Believe it or not, Pavel Datsyuk stayed with local teams throughout his youth, and was passed over in the 1996 and 1997 NHL Entry Drafts. He was passed over because managers around the league had issues with his size. He was finally picked in 1998 NHL Entry Draft, in the sixth round, 171st overall, by the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings organization, at the time, still had issues with his size and weren't sure if they would bring the diminutive player to the NHL. As it turns out, he did grow and gain the necessary strength and the Wings decided to bring him to North America. He arrived in Detroit for the 2001-2002 NHL season.
Datsyuk began his NHL career with mentors including Soviet legend Igor Larionov, Detroit captain Steve Yzerman, and Sergei Fedorov to help him learn his way around the game of hockey. He couldn't have wished for better mentors, of course, and Datsyuk soon started to get a feel for the game that would help him immensely.
The departure of Sergei Fedorov in the 2003 off-season made room for Datsyuk to rise to prominence on the Wings. He took full advantage of his extra ice time, as he ended up being selected to play in the 2004 NHL All-Star Game and became a serious scoring threat.
During the 2005-06 NHL season, his high level of play combined with his gentlemanly manner (he recorded just 22 penalty minutes the entire season) won him the Lady Byng Trophy. Datsyuk also earned himself a spot on the Russian team for the 2006 Winter Olympics. On April 6, 2007, Pavel signed a 7 year contract extension with the Red Wings for US $46.9 million. This cements Datsyuk as one of Detroit's premier players and one of the most talented forwards in the game today.
He is primarily a playmaker and uses his awareness of the ice to make the perfect pass. Datsyuk can also deke his way out of just about any situation, making him a slippery player to get to. With his quick moves, soft hands and his speed, Datsyuk will continue to make heads turn in Hockeytown and will enjoy a long, prosperous career in the NHL.