Hockey players, like many professional sports athletes, make a ton of money on a yearly basis. Even the worst of players get to receive a nice pay check ranging anywhere between half a million to somewhere in the millions of dollars. That's quite a lot of money, right?
Well, it is, if your plan is to have a lengthy and successful career. Some guys get the misfortune of injury troubles, forcing them into early retirement. Some just don't pan out, and are completely worthless to the professional leagues, and see their pro careers vanish in an instant right in front of them. Suddenly, they're kicked back out into the "real world."
Imagine this: you're destined to be a professional sports player at the highest level, getting a minimum of six-figures every year and suddenly, in a flash, it's all over. It truly must be an awful feeling to have to pick yourself back up after all that, and settle for something else. Well, unfortunately, that's a reality for many athletes, including the fifteen hockey players we're about to tell you about.
These guys are NHL players who had some of the highest potentials heading into their professional careers and, for whatever reason, had that come to an end far too soon. So soon that they actually had to get back out there and find themselves a "regular job." Without further ado, let's take a look at the top 15 NHL Draft busts who had to get regular jobs.
15 Brian Lawton
Brian Lawton could very well be one of the worst players to be drafted first overall in the NHL Draft's history. Lawton took a different route to the NHL. As an American, he played for his high school Mount Saint Charles Academy and the U.S. Junior Hockey Team before making the jump to the NHL. Lawton became the first player do be drafted first overall out of high school when the Minnesota North Stars drafted him in 1983.
The New Jersey native's numbers were outstanding in high school, with a colossal 171 points in 49 games. However, he would never come close to reaching the potential that many expected of him.
Lawton's best season came in 1986-87 when he put up 44 points in 66 games for the North Stars. He had been moved around a lot in his career due to poor performance, which he admits had an impact on his game.
Lawton retired in 1993, and started a company called "Lawton Sport and Financial." In 2008, he left the business to pursue a job opportunity in the NHL, and was hired by the Tampa Bay Lightning to be their general manager. Since being let go in 2010, Lawton has been working as an on-air analyst for the NHL Network.
14 Scott Scissons
After a pair of impressive seasons with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, Scott Scissons looked to be a promising young sniper and was drafted sixth overall by the New York Islanders in the 1990 Entry Draft ahead of stars like Martin Brodeur, Keith Tkachuk, and Doug Weight. Unfortunately, Scissons' career would soon be ended by a manifestation of injuries.
Scissons went through a discectomy and suffered a wrist injury at just 18 years old. He would appear in just one career game with the Islanders, but the majority of his brief, four year career would take place in the IHL.
After attempting to try out for the Dallas Stars in 1995, doctors assessed that Scissons was not healthy enough to play, forcing him into an early retirement at 22-years-old. Following his failed hockey career, Scissons returned to his hometown of Saskatoon to get his certificate in commerce, and began to work on his family business, Western Mobile Homes.
13 Patrik Stefan
One of the most popular draft busts in NHL history, Patrik Stefan was once upon a time associated with the word "talent." He was drafted first overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999, with whom he spent six seasons with. His pro career would come to an end shortly after being traded to the Dallas Stars in June of 2006, and announced his retirement in October of 2007.
Stefan appeared in 455 NHL games before calling it quits, collecting an underwhelming 188 points during that time. The tail end of his career was plagued with several serious injuries that eventually forced him to retire after nine years of pro. Currently, Stefan is employed as a player agent in Laguna Beach, California, and is also a coach at Orange County Ice Palace.
12 Rick DiPietro
You would think that Rick DiPietro was the second coming of Jesus with all that the Islanders did to make sure they kept ahold of him for as long as possible. Not only did they use their first overall pick to draft him, but it was at the cost of shipping out former goaltender Roberto Luongo, who may very well be a Hall of Fame goaltender someday. Not to mention, signing him to a 15-year deal in 2006, which they are still paying him today.
It was a disastrous string of injuries that ruined DiPietro's career, starting with a groin injury that forced him to start his rookie season in the AHL. From then until 2008, the goaltender's numbers were very inconsistent, with one good season followed by a bad.
Dipietro injured both his hip and meniscus in a short period of time in 2008 and would never be the same again. He would see just 50 more games at the NHL over the course of five years before announcing his retirement as a member of the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL in 2013.
Following his NHL career, DiPietro has worked in the radio business and currently works as a talk show host in New York City on ESPN 98.7
11 Gord Kluzak
Gord Kluzak (pictured third from the right) was a defenseman who showed lots of promise heading into his draft year in 1982. The Boston Bruins drafted the 6-foot-4, 220-pound d-man first overall in the draft, thinking they had gotten themselves a franchise defenseman for many years to come. Despite putting up close to a point per game in the 1981-82 season in the WHL, Kluzak had missed the last half of the season and the entire playoffs after tearing the ligaments in his left knee. This was a concern to some NHL GMs heading into the draft, but not to Bruins GM Harry Sinden.
Unfortunately, this would be the first of many knee problems for Kluzak, eventually forcing him to end his career at 27-years-old. After retirement, Kluzak would enroll himself at Harvard University, and graduate with a degree in Economics. Since then, he's worked for Goldman Sachs, the Boston Bruins' telecast, and currently works as a studio analyst for NESN.
10 Brad Dalgarno
Brad Dalgano was drafted sixth overall by the New York Islanders in the 1985 NHL Draft. Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, Dalgrano played in three seasons for the Hamilton Steelhawks of the OHL, putting up a solid 177 points in 180 games, but was never able to translate that over to the NHL level.
Dalgrano struggled to stay healthy during his career, including sitting out the whole 1989-90 season due to a broken orbital bone, cheek bone, jaw and a concussion obtained in a fight against Joey Kocur. He turned out to be a complete bust, only appearing in 321 games, scoring 49 goals and 120 points. The B.C. native would eventually retire in 1996.
Post-retirement, Dalgrano has worked as a Managing Partner at Starshot Agency according to his LinkedIn.
9 Doug Smith
Doug Smith was another player with franchise potential heading into his draft year. After being drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 1981, and tallying over 100 points in junior during his draft year, Smith failed to surpass 41 points in a season during his brief NHL career. In 11 seasons, Smith played for five teams (L.A. Kings, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, and Pittsburgh Penguins), which, for a top draft pick, is an indicator that you're a bust.
Smith finished his career with 535 games played and 253 points. Unfortunately, it was a horrific ending to a short career for the former NHLer. Smith suffered a career-ending injury to his neck, and became a quadriplegic. Fortunately, he learned how to walk again and was able to find himself a new career in the business world.
8 Brett Lindros
The younger brother of Hall of Famer Eric Lindros, Brett Lindros was drafted quite high in the 1994 NHL Draft at 9th overall by the New York Islanders. Although he played for three seasons in OHL, Lindros played a total of just 72 games at the junior level. The Islanders decided to take their chances and hope that Lindros would turn out to be something like his brother when he'd reach the NHL - but they were wrong.
The Ontario native's career would last a mere two seasons, in which he appeared in only 51 games, scoring 7 points. Lindros suffered a series of concussions during this short period of time, which forced him to retire so soon. To this day, Lindros works in Toronto for hedge fund HGC Investment Management.
7 Craig Redmond
Craig Redmond is another big mistake made by the Los Angeles Kings. They went with the 5-foot-10 defenseman with pick number six of the 1984 NHL Draft. During his rookie season, Redmond performed up to expectations, recording a very pleasing 39 points in 79 games as a rookie defenseman. Although the future looked bright for the B.C. native, it would be the best season he'd see as an NHLer.
Redmond's NHL career would last a short and disappointing five seasons, playing for the Kings and Edmonton Oilers while shuffling between AHL and NHL lineups during his final pro seasons. Since his retirement in 1989, Redmond has worked as the president of a company called Nicon Contractors Ltd/NHL Alumni.
6 Brian Finley
Brian Finley was drafted sixth overall by the Nashville Predators in the 1999 NHL Draft. He was the first goaltender to be drafted in his draft class, with promising junior numbers.
The Ontario native made his NHL debut with the Predators in the 2002-03 season, but would only appear in one game due to a groin injury suffered from the previous season in junior. Finley would play in a total of four career NHL games, two with the Predators, and two with the Boston Bruins. He spent the majority of his pro career in the AHL and his short-lived, five year career, would come to an end in 2007 as he chose to retire after tearing his left groin and labrum.
Today, Finley resides in Toronto, Ontario, working as a police officer.
5 Brent Krahn
Brent Krahn showed tons of promise heading into the 2000 NHL Draft. After a great career in junior, Krahn became a highly regarded prospect and was considered one of the best goaltenders in his draft class behind Rick DiPietro. The Calgary Flames selected the 6-foot-4 goaltender ninth overall.
The far majority of Krahn's career was spent in the AHL and his development took a huge decline because of a recurring knee injury. The Manitoba native played in just one NHL game, which was with the Dallas Stars who signed him prior to the 2008-09 season. He was eventually let go by the organization in 2011.
After being one of the top regarded prospects from the 2000 draft, Krahn became nothing more than a mediocre AHL goaltender. His career would come to an end far too quickly for someone drafted so high. The Manitoba native would go on to retire in 2011 and currently works at Pembina Pipelines.
4 Ray Martyniuk
Ray Martyniuk could easily be considered as one of the biggest draft busts of all time, especially for the goaltending position. Drafted fifth overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1970, Martyniuk was referred to as the "Can't Miss Kid" after a killer career in the WHL. He even won the Del Wilson Trophy as the league's top goaltender in consecutive 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons.
After being drafted by the Habs, Martyniuk was unable to earn a spot on the team ahead of goaltenders Ken Dryden and Rogie Vachon. His pro career lasted just nine years, and he never saw a single NHL game. After spending seasons in the AHL, CHL and IHL, the Manitoba native decided to call it quits, and return to a regular life.
Martyniuk situated himself in Cranbrook, B.C., where he worked for Coca-Cola, maintaining vending machines. Sadly, he passed away in October of 2013.
3 Steve Kelly
Steve Kelly had a solid junior campaign with the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL, compiling 254 points in 268 games. His impressive junior career led him to being drafted sixth overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 1995. Unfortunately, things never worked out for Kelly in the NHL, as he appeared in 149 NHL games with multiple organizations. He finished with a total of just 21 points in his career.
It is clear that Kelly grossly underachieved and was a terrible mistake made by the Edmonton Oilers. Many fans were upset at the fact that the Oilers passed on other no-brainer picks in the draft such as Shane Doan or Edmonton native Jarome Iginla.
After spending a 13-year-career in hockey, Kelly went on to retire in 2009 to go join the ranks of the Calgary Police Service in Calgary, Alberta, where he remains as an officer to this day.
2 Adam Bennett
Adam Bennett was drafted six overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1989 NHL Draft. Bennett returned to playing with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL for two more seasons after he had been drafted by the Blackhawks, and finally turned pro after the 1990-91 season. However, Bennett found himself splitting time with the IHL and NHL, and continuously struggled to crack the starting lineups of both NHL teams that he played for in his career, the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers.
The most NHL appearances he made in one season was playing in 48 games during the 1993-94 with the Oilers. Shortly after, Bennett's career would be over as he would retire in 1996 after spending his final pro season playing in the ECHL.
After his on-ice career, Bennett took a job off the ice as an assistant coach for the Mississauga Ice Dogs of the OHL for the 1998-99 season. Currently, the Ontario native is running his own business called "3-on-3 Hockey by Adam Bennett."
1 Alexandre Daigle
Alexandre Daigle was expected to be the next great superstar coming out of Quebec. With all of the hype surrounding Daigle leading up to his draft year, his below average NHL career has him widely regarded as one of the greatest draft busts of all time.
Daigle's numbers weren't terrible like the majority of draft busts, but they were still not up to the level that was expected of him. He still played in 11 NHL seasons and over 600 NHL games, scoring 327 points. However, he often struggled to find a job at the hockey's major league level, and was apart of six different teams in the NHL.
Daigle left the NHL in 2006 and spent four years playing hockey in Europe before retiring in 2010. Since the end of his NHL career, Daigle has worked for a company called MTL Grandé, and is running studios in Montreal.