Of course, it's basically a given that NHL general managers, coaches and scouts try the very best they can to select the best available player when their time comes to make a move in the league's annual draft. Still, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to picks, and sometimes even having copious amounts of certainty and doing plenty of research doesn't mean that they'll get what they want on the draft ladder. And, even if they do pick up a sought-after prospect, it doesn't mean that the prospect will achieve similar success as they've already achieved during their minor league years.
In this list, we'll check out some goalie busts dating back to 1990. Some of these goalies were selected in the first round, but played like they were third round draftees. Some of these goalies were selected with the first overall pick, but they didn't last long in the NHL. Some of these highly-touted goalies never even made it to the NHL. Whatever happened to these goalies was extremely unfortunate, but hey, life doesn't always work in one's favor. There are plenty of people who originally imagine a lot of success in a particular field as a young kid, but end up in another field because their first choice simply didn't work out. The same concept applies to goalies. Some are playing international hockey in Europe, while some are working regular, 9-to-5 jobs to pay the bills.
So let's dive into the main topic—20 biggest NHL goalie busts since 1990: Where are they now?
20 Rick DiPietro
Let's face it, the New York Islanders have made lots of wrong choices in their past drafts, and Rick DiPietro is one of the biggest busts in the NHL. Not only that, DiPietro has also drawn out a long saga that's still going on and will continue to go on until his 15-year, $67.5 million contract expires in 2021. That's $4.5 million a year for the washed up goalie!
In all fairness, DiPietro did have a stellar season at Boston University, where he posted tremendous numbers of a 2.45 GAA and .913 SP. He was also named the NCAA Hockey East’s Rookie of the Year. In addition, he won the Eberly Trophy and was subsequently named the MVP of the Beanpot Tournament.
DiPietro went on to become the second goalie to be drafted first overall following the Islanders' first overall selection in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Yeah, he has broken a couple of Isles' franchise records like the time when he made a whopping 56 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to the rival Rangers, but he was severely bitten by the injury bug, which forced him to retire. Since his retirement, he tried his hand at radio broadcasting, and continues to thrive in the field. He's a talk show host on "Humpty & Canty" which airs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays on 98.7 FM ESPN New York.
19 Riku Helenius
You're probably wondering who Riku Helenius is. If you actually are, have no fear because you haven't missed out on a whole lot.
Helenius was selected 15th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
The Lightning pretty much based their decision on his silver medal-winning performance for the Finnish national men's hockey team in the 2006 Under-18 World Junior Championship. He played for Ilves of the Liiga in the 2006-07 season, but a shoulder injury limited him to just four games. He went on to play for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League, Augusta Lynx of the East Coast Hockey League, Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL, Södertälje SK of HockeyAllsvenskan, JYP Jyväskylä of the SM-liiga before agreeing to a multi-year contract with Jokerit of the Kontinental Hockey League.
Whew, that was a long list of teams to go over in this entry, but at least Helenius has found himself a team where he could call family now. It's always nice to hear such stories of when an athlete finds success in their hometown, and in this case, native country after years of hopping from team to team in North America. It's important to maintain stability in your career.
18 Ari Ahonen
If you're a New Jersey Devils fan, you'll most likely remember Ari Ahonen. But just in case you already forgot, he was drafted 27th overall by the Devils in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. He was reportedly expected to be the Devils' next rising star in the goalie department, but he never lived up to his expectations. Forget about him being projected to be more like Martin Brodeur, he never even played in an NHL game, just spent five seasons with the Devils' AHL affiliate, the Albany River Rats, before playing for the Espoo Blues of the SM-Liiga, Jokerit of the SM-Liiga, Frölunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League, KalPa of the Finnish Liiga, Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL, Barys Astana of the KHL, Admiral Vladivostok of the KHL and Ässät of the Liiga.
Ahonen recently wrapped up the 2017-18 season with the Herning Blue Fox of Denmark, where he posted a 2.33 GAA and .911 SVS% in 32 games played. In that postseason, he had a 3.39 GAA and .857 SVS% in three playoff games.
It's good to hear that Ahonen is putting his veteran talents to good use instead of letting them disintegrate for rather trivial reasons in his post-NHL career.
17 Patrick DesRochers
Patrick DesRochers has pretty much been a questionable pick from day one. The former 14th overall pick of the then-Phoenix Coyotes played the majority of his junior hockey career with the Sarnia Sting and the remaining bits and pieces with the Kingston Frontenacs; both teams belonged to the Ontario Hockey League.
Anyways, DesRochers briefly played for the Carolina Hurricanes, then-Coyotes and their then-AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons, but struggled to find his identity as a goalie in the minor and major leagues.
While his record for most career games played was definitely something to respect, it was far from the type of record a former 14th overall pick would hope to achieve.
He bounced around a couple of European teams before hanging up his skates in 2013.
Today, DesRochers works as a realtor, goalie coach—and you guessed it—a color commentator for the Sarnia Sting. It's good to know that just because his career as an NHL goaltender didn't work out, it doesn't mean that he had to give up entirely on achieving success, both in and out of hockey. It just goes to show that it's always good to have a plan B in case plan A doesn't work.
16 Brian Finley
If you're a Nashville Predators fan, you might recall Brian Finley, a retired Canadian-born goalie who played just two games in Nashville, where he allowed 10 goals in approximately 107 minutes. His chances didn't get any better with the Boston Bruins, where he played in two games; along with 10 games for their AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins.
As you might've guessed, Finley's first season with the Boston and Providence Bruins was his last as the former sixth overall pick became a Group 6 unrestricted free agent and opted to retire instead of waiting to be picked up by a new NHL team.
Since Finley walked away from a short-lived hockey career, he shifted gears and started serving as a police officer for the Toronto area. According to The Star, his 6-foot-4 athleticism, "Gumby-like" flexibility and quiet focus were the main reasons why NHL scouts were all over him, but at least he put those qualities into a career in law enforcement in his native Canada.
Finley told The Star: "If you would have asked me at the time I was drafted, I would have thought I’d at least be a serviceable backup...It just didn’t work out."
Finley added: "I was very close with Pekka [Rinne]. He’s a calm, relaxed guy. Doesn’t overly stress anything. So he was always consistent. And I was up and down...And even if he did have a bad game, it really wasn’t that big a deal to him, whereas I would stay up at night thinking about it.”
15 Jeff Glass
Well, there's still a chance that Jeff Glass will become a backup goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks, but it's not a very high chance.
In case you missed it, Glass made his NHL debut in the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the Oilers on December 29, 2017. He was 32 years old at that time. Of course, he was assisted by goals from Patrick Kane, Ryan Hartman, Alex DeBrincat and Jordan Oesterle.
Glass made 18 saves in that epic first period.
"It was pretty good, a little more exciting than I needed it to be at the end, but unbelievable goal by [Kane] there in overtime," Glass told Derek Van Diest of NHL.com. "In the first period, it felt nice to touch the puck. I'm sure if I didn't have any shots, I would have been sitting there wondering what's going on. It kind of felt routine after that."
So it's sort of difficult to believe that Glass was the Ottawa Senators' former 89th overall pick in the third round at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, but we guess that time does tell how the future is going to pan out or not. Hopefully, he'll make a legit NHL comeback before he's past his prime.
14 Craig Hillier
Before there was Sidney Crosby, also known as The Next One, there was Craig Millier, who was drafted 23rd overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. Surprisingly, both players were from the Nova Scotia, Canada, area. The only major differences were that Hillier was a goalie bust who was nine years older than Crosby.
Hillier actually started playing goalie when he was six years old after discovering his cousin's goalie equipment and gear and thought it was really cool to play in such a position. He turned pro after playing four seasons with the Ottawa 67's of the OHL.
He made his Pens debut in a preseason game as a backup goalie in 1998, but had to fill in the shoes of the starting goalie who suffered an injury during the game and ended up losing his debut in the Pens' 3-2 loss to the Red Wings.
After that, he was sent down to the Pens' then-AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Brunch, where he assumed the role of a starting goalie.
He went on to play for four different ECHL teams in two years before playing a brief stint in the Netherlands and returning to North America to play in the United Hockey League and Central Hockey League prior to his retirement in 2004.
Since his retirement, Hillier returned to his native Canada. He currently works as a Sales Representative for AGT Products Inc.
13 Jonas Gustavsson
Unlike many of the other names on this list, Jonas Gustavsson wasn't a bust because of where he was drafted. In fact, he wasn't drafted at all. However, when the Toronto Maple Leafs signed him over from the Swedish Elite League in 2009, the hype surrounding Gustavsson was overblown in the hockey fish bowl that is Toronto. He was immediately given the nickname 'The Monster'. However, his goaltending numbers in Toronto were simply a monstrosity, as over the course of three seasons in Toronto, he averaged a .900 SV% and a 2.98 GAA. Gustavsson would eventually land a backup job with the Detroit Red Wings behind Jimmy Howard, before eventually getting short stints with the Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers.
His last NHL stint with the Oilers was especially disappointing, as he failed to provide the Oilers solid goaltending in relief of Cam Talbot.
It seems that time has run out on Gustavsson getting chances in the NHL as he returned to Sweden this past year to play in the Swedish Elite League for Linkopings HC. Back home, he managed to start 36 games this season and averaged 2.42 GAA and a .916 SV%. At 33 years old, it's unlikely he lands another NHL contract.
12 Trevor Kidd
Trevor Kidd was never really a household name in the NHL unless if you count the label of him being one of the biggest goalie busts in the first round of an NHL Entry Draft as one of those familiar monikers.
In case you forgot, Kidd was drafted 11th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.
He made his NHL debut in a Flames vs. Pens game on March 3, 1992, but only played in one other game that season, a contest against the San Jose Sharks on April 14, 1992. Yecarot, he remained with the Flames as a backup goalie to starting goalie Mike Vernon until he was traded to the Hurricanes in exchange for center Andrew Cassels and goaltender Jean-Sébastien Giguère. He was then selected by the ex-Atlanta Thrashers in the 1999 NHL Expansion Draft, traded to the Florida Panthers and later signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent.
Kidd spent some time in two European countries when he played one-year stints for Sweden's HC Örebro 90 and Germany's Hannover Scorpions before hanging up his skates. Today, he works as a Winnipeg Jets analyst at TSN Winnipeg and is married with three daughters who are all soccer players.
11 Justin Pogge
Justin Pogge was a World Junior Championship star with the Calgary Hitmen in the 2005-06 WHL season. That year, he was named the WHL MVP and was awarded the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy, CHL Goaltender of the Year award and Del Wilson Trophy as the top WHL goalie with a 1.72 GAA and 11 shutouts. Talk about a junior hockey hero.
Having said that, Pogge's NHL career was basically a failed experiment that went wrong. He was drafted 90th overall in the third round by the Leafs, and while he wasn't a first rounder, he struggled with the Leafs' AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, as well as the Anaheim Ducks and then-Phoenix Coyotes. Frustrated by his lack of success in North America, he decided to play overseas in Sweden and Italy. He spent the 2017-18 season playing in the Swedish Elite League for Rogle BK.
Pogge told The Hockey News: "It’s not like they traded me for (Tuukka) Rask...Rask was a draft pick, and he’s had an excellent career, and he’s got to be one of my favorite goalies of all-time. But people always forget that the trade was for Andrew Raycroft. He was coming off a Calder Trophy (two years earlier), and he was the guy. He set a Leaf record for wins in a season, but we still didn’t make the playoffs, and people always look past that. So I always thought it was funny that Rask was always compared to me, and people are talking about it still. I never put any extra pressure on myself because of that. He did his thing, and I did mine, and it was just a different path."
10 Andrew Raycroft
20 years ago, Andrew Raycroft had the world in the palms of his hands when he was drafted 135th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. The former fifth round pick bounced back and forth between Boston and Providence, R.I., and spent the majority of his pro career in the AHL. While he made a slight improvement compared to his OHL days, his 58-58-15 record wasn't exactly the type of numbers that would translate to success for a goalie in the NHL.
Raycroft has also played for the Leafs, Avalanche, Canucks, Stars, Hockey Milano Rossoblu and IF Björklöven.
Raycroft announced his retirement in 2014. In an interview with Nancy Marrapese-Burrell of the Boston Globe, Raycroft said: "It was an amazing experience for [my family] but we just couldn’t do it another year, there was just no way. Hockey was fun but it wasn’t enjoyable enough to keep playing."
Since then, Raycroft has served as a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Connecticut Huskies men's ice hockey team. He didn't have the career that many people envisioned him having, but we're glad that he's still involved with hockey in a way because it's a cool, fast-paced sport even if you're not actually playing it.
9 Mark Visentin
Mark Visentin is a fitting example of a goalie that shined in the minors and juniors, but not in the majors. He began his career with the Halton Hurricanes, matriculated to the OHL and started play for the NHL. He was drafted 27th overall by the Coyotes in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.
Visentin, however, spent most of his pro career in the AHL and ECHL. And, like other soon-to-be draft busts, he opted to pursue international opportunities in Europe. He then agreed to a one-year deal with Alba Volán Székesfehérvár of the Austrian Hockey League on May 17, 2017.
Note: Visentin was voted the best goalie in Niagara IceDogs' history in February 2017. According to NiagaraIceDogs.net, he was quick to deflect attention when he acknowledged the honor on the platform.
Visentin only made his NHL debut with the Coyotes in a game against the Sharks on April 12, 2014, where he allowed three goals and posted a 3.05 GAA and a .906 SV%.
That was pretty much it for his time on the big stage. Though, he's just 25 years old, so there's still plenty of time for him to work towards making a comeback in the NHL if that's what he wants to pursue in terms of his career.
8 Mika Noronen
Mika Noronen was selected 21st overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. This was one of the many moments where the Sabres thought they locked down a high-caliber player, but Noronen turned out not to be that goalie that would help improve the Buffalo defense like the Hall of Fame goalie Dominik Hasek.
Noronen has achieved some feats in the NHL such as becoming the first Finnish goalie to be credited with a goal in the league and being the last Sabres player to touch a puck before it entered the opponent's empty net on a delayed penalty, but those rare feats weren't enough to help him remain as a goalie in a league that's full of talent year after year.
In 2006, Noronen became an unrestricted free agent and signed with a couple of European teams with the most recent team being LeKi of the Mestis, a second-tier hockey league based in Finland. At least he got a couple of international opportunities to play some more hockey before returning to the good old days of being a job hunter looking for work to make some money and live a financially stable life.
7 Al Montoya
Remember when Al Montoya got drafted sixth overall by the New York Rangers in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft?
Montoya was a superstar goalie at the University of Michigan, where he played for the Wolverines' men's ice hockey team from 2002 to 2005. He enjoyed a lot of success at Michigan, especially during his senior year in 2004-05, where he posted a darn good record of 30-7-3. He also represented the United States at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships twice and helped lead the American team to their first ever gold medal at their 2004 tournament against Finland.
Yet, Montoya only spent two and a half seasons with the Rangers before getting stuck in the minors for most of his pro career.
He struggled to find a more permanent role for several years with quite a few NHL teams and their AHL affiliates, but he currently serves as a backup goalie to starting goalie Cam Talbot for the Oilers.
All things considered, that is a fortunate position to be in considering the fact that a ton of goalie busts end up having to play overseas or take a regular, 9 to 5 job. He's not a starter, but at least he's still kind of relevant in today's NHL.
6 Marek Schwarz
You might not recognize the Czech name of Marek Schwarz, but he was originally drafted 17th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft following a stellar career with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL and Czech Republic's Sparta Prague. However, he didn't see a whole lot of playing time with the Blues, just a bunch of time down in the minors, like, say, the Blues' AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen, where he achieved a fairly impressive feat of becoming the third youngest goalie in Blues' history to play in a game at the age of 20.
Before we get to the rather disappointing part of this entry, let's take a moment to recall Schwarz' amazing shutout on October 25, 2008, when the Blues took on the Florida Panthers. Schwarz, along with third-string goalie Ben Bishop, combined for a 4-0 shutout against the Panthers. Since Chris Mason and Manny Legacé were out due to injuries, Schwarz was called up to serve as a backup goalie to Bishop when Bishop also sustained an injury early in the third period. Schwarz completed the shutout with 15 minutes left in regulation and became known as the hero of that game.
Schwarz ultimately returned to the Czech Republic to play hockey for his former team, the Sparta Prague.
5 Jack Campbell
Remember when Jack Campbell was one of the best goalies who were eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft?
You may or may not remember Campbell in vivid detail, but it's all good because he hasn't contributed a whole lot in regards to the NHL teams he has played for including the one he currently plays for, which is the Los Angeles Kings, who were swept by the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.
In a nutshell, Campbell has represented the U.S. many times over the course of his career, but his arguably best moment was when he backstopped the Americans to an upset of the Canadians in a gold medal game during the 2010 World Junior Ice Hockey championships. He was then drafted 11th overall by the Dallas Stars in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, and later selected 170th overall in the seventh round by the Dinamo Minsk in the 2010 KHL Junior Draft. So, he pretty much spent his career in the minor leagues (AHL and ECHL) and certainly wasn't worthy of the 11th overall pick the league decided on eight years ago.
In 2016, Campbell signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Kings and then a two-year extension with the Kings the following year.
The 26-year-old made 41 saves en route to his first NHL win in a 4-1 win over the Golden Knights. Who knows where this youngin' will go next?
4 Brent Krahn
Without a doubt, Brent Krahn has enjoyed a highly successful junior career with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen and Seattle Thunderbirds before gravitating to the NHL's Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars, but his pro career wasn't the story that avid hockey fans were hoping for.
You see, Krahn was the second goalie selected in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft under Rick DiPietro, who we mentioned earlier in this list chock full of goalie busts and what they've been up to. Anyways, Krahn accounted for eight years of development within the Flames organization, who eventually decided to let him go as an unrestricted free agent. After his extended tenure in Calgary, Krahn signed with the Dallas Stars and then made his NHL debut in relief of starting goalie Marty Turco in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
However, Krahn was left off the Texas Stars' clear-day roster and was ineligible for the 2011 Calder Cup playoffs. That apparently was the last time the former ninth overall pick played hockey since he has been working at Pembina Pipelines, a Calgary-based transportation and storage infrastructure company, for quite a while. It may not be the most glamorous job, but it's still a job and it's better than nothing.
3 Chet Pickard
Chet Pickard is a dual citizen of Canada and Germany. The former 18th overall pick was born in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, and played minor hockey with the Winnipeg Monarchs before playing junior hockey with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL in the 2005-06 season. With the Americans, he won 46 games and was named the CHL Goaltender of the Week in December 2008. He posted a 2.32 GAA with a .920 SV%. He was also awarded the Del Wilson Trophy as the WHL's top goaltender and was subsequently named to the WHL West and CHL First All-Star Teams, respectively.
Yet, Pickard never really found his mojo in the NHL. Sure, he was called up to the Nashville Predators' second round series against the Vancouver Canucks, but he didn't get to start in a postseason game that year.
Pickard went on to play overseas and recently agreed to a two-year contract with Adler Mannheim of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga on April 28, 2017. He holds a German passport, which is a good thing since he appears to be doing well as a goalie in the DEL. Moreover, he and his wife, Meghan Corbett, welcomed their first child together in October 2016. We're glad to hear that him and his family seem to be doing well.
2 Jamie Storr
Jamie Storr is a former Canadian goalie who was drafted seventh overall by the L.A. Kings in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. But he stayed in the OHL for one more season before turning pro in the 1994-95 NHL season. Still, that doesn't change the sad fact that he spent most of the time in his first three seasons with the ex-Phoenix Roadrunners and Long Beach Ice Dogs of the International Hockey League and never fulfilled his full potential aside from his All-Rookie Team appearance in 1997-98, which made him the only NHL player to be named to the All-Rookie Team while playing in fewer than 20 games in that season. Yet, he stayed put with the Kings until he decided to join the Hurricanes for the 2003-04 NHL season. And, once again, he was unable to stick with the club, which led him to his overseas career that also failed.
In recent times, Storr was a well-known guest on TSN's Off The Record with Michael Landsberg.
He also works as a goalie coach and mentor for young Southern California goalies who are members of the L.A. Jr. Kings program. It's simply amazing how he didn't let his misfortunes in the NHL hamper his love for hockey.
1 Ilya Bryzgalov
You should recognize Ilya Bryzgalov, a former Russian goalie who was selected by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (now Anaheim Ducks) with the 44th overall pick in the second round and finished his career as a Duck in Orange County, California. Yeah, he became a Stanley Cup champion in 2007, but his success in his native Russia never translated to the archetypal North American standards.
At one point, the Ducks had to keep Bryzgalov around after a failed attempt to trade the wishy-washy goalie. Luckily, Bryzgalov was able to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers following a rather complicated trade process, but he displayed the same inconsistency that he pretty much always had in his career.
After a Flyers' loss to the Jets in 2011, Bryzgalov commented on his own performance, saying, "I have zero confidence in myself right now," he said. He also likened himself to somebody "lost in the woods" and that, "If you probably throw a ball instead of the puck, I'm not gonna stop it." Bryzgalov, however, won six of the next eight games; but he never found a team who was willing to keep him for a long period of time.
In his post-retirement life, Bryzgalov spent five summers studying at a college in Russia and earned a degree that allowed him to teach and coach in Russian schools. He also owns a Siberian husky that he reportedly thinks is beautiful and has even compared it to a hot, blonde girl on HBO's 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic. Good for him!