The Vegas Golden Knights will have some big decisions when they enter the 2017 National Hockey League Entry Draft this June in Chicago, Ill. As the 31st member of the league, they are going to have to choose who they believe will be the first superstar of the newest franchise of the NHL. This is will be especially important if they end up with the first overall pick after the draft lottery.
The likelihood is that they will still struggle in their early years, like many teams that have entered the league over the past century. But most teams usually improve with the right draft choices over time. Just like any professional sport, a lot has to go into scouting players at the high school, collegiate and semi-professional levels (i.e. Western Hockey League).
But like any other professional league - whether baseball, football or hockey - teams will never get it right 100 percent of the time. There are just too many variables to be able to the other 30 NHL teams for everyone to be able to have a successful draft class every year. It’s difficult in hockey when a majority of players in the draft recently turned 18 years old.
Sure, there will be optimism until a few years down the road when the players show their true abilities, beyond or below their expected potential. Every NHL team is going to have their share of duds in NHL Entry Draft history; players who were expected to be stars and ended up leaving the league in shame a few years later. The following are the worst picks for each NHL team and a look at what they are up to now.
30 Anaheim Ducks - Mark Mitera (2006)
The Anaheim Ducks had height expectations for defenseman Mark Mitera when they selected him 19th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He was a solid player for the University of Michigan with a collegiate career that saw 49 points. But he wouldn’t play any professional hockey until he was done in Michigan. His first professional stint was with the Iowa Chops of the American Hockey League, an affiliate for the Ducks.
29 Arizona Coyotes - Tyler Redenbach (2003)
To be fair, this was a draft that the entire Coyotes franchise missed on completely. In 2003, players like goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury went first overall to Pittsburgh, followed by Carolina taking Eric Staal. There were big names throughout the first round like Brent Seabrook (Chicago) and Ryan Kesler (Vancouver). But due to trades from previous years, the Coyotes wouldn’t make a pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft until the third round. Arizona’s first pick in that draft was center Tyler Redenbach.
28 Boston Bruins - Stephane Quintal (1987)
While Stephane Quintal had a long NHL career with more than 1,000 games between six different teams in the league, he was not a good choice by Boston in the 1987 NHL Draft. After picking fellow defender Glen Wesley third overall in the same draft, one would have assumed the Bruins would have chosen a forward. At the no. 14 spot, they chose Quintal and decided to pass on center Joe Sakic by Quebec - now the Colorado Avalanche.
27 Buffalo Sabres - Shawn Anderson (1986)
Chosen fifth overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft, defenseman Shawn Anderson was coming off a successful sting with the Canadian National Team and with the University of Maine in 1985 to 1986. However, he would bounce back and forth between the Sabres in the NHL and their AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., between 1986 and 1990. He would be traded around several times Quebec, Washington and Phladelphia.
26 Calgary Flames - Daniel Tkaczuk (1997)
The Calgary Flames would decide to go with the left-handed center Daniel Tkaczuk with the sixth overall choice in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. He had just put up big numbers with the Barrie Colts of the OHL with 93 points in 62 games. His first season with the Saint John Flames in the AHL in 1999-00 showed something good with 66 points in 80 games. But when he was called up, he struggled.
25 Carolina Hurricanes - Igor Knyazev (2001)
Defenseman Igor Knyazev was drafted 15th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. After being valued as one of the best prospects from Russia, Knyazev was unable to make it into the NHL. In fact, he only played two seasons in the AHL. In the 2002-03 season with the Lowell Lock Monsters, Knyazev finished with minus-22 on the year with just seven points in 68 games.
24 Chicago Blackhawks - Kyle Beach (2008)
Among the first 17 players selected in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, left winger Kyle Beach was the only one to never make his debut at the NHL level. In fact, he made very little impact during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks’ minor league affiliate after being selected 11th overall in the 2008 draft. Beach was rarely contributing except for the 36 points he had in 71 games in the 2010-11 season.
23 Colorado Avalanche - Daniel Dore (1988)
It felt like a good fit for the Quebec Nordiques - now the Colorado Avalance - to pick right winger Daniel Dore with the fifth overall selection in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. Dore was known around the area for his time with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League from 1986 to 1989. His first stint in the NHL was only 16 games where he had five points and finished minus-8.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets - Nikita Filatov (2008)
Nikita Filatov was a young Russian left winger who the Columbus Blue Jackets saw potential in as the sixth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. But Filatov would struggle during his three seasons with the Blue Jackets - playing just 44 games and scoring 13 total points. He would quickly find himself traded into the Ottawa Senators farm system and even played nine games in Ottawa before going to the AHL for another 15. Since then, he’s played for a number of teams in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League.
21 Dallas Stars - Vojtech Polak (2003)
While he wasn’t a first round choice in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, he was drafted high in the second round by the Dallas Stars with the 36th overall selection. The Czech Republic right winger would play several seasons for the local league before making his eventual AHL debut during the 2005-06 season. It was during that time he played 60 games and had 34 points. He would play just two games in the 2006-07 season in Dallas.
20 Detroit Red Wings - Terry Richardson (1973)
Terry Richardson had played several games for the New Westminster Bruins of the Western Hockey League in the early 1970s. Despite allowing more than three goals per game, he was chosen 11th overall in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft by the Detroit Red Wings. Richardson debuted in Detroit during the 1973-74 season, but allowed a 5.33 goals against average in nine games. After a short stint in the AHL, Richardson returned the next season; this time allowing a 6.83 GAA in four games.
19 Edmonton Oilers - Jason Bonsignore (1994)
Jason Bonsignore was a New York native who attracted a lot of attention after his time as a center in the OHL, especially for his two seasons with the Niagara Falls Thunder. This led the Edmonton Oilers to draft him fourth overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. But his time with the Oilers at the NHL level was brief with just 21 games in two seasons. After spending three years in the minors, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 1997-98 season, where he played 35 games and finished with just 10 points.
18 Florida Panthers - Petr Taticek (2002)
By now, there have been a number of players chosen in the first round who had a lot of expectations. The same can be said about Czech center Petr Taticek. He was the ninth overall selection by the Florida Panthers in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. It was one big OHL season in 2001-02 with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds that helped elevate his prospect status - 60 games and 63 points. But his numbers fell when he reported to the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL.
17 Los Angeles Kings - Thomas Hickey (2007)
When the Los Angeles Kings selected defenseman Thomas Hickey fourth overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, they probably didn’t expect he would never make it to the NHL under their team. He was successful for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL before making the move to the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. He rarely played from 2008 to 2010 with just 26 games in two seasons due to multiple ankle injuries.
16 Minnesota Wild - A.J. Thelen (2004)
The Minnesota Wild were still a young team in 2004 and wanted to make a big selection with the 12th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. After a 2003-04 season scoring 29 points in 42 games with Michigan State University, the Wild thought defender A.J. Thelen would be a top choice. However, he had a number of problems that included being dismissed from the MSU Spartans program in 2005. During the 2005-06 season with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, Thelen finished with a minus-30 rating.
15 Montreal Canadiens - Terry Ryan (1995)
The calendar year of 1995 marked the decline of a once proud franchise. In those 12 months, the Canadiens would fire coach and GM Jacques Demers and Serge Savard, would trade star goaltender Patrick Roy and they made perhaps the worst draft pick in their history. With the fifth overall pick, the Habs selected Terry Ryan, passing on Jarome Iginla with their first round pick. Ryan would play just eight games for the Canadiens and recorded zero points in his NHL career.
14 Nashville Predators - Brian Finley (1999)
The Nashville Predators have some good goalkeepers come through their system. But for every Pekka Rinne, there is a Brian Finley. The Ontario-born netminder had put together some good seasons with the Barrie Colts of the OHL - turning in a 2.66 GAA in the 1998-99 season before Nashville drafted him sixth overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. But Finley would play just four total NHL games from the time he was drafted until 2007 - two of them were for Nashville.
13 New Jersey Devils - Neil Brady (1986)
With the third overall pick in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft, the New Jersey Devils selected centerman Neil Brady. Despite being a high draft choice that year, it took some time before he finally made his NHL debut during the 1989-90 season. In those 19 games, he had just one goal and four assists. He would bounce back and forth between the AHL affiliate in Utica, N.Y., and New Jersey before he would be one of the first members of the Ottawa Senators franchise for the 1992-93 season.
12 New York Islanders - Scott Scissons (1990)
The 1990 NHL Entry Draft had a lot of talented players with the top five players in the class featuring stars like Jaromir Jagr being taken fifth. Right behind him was center Scott Scissons; who had scored 40 goals in 61 games with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades in the 1989-90 season. The reality of the situation was that Scissons suffered several injuries in a short amount of time. At age 18, he had to have a disc removed from his back.
11 New York Rangers - Hugh Jessiman (2003)
Hugh Jessiman can certainly be viewed as one of the bigger busts in NHL Entry Draft history. After being selected 12th overall by the New York Rangers in 2003, Jessiman struggled to find scoring opportunities while spending his professional career in the AHL and ECHL. In his first pro season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, he had just 19 points in 46 games. His best season was scoring 42 points in 71 games for Hartford in the 2008-09 season.
10 Ottawa Senators - Brian Lee (2005)
One of the standout stars from the University of North Dakota from 2005 to 2007 was defensman Brian Lee. Despite his position, he still scored a good number of points in his collegiate career (53 in 82 games), which led to him being picked ninth overall by Ottawa in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He had some moderate success initially in the AHL with 55 games in Binghamton. He would spend most of the 2008-09 season in Ottawa, where he scored 13 points and finished minus-2.
9 Philadelphia Flyers - Glen Seabrooke (1985)
Glen Seabrooke may have had his career cut short due to a severe injury, but the time he played as a professional was very underwhelming for a first round selection by Philadelphia. Seabrooke was the 21st overall pick in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. He had three good years as a center for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL before going into Philadelphia for the 1986-87 season. In 10 games, he had just one goal and four assist.
8 Pittsburgh Penguins - Angelo Esposito (2007)
Montreal-native Angelo Esposito looked to be a dominant force during his time with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. In three seasons between 2005 and 2008, Esposito had 246 points. He would be a 20th overall selection in 2007 by Pittsburgh. But he found himself in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves until he was traded. At no point did Esposito ever play in the AHL as he would instead move around to the San Antonio Rampage and the Texas Stars.
7 San Jose Sharks - Teemu Riihijarvi (1995)
The San Jose Sharks thought they found one of their future stars with the 12th overall selection in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. Instead, they picked up a player who would never take the ice for the Sharks, or any NHL team for that matter. Teemu Riihijarvi was a right winger out of Espoo, Finland. The thing was that despite being drafted by the Sharks, he never left Finland’s SM-Iiiga. Even then, he never scored a lot of points for someone who plays a wing position.
6 St. Louis Blues - Keith Osborne (1987)
Right winger Keith Osbourne had some high hopes as he entered the St. Louis Blues organization after being picked 12th in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. He was just coming off an 83-point season in 50 OHL games with the Niagara Falls Thunder in the 1988-89 season; right before he reported to the Blues’ IHL affiliate in Peoria, Ill. However, he would play just five games for the Blues in the 1989-90 season before he was eventually traded.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning - Andy Rodgers (2004)
Andy Rodgers never got to play in the NHL after he was the 30th overall selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. The Tampa Bay Lightning took a shot considering there were scouts who really liked what he had to offer in terms of unique skills for a defenseman. But he gained a lot of attention after playing 64 games for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. He would play another couple of seasons for the Prince George Cougars before eventually arriving in the AHL in 2006. However, he moved around from the Springfield Falcons to the Norfolk Admirals after being traded.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs - Scott Pearson (1988)
Scott Pearson was a left winger who may have had better success in the NHL if it wasn’t for injuries. Either way, he was not a good choice by the Toronto Maple Leafs as the sixth overall pick in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. Pearson would go from scoring more than 50 points with the Kingston Canadians to joining the Toronto Maple Leafs for nine games in the 1988-89 season - scoring just one assist.
3 Vancouver Canucks - Shawn Antoski (1990)
Shawn Antoski was not really known as an effective scoring left winger during his NHL career. He was known for his fighting as he would get into a number of scrums. That might explain the 330 penalty minutes in the 1990-91 season and another 346 in 1991-92 season - both with the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL. However, Antoski fell short of his 18th overall selection by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.
2 Washington Capitals - Greg Joly (1974)
Defenseman Greg Joly built a reputation as one of the best for the Regina Pats in the WCHL in the early 1970s. This led to him being selected first overall by the Washington Capitals in the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft. He was immeadiately brought up to the NHL in the 1974-75 season; playing in 44 games. The next year was a rough one as he finished with a minus-46 plus-minus rating in the 1975-76 season.
1 Winnipeg Jets (Atlanta Thrashers) - Patrik Stefan (1999)
It seems fitting for the last player on this list to have one of the more memorable empty-net misses in NHL history. Patrik Stefan was with the Dallas Stars in 2007 during a game against Edmonton when he missed an empty net breakaway after the puck got loose and he fell down; leading to a game-tying goal on the other end. That moment haunts Stefan as a missed pick by the Jets in 1999 when they were the Atlanta Thrashers.
Stefan was the first overall selection in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, selected by the expansion Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets). He scored just 188 points in 455 games before retiring from the sport in 2008. This was due to a number of injuries that forced him to leave hockey. Stefan has since gotten involved as a player agent in California, where he also coaches youth hockey at the Orange County Ice Palace.
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