A professional sports draft is one of the best things to happen for all of the players involved and all sports fan bases involved. This is the day where all hard work comes center stage and dreams become a reality for young athletes waiting to get into their respective professional leagues. The NBA draft is a big deal every year with the lottery and the highest level of talent coming out to hopefully turn the fortunes of certain teams around. The NFL Draft has the combine and all big board predictions come out before the actual draft takes place, making it fun for fans to wonder and ponder endless possibilities. The MLB Draft has some players present at Studio 42 where MLB Network is recorded, a really amazing feeling for all players drafted. One draft that gets a bit under-looked is the NHL Draft.
The NHL Draft is the one draft that seems to go under the radar. The one draft that people ponder about production is the 2011 NHL Draft. The 2010 draft had some big names come out. The top two names that came out were Taylor Hall at number one selected by the Edmonton Oilers and Tyler Seguin selected at number two by the Boston Bruins. They are a part of different franchises now, but they still are putting up productive numbers at the NHL level. This put a lot of pressure on the 2011 class to step up and produce. But, how are they doing now six years later? We break down who has risen to excellence, and who hasn't been able to cut the mustard. We give you eight players from the 2011 NHL Draft who became stars and seven players who became busts.
15 Star: Dougie Hamilton
We begin our list with the number 15 spot for a star who has continuously improved every season and has the look of a star in the making. At 6'6, 210 pounds; Dougie Hamilton had the physical size and make-up to make an immediate impact in the NHL. As a result, he was selected ninth overall by the Boston Bruins after playing for the Niagara IceDogs. Hamilton's time in Boston was average at best. In his three year Bruins career, he finished with 83 career points. He also improved in points every season going from 16 to 25 to 42, respectively. Hamilton was then traded in 2015 to the Calgary Flames in a move that turned out great for his young career. He finished with 43 points in his first season and 50 points this past season with the Flames.
Entering his age 24 season, Dougie Hamilton looks like he can be one of the key pieces to ignite multiple postseason runs for the Flames if he chooses to stay. Calgary would be foolish to get rid of such a bright star in the making in Hamilton.
14 Bust: Mark McNeill
The Chicago Blackhawks have had a recent tradition of winning. With pieces like Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith in the fold, they were seemed for greatness. They figured the 18th overall pick in the 2011 Draft would help them continue to build for years to come. Unfortunately, that scenario has not panned out. Mark McNeill is a right winger who was selected by the Blackhawks to help continue the winning tradition. He has not contributed in any way shape or form. He only played one game in five seasons in the Blackhawks organization. He was in the AHL for most of his time and didn't seem like he would be a factor in the coming years. He was then traded to the Dallas Stars and played one game last season for the stars as well. So in six seasons, he has played two games. What a complete bust this was for the Blackhawks! Maybe, the Stars will see something in McNeill that can help Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn make a deep postseason run. But for now, McNeill is a bust until he can play more than one game and maybe record a point in his NHL career.
13 Star: Sean Couturier
The Philadelphia Flyers have a bit of a problem. Not only are they competing to be a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference, but they are also competing just to be the most liked team in their own home state! When dealing with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby, you need to go out and get a difference maker. They found a difference maker in the number 13 player on this list. Sean Couturier has been a model of consistency after his second season in the league. In his first two season, Couturier had 27 points and 15 points, respectively. Ever since then, he has not had a season lower than 34 points.
Considering he is playing alongside the talent that is Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier is doing his job and then some. Entering his age 25 season, he looks to take another jump into the 40 point season category and show just what kind of star he can be in this league.
12 Bust: Ryan Murphy
The Carolina Hurricanes are a franchise that want to return to its championship caliber ways from the early 2000s. They figured that taking this defensemen at the number 12 selection in the first round would help get them back on track to do so. So far, he hasn't shown a lot of promise. Ryan Murphy has now played five seasons in Carolina. He has not had a season that he has registered more than 13 points. He even had one season he didn't record a point and one season where he only recorded two points. We can give Murphy a pass on the zero point season considering he only played in four games that year. But the other seasons are simply inexcusable.
As a first round selection, Murphy was expected to a lot more for the Hurricanes and he has been nothing but a true disappointment. It looks like it will be back to the draft boards to find another top defensemen. At least the weather is good there, because the Hurricanes drafting isn't looking nearly as good with a pick like Ryan Murphy.
11 Star: Mika Zibanejad
The Ottawa Senators needed a center that could both put pucks in the back of the net and be able to create opportunities for his teammates. They got both in their 6th overall pick in the 2011 Draft. Mika Zibanejad is a young, big center that had the combination of size and speed that the Senators could simply not pass up. He showed excellent progression toward stardom as he continuously increased his point totals. In his last two seasons with the Senators, he recorded 46 points and 51 points, respectively. He was then traded to the New York Rangers for the 2016-17 season. He was not as good during the regular season as he only registered 37 points in his first season with the Rangers. But in the playoffs, Zibanejad found his form as he recorded nine points in 12 playoff games.
Needless to say, Mika Zibanejad can flat out play the game of hockey and he has proved that every season in some capacity. It will be fun to see during his age 24 season just how high he can go and how much of a star he can be if he keeps improving.
10 Bust: Duncan Siemens
The thing with these young players is that most of them are highly talented, but a lot of them are risks. The Colorado Avalanche took a chance on a defensemen with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 Draft. Unfortunately, like what happens with certain teams; they lost with the chance they took. Duncan Siemens was taken 11th overall to bolster the Avalanche defense. He has played a total of four career games for the Avalanche in six total years with the team. He has been spending the rest of his time in the AHL, most notably for the San Antonio Rampage. Even at the AHL level, he only recorded 14 points in two seasons. It is unknown what Siemens's role will be during the 2017-2018 season. But for now, fans can assume he will be back in the AHL and making no contribution to the big club. Again, until Siemens can spend a full season at the NHL level and contribute; he will be viewed as a bust.
9 Star: Mark Scheifele
The Winnipeg Jets were a franchise that moved from Atlanta recently looking for a face of the franchise. They were looking for someone to really bolster the team and give fans someone to gravitate towards. Safe to say with the seventh overall pick in the draft, Winnipeg found their star. Mark Scheifele is a player who really started showing his star potential during the 2013-2014 season where he recorded 34 points. He has dramatically improved every season and really stood out during the 2016-2017 season. He registered 32 goals, 50 assists to accumulate 82 points in 79 games. When a player gets to a level where he is averaging a point a game, he is really getting to a star level.
Look for Scheifele to be a high pick in fantasy hockey leagues as he is a star and will continue to be a star for years to come.
8 Bust: Jonas Brodin
The Minnesota Wild seemed to be one of the hottest teams in the NHL last season with their long winning streaks and young, vibrant stars. But with the number ten selection in the 2011 Draft the Wild took didn't seem to understand what they were trying to do in Minnesota. Jonas Brodin is an undersized defensemen who still got a lot of attention. Brodin was taken by the Wild and thought to be someone who could be a star right away in the league. He has not shown star numbers in any way, shape, or form yet. In his five seasons with the Wild, he has not registered more than 25 points total in a season.
Now, that 25 points season came last year; so maybe he has the potential to go up. Brodin is not a complete bust yet, but he needs to keep improving off of his past season to get out of the bust category. But for now, he unfortunately is a bust to all Wild fans.
7 Star: Jonathan Huberdeau
Florida is a state known for many things. Their beautiful weather, amazing beaches, and dominant teams are only a few to name. One team that gets a little bit left behind is the Florida Panthers. They needed a big name to put themselves on the Florida map for sporting events. Now looking back, they made the right selection. Jonathan Huberdeau has definitely made an immediate impact in the beautiful sunshine of Florida. He recorded 59 points in his first two seasons in Florida, but then he seemed to find his stride starting in the 2014-2015 season. His next two seasons saw him recording 54 points and then 59 points in 2015-2016. Last season, he did not play as much and only recorded 26 points. One's guess would be there was a bad injury that caused a lot of time off the ice for Huberdeau. But Huberdeau signed a recent six year deal with Florida, so they see just how much of a star he really is. Congratulations on the contract, Jonathan Huberdeau! Now it is time to prove why the Panthers are giving you that long of a contract!
6 Bust: Connor Murphy
The Phoenix/Arizona NHL franchise has had a tough go around the past few years. In the 2011 draft, they took a big whiff with their number 20 overall selection in the first round. Connor Murphy is a 6'4, 212 pound defensemen that was seen to be a guy to help get the Coyotes out of the cellar of the NHL. Murphy has certainly done a horrible job of doing anything that can be even close to being positive to helping the Coyotes achieve that goal. He has not recorded more than 17 points in a season since he started playing for the Coyotes and hasn't helped them come close to sniffing the postseason. How can a guy with that size and that much promise be that much of a bust so far? He definitely needs to have some big seasons the next few years to get out of the bust cellar just like the Coyotes are trying to get out of the NHL cellar.
5 Star: J.T. Miller
The New York Rangers might have gotten the steal of the draft with the 15th pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. This player came out of the USA Team Development Program and the Rangers are probably glad they found it. For a middle level 1st round pick, he was expected to be good; but probably not as good as the numbers he has put up. He broke in with the Rangers for a few games during the 2012-2013 season. His breakout season came during the 2014-15 season where he registered 23 points. He followed that up with a 43 point season the following season and a 56 point season this past 2016-17 season.
Miller has been a huge surprise for the Rangers and can really turn into a consistent star player if he has seasons like the one he just had. Considering he is going into his age 24 season, hard to believe he won't continue his progress at this pace.
4 Bust: Joel Armia
The Buffalo Sabres have had good luck lately with young stars that are starting to turn the franchise around. Players such as Jack Eichel and Ryan O'Reilly have given Sabres fans something to really look forward to. But this right winger that they took in the 1st round has not been that much of a factor toward Buffalo's improvement. Joel Armia was taken 16th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2011 NHL Draft. He came in as a player that could give Buffalo hockey fans reason to cheer again. Since his time in the league has started, it hasn't necessarily produced eye-popping numbers to be happy about. Armia has played for Buffalo and also the Winnepeg Jets since his time in the NHL has began. He did nothing for Buffalo, but seems to have turned a small corner with the Jets. He has recorded 10 points and 19 points respectively in his last two NHL seasons. He seems to maybe have started his uprise, but for now; Joel Armia is considered a bust for the Sabres and to be determined for the Jets.
3 Star: Gabriel Landeskog
The top five picks in any professional sports draft are usually the ones that make a difference to a franchise as soon as they get to work. The Colorado Avalanche had the number two pick overall in the 2011 NHL Draft and they needed a player that could be an offensive threat. They found their man in Gabriel Landeskog. Landeskog is a left winger from Sweden that has incredible speed and is a great play-maker with the puck in his hands. In six NHL seasons, Gabriel Landeskog has recorded over 50 points in three of those seasons.
He even had a 65 point season in 2013-14 when he recorded 26 goals and 39 assists. He took a step back last season as he only recorded 33 total points. But based on his past track record, he has shown star like qualities and produced star like numbers during his career. Time will only tell if Landeskog will go back to putting up those numbers. But a good feeling from Avalanche fans would say that he will be back to those numbers in no time at all.
2 Bust: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Whoa, Edmonton fans... hear me out. The top five picks in the draft are usually guys that can make an immediate impact. This guy however was taken with the fourth overall pick and has done absolutely nothing compared to expectations. In his six NHL seasons with the Edmonton Oilers h3 has not hit the 60-point mark. While it's not all about points, a player taken first overall is typically supposed to be a franchise player. RNH has since lost his no.1 centre job, understandably, to Connor McDavid and will likely be on the third line heading into this season. For a mid first round pick that would be okay, but more is expected with first overall picks.
1 Star: Nikita Kucherov
Sometimes the best star of a draft isn't taken early. The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to be a force to be dealt with for the long-term. They did a great job of selecting a star in Nikita Kucherov late in the second round.This guy is by far the number one star of this draft. He had low expectations coming in and he has made a name for himself ever since then. Kucherov has become one of the elite scorers in the league in the past few years and was able to surpass the 40-goal mark this past season in Tampa. He's only getting better and better and the Lightning will be looking to him to once again carry the load on offence for them heading into this season.