The 2012 NHL Entry Draft may have only been just four years ago, but some of the players drafted are already showing that they deserved to be drafted in the NHL. Some of the top guys taken in the draft include Alex Galchenyuk, Filip Forsberg, and Frederik Andersen, just to name a few. As time goes on there will be even more players who will emerge to become NHL stars.
There may have been a great deal of talent to come out of the 2012 draft, but there were also a bunch of players who have not lived to up to the expectations that come along with being an early draft pick. There is great deal of pressure that comes with being an early draft choice, and some players just can't handle it. These players are still young and have time to improve, but it's only a matter of time before younger prospects come and take their place. They only have a couple of more seasons at the most to improve themselves, before they get the dreaded label of being a "bust."
Here are the top 15 players who were drafted early in 2012 NHL Entry Draft that are already looking like duds.
15 Dalton Thrower, 51st Overall, Montreal Canadiens
Dalton Thrower spent five seasons developing his skills in the WHL, where he showed that he was a physical player, but could also produce offensively. During his draft year in 2011-12 while playing for the Saskatoon Blades, he lead all team defenseman in points with 54, which included 18 goals.
Thrower spent his final year in junior playing for the Vancouver Giants, before turning pro ahead of the 2014-15 season. His first season as a pro was miserable at best. Throughout his junior career, Thrower had been suspended on a few occasions due to disciplinary reasons, and his first season as a pro was no different. While playing for the ECHL's Brampton Beast, he was suspended five games for leaving the bench to fight. When Thrower wasn't suspended, his play was uninspiring. In 37 ECHL games, he only recorded six points.
If the role of goon in the NHL was still a popular thing, Thrower might have had a chance to one day find a role in the league. However, he lacks the skating ability and is too one dimensional of a player to ever be more than low-tier minor league player.
14 Dillon Fournier, 48th Overall, Chicago Blackhawks
Dillon Fournier was one of the many great puck moving defenseman available in the 2012 draft. He played three seasons with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL. He had an outstanding draft year in 2011-12, ranking second amongst defenseman on the team with 38 points. He was ranked 136th amongst North American skaters by Central Scouting, but he ended up going earlier than expected when the Blackhawks took him 48th overall. Fournier had couple more good seasons in the QMJHL, but battled injuries. He only managed to play 36 games in his final season of junior.
Fournier made his pro debut in the 2014-15 season, playing for Chicago's ECHL affiliate. In 34 games with the Indy Fuel, he recorded seven points. He played good enough to earn a call up to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL, but failed to make an impact by registering just three points in 21 games. His 2015-16 season would be pretty much be a wash as he only played nine games due to injury.
Fournier still has one year left on his entry level deal to prove himself. However, he battled injuries in junior and is now struggling with them as a professional. The injuries have really hampered his development. If he can stay healthy for the 2016-17 season he might have a chance to develop more as a player, if not, the days of his hockey career are numbered.
13 Lukas Sutter, 39th Overall, Winnipeg Jets
Perhaps no one on this list has fallen more than Lukas Sutter. A member of the famous Sutter hockey family, Lukas looked like he had all the makings to be a great power forward in the NHL. In his draft year playing for the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, he was third on the team in points with 59 and he also led the team in penalty minutes. The next two seasons with the Blades, Sutter would only record a combined 47 points.
After his two poor seasons in the WHL, the Winnipeg Jets did not offer him a contract. Sutter re-entered the draft and was taken by the New York Islanders in the seventh round. He would only last one season in the Islanders system, where he played primarily in the ECHL.
Sutter wasn't able to find another NHL team willing to give him a shot in their system. In 2015-16 Sutter found himself playing in an adult senior hockey league. It's safe to say his days as a professional hockey player are most likely over.
12 Matt Finn, 35th Overall, Toronto Maple Leafs
Matt Finn spent four seasons playing for the Guelph Storm of the OHL. He showed that he was capable of being a solid offensive defenseman. He scored 161 points in 228 career OHL games. The native of Toronto couldn't have been more happy to be drafted by the Maple Leafs.
Finn turned pro in the 2014-15 season, splitting time between the AHL and ECHL. He struggled to adapt to the pro game, scoring just three points in 28 AHL games. Finn was deemed expendable by the Leafs and was traded to the Islanders in a deal involving Michael Grabner. While playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL in 2015-16, Finn saw his production increase a bit, scoring 14 points in 33 games.
Although Finn might have a career as a minor league defenseman, he is going to have a tough time making the NHL. Ever since he was playing in junior, his skating ability has always been lacking. You can't survive in today's NHL without above average skating ability, especially on the blueline.
11 Sebastian Collberg, 33rd Overall, Montreal Canadiens
Sebastian Collberg spent time developing in his native home of Sweden. He was a star for the Frölunda HC U20 team. In 2010-11, he was second on the team with 44 points in 35 games. Collberg would spend the majority of his draft year playing for Frolunda's men's team. His ice time was limited, and he did not manage to record a single point in 41 games. However, he was fantastic at the World Junior Championships, ranking second on the team in points.
Collberg made his North American debut at the end of the 2012-13 season for the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. He only played two games before heading back to Sweden for the 2014-15 season. At the 2014 NHL trade deadline, he was traded to the New York Islanders in a deal involving Thomas Vanek. Collberg returned to North America for the 2014-15 season and started the year with the Islanders AHL affiliate. He recorded 18 points 48 AHL games, battling injuries and inconsistency.
In 2015-16, Collberg saw his production in the AHL drop to just 10 points in 42 games, as he once again battled injuries. It seems like his body just can't handle the North American style of game. When he has been healthy, he hasn't been too productive either. It won't be too long before he heads back home to Sweden.
10 Mitch Moroz, 32nd Overall, Edmonton Oilers
Mitch Moroz looked like he had all the makings to become a great power forward in the NHL. He spent three seasons playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. He proved that he could put the puck in the net, as well as be a thorn in the side of his opponents. In his final season with Oil Kings he recorded 35 goals and his 156 penalty minutes led the team. He also played an integral role in Edmonton winning the Memorial Cup.
Moroz made his pro debut in 2014-15 with Edmonton's AHL affiliate in Oklahoma. His offense from junior didn't translate to the AHL, as he only scored nine points in 66 games. He did however lead the team in penalty minutes with 169. His second season in the AHL was just as disappointing as his first. He missed half the season due to injury, and only managed to record 10 points in 40 games.
At this point it looks like Moroz will be nothing than a fourth line energy player, if he is lucky enough to make it to the NHL.
9 Oscar Dansk, 31st Overall, Columbus Blue Jackets
You could tell Oscar Dansk was very committed to increasing his chances of being drafted to the NHL, because as a sixteen-year-old he made the long trip over from Sweden to play high school hockey in Minnesota. After proving himself there, he made the return back to Sweden in 2010, where he became one of the top European junior goaltenders. He was the third goalie taken in the 2012 draft when Columbus took him with very first pick in the second round.
Dansk again made the trip over to North America for the 2012-13 season, this time with the Erie Otters of the OHL. The Otters were a poor team and Dansk numbers reflected that as he posted a dismal 11-23-6 record. His second season was a complete turn around for both the Otters and Dansk. He improved his record to 29-9-1. He goals against average also went from 4.11 to 2.39.
Dansk turned pro in 2014-15 and it is safe to say it wasn't too great of a year for him. He played 21 AHL games, where he had a 3.57 GAA, and a .880 save percentage. His numbers in the ECHL were even worse, as he posted a record of 1-8, with a 3.73 GAA.
Dansk went back to Sweden for the 2015-16 season. Dansk has found himself getting passed on the Blue Jackets goaltending depth chart by other promising prospects. It takes a long time for goalies to develop, but it would't be all that surprising if we have seen the last of Oscar Dansk in North America.
8 Stefan Matteau, 29th Overall, New Jersey Devils
Stefan Matteau honed his skills playing for the U.S. National Development Team. During the 2011-12 season he scored 15 goals and added 17 assists. He also showed that he had a ton of grit to his game by leading the team in penalty minutes with 166. The Devils liked what they saw in the second generation player and they took him with the 29th overall pick.
With the NHL still in a lockout ahead of the 2012-13 season, Matteau decided to try his luck in the QMJHL. While playing for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, Matteau was successful enough to earn a spot in New Jersey's lineup once in the NHL lockout ended. He played 17 games with the Devils, scoring just three points before he was sent back down to the QMJHL. Matteau's return to Blainville-Boisbriand didn't go very well to say the least as he was released from the team for on and off ice behaviour problems.
Matteau would spend the next two seasons playing for New Jersey's AHL affiliate in Albany. His production was mediocre at best, as in 128 AHL games he recorded only 53 points. In 2015, he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, where he didn't show much.
Matteau seems like the case of someone who was rushed to the NHL. He lacked the maturity of what it took be a professional player. Matteau will soon find himself looking for a job in Europe if he wants to keep playing.
7 Henrik Samuelsson, 27th Overall, Phoenix Coyotes
The son of former NHLer Ulf Samuelsson, Henrik was a dominating force while playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. In 162 games with the Oil Kings he recorded 198 points. His best year in junior came during his final WHL season in 2013-14 , when he scored 35 goals and 95 points. Samuelsson was even more dominating during the 2014 WHL playoffs. He helped Edmonton capture both the WHL Championship, as well as the Memorial Cup.
Samuelsson turned pro for the 2014-15 season, spending the entire year with the Portland Pirates of the AHL. It was a solid first season for him, as he took no time adjusting to the pro game, scoring 40 points in 68 games. This earned him a three game call-up with the Coyotes. His second season was one that Henrik would like to forget. He battled a major injury which limited him to just 43 games where he saw his point production fall to just 12 points.
Samuelsson has all the skills to one day to be an NHLer. However, he needs to have a comeback season in 2016-17 or he will quickly find himself getting passed on the Coyotes depth chart by other talented prospects.
6 Zemgus Girgensons, 14th Overall, Buffalo Sabres
The Latvian native spent his junior career playing in the United States Hockey League, where he was one of the best players in the league. In two seasons with the Dubuque Fighting Saints he put up 104 points in 100 games played.
In 2012-13, Zemgus Girgensons started his pro career in the AHL as an eighteen-year-old. While playing for the Rochester Americans he recorded 17 points in 61 games. The following season he was able to earn a spot on the Buffalo Sabres roster. He would manage to score a respectable eight goals and 22 points during his rookie year.
In just his second season in the NHL, Girgensons was named to the NHL All-Star team. However, this was mostly due to the fact that is seemed like the entire country of Latvia voted for him to be in the game. He finished the season with 30 points in 61 games, which are not exactly All-Star calibre numbers.
Girgensons saw his production in his third season drop substantially to just 18 points in 71 games. He is going to have to step up his game if he wants to have a future in the NHL.
5 Radek Faksa, 13th Overall, Dallas Stars
After developing in his native country of the Czech Republic, Radek Faska spent his draft year playing for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. It didn't seem like he had any trouble adapting to the North American game, as he recorded 67 points in 62 games. After being drafted, he would play two more seasons in the OHL where he was productive, but was plagued by a couple of injures.
Faska made the transition to the AHL in the 2014-15 season. It was a pretty terrible season for Faska as he only managed to record 10 points in 32 games, before suffering a season ending shoulder injury. The 2015-16 was a bounce back season for Faska, as he ended up splitting time between the AHL and NHL. In 45 games with Dallas, he put up 12 points, and added another five points in the playoffs.
Although Faska has been more productive as a pro than most people on this list, it doesn't mean his NHL future is too bright. He hasn't been able to stay healthy in junior or at the professional level. The first few years of his career are crucial for his development and if he can't stay healthy, that will surely hamper his progression as a player.
4 Mikhail Grigorenko, 12th Overall, Buffalo Sabres
Mikhail Grigorenko is the second Buffalo Sabres draft pick to make the list. After playing in the Russia, he decided to play in the QMJHL for his draft year. It was a great decision by Grigorenko as he lit up the league as a member of the Quebec Remparts. He led the Remparts in scoring with 40 goals and 85 points.
Grigorenko split the 2012-13 season with Remparts and the Sabres. He was absolutely dominant in junior, scoring an incredible 30 goals in just 33 games. He played a smaller role on the Sabres and only put up five points in 25 games. He again split the 2013-14 season between the juniors and the NHL as he once again showed that he was too good to be in the QMJHL, scoring 39 points in just 23 games.
Grigorenko finally made the full-time transition to the pros in the 2014-15 season. While he performed well in the AHL, he once again wasn't all too productive with the Sabres, scoring six points in 25 games.
Ahead of the 2015-16 season, Grigorenko was traded to Colorado. In 74 games with the Avalanche, he scored just six goals and 27 points. He has to show more of the goal scoring touch from his junior days if he doesn't want to be labelled a "bust."
3 Slater Koekkoek, 10th Overall, Tampa Bay Lightning
Slater Koekkoek was one of the eight defenseman taken in the top ten selections of the 2012 draft. He spent four seasons playing in the OHL where he was primarily known as an offensive defenseman. His best season came while playing for the Windsor Spitfires in 2013-14, when he led all team defenseman in points with 53.
His first season as pro was a fairly successful one. He led all Syracuse Crunch defenseman in points with 26. He even earned a three game call-up with Tampa Bay. Koekkoek spent his second season mostly in the AHL, where he saw his numbers drop. In 60 AHL games he scored just 15 points. He did play nine games with the Lightning in 2015-16 and recorded his first career NHL point.
Although he may one day have a career in the NHL, it looks like he will be nothing more than a bottom pairing defenseman at best. You would expect a great deal more from a top ten draft pick.
2 Griffin Reinhart, 4th Overall, New York Islanders
Griffin Reinhart was the second defenseman taken in the 2012 draft. He played his entire junior career with the Edmonton Oil Kings, where he was a great all-around defenseman. During his draft year he put up a solid 36 points in 58 games.
After being drafted, Reinhart played two more seasons in the WHL, before turning pro in the 2014-15 season. He managed to make the Islanders opening night roster. However, he only played eight games, registering one assist, before being sent down to the AHL. While with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, he recorded a respectable 22 points in 59 games.
The Islanders thought Reinhart wasn't in their future plans, so they traded him to the Oilers in 2015. Reinhart's first season in Edmonton was fairly miserable. He suited up for 29 games for the Oilers, recording one measly assist.
It can't be a good sign for Reinhart's NHL future, based on the fact that he had trouble cracking a very weak Oilers defensive corps.
1 Nail Yakupov, 1st Overall, Edmonton Oilers
During the 2011-12 NHL season, there was campaign started by fans called "Fail for Nail." The reasoning behind the campaign was that the team with the worst record in the league had a 49 percent chance of landing the top pick in the draft. The player who was the consensus to go first overall was Nail Yakupov. The Russian native earned all the hype with his play in his two previous seasons with the Sarnia Sting. In his rookie OHL season in 2010-11, he recorded an incredible 101 points in 65 games. He was limited to just 42 games in his draft year, but he still ranked second on the team in points with 69.
Once the NHL lockout ended in 2013, Yakupov joined the Oilers. He had a fantastic rookie season, leading all NHL rookies in goals with 17 and was tied for the lead in points with 31. It was looking like Yakupov was the real deal, but it unfortunately has been all downhill for him since then. In the three seasons since his rookie year, he has had point totals of 24, 33, and 23. To add to those lacklustre offensive numbers, Yakupov was a combined minus 84 during those three seasons.
Yakupov is running out of time to prove himself in Edmonton. A change of scenery might be the only thing to turn his game around. If he isn't able to put it all together again, it won't be too long before Yakupov is mentioned in the same breath when it comes former first overall "busts" like Patrik Stefan.