15 Great Junior Hockey Players Who Were NHL Busts: Where Are They Now?

Though NHL fans look back and discuss draft busts frequently, you have to feel sorry for players who had such high expectations and were expecting to be superstars.

Draft busts come around every single year, and every team has a number of fans who refuse to let go of the past, They refuse to accept that many selections will wind up failing. They don't want to move on. They just want to know what could have been.

But the common phrase rings true..."If you look back, you can't move forward". A number of promising prospects failed to reach their full potential in the NHL. But they didn't sit around and mope for the rest of their lives. They went out to find other careers and have done just fine in that regard.

Ottawa Senators fans, you're probably curious what Alexandre Daigle is up to. So where are the 15 biggest NHL draft busts today? We've done our best to catch you up!


15 Stanislav Chistov: Playing in the KHL


The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim took the flashy Russian winger with the fifth selection in the 2001 NHL Draft. This came after Stanislav Chistov scored 12 points in 24 games for Avangard Omsk of the Russia Super League.

In his first NHL season, Chistov scored 12 goals and 30 points -- helping Anaheim reach their first-ever Stanley Cup Final. The next season, he had just two goals and 18 points in 56 games, and was out of the NHL after the 2006-07 season.

For the past eight years, Chistov has been playing hockey in the KHL. In 43 games in 2016-17, he totaled eight goals and 16 points -- playing for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. Even though he didn't quite develop in the NHL, Chistov was able to find success in his native country.

14 Robert Nilsson: Playing in Switzerland


Robert Nilsson was drafted 15th-overall by the New York Islanders in 2003, so it may be harsh to call a mid-first round selection a bust. But considering that Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Corey Perry, Loui Eriksson, Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber and Corey Crawford were taken after him, you have to call Nilsson a bust.

Nilsson had a great year in the Swedish Elite League leading up to his draft year, scoring eight goals and 21 points in 41 games. He was part of the blockbuster trade that sent Ryan Smyth to the Islanders, which sent Nilsson to the Edmonton Oilers. But Nilsson never developed in the NHL, scoring just 37 goals and 118 points in 252 games.

He spent four years in the KHL but just completed his fourth season in Swiss-A. Nilsson has played well overseas, scoring 14 goals and 51 points with Zurich SC this year.

13 Daniel Tkaczuk: OHL Coach


The Calgary Flames drafted Daniel Tkaczuk sixth-overall in 1997, passing up on the chances of drafting Marian Hossa and Brian Campbell in the process. At the time, this seemed like a home run selection. Tkaczuk spent four seasons with the Barrie Colts of the OHL and absolutely lit the lamp. He scored 35-plus goals three times and finished his last year with 43 goals and 105 points.

But Tkaczuk played just 19 games in the NHL (2001-02), scoring four goals and 11 points. He never materialized into the bonafide scorer we saw in junior. He played hockey overseas for a few years but played his last game in the EIHL five years ago.

So where is he now? Tkaczuk is working as an assistant coach for the OHL's Kitchener Rangers. Maybe going "back to junior" was the best move all along.

12 Zach Hamill: Playing in Sweden


It was hard for the Boston Bruins and their fans to not be thrilled about the team selecting Zach Hamill eighth-overall in 2007. This was a player who had scored 32 goals and 93 points for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL in 2006-07. The next season, Hamill scored 26 goals and 75 points in 67 games. He appeared to be ready for the NHL.

Hamill spent two years in the minors but only played one game for Boston during the 2009-10 season. He only played three in 2010-11 and 16 in 2011-12 -- never scoring an NHL goal and tallying just four points in 20 games.

Hamill has since been playing hockey overseas, and had a solid 2016-17 campaign with Bjorkloven IF of Swe-1 -- finishing with seven goals and 18 points in 29 games.

11 Gilbert Brule: Playing in KHL


Gilbert Brule starred in three seasons for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. Leading up to his draft year, Brule potted 39 goals and 87 points in 70 games, prompting the Columbus Blue Jackets to take him sixth-overall in 2005. Brule finished the 2005-06 WHL season with 23 goals and 38 points in 27 games. It looked as though the Blue Jackets had a blossoming star on their hands.

But Brule was never able to materialize in the NHL. He spent bits of three seasons with the Jackets and didn't score more than 19 points in a season. Brule appeared to have found a fit in Edmonton, scoring 17 goals in 65 games back in 2009-10. He then followed it up seven goals and nine points in 41 games.

Brule last played for the Coyotes in 2012 and has been playing overseas since. He scored 10 points in 16 games for Medveščak Zagreb of the KHL this past season.

10 Alexander Svitov: Playing in KHL


The Tampa Bay Lightning selected the big 6-foot-3, 245 pound centre third-overall in the 2001 NHL Draft. Svitov had 12 points in 32 games for Avangard Omsk of the Russian Super League.

Svitov played 63 games for Tampa Bay during the 2002-03 season, finishing with just four goals and eight points in 63 games. The Lightning gave him one more chance in 2003-04, but Svitov only had three assists in 11 games. The Blue Jackets tried to save his career and traded for him -- but didn't see any flashes from Svitov. He finished with 13 goals and 37 points in 179 NHL games.

Svitov has been playing in the KHL since the 2008-09 season. He scored 12 goals and 27 points in 57 games for Ak Bars Kazan this season.

9 Dave Chyzowski: Director For Kamloops Blazers


Dave Chyzowski played two full seasons for the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL. In his first season, Chyzowski scored 16 goals and 33 points in 66 games. He broke out in 1988-89 with 56 goals and 104 points -- setting himself up nicely for the 1989 NHL Draft. The New York Islanders selected Chyowkski second-overall in 1989, passing up on Bill Guerin, Adam Foote, Nicklas Lidstrom and others.

But Chyzowski, who spent parts of six seasons with the Isles, never blossomed into a star. He never scored more than 14 points in a season. The Chicago Blackhawks tried to save his career, but to no avail. Chyzowski finished with just 15 goals and 31 points in 126 games.

Chyzowski is now working for his former junior team, the Blazers. He is the Director of Sales and Marketing, according to the team's website.


8 Daniel Dore: Amateur Scout for Rangers


Daniel Dore raised his stock for the 1988 NHL Draft after three productive seasons for the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the playing QMJHL. Over his three seasons, Dore had 23-41-64, 24-39-63 and 33-58-91. The Quebec Nordiques were intrigued enough to select him fifth-overall in 1988, opening a new door of opportunity for the junior sensation.

But Dore only played in 17 NHL games (all with the Nordiques), finishing with two goals and five poitns. He played briefly in the AHL, ECHL and CoHL. Dore worked as a scout for the Boston Bruins after retiring,

Dore is now working as an amateur scout for the New York Rangers. After failing to develop as an NHL player despite being a high selection, Dore's job is to now find players the Rangers should draft. How fitting.

7 Nikita Filatov: Playing in KHL


Nikita Filatov was supposed to be a franchise changer for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He spent three seasons for CSKA-2 Moscow of Rus-3. In 2007-08, Filatov had 24 goals and 47 points in 23 games. The Blue Jackets were intrigued with his talents and selected Filatov sixth-overall in 2008. Filatov only played 44 games for the Blue Jackets and scored five goals and 13 points.

Frustrated with his lack of progress, Filatov was traded to the Ottawa Senators in 2011 for a third-round selection. Filatov clashed with coaches and tallied just one assist in nine games for Ottawa. The team cut ties with Filatov, who returned to his native country to play in the KHL.

Filatov has found a better home in Russia as a player. He's coming off a 19-goal and 40-point campaign in 57 games for Tolyatti Lada.

6 Gord Kluzak: NESN Analyst


Gord Kluzak spent two seasons in the WHL for the Billings Bighorns, and was among the best junior blueliners in the country. He had 38 and 33 point campaigns in 1980-81 and 1981-82, respectively. The Boston Bruins drafted the 6-foot-4, 220-pound defenceman first-overall in 1982. But Kluzak was far from the franchise-changing blueliner Boston had envisioned him to be.

Kluzak missed two full seasons due to injury, and was limited to seven years in the NHL. He had just 25 goals and 123 points in 299 NHL games and didn't blossom into a defensive-responsible player, either.

He retired from hockey in 1990, and has since found work in the booth. Kluzak is now an analyst for NESN. According to his LinkedIn profile, Kluzak is also the Managing Director at Goldman Sachs & Co. in the Boston area.

5 Brian Lawton: NHL Network Analyst


Brian Lawton set his stock incredibly high after a strong showing for the Mount St. Charles Mounties of the High-RI in 1982-83, scoring 40 goals and 83 points. This came a year after scoring 45 goals and 88 points for them.

The Minnesota North Stars were impressed enough to select Lawton first-overall in 1983, but they'd live to regret it. Sylvain Turgeon, Pat LaFontaine, Steve Yzerman, Tom Barrasso and Cam Neely were all selected within the following eight selections. Lawton finished with just 112 goals and 266 points in 483 NHL games, last playing for the San Jose Sharks in the 1992-93 season.

But life's been good for Lawton since his NHL career ended. He now works for the NHL Network as an analyst, a position he's held for a while now.

4 Pavel Brendl: Playing in Slovakia


Pavel Brendl played two years for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL and was a can't-miss prospect in the 1999 NHL Draft. In his first year of junior, Brendl scored an insane 73 goals and 134 points. He followed it up with 59 goals and 111 points, giving his stock a major boost heading into the 1999 NHL Draft.

The New York Rangers drafted Brendl fourth-overall (right after the Vancouver Canucks took Henrik Sedin), but he never played a game for the Blueshirts. Brendl managed to play just 78 games in the NHL -- scoring 11 goals and 22 points. He last played for the Coyotes in 2005-06, appearing in two games. Brendl now plays in the Slovak Extraliga, for HKM Zvolen. He had three goals and a trio of assists in six games last season.

3 Rick DiPietro: ESPN Radio Host


The New York Islanders drafted Rick DiPietro first-overall in the 2000 NHL Draft, but would live to regret the decision. Though many scratch their heads at the Isles using the top selection on him, more are confused with why they gave him a 15-year deal worth $67.5 million when he was never a "star".

Actually, DiPietro was a star for Boston University in 1999-2000, going 18-5-5 with a 2.45 goals against average. But his career in the NHL didn't go as planned, as DiPietro racked up a 130-136-36 record with a 2.87 goals against average and .902 save percentage. The Islanders didn't win a playoff series with DiPietro.

The Islanders bought out the struggling and oft-injured DiPietro in the 2013 offseason. After retiring from hockey, DiPietro became a radio host for ESPN 98.7 in New York. Here's hoping it works out well for DiPietro, who flopped in the NHL.

2 Patrik Stefan: Player Agent


Patrik Stefan played two years for the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the International Hockey League. In his final season there, he scored 11 goals and 35 points in 33 games. The Atlanta Thrashers opted to take Stefan first-overall, allowing the Vancouver Canucks to draft Daniel and Henrik Sedin with the next two picks.

As everyone knows, the Sedin twins became the greatest twins in NHL history, each winning a scoring title while turning the long-time losing Vancouver Canucks into a top team during the 21st century.

Unfortunately for Stefan, he's only remembered for this:

Stefan wound up scoring just 64 goals and 188 points in 455 NHL games. According to an article from 2009 by Michael DiFranco, Stefan is now a player agent for the NHLPA. We haven't been able to pull up any other information, so we're assuming Stefan remains in the position today.

1 Alexandre Daigle: Movie Studios


When the Ottawa Senator won the draft lottery in 1993, it was pretty much a slam dunk that they were going to select Victoriaville Tigers sensation Alexandre Daigle. In his first year with the Tigers (who played in the QMJHL), Daigle scored 35 goals and 110 points. He followed it up with 45 goals and 137 points -- stamping himself as the number one can't-miss prospect of the 1993 Draft.

Ottawa indeed went for Daigle instead of future Hall of Famer Chris Pronger -- whom the Hartford Whalers took with the next pick. Unfortunately for Ottawa, taking Daigle turned out to be the biggest mistake in franchise history. Sure, he had a pair of 20-goal seasons with them. But he only played two full years with the Sens and had three years of scoring 37 points or less. He's widely regarded as the biggest draft bust in NHL history.

But Don Brennan from the Ottawa Sun recently caught up with Daigle, who is now working with movies. Daigle helps run the studios for MTL Grande and is happily married with three kids. So the biggest draft bust in league history has been able to escape the past and has found other forms of happiness. That's a nice story to tell your kids.


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