It's time to leave Pavel Brendl, Rick DiPietro, Alexander Daigle, and Patrik Štefan alone. Let them finally retire in peace, and instead, it's time to discover a new crew of players to call out as "BUSTS." In many ways, this new list of players were still taken far too early and were just as much of a disappointment. But these are the new names and faces to be etched in mountain sides to replace the old and tired. It's time to build a new Rushmore and shine a new light on the biggest "BUSTS" we've ever known, or never heard of.
"The Bust." There is not a worse label that can stigmatize any athlete, none that can haunt their future, and none that won't remind them or every fan of what could've been. "Chokers" aren't half as bad, for at least they reached a level of excellence few could match.
"The Bust," can be defined in many ways. They can be so highly regarded as can't miss prospects but crash quickly and leave us wondering what the scouts could have possibly seen. Their career amounted to, well, sadly, nothing but pain. "The bust" can also be a tag for players who never hung 'em up, that milked their name or image for another few years or a contract, and found a desperate organizations willing to take a chance on them. General managers hold onto memories of a play or think they can wave a a magic wand and make their potential reappear. But instead, the fans know better and lose their voices as they scream from the stands.
As in all sports, there is "The Bust." In the NHL, we will no longer recycle the same old names of players that destroyed our hope and faith. We will let Brendl, Stefan, Daigle, and DiPietro "Retire In Peace," and carve a new Mount Rushmore of players that teams wish they never met.
16 Joni Pitkänen
The Philadelphia Flyers salivated over the Finnish defenseman who at 6'3" and over 200 pounds could skate like Brian Leetch and go end to end in seconds. They picked him 4th overall in 2002, and he did show flashes of Leetch. However, there were big problems. Joni would often forget the puck a long the way, skate so far into the zone that he and the team would be exposed going the other way, and his defensive game and physicality were weak. Though he did have some nice offensive seasons with over 40 points, those numbers primarily came on the power play. He just couldn't play 5 on 5, shorthanded, or match up against the top forwards.
Joni is now back in Finland, retiring and unretiring from Oulun Kärpät. Hopefully he will move onto the second part of his career, and just to let Flyer fans know, Alexander Steen, Cam Ward, and Duncan Keith were on the board.
15 Nikolai Zherdev
Pavel Brendl, you are now officially replaced on Mount Rushmore by this Ukranian winger, who was the 4th pick in the 2003 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. From a terrific sophomore season where he scored 27 goals, his fortunes quickly changed. He started to fight with management, there was a contract dispute, and he was eventually traded to the Rangers and then moved home to play in the KHL.
He continued to collect frequent Flyer miles as he was signed by the Flyers for one year, and moved back again to play in the KHL for seven different teams. And all the while, the Blue Jackets watched as Ryan Suter, Jeff Carter, Brent Burns, and Ryan Getlaf, players drafted after Zherdev, start their Hall of Fame careers.
13 Brian Lee
Lee was the 9th overall pick by Ottawa in 2005. The defensive prospect left the University of North Dakota after his sophomore year and played five seasons with the Senators. He was later traded to Tampa Bay, and while "on the farm" he suffered some serious injures that forced him onto Long Term Injury Reserve. In 2014, he retired. Lee wanted to go back to school and study medicine, but he returned to his hometown, Moorehead, Minnesota, and is now working as an assistant coach for the Concordia Cobbers Women’s hockey team. Though the Sens may wish they could have gone in a different direction and selected Anze Kopitar, Tukka Rask, or T.J Oshie, it seems like Lee is living a fulfilling life.
12 James Sheppard
The Nova Scotia native was the 9th overall pick by the Minnesota Wild in 2006. While playing in the QMJHL for the Cape Bretton Screaming Eagles, his numbers increased every year and he seemed like a budding play maker. However, like so many others, he just couldn't make the jump. He played with the Wild, but after an ATV accident in Vail, Colorado, that fractured his patella, he was traded to the San Jose Sharks. His knees were sore and perhaps the injury was too much for him to truly overcome. His NHL career ended one year later when he played with the Rangers for one season. Then, he moved to Switzerland to play for EHC Kloten, leaving the Wild to wonder "what if" they had chosen Giroux, Lucic, or Marchand.
11 Zach Hamill
You, Patrik Štefan, are also officially replaced by Zach Hamill, who was drafted in the 1st round, 8th overall, by the B's in the 2007 draft. Though he had a successful rookie stint with the Providence Bruins, he was never, not even a little bit, a factor in the NHL. He played 20 games for the Bruins over parts of three years and totaled 4 assists. However, in the AHL, he played for the Providence Bruins, Hershey Bears, San Antonio Rampage, Milwaukee Admirals, and Utica Comets. That's five of the coolest AHL jerseys ever made and adorn the walls of his man cave.
After retiring from the AHL in 2014, he played professionally in Russia, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, and now plays for IF Björklöven in Sweden. That is five more jerseys to add to his collection. Though the Bruins would have been much happier picking Kevin Shattenkirk, Hamill has certainly had an amazing voyage and been the world traveler.
10 Nikita Filatov
The 6th overall pick by Columbus in 2008 is only 26 years old, but he's already gone, far from the NHL, and another disastrous pick by Columbus. A sniper while playing in Juniors in Russia, I wish we could give the Blue Jackets a mulligan on this one. He only played 44 games for Columbus over three seasons, scoring 6 goals and 7 assists. He then joined the Sens in 2011 and only played nine games. After leaving the NHL to return overseas, he now plays at home in the KHL. Imagine if the Jackets had taken Erik Karlsson instead? It would have changed the fate of the organization, they would have been contenders years ago, and he and Werenski would be an intimidating force.
9 Cam Barker
Barker was selected third overall in 2004 by the Blackhawks, but was just never able to raise his game in the NHL. He had all the "tools"; size, skating, offense, grit, but it just didn't translate in the pros. He went to the Minnesota Wild, the Oil, the AHL, the Canucks, and then to the KHL. He did win two World Junior Gold Medals in 2005 and 2006, but just never found success in the NHL.
Now, he's playing for HC Slovan Bratislava in front of 10,000 fans. The Blackhawks obviously get a pass, but they could have drafted Andres Ladd, Travis Zajac, or Cory Schneider. Barker has expressed some interest in returning to the NHL, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen.
8 Riku Helenius
While some may have originally said Erik Johnson was the biggest bust of the 2006 draft, he's actually gone on to have a decent NHL career, as he's become a serviceable defenceman. One player with no saving grace from that '06 class is Riku Helenius, a goaltender who was selected 15th overall. It just shows you that it's easy to see why teams steer away from goaltenders early in the draft. Helenius played just one game for the Lightning, coming in for seven minutes of relief. The good news is, he didn't allow a goal, so his NHL totals are a 0.00 GAA and a 1.000 SV%.
Like many NHL failures, Helenius has gone on to play in the KHL, playing with Jokerit Helsinki in Finland.
7 Duncan Siemens
The 11th overall pick in 2011 by Colorado has suddenly found himself in no man's land. As a mere 16-year-old, the young defenseman shot up the scouts' rankings as his team won the Gold for Canada for the Under 18 team. In 2012, he suffered a concussion, and his career hit a wall. He didn't make the Avs out of camp, was sent down to the Blades, and he was stripped of the "C". He was injured again, and was unable to get any playing time on the worst team in the league. This pick and others could really come back to haunt the Avs as they and other teams missed out on Oscar Klefbom, John Gibson, Nikita Kucherov, Vincent Trocheck, and Johnny Gaudreau.
6 Brandon Gormley
Gormley was taken 13th overall in 2010 by the Coyotes and won "The Mike Bossy Trophy" as the Quebec League's best prospect. He was brought up and sent down by the Yotes, who then shipped him to Colorado. He was unable to stick with the Avs, waived, and claimed by the Devils. He wasn't able to make the Devils and was then shipped to Ottawa for the dreaded "future considerations." He's now in Binghamton down in the AHL, and without being able to crack the lineup of some of the worst teams in the league, you have to wonder how much he's got left. So who should they have taken? Who did the Coyotes let slip right through their fingers? Try- Tarasenko or Kuznetsov.
5 Hugh Jessiman
When Hugh Jessiman was drafted to the New York Rangers in 2003, it seemed like a storybook start to a wonderful career. The NYC native had a lot of promise, as he possessed size and supposedly the skill to succeed in the NHL. Unfortunately, in a stacked 2003 draft class, Jessiman may have been the first round's worst pick. Jessiman never even played a game for the Rangers. His only two NHL games came with the Florida Panthers. After years of toiling away in the AHL, Jessiman's most recent hockey seasons came playing in the KHL with the Medveščak Zagreb. His most recent run was in Austria with the Vienna Capitals, where he managed to score two goals in seven games. It appears his hockey career is now over.
4 Scott Parker
In the 1998 NHL draft, the Colorado Avalanche had three first round picks. They selected Alex Tanguay, Martin Skoula, and the 6'5", 240 pound man from Alaska, Scott Parker. In the era of monster heavyweights, they took notice, especially when he was nicknamed "The Sheriff." Parker spent six years with the Avs, three with the Sharks, and finished his career with 308 games, 21 points, and 699 penalty minutes.
In 2009, Parker retired and opened a barbershop with his wife, Francesca, in Colorado. That's not exactly a career path many expect from a former hockey player. Furthermore, they started "Parker's Platoon," which helps to acclimate veterans to civilian life. Though he may have been a bust during his playing days, the man deserves praise for his post hockey career.
3 Vitaly Vishnevski
Vitaly was the 5th overall pick in 1998 by The Mighty Ducks, and the hard hitting defenseman did enjoy some early success. In 2003, he was a part of a Ducks team that lost in the finals to the New Jersey Devils, but after that, his career stagnated. After 6 years in Anaheim, he went onto Atlanta, Nashville, and New Jersey. He played 552 games in the NHL, scored 16 goals, added 52 assists, and totaled 494 penalty minutes. After he retired, he moved back home to play eight years in the KHL, where he still plays for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. In some ways he had a nice, short career by playing in the playoffs and eating well in the South, but you have to ask yourself if Anaheim would rather have had Simon Gagne, Brad Richards, or Pavel Datsyuk.
2 Raffi Torres
You remember Raffi right? The 5th pick in 2000 by the Isles had quite a career in many ways. The Islanders kept him for two tears and sent him to Edmonton. After 4 years he was sent to Columbus, where after 2 years he went north to Buffalo. Then, he was sent to Vancouver where his career, game, and reputation headed down hill. In the era where the NHL started to protect players from head shots, Raffi didn't adjust and was often suspended for leaving his feet to make a check and for landing head shots. First, it was Jordan Eberle, and when he was traded to Phoenix, he was suspended 25 games for an illegal hit to Marian Hossa. He was then sent to San Jose, and he was suspended again for 41 games for a hit on Jakob Silfverberg.
He retired in 2016, and in his career he was suspended for 74 games. Now, he's left the game in his rear view mirror and lives in Ontario.
1 Alexander Svitov
Take a deep breath Rick DiPietro, for you can officially forget Mike Milbury, Brent Johnson, and you are officially the last one erased from the Mount Rushmore of busts. Instead, Svitov, who was selected 3rd overall in in 2001 by the Lightning, will replace you. Don't be surprised if you never heard of him, because not many people have. The 6'3", 245 pound center, had every scout drooling because he was big, fast, tough, and had a great shot. His career was almost over before it started. He only played parts of two seasons with the Bolts and two more with Columbus. He played a combined 179 games for the Blue Jackets and Lightning and scored a whopping 37 points.
On August 17, 2007, Svitov was suspended by Columbus for not attending camp, which ended his NHL career. He returned to the KHL to play for and captain Avangard Omsk. He has publicly said he only wanted to "try" the NHL. As time went on, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominvile, and Patrick Sharp are not only still playing but have enjoyed successful careers.