The NHL draft is a big day for everyone in the hockey world. Teams draft players that they feel can help them succeed, young hockey players see their dreams come true, and hockey fans can get excited about the new young talent their favorite team is bringing in. It's one of the most exciting days of the year for the NHL.
With over 200 players being drafted every year, you get your fair share of draft steals and draft errors. Some teams find superstars late in the draft, such as Jamie Benn who was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the fifth round in 2007. Some unfortunate circumstances for teams like the Edmonton Oilers have seen a first overall pick turn into a complete bust, such as Nail Yakupov in 2012.
Nonetheless, it can be fun to look back a few years down the line and see which teams got it right and who got it wrong. Most successful NHL teams are built through the draft these days, but every team has passed on a better player at some point in time.
This article will take a look at every draft from 2010 until 2017 and pick out the three biggest mistakes from each year. By the time you're reading this, you'll probably know the results for the 2018 draft taking place in Dallas. The degree of these mistakes ranges from drafting a player who absolutely tore it up in junior but saw little to no NHL action, to drafting a player that a team simply did not need. Now that you know all that you need to know, here are the three biggest mistakes at every NHL draft since 2010.
24 2010 - New York Rangers Select Dylan McIlrath
The New York Rangers selected defenseman Dylan McIlrath 10th overall in 2010. The Manitoba native is the only player from the top 10 of this draft to play in under 300 NHL games, appearing in 43.
The defenseman was hardly able to crack the Rangers' lineup and was eventually traded to the Florida Panthers in November 2016.
McIlrath played five games with the Panthers in the 2016-17 season and hasn't seen NHL action since. McIlrath is currently a member of the Detroit Red Wings organization after being traded there in March 2017.
This was without question a huge miss for the Rangers, who had the opportunity to select an impact player at 10th overall. They would have been much better off selecting Cam Fowler, who was drafted by Anaheim just two picks later.
23 2010 - Colorado Avalanche Select Joey Hishon
Joey Hishon was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche 17th overall in 2010. He seemed to be a promising player as he finished junior with over a point per game in three out of four seasons. Unfortunately, the Ontario native's NHL career was brief. Hishon played in only 13 games for the Avalanche, which came during the 2014-15 season, scoring one goal and an assist.
The 26-year-old would not play in North America much longer. In 2016 he joined Jokerit Helsinki of the KHL and currently plays for Lulea HF of the Swedish Hockey League. Avalanche fans will definitely feel upset looking back at this pick, knowing they could have had Nick Bjugstad or Evgeni Kuznetsov instead.
22 2010 - Coyotes First Round
The Phoenix Coyotes had the luxury of having two first-round picks in the 2010 draft and failed on both of them. First, they selected defenseman Brandon Gormley 13th, then goaltender Mark Visentin 27th.
Gormley had a solid season during his draft year with the Moncton Wildcats. He scored nine goals and 43 points in 58 games and looked like he was going to be a great NHL defenseman. Instead, the 26-year-old became more of an AHL regular and only played in 58 career NHL games. Gormley now plays in the Swedish Hockey League for Mora IK.
Visentin also could not translate his junior success to the NHL level, as he only appeared in one game for the Coyotes in 2014. The Ontario native is now under contract with Szekeshfehervar Alba Volan HC of the Austrian League.
21 2011 - New York Islanders Select Ryan Strome
Ryan Strome was the fifth overall pick of the New York Islanders in 2011 coming off a 106-point season with the Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL. Strome didn't make the jump to the NHL until he played in 37 games during the 2013-14 season, scoring 18 points. It was only until the 2014-15 campaign that the Ontario native became an NHL regular, where he had his best season scoring 17 goals and 50 points.
Strome followed that up with a pretty bad season with 28 points a year later, even getting sent back to the AHL for a few games.
The Islanders traded him to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Jordan Eberle last June.
For a fifth overall pick, Strome was certainly a mistake for the Islanders, who passed up on guys such as Mark Scheifele and Sean Couturier.
20 2011 - Colorado Avalanche Select Duncan Siemens
The Colorado Avalanche drafted defenseman Duncan Siemens 11th overall in the 2011 draft. Siemens has spent most of his career with the Avs' AHL affiliate Lake Erie Monsters/San Antonio Rampage and has only appeared in 20 NHL games. The defenseman played in 16 games for the club in 2017-18, tallying a goal and an assist.
The Avs clearly got it wrong with Siemens, who only seems to be good at racking up penalty minutes. The 24-year-old has over 300 penalty minutes in his AHL career and his physical game has prevented him from playing in a full season due to constant injuries. There were certainly better options out there for Colorado on defense in this draft, such as Oscar Klefbom and Connor Murphy.
19 2011 - Toronto Maple Leafs First Round
The Toronto Maple Leafs had the 22nd and 26th overall picks in the 2011 draft and got basically nothing out of them. The Leafs picked forward Tyler Biggs at 22, who hasn't seen an NHL game in his career and is currently playing for the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL. Toronto then picked defenseman Stuart Percy, who only played in 12 games for the Leafs.
Percy hasn't played an NHL game since the 2015-16 season and has since joined two other organizations. He most recently played for the Buffalo Sabres' AHL club the Rochester Americans and scored 7 goals and 34 points in 67 games.
The Leafs ended up getting a total of 12 games from their two first-round picks, which is obviously a gross underachievement. They passed on players like Vladislav Namestnikov and Rickard Rakell who were drafted a few picks later in the first round.
18 2012 - Edmonton Oilers Select Nail Yakupov
Nail Yakupov was drafted first overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2012 and is widely known as one of the biggest draft busts in recent years.
Yakupov started his career off decently with 17 goals and 31 points in a 48-game season in 2012-13.Unfortunately, the 24-year-old was unable to take off from there.
He was a minus-30 or lower in the following two seasons and did not score more than 33 points. Now, the former Sarnia Sting has played for two other NHL teams, the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche.
As he's set to be a free agent this summer, there's a chance that the former first overall pick will head back home to play in the KHL. Yakupov is easily the worst first overall pick since 2010.
17 2012 - New York Islanders Select Griffin Reinhart
Drafted fourth overall by the New York Islanders in 2012, Griffin Reinhart failed to become a top defenseman like many scouts predicted. The 6-foot-4, 212-pounder has only played in 37 NHL games and is currently a member of the Vegas Golden Knights' AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves.
Reinhart only played in eight games with the Islanders which all came during the 2014-15 campaign. The 24-year-old has only two assists in his NHL career and hasn't played in the league since the 2015-16 season. This pick certainly hurts for the Islanders and their fans, as Reinhart was drafted right before Morgan Reilly went to Toronto. However, that pain is likely gone now that New York managed to trade him to Edmonton for a pick that got them Mathew Barzal.
16 2012 - Buffalo Sabres Select Mikhail Grigorenko
Mikhail Grigorenko was a highly skilled prospect heading into the 2012 draft and was expected to be one of the top players to come out of it. Drafted 12th overall by the Buffalo Sabres, Grigorenko played in the NHL immediately during the following season. The former Quebec Rempart had one goal and five points in 22 games before being sent back to his QMJHL team.
The Russian forward was unable to develop into an impactful NHL player and didn't see much more action with the Sabres.
Grigorenko was reunited with his head coach from Quebec, Patrick Roy, when he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in 2015. However, that didn't manage to ignite the former Sabre. After two seasons in Colorado, Grigorenko went to play in the KHL, where he currently plays for CSKA Moscow.
15 2013 - Tampa Bay Lightning Select Jonathan Drouin
Drafted third overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2013, there were a lot of high expectations for Jonathan Drouin - the reigning CHL player of the year. However, the Quebec native never got a real shot at playing an important role with the Lightning. He scored just four goals in his rookie season and was involved in controversy when he was suspended by the Lightning organization after refusing to play for the Syracuse Crunch in 2016.
After reportedly making a trade request back in November 2015, Drouin's request was finally answered as he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in June 2017 for Mikhail Sergachev. The 23-year-old is still very young and hasn't had an awful career, however, if there was a re-do of the 2013 draft, Drouin would not be picked third. The Lightning would be much better off today had they selected defenseman Seth Jones instead, as they seem to be in need of a right-handed defenseman.
14 2013 - Dallas Stars Select Valeri Nichushkin
Valeri Nichushkin was drafted 10th overall in 2013 out of the KHL. The Russian forward is a big body at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, though he didn't turn out to be the dominant power forward that the Dallas Stars thought he would be.
Nichushkin spent three seasons with Dallas, scoring 23 goals and 64 points in 166 games. Following the 2015-16 season, the 23-year-old returned to the KHL after failing to agree on a new contract with the Stars. While he's currently a member of CSKA Moscow, Nichushkin's rights still remain with the Stars and there are rumors that he could return to the NHL next season.
Nonetheless, there were certainly much better options for Dallas in the 2013 draft such as Max Domi and Alexander Wennberg.
13 2013 - Ottawa Senators Select Curtis Lazar
Picking Curtis Lazar 17th overall in 2013 turned out to be the wrong move for the Ottawa Senators. Lazar made his debut in the 2014-15 season where he scored a career-high six goals and 15 points in 67 games.
The B.C. native's offensive production has been scarce, as he's only scored 15 goals and 51 points in 246 NHL games.
Lazar was traded to Calgary at the 2017 trade deadline and since has scored three goals - playing a minimal role. Though he wasn't projected to be an outstanding player, the former Edmonton Oil King has not lived up to a first-round pick status. He has three goals in two seasons with the Flames.
Looking back, the Senators would've surely preferred drafting someone like Anthony Mantha or Andre Burakovsky.
12 2014 - New York Islanders Select Michael Dal Colle
The New York Islanders didn't expect Michael Dal Colle to only play in four NHL games up until now when selecting him fifth overall in 2014. Dal Colle spent five seasons in the OHL and scored 39 goals and 95 points in 67 games for the Oshawa Generals in his draft season.
The Ontario native joined the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for three regular season and playoff games in 2015-16. He made his full-season debut with the club the following year. Dal Colle's four NHL appearances came in the 2017-18 season where he scored zero points.
The former Oshawa General is by far the worst pick out of the top five in this draft, and arguably the biggest mistake from this year with guys like William Nylander and Nikolaj Ehlers still available.
11 2014 - Vancouver Canucks Select Jake Virtanen
Jake Virtanen was picked immediately after Dal Colle by the Vancouver Canucks. With a 45 goal season for the Calgary Hitmen in 2013-14, Virtanen was projected to be a pure goal scorer at the NHL level. However, that's been far from the case.
The former sixth overall pick has played in 140 NHL games but has only scored 17 goals and 34 points. Virtanen plays a physical game and it seems that his role in the NHL has become more of a grinder than a goal scorer. Much like the Islanders, the Canucks missed a golden opportunity to draft a top talent in William Nylander or Nikolaj Ehlers.
10 2014 - Colorado Avalanche Select Conner Bleackley
Conner Bleackley was drafted 23rd by the Colorado Avalanche in 2014 and has yet to play a game in the NHL. Apart from Colorado, Bleackley has been a member of the Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues organizations.
The 22-year-old was not signed to an entry-level deal by the Avalanche, which forced him to re-enter the draft in 2016 where he was picked in the fifth round by the Blues.
Bleackley now plays for the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL as a prospect within the Blues organization. This was a huge miss by the Avalanche, as they passed up on an incredible player in David Pastrnak.
9 2015 - Arizona Coyotes Select Dylan Strome
Dylan Strome was picked third overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2015 draft. Going third after Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel is a huge deal, and as of now, Strome has failed to live up to his potential. He entered the draft following a 45 goal season, with 129 points in 68 games for the Erie Otters.
Strome has only played in 28 NHL games, scoring four goals and 10 points. The 21-year-old has yet to find his way into the Coyotes line-up permanently. However, in his first AHL season in 2017-18, Strome collected 50 points in 53 games with the Tucson Roadrunners.
Perhaps this is a step in the right direction for the Ontario native, but as of now, he doesn't seem like the guy who should be going third in this draft. Mitch Marner, Zach Werenski, and Mathew Barzal would be much better alternatives.
8 2015 - Dallas Stars Select Denis Gurianov
Denis Gurianov was picked 12th overall by the Dallas Stars in the 2015 draft. The Russian winger was drafted out of the KHL, playing for Lada Togliatti. Gurianov signed an entry-level deal with the Stars in 2016.
The Stars' prospect didn't have impressive numbers in the KHL. He only scored four goals in 55 games and recorded two assists. Gurianov has played two seasons in the AHL for the Texas Stars and has not reached 20 goals in either season. With his lack of scoring in the minors, one might believe the future doesn't look bright, offensively, for the 21-year-old.
Having just one NHL game under his belt, Gurianov seems like a mistake up until now for the Stars. Forwards like Jake DeBrusk, Mat Barzal and Kyle Connor were picked afterward and already play significant roles on their teams.
7 2015 - Boston Bruins Select Zachary Senyshyn
The Boston Bruins had three consecutive first-round draft picks in the 2015 draft, from picks 13 to 15. Zachary Senyshyn was their last pick at 15, following defenseman Jakub Zboril and winger Jake DeBrusk. Senyshyn seems to have the least upside of the three and had a mediocre debut in the AHL with 12 goals, 26 points in 66 games.
There's certainly a possibility the Ontario native still makes the NHL, and that isn't why he's on this list.
The Bruins had three opportunities to pick at least one of Mat Barzal, Brock Boeser, and Kyle Connor, and ended up with none.
Sure, you might say all three picks could be considered failures, but DeBrusk had a solid rookie season and looks like he'll be a good player. Picking one defenseman was almost a guarantee, so Zboril over someone like Thomas Chabot isn't as bad either. In the end, Boston probably will get three NHLers out of this first-round, but they missed a glorious opportunity to draft a superstar.
6 2016 - Edmonton Oilers Select Jesse Puljujarvi
Jesse Puljujarvi was drafted fourth overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2016. The Finnish forward was projected to go third in this draft for the longest time behind Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. However, with the Columbus Blue Jackets picking third, they went with Pierre-Luc Dubois, and it seems to have been the right choice for them.
Puljujarvi was described by scouts as a big, skilled, all-around winger who could score and pass. In his first full season with Karpat of the SM-liiga, he scored 28 points in 50 games.
The 2016 World Junior MVP has spent two years in North America but hasn't played a full season in the NHL yet. He has 13 goals and 28 points in 93 career NHL games. Though he's not a total bust and will probably be a full-time NHLer next season, players picked after him such as Matthew Tkachuk and Clayton Keller have had much better starts to their careers.
5 2016 - Vancouver Canucks Select Olli Juolevi
Olli Juolevi was selected immediately following his fellow countryman Puljujarvi and was the first defenseman drafted in 2016. The Vancouver Canucks draft pick spent two seasons in the OHL playing for the London Knights, scoring 42 points in each campaign. Currently, Juolevi is playing in the SM-liiga for TPS Turku where he scored 7 goals and 19 points in 38 games in 2017-18.
Juolevi's offensive play is his strongest asset and a big reason why scouts ranked him fifth among players competing in North America heading into the draft. Unfortunately, the Finnish defenseman is yet to play in an NHL game, while defensemen such as Mikhail Sergachev and Charlie McCavoy, drafted after Juolevi, are looking like future stars. While we should expect to see Juolevi in the NHL sooner rather than later, it doesn't seem like the Canucks got the best defenseman from this draft.
4 2016 - Buffalo Sabres Select Alexander Nylander
In 2016, the Buffalo Sabres selected Alexander Nylander eighth overall. Alex is the brother of Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander but has not turned out to be as quality a player as his brother.
There were high hopes for the Swedish forward after a 28 goal, 75-point season with the Mississauga Steelheads in 2015-16.
However, Nylander has only played in seven NHL games over the last two years, with a goal and an assist. As it stands right now, Alex has not lived up to the heights of his brother and has a long way to get there.
3 2017 - Calgary Flames Select Juuso Valimaki
The Calgary Flames selected Juuso Valimaki 16th overall in 2017, and while he's projected to be a solid defenseman in the NHL, it's a pick that the Flames may regret. Calgary's biggest need is offense and with a defense corps consisting of Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic and others, the Flames did not need to add another player in that position.
Valimaki just finished off a second-consecutive season with over a point per game with 45 points in 43 games for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL. The Finnish defenseman could earn himself a try-out with the Flames next season. However, having been in the bottom five in goals for last season, it seems obvious that Calgary could've used a talented forward such as Robert Thomas, Filip Chytl or Eeli Tolvanen instead.
2 2017 - San Jose Sharks Select Josh Norris
Josh Norris was selected by the San Jose Sharks 19th overall in 2017. Norris scored 12 goals and 26 points in 25 games for the U.S. National Under-18 Team in 2016-17 and currently is in the Big-10 Conference playing for the University of Michigan.
The Michigan native scored eight goals and 23 points in 37 games during his first season in the Big-10.
Norris is still just 19 years old and has the potential to be an NHLer someday. However, the Sharks might regret taking him one pick before Robert Thomas went to the St. Louis Blues, as it appears Thomas is going to be a top producing centerman in the NHL.
1 2017 - Philadelphia Flyers Select Morgan Frost
Morgan Frost was drafted 27th by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2017 and was Philadelphia's second pick in the first round after they drafted Nolan Patrick second overall. The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds center had 20 goals and 62 points in his draft season and was a finalist for the OHL's MVP award.
Though Frost seems like he's going to be an NHL player, the Flyers already drafted a center in Patrick, and already have a bunch of them on their team in guys like Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny. It's going to be difficult to see Frost have any significant role on this team in the future, thus the Flyers would've been better off selecting a winger such as Eeli Tolvanen.
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