First round draft picks, particularly top 10 draft picks are expected to be sure fire bets to be NHL studs. However, the draft is not an exact science and there’s no precise formula to pick the next superstar for you team, that is unless you have the number one pick with Ovi, Sid the Kid, or McJesus. There are countless “experts” that have their own draft boards and there is usually a bust or two in the first round. It just so happens that players picked in the lower rounds can become this NHL stud or at least a top 6 players.
Teams will not always pick the best player but rather the player that best fits their needs. For example, if a team has a great Blueline, then there is no sense drafting a defenseman unless the D-corps is on the older side. Rather the team that has a solid Blueline will draft the best available forward or in the case of Edmonton, who are stacked up front – they draft a generational talent in McDavid.
Every year there are fans in any sport that complain about who their team took when X, Y, or Z was still on the board and then their thoughts are nullified or they are confirmed. No team is immune to the fan outrage caused by these draft blunders either. First rounder’s usually turn out like they are supposed to, either elite NHL players or above average players, but in some cases fans are left scratching their head thinking why in the world would he be drafted? Now we explore the drafts of the past 15 years and each year’s worst dud.
Besides, getting drafted isn’t it is cracked up to be – just ask guys like Oates, St. Louis, or Dan Boyle, to name a few.
ATTENTION GMS: Stay away from first round goalie picks!
15 2000 - Rick DiPietro
As a Rangers fan I have nothing but love for this bust being an Islanders pick. By far the worst number one overall pick - ever. If Mike Milbury could have redone this one, I certainly think DiPietro would not have been picked at all. Players drafted after DiPietro: Gaborik, Hartnell, Vermette, Kronwall, and the list goes on.
He was signed to a ridiculous contract length and unheard of for a player, let alone a tender, to get a contract of 15 years (yes, read that correctly), $67.5 million. He was a walking bandaid and never managed to play a full NHL season, totalling 318 games.
14 2001 - Dan Blackburn
Apparently, in the new millennium drafting goalies in the top 10 was a thing. The New York Rangers also have a terribly tough time drafting (See 2003 Bust). This one didn’t pan out the way the Rangers wanted it to. Dan Blackburn played a whopping 63 NHL games. He was the heir to the throne after Richter, but injuries shortened his NY as well as his NHL stay.
Players drafted after Blackburn: Sharp, Plekanec, Seidenberg, Oduya. I’m sure that Sather would have loved to pick any of these players instead of getting burned by this pick.
13 2002 - Petr Taticek
The 9th overall in the 2002 draft - Petr Taticek. You would think a sure-fire bet to at least be a NHL regular. The only regular thing he did was sit in the press box - in the AHL. He only played in 3 NHL games - THREE. He did not produce in any league that he had played in and had Scott Luce (current scout) been apart of the Panthers staff during that time, they would’ve had a guy that’s still producing for them today.
This draft year has plenty of today’s stars as well as NHL regulars. Guys like Keith (2nd round), Steen, Semin, and Hudler.
12 2003 - Hugh Jessiman
As a Ranger’s fan this hurts to have yet another player on this list, however this dud is more than deserving. In a draft class that was absolutely stacked, it seemed near impossible to not pick a stud. “When there’s a will, there’s a way” - NY Rangers motto. Hugh Jessiman played in only 2 NHL games, and none were for the Rangers. He bounced around from minor league team to minor league team while he last played in Europe.
Stars drafted after Jessiman you ask? Bergeron, Parise, Getzlaf, Weber, and the list goes on.
11 2004 - Cam Barker
There are several deserving candidates, but I couldn't bare to put another NYR draft pick, Montoya, in this list. However, Cam Barker was chosen 3rd overall who certainly didn’t even live up to all of his hype.
He had the numbers of a mid to late round draft pick - 310 games played while totalling 96 points and a minus 29. He had all the hype of a potential top-two D Blueliner but never even amounted to much more than a bottom pairing guy. Most laughable fact: He has his name on the Stanley Cup (2010).
A defenseman that was taken way after Barker that has a great career (up until late) - Mark Streit who was drafted 262nd overall.
10 2005 - Sasha Pokulok
The Capitals drafted Pokulok who stood at 6’5’’ and 230 lbs. He had all the tools to be a bruising NHL power forward type player. Survey says - wrong.
Sasha Pokulok might be one of the best ECHL players ever. That’s a joke too don't worry - he was an average ECHL player and for those that don’t know, the ECHL is below the AHL - essentially D3 pro hockey. Usually, draft busts hang around the AHL and barely crack the NHL lineup. He didn’t even get a wiff of an NHL bench. In 137 games, Sasha tallied only 65 points in the coast.
Guys taken after Sasha: Oshie, Yandle, Niskanen, and Neal.
9 2006 - Riku Helenius
There were several deserving candidates for this year's dud but Riku Helenius certainly deserves this. We don’t understand why goalies are drafted so high especially with the high risk associated with them.
Riku was chosen because he has a perfect save percentage as well as goals against average in the NHL, but more importantly, he has played only 7 minutes more than any other bum (like yours truly). He has bounced around in the minors for a while and he currently plays in the KHL.
The players taken after him: Foligno, Giroux, Mason, Brassard.
8 2007 - Zach Hamill
In a year when Patty Kane, JVR, and Pacioretty were drafted, the B’s didn’t pick a good year to pick a sour lemon. This year was surprisingly a stacked draft class, and there have been many diamonds in the rough from the later rounds.
Coming in at a whopping 4 points in 20 games - Zach Hamill. He played 16 games for the B’s in 11’-12’ and has bounced around in the AHL for the past few years. Hamill never really amounted to anything and even found it difficult to crack the AHL lineup, which is when he decided to take his talents (or lack of) across the Atlantic.
7 2008 - Nikita Filatov
Another Russian draft pick that was just blah. Columbus selected Nikita Filatov as he was hyped up to have all the tools to succeed in the NHL but he never really brought his game to the that level. He was a force to be reckon with in Russia, like most Russian prospects, but his best years were before he turned 18. He had 47 points in 23 games for CSKA Moscow 3 before his draft year.
Totaling 14 points in 53 games isn’t exactly what a team hopes for when they draft a player 6th overall. Tough pill to swallow with Karlsson, Eberle, and Stepan chosen after Filatov.
6 2009 - Scott Glennie
Along with many busts mentioned before, injuries have been a problem but being healthy is a skill in any pro sports. And Scott Glennie was no different - he simply didn’t have the NHL skill or even the “health” skill.
He tore up the WHL after being drafted but once he hit the big leagues, he’s been nothing but a big failure. Glennie played one more game than use common folk - yes, one. He has been an AHL lifer and after the ‘14-’15 season the Stars and Glennie parted ways. He’s currently a FA but no teams are chompin’ at the bit to pick up an injury-prone depth player.
5 2010 - Jack Campbell
Could it be that Dallas has back to back draft busts? It certainly has the making to be. It is increasingly tough for a goalie to hack it in “Big D” with two number one’s between the pipes - Niemi and Lehtonen. He was splitting time with another tendy for quite a while but just never managed to run away with the starting job.
He’s only played in one NHL game (small sample size - GAA 6.00 and SV% 0.872) and it doesn’t seem as though he’s going to get any more soon. This year he’s split time between the American and East Coast league, and unless he’s a change of scenery guy, he was a waste of a top 15 pick on a goalie.
4 2011 - Duncan Siemens
The last time that the name Siemen’s actually was meaningful was when there was the Siemens cell phone. I'll cut to the chase and tell you the 11th pick of this draft didn’t change the relevance of the name Siemens.
There is not much that isn’t funny about this pick, Duncan Siemens. The Av's must have received their scouting information from someone that had one too many. To date, he has played in 1 NHL game. I understand some picks take a while to develop but the only thing he's developing, is a love affair for the sin-bin (186 PIM in AHL).
3 2012 - Griffin Reinhart
He was drafted 4th overall and has only played 21 games in NHL. Griffin Reinhart was projected to be a top pairing defenseman, and while he doesn’t have one part of his game that is dazzling, he certainly doesn’t show anything to be more than average.
It’s only a few years removed from the 2012 draft but he hasn’t really shown the abilities of a high first rounder. The two defenseman taken after Reinhart? Rielly and Lindolm. Both of which are having stellar starts to their young careers, having played over 200 games already. I don’t think the change of scenery to the Oilers changes much in his bust of a career.
2 2013 - Jonathan Drouin
Jonathan Drouin - The most talked about player (aside from John Scott) the past few months. His career hasn’t been sunshine and daisies to start. In his 89 game career in the NHL, he is averaging less than half a point a game - not screaming 3rd overall pick.
He has not lived up to his ridiculous “Q” stats, in which he had about 2 points per game. A change in scenery may spark his career toward the path that it was intended when he was drafted. He also has not helped his situation by demanding he be traded publicly, while the Lightning have put him on the shelf indefinitely, so he’s not playing hockey until he gets traded - another set back.
1 2014 - Jake Virtanen
Picking a bust two years removed from a draft is particularly tough. Guys usually play out their days in juniors and develop or they jump right into The Show and get it goin’. Then there is Jake Virtanen. He is one of those guys that played juniors for a bit but decided to get his career going sooner rather than later.
Sure, he’s in "The Show" but he isn’t exactly producing like a top 6 pick. 4 points in 26 games is an OK start to your rookie season. However, Canucks fans shouldn’t expect anything more than a role player as he only averaged a point a game in juniors. Then again, junior stats don’t always tell the tale of your NHL career. Virtanen is the front-runner for the 2014 draft bust.