Cracking an NHL lineup is not an easy task. Some players just need time to develop.
But even if you are talented enough to play in the NHL, things arise that hold players back, such as the salary-cap constraints, competition at a position, team needs and earning the trust of the coaching staff. But that doesn't mean those who take a little longer to break through have nothing to offer. Quite the contrary.
Here are 10 players who are at least three years removed from their NHL draft-eligible seasons but have yet to play in an NHL game. They are under-the-radar players who may find themselves in an NHL game this winter:
1. D T.J. Brennan (No. 31 overall / 2007 draft)
Brennan has improved his overall game, and although he's only 6 feet, he plays large and fits into the Sabres' style of up-tempo play.
Playing in the AHL has made Brennan tougher while taking the risk out of his game and teaching him how to manage the puck better. Some consider him a nasty player to play against, and this will work in Brennan's favor when the final roster is decided.
2. D Vyacheslav Voynov (No. 32 overall / 2008)
Los Angeles Kings
After three full seasons in Manchester in the AHL, Voynov has proved he is ready.
Voynov scored 51 points last season, and I believe his hockey sense allows him to make the jump to the NHL.
He's very smart, and at only 5-11, he plays off bigger forwards and maintains his body position well. He recently signed again and wants to stay in L.A. instead of going to the KHL.