Goaltending is the hardest position in hockey to scout for. While forwards are often NHL-ready by age twenty and defencemen by age twenty-two, most goalies don’t ripen until age twenty-six or so. For this reason, scouting a goalie when they are just seventeen or eighteen years old and playing junior hockey against other teenagers is a guessing game. This issue has led to a number of goalies who are considered “busts”, those who were selected in the early rounds of the NHL draft and touted as future stars only to falter along the way.
Alternatively, a number of Hall of Fame-caliber goaltenders have been mined from the later rounds of the draft, such as “King” Henrik Lundqvist (205th overall in 2000) and Pekka Rinne (258th overall in 2004). Some of the goalies on this list are still young enough to have a sudden career renaissance and shed their “bust” label but are likely to be career minor-leaguers, and some have disappointingly found their niche as NHL back-ups. Others have given up on the NHL dream and have taken their talents to European professional leagues, and some have even given up on hockey entirely to put other talents to use. No matter what their final story is, all of these goaltenders were once considered to be the back-stoppers of the future for their NHL squads only to fail to live up to the expectations.
15. Zach Fucale
While it might be a little early to label Fucale as a “bust”, he has certainly not lived up to the high expectations placed on him so far in his young career.
The 21-year-old native of Laval, Quebec excelled in the QMJHL. He won a rookie-record 32 games with the Halifax Mooseheads in 2011-12 and led the team to a Memorial Cup Championship in 2013, as well as helping Canada win their first World Junior gold medal in five years. Fucale became the second-winningest goalie in QMJHL history on route to being drafted 36th overall to the Montreal Canadiens in 2013, the first goalie taken in the draft. This was when the wheels fell off Fucale’s career. He struggled through the 2015 QMJHL season with the Quebec Remparts, posting a 3.22 goals against average and lowly .877 save percentage. After turning pro, Fucale had a disappointing 3.13 GAA and .903 SP in the AHL with the St. John’s IceCaps.
14. Jacob Markstrom
Similar to Fucale, Markstrom is not a true “bust”, but certainly has not lived up to expectations.
The 27-year-old Swede began his career in junior hockey. He was successful playing for Sweden on both the U-18 and World Juniors teams. He led the World Junior tournament with a sparkling .946 save percentage and finished second with a 1.61 GAA. Shortly after, he was drafted to the Florida Panthers 31st overall as Florida’s first pick in 2008. Many saw Markstrom as the goalie of Florida’s future. He was sent to Florida’s AHL team, the Rochester Americans, where he struggled in his first season. He was then traded to the Vancouver Canucks where he became a backup goalie, but shortly after was demoted to the Canucks’ AHL team.
Markstrom’s NHL statistics, a .904 save percentage and a 3.00 GAA, have fallen significantly from his junior hockey career and while he is better off than most goalies on this list serving as the Canucks’ backup, he has certainly not lived up to his potential.
13. Al Montoya
Montoya is another goalie who has struggled as an NHL backup after being touted as a future star.
Montoya developed within the United States National Team Development Program and backstopped the country during two World Junior Championships, including a gold medal win at the 2004 edition. Montoya also plied his talents at the University of Michigan where he had an outstanding three seasons, earning a 2.36 GAA and .908 SP. These statistics caught the attention of the New York Rangers who drafted him 6th overall in 2004, incredibly high for a goaltender. Of course, this high draft position came with tremendous expectations on the young man from Illinois, which he did not live up to. Montoya spent six seasons in the American Hockey League with the Hartford Wolfpack and San Antonio Rampage before finally landing a back-up gig with the New York Islanders in the 2011 season.
Since then, Montoya has become a journeyman NHL backup and is currently backing up the man who many see as the best goalie in the world, Carey Price, in Montreal. Similar to Markstrom, Montoya has become a half-decent NHL backup but certainly did not become the goaltender he was expected to be.
12. Jack Campbell
Campbell has not lived up to high expectations after being one of the top goaltenders in the 2010 NHL draft.
Like Montoya, Campbell joined the United States National Team Development Program and repeatedly represented them, backstopping the Americans to an upset victory over Canada in the gold medal game. He played his junior hockey in the OHL with the Windsor Spitfires and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Over the three-year period, he had a 3.50 GAA and a .894 SP. Although his junior stats were relatively poor, scouts saw something in the 6’3”, 197lb goaltender and he was drafted 11th overall to the Dallas Stars, as the first goaltender selected in the 2010 draft. Campbell played with the Texas Stars, Dallas’ AHL team, and three years later he was demoted to their ECHL team, the Idaho Steelheads. Campbell has bounced back and forth between the ECHL and AHL, where he has posted a 3.34 GAA and .896 SP over the past two seasons.
11. Mark Visentin
Visentin is a prime example of a goaltender who shone in junior, but whose skills did not translate to the professional level.
The Waterdown, Ontario native played two solid junior seasons for the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, performing well enough to earn a 27th overall selection by the then-Phoenix Coyotes in the 2010 NHL draft. Although Visentin followed this up with two more outstanding OHL seasons, recording a 2.26 GAA and .922 SP, he began to foreshadow his future downfall while representing Canada at the World Juniors. At the 2011 edition of the tournament, he allowed five goals in the third period of the gold medal game to blow a 3-0 lead over Russia. Despite his amazing junior career and high draft selection, Visentin has been a career minor leaguer to this point, only playing a single NHL game for the Coyotes.
In fact, Visentin is currently not even signed with an NHL team. He is currently under an AHL contract and is playing the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones, where he has posted a very pedestrian 2.90 GAA and .894 SP this season. While Visentin is still only 24-years-old, his best years are likely behind him, a disappointing outcome for a once-outstanding prospect.
10. Ari Ahonen
Ahonen was expected to be the New Jersey Devils future star after being drafted 27th overall in the 1999 NHL draft.
The now-36-year-old Finn played three years in Finland’s SM-Liiga, representing JYP and HIFK. Shortly after that, he joined the Devils’ AHL team, the Albany River Rats. From 2001-06 with the River Rats, he had a 3.23 GAA and a .903 SP. After those five seasons with the River Rats, he returned to Finland where he played for the Espoo Blues as a backup. He then ventured to the KHL, playing four seasons there before returning once more to his native Finland and the SM-Liiga. Although Ahonen was drafted in the first round of the 1999 NHL draft, he has spent his entire career in the AHL, KHL, or SM-Liiga, never appearing in a single NHL regular season game.
9. Patrick DesRochers
DesRochers was a questionable pick from the beginning.
He recorded less-than-stellar numbers in five OHL seasons split between the Sarnia Sting and Kingston Frontenacs, with a goals against average of 3.88 and a save percentage of .889. Despite these numbers, scouts saw potential in the 6’4”, 207-pound netminder and he was selected 14th overall in 1998 by the then-Phoenix Coyotes. DesRochers then fell into the same trap that many goalies on this list have, struggling in the AHL with the Coyotes affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. In fact, the Penetanguishene, Ontario-born ‘keeper holds the record for most career games played for the team, a respectable accolade but not something that a former 14th overall pick hopes to achieve. After years in the minors, DesRochers made his way to Europe, where he bounced around the German and Norwegian pro leagues before hanging up his skates in 2013.
8. Brian Finley
Finley is a Canadian-born goalie who has been enjoying the golf links since his retirement in 2007.
Finley played most of his junior career with the Barrie Colts’ OHL team but was also traded to the Brampton Battalion. During his time in the OHL, he had a 2.94 GAA and a .905 SP. Although these stats are not bad, considering he was drafted 6th overall in the 1999 NHL draft to the Nashville Predators, his goals against average and save percentage did not sparkle as they should have. After being drafted to the Predators, he spent most of his years playing for the Milwaukee Admirals, the AHL affiliate team of the Predators. During this time he had a 2.66 GAA and a .908 SP, which is decent for a AHL goaltender. However, as a 6th overall pick, he really should have been playing in the NHL. He ended up spending most of his career in the AHL, being called up to the Predators just twice and – later in his career – to the Boston Bruins twice. He ended his career with only 4 NHL games under his belt over ten seasons.
7. Jamie Storr
Storr is yet another goaltender who had a decent stint as an NHL backup but certainly did not live up to the hype surrounding him.
He succeeded from a young age, being drafted first overall into the OHL and accumulating a respectable 60-54-7 record despite not having much talent in front of him as a member of the Owen Sound Platters. Because of his poor team, his statistics were not impressive on paper either, but he performed well under the circumstances and even added two World Junior gold medals to his mantle as the backbone of two strong Canadian teams in 1994 and 1995. Storr was drafted an incredible 7th overall to the L.A. Kings in 1994 and spent his rookie season living with Wayne Gretzky. The ‘keeper finally stuck with the Kings in the 1998 season after bouncing between the AHL and NHL for the previous two years. He spent the next five seasons primarily as the backup in L.A. before being sent back down to the minors and spending the next three seasons there with three different teams. Storr ended up in Germany for the 2006 season and never returned to North American hockey, retiring in 2009 with just 219 NHL games to his name after being touted as a future superstar.
6. Jeff Glass
Glass, at just 31 years of age, has already had a lengthy career.
During his junior career, he played for the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, where he had an outstanding 2.19 GAA and .917 SP. Thanks to his strong play, he was awarded the Del Wilson Trophy as the WHL’s top ‘keeper, was named to the WHL First All-Star team, and was named CHL Goaltender of the Year. Considering all these accomplishments and statistics, he was surprisingly not selected until the 3rd round, 89th overall, by the Ottawa Senators in the 2004 NHL draft. He signed an entry-level, three-year deal with the Sens and spent those years with their AHL team. Glass’ stats from junior did not translate to the AHL as his numbers fell to a GAA of 3.52 and an SP of .897. When the Sens did not renew his contract and no other teams came calling, Glass took his talents to the KHL, where he spent seven solid seasons with six different teams.
For the current 2016-17 season, Glass returned to North America, seeing action in two games for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies before being released and signing a contract with the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate to the Chicago Blackhawks, where he has spent the remainder of the season. Glass will be attempting an NHL comeback next season after signing a two-way contract extension with the Blackhawks.
5. Craig Hillier
Fun fact: Sidney Crosby was not the first Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native that the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted.
That honour goes to Hillier, who the Pens took 23rd overall in the 1996 entry draft. The goalie posted a 24-14-3 record to go along with his 2.88 GAA in the 1995-96 season with the OHL’s Ottawa 67s to earn this high selection. A true “bust” in every sense of the word, Hillier is one of the few goalies on this list to never even appear in a regular season NHL game. In fact, despite his first round draft selection, he only even managed to play three seasons in the minors, bouncing between the AHL and ECHL from 1998-2001. He then gave up on the dream and took his talents to Europe, where he played in a professional league in the Netherlands before coming back stateside to finish his career in the now-defunct United Hockey League before retiring in 2004.
Now an entrepreneur, Hillier runs a goaltending school in Halifax and started his own real estate company, which opened in 2005. The former Penguin also acts as a goalie coach for the St. Mary’s University women’s hockey team.
4. Trevor Kidd
Kidd was a career journeyman, spending 12 NHL seasons on a variety of teams.
Prior to being drafted to the NHL, Kidd played in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings where he had a 4.09 GAA and a .886 SP. Despite these less-than-stellar stats, he was named a WHL All-star, and a WHL and CHL Goaltender of the Year in 1990. He was then traded to the Spokane Chiefs where he led the team to the 1991 Memorial Cup Championship. Kidd also represented Canada a whopping three times at the World Junior Championships three times, bringing home back-to-back gold medals in 1990 and 1991 to wrap up a promising junior career. The Dugald, Manitoba-born goaltender was drafted 11th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 1990 NHL draft and after some seasoning in the minors, played with the Flames from 1993-97, serving as the team’s backup. In 1997, he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes where he remained for two years until the 1999 expansion draft, where he was left unprotected and was poached by the newly-minted Atlanta Thrashers. The Thrashers sent him to Florida where he suffered an injury and never really regained his form. Kidd, without an NHL team interested in his services, signed with the Hannover Scorpions in the top German league, the DEL, for one season before finally hanging up the skates. The former junior star, turned backup journeyman, never really lived up to the hype surrounding his 11th overall selection.
3. Justin Pogge
Justin Pogge still haunts the dreams of many Leafs fans.
Unlike the other goalies on this list who have mostly been taken in the first round of the NHL draft, Pogge wasn’t selected until the third round, 90th overall, in 2004 by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had solid numbers with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars and Calgary Hitmen, with a goals against average of 2.41 and a save percentage of .909, but this wasn’t the only reason fans and pundits everywhere were so high on Pogge. The Fort McMurray, Alberta-born ‘keeper stole the show at the 2006 World Junior Championships. As a member of Team Canada, he recorded three shutouts in five games, giving him a 1.00 GAA, on route to a gold medal victory. Pogge’s sensational play led then-Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. to make one of the most ill-fated trades in team history (and that’s saying something!), sending future Stanley Cup and Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask to the Boston Bruins in exchange for another member of this list, Andrew Raycroft. Pogge’s career fizzled out shortly after this as he struggled in the minors with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies before leaving North America to play in Italian and Swedish professional leagues overseas.
2. Andrew Raycroft
Andrew Raycroft is another name that makes Leafs fans cringe.
The Canadian-born goaltender began his career playing with the Sudbury Wolves and Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. During this three junior seasons, he recorded a 3.90 GAA and .902 SP. As one could assume based on these numbers, Raycroft was not drafted as high as the other goalies on this list into the NHL, as the Boston Bruins selected the teenager with the 135th pick in the 1998 NHL draft. It was during his first full season with the Bruins that he began to turn heads and cause some to think that he was the goaltender of the future for the mediocre Bruins team. He carried the squad to a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference in the 2003-04 season and was awarded the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year, an award rarely given to goaltenders, but justified given his outstanding 2.05 GAA and .926 SP in 57 starts. After such a beginning to his NHL career, Raycroft proved to be hockey’s version of a one-hit wonder. He was part of the aforementioned John Ferguson Jr. trade that sent Tuukka Rask to Boston and he struggled with the lowly Maple Leafs, lasting just a season and a half with the team before being bounced around in a number of trades over the next five seasons, serving as a backup for the Avalanche, the Canucks, and the Stars. The only place Raycroft could find employment for the 2012 season was in Europe, landing in an Italian pro league for the year and then in a Swedish one for the following campaign, before calling it quits in 2014.
1. Rick DiPietro
Poor Rick DiPietro.
Often placed in a category with the likes of Alexandre Daigle as one of the biggest busts in NHL history, the Winthrop, Massachusetts native actually had respectable numbers when he WAS playing, but therein lies the problem. DiPietro played a single season at Boston University and posted stellar numbers: a 2.45 GAA and .913 SP. He also took home NCAA Hockey East’s rookie of the year honours and was named the MVP of the prestigious Beanpot tournament. This led to DiPietro becoming just the second goaltender ever to be selected 1st overall in the NHL draft, being chosen by the New York Islanders in 2000. The ‘keeper steadily improved over three IHL/AHL seasons with the Chicago Wolves and Bridgeport Sound Tigers, whittling down his goals against average from 3.39 to 2.14 and his save percentage from .880 to .924, and finally broke into the NHL on a full-time basis to begin the 2003-04 season. After posting solid, of not impressive, numbers through four seasons with the Islanders and even representing the United States at the 2006 Turin Olympics, the goaltender signed a mammoth 15-year, $67.5 million contract extension with the team. Then came the injuries. From 2008-2012, DiPietro played only 47 games as it seemed that every time he would recover from one injury, another one would occur. The ‘keeper suffered three separate concussions and was plagued by knee and hip injuries. The Islanders eventually gave up on their oft-hurt netminder and bought out the remaining eight years of his contract in 2013. He signed a tryout contract with the Carolina Hurricanes the following season but was released shortly afterwards, putting an end to his career. The former 1st overall pick and recipient of the longest contract in NHL history played just 318 career NHL games over parts of eleven seasons.
DiPietro now hosts a talk show on ESPN 98.7 in New York City.