so quickly and notch 20 goals and 53 points in what was essentially his rookie season.
This season he has taken his play to another level. Take a look at the top scorers in the league, and you will be surprised to see that Paranteau’s name is amongst the elite. He has scored 47 points through 50 games this season, as he has turned into a playmaker for some the Islanders young snipers.
He had 36 helpers on the season, good enough for 5th in the entire league. This puts him ahead of the lined of Malkin,
Thorton, Hossa and Kane in terms of helpers. Impressive company to say the least, especially for a former 9th round pick.
Paranteau remains a completely obscure name to even those who follow the league. If he played for a more marquee team, he might garner some headlines as a feel-good story, but not on the island. He is making $1.25 million this year, and is unrestricted after the season is complete. Hard to overlook the production at this point and he could emerge as a sleeper on July 1 if he keeps anything close to his current pace up.
It obviously helps that PA gets to play alongside John Tavares, but they are clearly both benefiting from each others strong play. Tavares has 22 goals on the season and Matt Moulson has 23. Paranteau is setting up a lot of these tallies.
From the now defunct 9th round of the NHL draft to 20th in league scoring. It only took him nine years to make his break into the league, but the wait has surely been worth it.