The year is now 2018. NHL teams have been planning for the long-term success of their franchises for years now. All teams have their runs of glory, but then have to get back to the drawing board to figure out what the best strategy is to getting back to serious playoff contention.
Sometimes, teams use trades to try to strengthen their teams to put themselves in a better position to contend. Some teams even go out and sign a big name free agent. Look at a guy like Scott Stevens signing with the New Jersey Devils and it turned out to be one of the best signings in NHL history. Some teams however like to build their team up via the draft. But some teams have draft picks that are complete busts.
Teams today use their draft picks to try to build toward a successful future. Some draft picks such as Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid have worked out well from the 2015 draft. Some in the 2014 draft have worked out like Leon Draisaitl and Aaron Ekblad. But some other picks from those two drafts have not flourished like the teams that drafted them had hoped. Hockey players can take longer to develop than other sports, with some picks not making an impact in the NHL until their mid 20s. These players just don’t look that promising a few years in, but they may very well avoid the bust label in future years. So let’s take a look back at 10 picks from the 2014 NHL Draft who already look like busts and 5 from the 2015 NHL Draft as well.
15. 2014: Anthony DeAngelo – 19th Overall
The first bust from the 2014 NHL Draft came courtesy of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Right now, they have a decent team with players like Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman leading the charge. They had the 19th overall pick in 2014 and looked to add some more to a young core. They went with defenseman Anthony DeAngelo and he certainly hasn’t played up to the standards of a first round draft pick.
DeAngelo has been traded twice since he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was traded to the Arizona Coyotes and played for them in the 2016-2017 season, recording five goals and nine assists in 14 games. He was traded again to the New York Rangers in the off-season of 2017, only playing in eight games this season with one assist on the season. For a guy to be traded twice in the span of five seasons, he’s looking like a bust until further notice.
14. 2014: Travis Sanheim – 17th Overall
The Philadelphia Flyers used to be a contending team in the Eastern Conference. With a duo of Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds, it’s easy to build around those two. They had the 17th pick in the 2014 NHL Draft and they chose Travis Sanheim, a defenseman from Canada. He has not lived up to standards so far.
Sanheim has spent the majority of his professional career in the WHL and AHL. With Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia’s minor league team, he registered 11 goals and 29 assists in 80 games last season. This season, he has appeared in 34 games with the Flyers and put up one goal and four assists. He needs to have a big year or two in Philly if he wants to get out of the bust category.
13. 2015: Dylan Strome – 3rd Overall
Part of you has to feel for Dylan Strome. Imagine the pressure on you as an 18-year-old if you’re the player taken immediately after Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. Strome was picked third overall in 2015 by the Arizona Coyotes and went to just about the worst situation a young NHL player could wind up. Unlike McDavid and Eichel, Strome was sent back down to junior after getting drafted. Due to the Coyotes’ terrible 2016-17 season, Strome got some playing time in last year, but only managed one point in seven games. This year, he has bounced back and forth between the AHL and NHL. He has put up 30 points in 19 AHL games but that production has yet to translate to NHL success. Perhaps some more patience is needed with Strome, but with the way Clayton Keller has emerged in Arizona, management has to be crossing their fingers, hoping Strome will take that next step.
12. 2014: Sonny Milano – 16th Overall
Middle of the pack first round picks are tough to figure. They are good enough to be picked in the first round, but not expected to put up the numbers similar to a guy drafted in the top five, and certainly not as quickly. The Columbus Blue Jackets were looking to add to their future plan of winning in 2014 with the 16th overall pick by selecting Sonny Milano. Milano has done well in the AHL, but the NHL is another story.
Milano had 47 points in 63 games last season, so almost a point just about every game. Before this season, Milano appeared in seven games with the Blue Jackets and just had one assist. This year so far with Columbus, his production has picked up as his pro-season pace is around 17 goals. Maybe he is taking a turn. But until we see if he can keep up those numbers consistently, he’s a question mark.
11. 2014: Julius Honka – 14th Overall
Before the Stars picked up Denis Guryanov in the 2015 draft, they had the 14th overall pick in 2014. They were looking for some help on defense and figured the draft would help them accomplish that. There was a Finnish defenseman named Julius Honka who the Stars decided to take a chance with. With his chance with the Stars, he certainly hasn’t done exactly anything eye-opening to say the least.
He has appeared partially for the Dallas Stars in two seasons now, In 2016-2017, he had a goal and four assists in 16 games. Now in the 2017-2018 season, he only has a goal and two assists. So combined, he has eight total points in 36 career games. The Stars may look back on this draft and regret taking Honka unless he can somehow turn in some good production and quickly. Hopefully Dallas will not whiff on future draft picks either.
10. 2015: Lawson Crouse – 11th Overall
The Florida Panthers have some decent talent this year with a guy like Jonathan Huberdeau leading the way. They were looking to eventually add young parts to their roster to help make the future a lot brighter in sunny Florida. They decided with the 11th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft to select Lawson Crouse. But that certainly hasn’t worked well in Florida or Arizona.
Crouse was traded to the Arizona Coyotes in August of 2016. Last seaosn with the Cyotoes in 72 games, he recorded only five goals and seven assists. This season, he has only appeared in 10 games and only recorded one goal on the season. For a guy that just missed being a top 10 pick, he certainly isn’t playing anywhere close to it.
9. 2014: Brendan Perlini – 12th Overall
The Coyotes are a mess, plain and simple. They are getting to a point where they are just in a complete rebuilding mode, but do not know how to get back on the consistently winning track. They figured they could get a step closer with the 12th pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. They ended up taking left winger Brendan Perlini from Canada. He definitely hasn’t been the game changer the Coyotes were probably hoping for.
He is only 21, so he still has plenty of time to get better. But last season in 57 games, he recorded 14 goals and seven assists. Those aren’t terrible numbers, but could be a lot better for a high first round pick. This year, he has ten goals and five assists in 34 games. So, he seems to be heading on a better track. But until he can continue to put up production for the Coyotes, he is a young bust out of the 2014 draft like many others.
8. 2014: Josh Ho-Sang – 28th Overall
When classifying a bust, generally you look at guys selected high in the first round who don’t quite become top contributors for their teams. Being that Josh Ho-Sang was taken 28th overall by the Islanders a few years ago, you’d think it’s unfair to classify him as a bust. However, with Ho-Sang’s nature of being outspoken and brimming with confidence, the hype around him was a little higher than most late first round picks. Some say that if not for character concerns, Ho-Sang could’ve been a top five pick.
Well, based on his production, Ho-Sang hasn’t proven to be as talented as he claims. Yes, he managed to produce 10 points in 21 NHL games last year and has averaged similar totals this year when called to the big club, but the production has yet to match the hype.
7. 2015: Timo Meier – 9th Overall
The San Jose Sharks have been looking to get back to the Stanley Cup playoffs. With players like Joe Pavelski and “Jumbo” Joe Thornton, they definitely could use some youthful talent to add to the mix. They had the number nine overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, looking to make a significant pick. They ended up taking Timo Meier, the right winger from Switzerland.
He, like most of these other draft picks, is very young only being 21 years old. But so far, he has shown his true age with his play. In 34 game appearances for the Sharks last season, he only recorded three goals and three assists for six total points. This season, he is doing a little bit better, but still based off of his hype at being picked number nine overall, can still be considered a bust.
6. 2014: Nick Ritchie – 10th Overall
The Anaheim Mighty Ducks worked out a trade with the Ottawa Senators to set themselves up with the number ten overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. There certainly were not going to be a Charlie Conway or Adam Banks walking through smiling with a Ducks jersey in their hand. But they were able to pick up a left winger out of Canada named Nick Ritchie.
After starting a good part of his first professional season in the AHL with the San Diego Gulls, he finally got called up to the Ducks. He didn’t play much that season, but the next season, he was able to play a full season with the Ducks in 2016-17. He had 14 goals and 14 assists and looked to be a guy on the uprise. But so far this season, his production pace has dipped, so he seems to be taking a step backwards. Unless he goes crazy for the rest of the year point wise, he has to be considered a disappointment thus far.
5. 2014: Haydn Fleury – 7th Overall
This next apparent bust in the 2014 NHL Draft comes from the second defenseman that was taken that year. The first one was first overall pick Aaron Ekblad who has enjoyed a fine career up to this point. But the next one taken hasn’t lived up to the hype of being the seventh overall pick. His name was Haydn Fleury and he was taken by the Carolina Hurricanes.
He only started playing for Carolina this season, 2017-18. That means he had to take at least three seasons before finally making any type of impact with the big club. While a lot of defenemen take longer to develop, the Hurricanes were surely looking for a little more, considering they took Fleury in the top 10. It’s still early in his career, so there’s plenty of time for Fleury to change the perception.
4. 2015: Ivan Provorov – 7th Overall
Like we mentioned before, the Philadelphia Flyers have some offensive pieces in place, but their future does not look too promising. They could have made it better if their number seven overall pick in the 2015 draft had panned out thus far. But so far, he hasn’t really put up the type of numbers that could help out guys like Giroux, Simmonds, etc.
Provorov played a full 82 game season for the Flyers last season. In those 82 games, he put up six goals and 24 assists. While the assists aren’t too bad, the goals definitely were a disappointing total. He’s on pace for similar numbers this season. He may end up being a solid NHL player, but for being a number seven overall pick, those numbers can be better.
3. 2014: Jake Virtanen – 6th Overall
The Vancouver Canucks certainly needed to have some draft picks to help with their knowing that the Sedin brothers would soon be retiring. They had the number six overall pick in the 2014 draft and looked to make a splash of a pick that was just outside of the top five. They chose a right winger out of Canada named Jake Virtanen. He looked promising in his first season with the Canucks, but has since regressed
He played 55 games at age 19 during the 2015-16 season, finishing with seven goals and six assists. He was getting his feet wet and was looking to take a step forward. In 2016-17, he only played in 10 games and recorded one assist while spending most of his year in the AHL with the Utica Comets. He hasn’t quite taken a step forward this year. If we see the Virtanen of his rookie year, he could be very good in the next few years. Otherwise, we will assume that he’ll be ultimately a bust.
2. 2014: Michael Dal Colle – 5th Overall
The biggest bust of the 2014 NHL Draft comes in the top five picks. There were some good picks taken one through four such as Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Leon Draisaitl, and Sam Bennett. But the number five pick hasn’t made any noise yet. Literally, he hasn’t touched the ice in an NHL regular season game yet. The fifth overall pick went to the New York Islanders who selected Canadian left winger Michael Dal Colle. He was projected to help the Islanders be well liked in New York again, but he hasn’t done anything.
He has been playing in the AHL for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for three seasons now. He has shown progress with 37 points in 75 games last season and is averaging about half a point per game this season. Clearly, something isn’t clicking with the Islanders to bring this guy up. For that reason until he proves he can play in the NHL and get some stats, he is the biggest bust in the 2014 Draft.
1. 2015: Pavel Zacha – 6th Overall
For the 2015 draft, the biggest apparent bust comes in the form of the number six overall pick out of the Czech Republic, selected the New Jersey Devils. The Devils want to get back to the days of winning Stanley Cups with guys like Scott Stevens leading the way. They thought they’d taken a step by picking center Pavel Zacha. He was supposed to be a guy to help lead New Jersey back to significant relevance, but he hasn’t done much to help with that.
Zacha played in 70 games in the 2016-17 season while recording only eight goals and 16 assists to combine for 24 points. That is not ideal for a guy taken number six overall. He’s on pace for similar numbers this season. Their first overall pick of last summer, Nico Hischier, is looking like a future star, but the Devils could use more production from their other young players.
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