Not every draft pick in the annual NHL draft turns out to become as successful as Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews or even Connor McDavid. Sure, you can be one of the biggest college or minor league prospects in your native country, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll achieve large amounts of success in the NHL.
Just like any other professional sport, there are a lot of expectations for a player that gets selected in the first round of a draft. While a team might initially get a tremendous steal, as most players proceed to be a significant part of their team’s future, others aren’t so lucky and end up becoming a bust. Yeah, it usually takes about four or five years until you can consider a player a steal or a bust, but sometimes, things immediately don’t work in the player’s favor. That’s just an inevitable part of life.
NHL coaching staffs certainly can do the best they can to pick the best available players, but not even the surest of picks will turn out the way they wanted them to. Some guys just never find the exact same touch they had in college or the minor leagues. Like other career fields, you might not stay in one field for the rest of your life, and you were forced to work other jobs—whether you want to or not.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at eight NHL draft busts who now work 9 to 5 and seven with cushy jobs.
15. 9 to 5: Ryan O’Marra
Ryan O’Marra was once a highly-touted first round pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, but he saw his stock quickly drop on the ice.
O’Marra played in the NHL from 2006 to 2015 and finished his career playing in European leagues such as HC Fassa, Valerenga, HC Pustertal Wolfe and Coventry Blaze.
O’Marra now works as an associate for the National Bank Financial in Canada. O’Marra told The Hockey News: “Ten years ago, I probably wouldn’t have predicted that I’d be working at a bank…Obviously, I had aspirations to play in the NHL a lot longer than I did.”
14. Cushy Job: Rick DiPietro
Talk about a bust! Back in 2006, Rick DiPietro made headlines when he signed an unprecedented 15-year, $67.5 million contract with the New York Islanders, surpassing Alexei Yashin’s massive 10-year, $87.5 million contract before the start of the 2001-02 NHL season. DiPietro showed flashes of brilliance in his career, but he was rarely able to stay healthy and the Islanders eventually bought out his contract.
As you should already know, DiPietro works as a radio host on ESPN New York 98.7 FM while he’s still getting paid by the Islanders at a rate of $1.5 million per year until 2029. The Isles selected DiPietro with the first overall pick and are still on the hook for the financial disaster they’ve had to endure since 2006.
13. 9 to 5: Louis LeBlanc
Louis LeBlanc was considered to be one of the biggest draft busts in recent Montreal Canadiens history as he failed to reach his potential on the big stage, which prompted him to retire at the age of 24. Leblanc was drafted by the Habs 16th overall in 2009, with the draft being held in his home province, which only increased the pressure on him. Leblanc had been playing at Harvard, so it was obvious he’d have a good backup plan if hockey didn’t work out.
In 2010, LeBlanc moved back to Montreal to take a business course at McGill University. He never quite grew into his frame and looked like he wasn’t strong enough on the NHL level. After announcing his retirement in 2016, he returned to Harvard University, where he’s studying towards his Bachelor of Arts and works as a research intern at Sports Innovation Lab in Boston. He’s also an assistant coach for the school’s hockey team.
12. Cushy Job: Scott Scissons
Scott Scissons was the sixth highest member of the WHL to ever be selected in an NHL draft. Again, the Islanders decided to try their luck on a top prospect, but things didn’t work out the way they wanted them.
Scissons was scoreless in two regular season games and one postseason game before leaving the NHL to wrap up his career in the AHL and IHL. He announced his retirement at the age of 22.
Following his retirement, Scissons worked for his family business, Western Mobile Homes, and became a lot manager at Best Buy Homes as well as head coach of the Saskatoon Blazers. He’s living a comfortable life in Canada. While he undoubtedly works hard, it’s good that he had a career to fall back on.
11. 9 to 5: Brent Krahn
At one moment in time, Brent Krahn was a tremendous junior hockey player who played for the Calgary Hitmen and Seattle Thunderbirds before being selected by the Calgary Flames with the ninth overall pick in the first round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Krahn subsequently spent time with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, Lowell Lock Monsters, Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, and Quad City Flames.
However, a persistent knee injury hindered Krahn’s progress in the big leagues, and he wasn’t re-signed by the Flames. He was then considered as a bust.
Krahn was officially ineligible for the 2011 AHL Playoffs after being scratched from the Texas Stars’ Clear Day roster. This led to his subsequent retirement. He then got a job for Pembina Pipeline, a Canadian corporation that operates transportation and storage infrastructure. It’s not a glamorous job, but at least he’s making money, right?
10. Cushy Job: Daniel Tkaczuk
Daniel Tkaczuk was an extremely talented junior hockey player who represented his native Canada at the 1999 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. The following year, he was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team.
The Flames selected Tkaczuk with the sixth overall pick in the first round of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. He played with the team during the 2001-02 campaign, but returned to the AHL to play for the Worcester IceCats and Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He never saw NHL action again.
Tkaczuk is currently an assistant coach for the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. He is also the president of an online hockey school called iHockeyTrainer.com and a columnist for The Hockey News. While his net worth remains a mystery, we’re pretty sure he’s not starving in his post-retirement life.
9. 9 to 5: Brian Finley
While we doubt Brian Finley is not punching in from 9 to 5 as a police officer, there’s no doubt that being in law enforcement is a grind. Brian Finley led the Barrie Colts to the Memorial Cup Finals in 2000. Although the Colts lost to the Rimouski Oceanic 6-3, he continued to experience success in the AHL and then signed as a free agent goalie for the Boston Bruins on July 17, 2006.
Finley played two games for the Bruins and 10 games for their AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. He also played two games for the Nashville Predators. He chose to retire after the 2006-07 NHL season.
8. Cushy Job: Gord Kluzak
Being an analyst after your NHL career goes off the rails is generally a good outcome for a failed NHL player. Yes, their career didn’t work out on the ice, but in the end, they still got a job in hockey, which is something many people would love to have. As for Gord Kluzak, he was a former first overall pick, which may surprise many people, given that many modern day hockey fans haven’t even heard of him. The hulking defenceman had a great season in the WHL prior to the draft, but tore ligaments in his knee during the playoffs. Those knee injuries would lead to more problems during his career and he was retired by 27. Following his career, Kluzak went to Harvard and got himself a degree in economics. Besides working at Goldman Sachs, he’s worked as a studio analyst for NESN, covering Bruins games.
7. 9 to 5: Brad Dalgarno
The Islanders seem to get their picks wrong as things didn’t end well after they selected Brad Dalgarno with the sixth overall pick in the first round of the 1985 NHL Entry Draft.
Dalgarno put up 177 points in 180 games over a span of three seasons for the OHL’s Hamilton Steelhawks, but he was unable to carry the same success to the NHL. He spent his entire career with the Isles, but he only scored 49 goals and added 71 assists in 321 games. When it came to the postseason, he only scored two goals and added four assists in two playoff games.
Dalgarno sat out the 1989-90 NHL season because of multiple injuries he suffered in an intense fight with Joey Kocur.
6. Cushy Job: Doug Smith
Doug Smith played in the NHL for nine years from 1981 to 1999. He was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings with the second overall pick in the first round of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft.
Smith had a ton of potential for the Kings, but was unable to surpass 41 points in a single season in Los Angeles, California. After his unsatisfactory stint with the Kings, he played brief stints for the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins, which was an indicator that he was a bust.
Sadly, a career-ending injury of a quadriplegic left Smith unable to walk for a while. Luckily, he was able to learn how to walk again, and forged a new career in business. He currently works as an Author and Speaker for Doug Smith Performance.
5. 9 to 5: Dave Chyzowski
Again, here’s another mistake made by the Isles.
The Isles drafted Dave Chyzowski with the second overall pick in the first round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. He had a stellar junior career with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. In the NHL, he only scored 31 points in 126 games played in a six-year span of 1989 and 1995. He never made an impact on the big stage, not even with the Chicago Blackhawks.
After his hockey days were over, Chyzowski landed a job as a Marketing Assistant for the Blazers and later got promoted to a Director of Sales & Marketing. While it’s what many woud consider to be a regular job, it still isn’t a bad career post hockey.
4. Cushy Job: Brian Lawton
Brian Lawton didn’t take a traditional route to make it to the NHL, but in the end, it didn’t matter because he never reached the potential that so many people expected of him.
Lawton played for the Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and the U.S. Junior Hockey Team before diving into the NHL as the Minnesota North Stars’ first overall pick in the first round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. He became the first U.S. born hockey player to be drafted first overall in the NHL Draft, but his potential faded away and he was forced to play for eight different teams in just four years.
Lawton currently works as an on-air analyst for the NHL Network. He’s probably not going to receive a pink slip anytime soon, and being a sports analyst usually is a nice landing spot for retired players.
3. 9 to 5: Alexandre Daigle
Alexandre Daigle was drafted first overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft one spot ahead of Chris Pronger, but he failed to live up to the high expectations of a first overall pick. He recorded only 51 points in three seasons with the Sens. As a result, he was considered as one of the biggest busts in the league, and finished his career with a few European teams like Davos, Fribourg-Gotteron and SCL Tigers.
Daigle completed his hockey career after the 2009-10 season. He currently runs studios for a movie studio called MTL Grande. Sure, the movie industry sounds exciting, but he’s not an actor or director. He’s doing the grind work of the entertainment industry, but by all accounts he seems to be happy.
2. Cushy Job: Patrik Stefan
Patrik Stefan is definitely one of the biggest busts in NHL history. Before getting drafted first overall by the Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets), he played for Sparta Praha in the Czech Republic and the Long Beach Ice Dogs in Long Beach, Calif.
Stefan scored 177 points in six seasons with the Thrashers. He played for Ilves Tampere of the SM Liga during the 2004-05 NHL Lockout. He was then traded to the Dallas Stars, where he gained notoriety for a blunder during a game against the Oilers. After his contract expired, the Stars decided not to re-sign him, which forced him to sign with SC Bern of the Nationalliga A, but a severe hip injury plagued his career.
1. 9 to 5: Adam Bennett
The Chicago Blackhawks selected Adam Bennett with the sixth overall pick in the first round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. He spent his junior career with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, where he was named into the All-Star selection at the end of the 1990-91 season.
Bennett jumped into the NHL after his junior season ended. He perfectly fitted in the roster in three games with the IHL’s Indianapolis Ice, but had to split time between the IHL and the NHL, before being dealt to the Oilers before the 1993-94 NHL season. He played a career-high 48 games, which wasn’t a whole lot, in what was his last NHL season.
After leaving pro hockey, Bennett served as an assistant coach for the OHL’s Mississauga Ice Dogs before running his own business called “3 on 3 Hockey by Adam Bennett.” According to his LinkedIn profile, he describes himself as a Business Development Executive (Self Employed).
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