The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is one that many hockey fans remember for both good and bad reasons. Through it, we have seen many players become superstars, while others have grown into complete busts. This is the case with every NHL draft, but the 2011 hit a new territory of strange. Some players in the first round have yet to even play a full season in the NHL and six seasons have already passed. This is crazy to even think about.
Through this article, we will be looking at a handful of players who have succeeded and others who ultimately failed. In most cases, these players’ fortunes were determined by the roles they were given from the start of their careers. This draft class is the prime example as to why developing prospects correctly is extremely important and if not done correctly, detrimental. There will be players that you know right away and others you may not have even heard of because of their lack of an impact.
Nonetheless, here is a list of eight players who are succeeding from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and seven who are failing.
15 Succeeding: Rickard Rakell
The Anaheim Ducks struck gold when they drafted forward, Rickard Rakell, 30th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Rakell was seen as a high risk, high reward prospect, and so far, it has been completely worth the gamble for the strong Anaheim Ducks. Rakell has only continued to improved since his draft year, especially this past season when he tallied a career high 33 goals.
At age 24, Rakell still has plenty of time to continue to grow as a player and will be a key member of the Ducks for years to come. Rakell’s ability to score clutch goals at any time will always make him a fan favorite in Anaheim. Expect to see Rakell to start leading the pack much more as well because the Ducks’ core players are getting older.
14 Failing: Joel Armia
Joel Armia was drafted 16th overall by the Buffalo Sabres during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and has yet to blossom into the star player many thought he would become. At the time of the draft, many analysts believed that Armia would be the answer to the Sabres ‘ struggling offense, once he developed his game in the minors.
Armia would end up playing a whopping one game for the Sabres during the 2014-15 season before being traded the Winnipeg Jets in the Evander Kane deal. Since joining the Jets, Armia has yet to crack the score sheet to the level he was supposed to, but has shown some progress over the past two seasons. Armia still has the chance to be a steady player, but never the star he could have been.
13 Succeeding: Dougie Hamilton
Boston Bruins fans rejoiced when the team drafted Dougie Hamilton 9th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. They thought that they have received their future superstar defenseman, which was not necessarily incorrect at the time. Hamilton played amazingly during his stint with the Bruins, but was abruptly traded to the Calgary Flames during the 2015 NHL Entry for a few picks.
The Bruins already regret this deal and will for quite some time, as Hamilton continues to be a superstar in the league. Although Hamilton has been criticized for his defensive play, he is a great puck moving defenseman and has the ability to put up solid points. This is evident by the 50 points he put up last season and the fact that he is still on the upswing.
12 Failing: Jamie Oleksiak
The 14th overall pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, Jamie Oleksiak, has yet to find the success he truly could have. Oleksiak is an absolute beast standing in at 6’7’’ and weighing over 260 pounds, but he is still not a dominant force in the NHL. The Dallas Stars have yet to give up on him, mostly because of his size, but it may be time because he has yet to make it through a whole NHL season.
Oleksiak is not necessarily a bad player, but he may not possess enough skill to make it as a whole time NHL er, at least not in Dallas. Oleksiak may benefit playing for a team that is a bit weaker on the backend and that very well could turn his fortune around. That size provides him with infinite potential, but the time is running out for him.
11 Succeeding: Ryan Nugent Hopkins
Say what you want about the number one pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, but at the end of the day, Ryan Nugent Hopkins is not a bust. Although he has not put up high scoring numbers in the NHL, he is still a very productive top-6 to top-9 center in the game and is only improving. He is also a leader for the Edmonton Oilers and will only help players like McDavid progress.
RNH did not end up being the best player in this draft class, but he has had a lot of success in the league. It may be time for him to find a new place to play due to the center depth of the Oilers, but even with that, he is still playing well. Nugent-Hopkins’ 265 points in 395 games is easily very solid among other NHLers and should be respected.
10 Failing: Mark McNeill
Mark McWho? Mark McNeill was drafted 18th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, but has yet to find any NHL success and barely any time. He has played two games in the NHL so far and has been a career AHLer. His success in the AHL has been fairly strong, but that is not the ultimate goal of a first round pick.
Luckily, since the Blackhawks have made this pick, they have won two Stanley Cups and have basically erased the atrociousness of drafting McNeill. However, it would have been very beneficial for them if McNeill turned into a decent player because at this point, they are in desperate need of forward depth. However, McNeill’s inability to adapt to the professional game made this not happen.
9 Succeeding: Brandon Saad
The Blackhawks did not mess up their second round pick when they drafted Brandon Saad 43rd overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Right made Saad made the team as an NHL regular, he was instantly a force on the ice and was very productive. He played three very solid seasons with the Blackhawks, which resulted in two Stanley Cups, before he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
However, Saad was just reacquired by the Blackhawks this season and will now be able to continue his legacy with his draft team. The Blackhawks received a true leader and hardworking player when they drafted Saad. Losing him was very tough on them the past two seasons and he will make them far better this next season due to his complete game.
8 Failing: Duncan Siemens
The Colorado Avalanche drafted Duncan Siemens 11th overall during the 2011 NHL Draft and like many others, he has yet to make much of an impact in the NHL. In fact, he has only played four games at the professional level, which should be a big warning sign for the rebuilding Avalanche. Siemens was seen as a huge prospect for them when they drafted him and he has yet to show them anything.
Siemens is to the point where they may not be much of an upside for him. Not only has he had any production in the NHL, but he has been weak in the AHL too. The one part of Siemens’ game that has carried over from juniors is his high number of penalty minutes, which is not even a necessity in the league. Siemens’ time is running out and do not expect much more of him.
7 Succeeding: Gabriel Landeskog
Gabriel Landeskog was the 2nd overall pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and so far, he has been a very productive player. At the age of 19, after his rookie season, he was named the captain of the Colorado Avalanche and so far has done a pretty good job at handling the pressure thrown at him. Although this past season was a down season for him, he will turn it around.
Although he is captain of the Avalanche, Landeskog needs to get out of Colorado because of the rebuilding phase they are in and the countless trade rumors he has been involved in. His confidence in himself has dropped a lot and it has shown in his statistics. Him finding a new home will be great because he will have the chance to show that he is still an elite talent.
6 Failing: Joe Morrow
Joe Morrow was drafted 23rd overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and has underperformed. He has been traded a handful of times during his career and that very well could have impacted his growth as a prospect. After spending the past few seasons in the Bruins’ system, he never had the opportunity to play an entire season with the club.
Morrow is failing simply because of the circumstance that he was put in during his stint in Boston. The team never trusted him in a full time role and as a result, he never developed into the star defenseman many thought that he would. After signing in Montreal, he may have a chance to make the big club, but their depth very well could end up hurting him as well.
5 Succeeding: Mark Scheifele
Mark Scheifele was drafted 7th overall by the Winnipeg Jets during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and has truly blossomed into a star center. Since the start of his career, he has progressed exceptionally with his playmaking abilities and overall nose for the net. This past season Scheifele even produced more than a point per game by getting 82 points in 79 games.
Now that Scheifele has superstar sniper Patrik Laine on his line, he will continue to grow as an elite talent and may even become one of the best centers in the entire game. Scheifele has the power to make the Jets one of the best teams in the league and very well could lead them to their first Stanley Cup ever.
4 Failing: Ryan Murphy
Ryan Murphy was drafted 12th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and this very well appears to have been a mistake for the club. Murphy was seen as a strong offensive defenseman during his class year, but he never carried that part of his game to the NHL level. In fact, during his stint in Carolina, he never even stayed a full season with the club.
Murphy was finally given up on by the Hurricanes this offseason and is now a member of the Minnesota Wild. Maybe he will have the chance to blossom into a solid defenseman there, but the chances of that appear to be unlikely. Expect to see Murphy as either their 7th defenseman or playing in the AHL during the 2017-18 season.
3 Succeeding: Nikita Kucherov
Nikita Kucherov was an absolute steal when the Tampa Bay Lightning drafted him 58th overall during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, Kucherov has become one of the best snipers in the NHL and is becoming a true leader in Tampa Bay. His goal totals have continued to skyrocket since he joined the league during the 2013-14 season and should continue to do so.
Kucherov has done an amazing job carrying the offensive load during the multiple injuries Steven Stamkos has faced. When they are both healthy and playing together, this very well could make the Lightning a contender once again. Kucherov has shown that he is able to put up 40 goals in a season and that should be a continuing pattern for years to come.
2 Failing: Tyler Biggs
The Toronto Maple Leafs made the biggest mistake during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft when they took Tyler Biggs 22nd overall. Since this happened, Tyler Biggs has yet to play an NHL game and now is a member of the ECHL. That is correct. Tyler Biggs has developed so poorly that he could not even stay with an AHL club. His 17 points in 119 AHL games is evident of that.
The Maple Leafs had so many great players to choose from during this draft year and opted to take someone who did not prove his game at all. He was an okay player during his time with the United States Development Team, but still very well looked like a high risk pick from the start. This is still a pick that Maple Leafs fans look back on with complete confusion and horror.
1 Succeeding: Johnny Gaudreau
What a steal. The Calgary Flames made a gamble pick when they chose undersized Johnny Gaudreau 104th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, Gaudreau has become one of the best wingers in the game today because of his blistering speed and great shot. Gaudreau’s career improved immensely by the way he developed during his college hockey days at Boston College.
Gaudreau has all the chances to become a Hockey Hall of Famer if he continues to produce at the level he has. Although the 2016-17 season was a bit of a down year for him, it is clear that he will turn it around this year by the talent that he has around him. Gaudreau is still in the process of developing so there is a lot more to come from this superstar forward.