Predicting what a player will be like five years down the road is no small task, but it gets a little easier at the top of the draft. These are the players who, after countless viewings from scouts and interviews by front office executives, appear to be safe bets.

A common assumption is that a player with first round talent would have dominated each level of hockey that they have played, breezing through season after season as a proverbial man among boys. While it is true that every early first round pick seems to be a safe bet to develop into something special in the future, not all took the same path to hearing their name called on draft day.

This is where Jacob Trouba’s story takes an intriguing turn. Before joining the US National Team Development Program, Trouba played for coach Andy Copp in the Compuware organization for six years. “He took a chance on me by taking me onto his team because I was definitely one of the worst guys, and having some faith in me and trusting me and working with me was pretty big. He pretty much taught me everything I know about hockey,” Trouba said.

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