Bob McKenzie's Top 15 Biggest Draft Mistakes

Nobody's perfect. Alexander Ovechkin knows how to rip a perfect shot right by a goaltender's ear into the corner of the net, but he doesn't get it every time. Sidney Crosby is capable of making

Nobody's perfect.

Alexander Ovechkin knows how to rip a perfect shot right by a goaltender's ear into the corner of the net, but he doesn't get it every time.

Sidney Crosby is capable of making a perfect tape-to-tape pass without looking at its recipient, but sometimes he's off the mark by a hair or two.

Bob McKenzie is (arguably) the top and most respected analyst in the hockey world and he knows his stuff when it comes to top prospects and the NHL Draft, but sometimes he whiffs on some of his pre-draft rankings.

No one has the perfect formula for figuring out who's going to selected at various points of the draft - in any sport - and it's even harder for the actual teams to make up their minds on the real selections, picks that they must make with legitimate consequences a real possibility for whiffing on a pick.

Over the years, McKenzie has established himself as the lead pundit on the NHL Draft, specifically the first round. He releases his highly sought-after player rankings periodically throughout the season, culminating in an official final ranking that gets realized right before the draft. His rankings isn't a mock draft; player No.4 is not in the fourth slot because McKenzie thinks he's going fourth overall. Rather, they are pure rankings based on talent and whatever other factors McKenzie uses to grade prospects.

Of course, as we mentioned, nobody's perfect - McKenzie is usually pretty accurate, but every once in awhile a guy sneaks into his top 10, or even top 5, that in hindsight didn't even belong in the first round. While it doesn't happen often, even the best of the best miss the mark.

15 Josh Morrissey (2013)

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You'll notice going through this list that over the years, it seems like McKenzie has honed his craft even more - making you wonder whether he not he might serve the hockey world better in a hockey operations role of some sort as opposed to being a talking head for a network who's place in the sport is seemingly dwindling with each passing season.

Josh Morrissey hasn't made an impact in the NHL yet, but he's already surpassed McKenzie's No. 28 ranking by a lot (the Jets thought he was off, too, as they didn't hesitate to take him 13th overall). He'll likely be making most of the first twelve teams that passed on his wishing they hadn't underestimated him, too.

14 Luke Schenn (2008)

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

McKenzie wasn't the only one that whiffed on Schenn. The Leafs, in hindsight, reached for a player that they shouldn't have touched after a run on defensemen early in the draft got everyone worked up about it being "the year of the defenseman."

McKenzie had Schenn ranked ahead of Tyler Myers and Erik Karlsson, among others - and while plenty of GM's did too, nobody forced McKenzie to rank Schenn that high. He's gone against conventional wisdom before and has proven to be right - in this case, he went with it and whiffed.

13 Guillaume Latendresse (2005)

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

McKenzie doesn't deserve all the blame here - the Montreal Canadiens ruined Guillaume Latendresse. Injuries also played a role, but the Habs clearly rushed a player into the lineup far too soon, likely speeding up the development process for no other reason that his name and his Quebec roots.

McKenzie did rank Latendresse quite high, though - the big winger landed at No. 21 on his list, ahead of Tuukka Rask and Devin Setoguchi, while the Habs took him with the 45th pick.

12 Ben Maxwell (2006)


The Canadiens, who you'll find were pretty good at taking the wrong guy during these years, made the mistake of taking Ben Maxwell over Milan Lucic in the second round.

Bob McKenzie made the mistake of giving Maxwell a first round grade.

Maxwell took the 28th spot on McKenzie's 2006 list, only to play a ton of AHL hockey and a earn a couple of spot starts on the Canadiens fourth line. A bad call all around.

11 Enver Lisin (2004)


McKenzie had a rough go of it with the top of his 2004 ranking, but the tail-end of it was pretty spot on. Most of the guys he had ranked in the bottom half of that draft ended up getting picked around the same spot McKenzie had them at.

No. 15-24 on his list either made a significant contribution in the NHL or at least made it and had a couple of good season. Only one name sticks out like a sore thumb - Enver Lisin.

No one will ever know why McKenzie had him that high - especially considering he only came off the board at pick No. 50, when the Coyotes selected him. He played a grand total of 135 games, with a -37 rating.

10 Angelo Esposito (2007)


Angelo Esposito's hockey story is almost tragic. It's a career that everyone wanted to see get off the ground, but for a multitude of reasons it just never happened.

McKenzie was one of the many pundits who were high on Esposito back in 2007. McKenzie had him in the No.8 spot, but that quickly went out the window when Esposito began to slip down the draft board. The slide stopped at No.20 with the Pittsburgh Penguins selecting Esposito, but he was never able to live up to McKenzie's lofty expectations and never played a single NHL game.

9 Bob Sanguinetti (2006)


McKenzie was nearly perfect in 2006. He missed on a few names, but most players lived up to his rankings - he may as well have done the real draft for each team and almost every team would have gone home happy.

One player hangs over that ranking like a dark cloud -Bob Sanguinetti. McKenzie had him at No.13 in his rankings. Not only did he drop to No.21 in the draft to the Rangers, he's also accumulated a grand total of 45 NHL games since he debuted in 2009.

8 A.J. Thelen (2004)


The top 10 of McKenzie's 2004 ranking is likely the one section of all his rankings that'd love to figuratively burn and forget about forever. The next four entries will justify that claim.

Exhibit A is A.J. Thelen, a defenseman McKenzie had ranked eighth in his '04 ranking. Thelen never played a game in the NHL. He did suffer from concussion issues, but the brunt of those issues came well after his shot to make the big leagues had passed. Defensemen McKenzie had ranked lower than Thelen included Andrej Meszaros and Mike Green.

7 Lauri Tukonen (2004)


McKenzie's second mistake was Lauri Tukonen, a centre he had ranked 5th overall in his rankings. Tukonen dropped to 11th in the real draft, taken by the L.A. Kings, who then regretted that decision themselves after Tukonen only suited up for a grand total of 5 games in the National Hockey League. He went on to have a decent career in Finland, but was never able to make an impact in North America, finish with 0 points and a -2 rating.

6 Marek Schwarz (2004)


The 2004 Draft will be remembered as a "goaltending year," but for all the wrong reasons. McKenzie must have thought so too beforehand because he had two goalies in his top six of that year's rankings.

The second on the list was Marek Schwarz, a Czech goaltender who McKenzie had at No. 6. The Blues ended up taking him 17th overall - an unwise choice, as Schwarz only played four total games in the NHL, giving up nine goals in the process.

5 Al Montoya (2004)

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The second high-ranked keeper on McKenzie's 2004 list was Al Montaya, who has had a decent career as a backup in the NHL. The only problem is that Montaya has been a successful backup and not a top-flight starter: which is what you're expecting when you take a goaltender 6th overall like the Rangers did. McKenzie actually had him ranked higher than that at 4th overall on his list.

Montoya managed to stick around for a lot longer than most of the guys on this list, but he never justified the high pick from the Rangers, nor the even higher ranking from McKenzie.

4 Jaden Schwartz (2010)

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Several teams missed out on a top notch player when they let Jaden Schwartz fall to the St. Louis Blues back in 2010, but like McKenzie, some teams might have underestimated what Schwartz would be able to do at the NHL level.

McKenzie had Schwartz ranked 29th, behind guys like Emerson Etem, Beau Bennett, Tyler Pitlick and Quinton Howden. The Blues took him at No.14 and ended up getting the last laugh, as he's scored 119 points over the last two years.

3 Benoit Pouliot (2005)

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The 2005 Draft will always be remembered for one pick: the first one, which Pittsburgh used to pick Sidney Crosby. Rightly so. Dig deeper though and you see the many mistakes made after that pick by general managers and analysts alike.

McKenzie had Pouliot in the number 3 spot and he ended up going one spot later to the Wild. Fair enough. In the moment, McKenzie was right on point. In hindsight, nobody won - Pouliot did nothing in Minnesota and has bounced around the league, while those who ranked him so highly we're left wondering what had happened to the junior phenom. Notable names McKenzie had ranked below Pouliot include reigning Hart winner Carey Price and two-time Stanley Cup winner Anze Kopitar. Ouch.

2 Gilbert Brule (2005)

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The Brule Mistake is very similar to the Pouliot one. High scoring junior sensation, likely to be a top pick...until it all goes wrong. Brule was not only unable to replicate his talents at the highest level, he was out of the league fairly quickly for a guy who went sixth overall to Columbus. In his 299 games in the NHL, Brule only managed 43 goals along with a terrible -39 rating.

McKenzie had Brule ahead of fellow centers Andrew Cogliano and Martin Hanzal, but overall had players like Carey Price, Tuukka Rask and Marc Staal ranked lower than Brule.

1 Cam Barker (2004)


Cam Barker was supposed to be the next big thing on the back-end. With Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin as the surefire top two picks, the Hawks were happy to take the Canadian blueliner off the board at number 3 (which is where McKenzie had him ranked). It was a consensus pick, one that almost everyone (including McKenzie) agreed with.

Alas, everyone was wrong on this one. Barker was never able to adapt to the NHL game and bounced around the league (and the minors) his entire career before finally shipping off to Europe - now nothing more than a footnote in NHL Draft Busts history.

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Bob McKenzie's Top 15 Biggest Draft Mistakes