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.
Mitera played five games there before being traded to the then-Phoenix Coyotes farm system. Through the years, he bounced around teams and only had extended time in the AHL between 2010 and 2012; where he was minus-36 in two seasons. Mitera would retire after 35 games with the Reading Royals of the ECHL in 2012-13; as well as two with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL.
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.
He showed potential with 105 points in the 2003-04 WHL season. But as he spent time in the AHL, ECHL and the CHL, Redenbach was never able to get the call up to the NHL level. Instead, he bounced around different farm systems and played in cities like Providence, San Antonio and Grand Rapids. He last played earlier this year with Trinec Ocelari HC of the Czech Republic League.
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.
Sakic would finish his career with 1,641 points in 1,378 games. After retiring in 2004, Quintal would eventually return to the NHL in another way. He became involved with the league’s Department of Player Safety since 2012. In 2014, he was named the NHL’s senior vice-president of player safety.
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.
Eventually, he would play himself out of the NHL system after playing just 255 games at that level. He last played for the Augsburg Panthers of the Deutsche Eishockey League in Germany before he went into coaching. He was the head coach for the Hawkesbury Hawks of the Central Canada Hockey League - never winning a playoff series in his three seasons before leaving in 2015.
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.
After just 19 games with Calgary at the NHL level in 2000-01, he finished the year back in Saint John. He was then traded to the farm systems of the St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders for the next two seasons. After bouncing around between Europe and the AHL, Tkaczuk would go into coaching in 2012 with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. He is currently an assistant with the AHL’s CHicago Wolves this season.
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.
It wasn’t much better in 2003-04 with the Springfield Falcons; where he played 72 games with just seven points to finish -7. Knyazev would then find himself finishing his professional career in Russian leagues before retiring in 2011. Little is known about what he is doing now, but apparently it doesn't involve being around the ice.
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.
More often than not, Beach was involved with fighting on the ice rather than getting involved in scoring opportunities. Eventually, he would bounce between a Swedish league, the AHL and Austria. He is currently playing for Graz EC of the Austrian League where he’s scored more than 20 goals for the first time since the 52 he had with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL in 2009-10.
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.
He would return briefly for one game in the 1990-91 season and then spend time with the Halifax Citadels of the AHL. A stop here and there between the ECHL and AHL then saw Dore spend three seasons with Roller Hockey International from 1994 to 1996. Since then, he would become a scout in the NHL. He’s been part of the New York Rangers’ scouting team since 2008.
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.
Currently, he is playing for the KHL’s Tolyatti Lada club. Last year, Filatov said he left the Senators for financial reasons. Filatov also said he wishes he had opportunities to get more time under head coach Ken Hitchcock during their time together in Columbus.
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.
After two more seasons with the Iowa Stars, Polak left North America to play in the Czech Republic in 2007. He has since played for various teams in a number of European leagues. Polak is still an active hockey player and is currently on the Cherepovets Severestal roster in Russia’s KHL. For a high second round pick, playing just five scoreless games is certainly considered a bust.
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.
He would then come back for one game in the 1975-76 season where he gave up seven goals in one game. That was nothing compared to giving up nine goals in one game with the St. Louis Blues in 1979. After that, he finished his career with in the AHL; having an abysmal NHL GAA of 5.63. He would become an assistant coach more than 30 years later in the OJHL and ECHL. He’s currently a scout for the Washington Capitals.
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.
Bonsignore would be called up again for the 1998-99 season, but had just three points in 23 games. He would return to the AHL before bouncing around European leagues and the ECHL. He spent about eight years away from the ice before being signed in 2016 by the Hamilton Steelhawks of Canada’s Allan Cup Hockey. Bonsignore has found life in hockey after his playing days as a youth coach in Rochester, N.Y.
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.
He struggled with just 41 points in 130 games from 2003 to 2005. After some time with the Houston Aeros in the AHL in 2005-06, Taticek would finally make his NHL debut that same season. But he played just three games with the Panthers with no scoring to show for it. One more year in the AHL and then he would return to Europe where he spent most years in the Swiss-A league. He’s currently in his third season with Ingolstadt ERC of the DEL in Germany.
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.
Despite putting together a couple of good seasons between 2010 and 2012, Hickey never got to play for the Kings and was claimed by the New York Islanders off of waivers. While Hickey’s plus-minus rating isn’t that great, Hickey has been a consistent part of the Islanders’ defense since 2012. Overall, it feels like the Kings mismanaged Hickey in multiple ways.
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.
Thelen bounced around between WHL and the ECHL - with only 10 games at the AHL level in his hockey career. Barely playing in the AHL surely limits the opportunities to get a call-up to the NHL. Thelen never made it to the NHL, but he suffered a number of back injuries and concussions that forced him to retire in 2011.
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.
Ryan is still playing hockey, but for the Gander Flyers of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League. He's also written a book, called "Tales of a First Round Nothing". The book was released back in 2014 and was well received by critics.
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.
In 2002-03, Finley had one game where he allowed three goals with just 10 saves. He would go back to the minors before he had another shot in the 2005-06 season; he would allow seven goals in one game. He would be traded to Boston where he made just two starts. Now, Finley is a police officer in the Toronto-area.
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.
While Brady would score in the first Senators game against the Montreal Canadiens, he would again bounce around several NHL and IHL teams before he would retire in 2001 - finishing with just 31 points in 89 NHL games. Because of his success with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL in the mid-1980s, he was still inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
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.
A few years later, he had to have another disc removed. He’s had wrist and shoulder injuries and number of other back problems that forced him to retire in 1995. He would then go back to Saskatoon and begin working for Western Mobile Homes. He still owns the blood-stained jersey from when he played for Canada in the 1992 Olympics.
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.
Most of his career was spent with several AHL teams with one two-game stint with the Florida Panthers in the 2010-11 NHL season. He would then find himself playing in the KHL before he last played in Vienna, Austria. He was last seen earlier this year with the East Coast Gutter Snipes on a trip to play in Idaho.
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.
He bounced around between Ottawa and Binghamton before being traded to Tampa Bay; playing just 42 games in two seasons before retiring in 2013. He played 209 games in the NHL with just 36 total points. Since then, he’s become an assistant coach for Concordia College and works as a tech consultant for RSW Medical-Arthrex in Fargo, N.D.
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.
He spent most of the 1987-88 season with the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, with some games for the Flyers in both. Overall, he had played just 19 games and scored seven total points. He suffered a shoulder injury in a minor-league game and the aggressive therapy actually got to the point where he lost the full movement of his left arm. He would sue the team and win $5.5 million in a lawsuit for malpractice against the former team physician.
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.
He barely scored points at the AHL. His best season so far was 16 points in 38 games with the Texas Stars. Esposito has since played in European leagues with his most recent stint with Cortina SG in Italy-A - scoring 38 points in 31 games. This year, he played for Ceske Budejovice of the Czech League before injuries led for him to be released after just nine games.
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.
He played for various clubs in SM-Iiiga before retiring from professional hockey after five games with the Blues in the 2005-06 season. After earning a degree from the Helsinki School of Economics, he has become an investment specialist for Danske Bank in Luxembourg. Not only was Riihjivari considered a bust, but the Sharks made a bust of a pick who never joined their farm system.
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.
He would play 11 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992-93 season for his second run in the NHL. But Osbourne would have just one goal and one assist. He then returned to the IHL and bounced around various teams in different leagues before retiring in 2001. Osbourne has found a niche in coaching junior hockey with the Welland Junior Canadians; starting his sixth season last year.
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.
He would find himself with the Toronto Maple Leafs near the end of his career, playing only for the AHL Toronto Marlies; playing just seven games in two seasons. He would move on from hockey after the 2009-10 season and move to Victoria, BC, where he owns a bar. He also works as a real estate consultant.
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.
Pearson would be traded to Quebec in 1990. Being traded became normal for Pearson as he also went to Edmonton, Buffalo and the New York Islanders. He finished with 292 NHL games and just 98 points. Pearson would become the an executive for MedAssets while also coaching youth hockey in Atlanta, Ga. Two years ago, his son Chase was picked 140th in the NHL Entry Draft by the Detroit Red Wings.
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.
He would eventually be traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, where he mostly fought instead of scored goals. The trend continued as he moved to Pittsburgh and Anaheim before retiring in 1998. At least he had one of the more memorable fights in the early 1990s with Steve Martinson where he climbed over the glass to continue battling in the penalty box. Since then, Antoski has helped create a nonprofit campaign called Fear Nothing in an effort to battle depression for mental health awareness.
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.
Joly would eventually find himself traded to the Detroit Red Wings and found himself bouncing back and forth between Detroit and the AHL affiliate in the Adirondack Red Wings. Joly would finish his NHL career playing in 365 games with 97 points and finishing in the red when it came to the plus-minus statistic. He’s moved on from hockey after retiring in 1986. Joly works for Loomis and LaPann, Inc., an insurance agency based in New York. Joly works as their sports senior vice president.
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.