Professional athletes that excelled at their respective craft typically have a unique story of how they achieved greatness and separated themselves from the rest of the pack. For professional ice hockey, the National Hockey League attracts athletes from all around the globe, which has allowed those same unique stories to unfold on a more consistent basis. It’s no secret that some of the NHL’s greatest players of all-time were given up on much too early and by a club that originally gave them their first shift, or chance, in the league.
There are a couple organizations’ (former) front offices that have made too many mistakes when deciding whether or not to give up on a potential rising star; and all of which seem to be during the same era too. Some, decided to part ways with former early-round draft-picks before they even stepped foot onto the ice, while others traded away future Hockey Hall Of Fame skaters during an NHL Trade Deadline with what seemed to be an impulsive decision at the time. Those moves would eventually come back to haunt those teams.
Now, TheSportster ranks the top 15 NHL players who were given up on too early.
15 Ben Bishop - Ottawa Senators
One of the NHL’s top netminders now stands tall between the pipes for that of the Dallas Stars. But, former third-round draft-pick, Ben Bishop, was given up on much too early in his career and by the St. Louis Blues. The Blues drafted Bishop back at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, and Bish played only parts of two seasons in St. Louis before the 6-foot-7 masked man was acquired by the Ottawa Senators during the 2011 offseason.
The Denver, Colorado native was then later traded for by the Tampa Bay Lightning during the shortened 2012-13 regular season. It was in Tampa where Bishop established himself as one of the league’s best goaltenders, as Bishop recorded three seasons of 30-plus wins with the Bolts (2013-2016). While Bishop has yet to win a Vezina Trophy, no one should be surprised if he does and in the near future with the Stars.
14 Miroslav Satan - Edmonton Oilers
One of hockey’s most memorable names belongs to that of former Buffalo Sabres stud, Miroslav Satan. The Czech Republic native recorded 456 career NHL points with the Sabres and in the span of eight seasons (1997-2004). Satan, was also a key part to the 1999 Buffalo team, which made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals; but only to lose to the Dallas Stars in six games. Additionally, Satan recorded a career high of 40 goals in 1999, too.
Still, Satan was given up too early by management of former club of his. The Edmonton Oilers drafted Satan back at the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, but had traded the promising (then) youngster in 1997 to the Sabres. The Czech had only spent parts of two seasons with the Oilers before the club had given up on him back at the 1997 NHL Trade Deadline.
13 Sergei Bobrovsky - Philadelphia Flyers
It’s been an ongoing drama and carousel for the Philadelphia Flyers in relation to the team’s goaltending situation since Hockey Hall Of Fame goaltender, Ron Hextall, retired in the late 1990’s. There’s been a countless list of netminders who the Flyers thought they could count on since that time, but it seems that every single one of those goaltenders has let them down and when it matters most.
While the Broad Street Bullies signed former Russian NHL netminder Ilya Bryzgalov to a mega-contract in 2011, Philadelphia also had another promising Russian between the pipes at the time. Sergei Bobrovsky played in just two seasons with the Flyers, before he was traded at the age of 23 and to the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2012. It’s heart breaking for South Philly, but in his first season with the Blue Jackets in 2012-13, Bobrovsky won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender.
12 Patrick Sharp - Philadelphia Flyers
NHL forward Patrick Sharp has won three Stanley Cups and has been a perennial points scorer since the Chicago Blackhawks first acquired him back in the 2005-06 regular season, and from the Philadelphia Flyers. The goal-scoring winger had played in parts of three seasons with Philadelphia (2002-2005), before the Flyers’ former third-round draft-pick (2001) blossomed in Chicago with the Hawks.
Since that time, the Winnipeg, Manitoba native has recorded 60 or more points in a season on five different occasions. It’s no secret that the Broad Street Bullies have had plenty of talent come and go through the organization, but it’s evident that the Flyers gave up on Sharp much too soon. The former Flyer now has 599 career points and counting, as he’ll record his 600th career point with his second stint as a Blackhawk this upcoming season.
11 Ryan McDonagh - Montreal Canadiens
One of the NHL’s most storied franchises, in the Montreal Canadiens, have made left their passionate fan-base in purgatory for over 20 years now. The Original Six franchise hasn’t appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1993, and the helm of the club’s front office has made a plethora of mistakes since that time, too.
In 2007, the Habs selected promising defenseman Ryan McDonagh with the 12th overall pick. Yet, Montreal would later trade that (then) top prospect to the New York Rangers during the 2009 offseason and in exchange for center, Scott Gomez. It didn’t take long for McDonagh to then blossom into not only the Rangers’ team captain, but also one of the best overall defenseman the game has to currently offer. The St. Paul Minnesota native was just 20 years old when the Canadiens dealt him to the Big Apple.
10 Markus Naslund - Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins had turned in what could have been a perennial Stanley Cup winning team during the early 1990s. Notable skaters such as Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis, Rick Tocchet and more all donned that of the Black and Gold, then. Yet, the Penguins used to also have another notable name on the roster during that time frame.
One of the best players in Vancouver Canucks history, Markus Naslund, was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1993 until the 1996 NHL Trade Deadline. Then, the youngster was given up on much too early by Pittsburgh’s front office, as the Swede was dealt for a former first-round draft-pick, Alex Stojanov; who only played in 107 career NHL games. Naslund, ended his NHL career with 869 points, and 756 of which came with the Canucks.
9 Tony Amonte - New York Rangers
Most NHL fans remember Tony Amonte for his goal scoring abilities and with the Original Six franchise, the Chicago Blackhawks. However, Amonte, was originally drafted by the New York Rangers back at the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. The Hingham, Massachusetts native dressed with the Rangers for parts of three seasons (1991-1994), before he was later traded to the Blackhawks in the latter stages of the 1994 regular season.
While that 1994 Broadway Blueshirts club went on to win the Stanley Cup, the Rangers more than likely gave up on a young Amonte; especially considering his career years came during some of the Rangers’ most disappointing – in the mid-to-late 1990’s. The United States Olympian finished his NHL career with 900 points, and 541 of those points came with Chicago (1994-2002).
8 Tyler Seguin
One of the NHL’s top goal scorers in recent memory, forward Tyler Seguin, currently skates for the Dallas Stars. However, Seguin was originally drafted by the Boston Bruins with the second-overall-pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The Brampton, Ontario native played three full seasons in Boston, while racking up 121 points and collecting a Stanley Cup ring along the way, too (2010-11).
Still, (then) team general manger, Peter Chirarelli, decided to move on from the young Phenom, and traded Seguin to the Stars after the 2013 shortened season. Apparently, the Bruins weren't a fan of Seguin's party lifestyle and rather than remain patient and let him mature, they got rid of him. The Bruins received a handful of players in return, but none of whom still remain with the Bruins. Seguin, age 25, has recorded 70 or more points per season, since joining the Stars in 2013-14.
7 Zdeno Chara - New York Islanders
Former New York Islanders general manager, Mike Milbury, already has a notable list of mistakes from his front office days on Long Island. And, all-star defenseman Zdeno Chara will forever be linked to Milbury; as the six-foot-eight blue liner was traded at the age of 23 and to the Ottawa Senators during the 2001 offseason. At the time, the Islanders were one of the worst teams in the NHL, but it’s safe to say that Milbury and company gave up too soon on the Slovakian native.
Chara excelled in Ottawa, where he recorded 146 points in just four seasons with the Senators. He transformed into the one of the game’s best two-way defenseman, and now has a Norris Trophy, and a Stanley Cup ring (2010-11 Boston Bruins) to show for it.
6 Marian Hossa - Ottawa Senators
Slovakian forward Marian Hossa may go down as one of the most underrated NHL players of all-time, but the future Hockey Hall Of Famer was also traded too soon and by the club that had originally drafted him. In 1997, the Ottawa Senators selected Hossa with the 12th-overall-pick at the NHL Entry Draft, and the six-foot-one forward proceeded to record 390 points in seven seasons with the Sens.
While most may think seven seasons with one club isn’t a short time frame, let’s take into consideration that Hossa was 25 years old in 2004 when Ottawa decided to trade him to the (then) Atlanta Thrashers. Since that time, Hossa has won three Stanley Cups (Chicago Blackhawks 2010; 2013; 2015), played in five Cup Finals and still plays in the league with the Chicago Blackhawks to date, although with his recent skin allergy news, he'll miss all of this season.
5 Roberto Luongo - New York Islanders
Former New York Islanders netminder Roberto Luongo has had one of the more notable and storied NHL careers over the past two decades and counting. Luongo first made headlines after the Isles drafted the goaltender with the fourth selection at the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. The Montreal, Quebec native only played in 24 games with New York (1999-00), before he was traded by (then) team general manager, Mike Milbury, after the 2000 campaign, and to the Florida Panthers.
The Islanders didn’t receive any noteworthy names in return for “Bobby Lu,” and Luongo then transformed into one of the NHL’s best goaltenders. Since that time, the Canadian Gold Medalist has recorded over 400 career wins; which also ranks him fifth all-time for most wins by an NHL goaltender (453).
4 Chris Pronger - Hartford Whalers
Former NHL defenseman Chris Pronger was notorious for his physical and questionable actions on the ice throughout his 18-year NHL career. The six-foot-six blue liner dressed for five clubs over that span, and one of which has to regret trading him to the St. Louis Blues during the 1995 offseason. The Hartford Whalers had selected Pronger with the second-overall-pick back at the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, but the Whalers (now Carolina Hurricanes) weren’t patient with Pronger’s maturity process as a player, and gave up on him after just two seasons (1993-1995).
Yes, the Whalers did receive another (then future) Hockey Hall Of Fame player in Brendan Shanahan, but Shanahan quickly requested a trade after landing in Hartford. Pronger went on to win a Stanley Cup and collect a Norris Trophy and a Hart Memorial Trophy in 1999-00 with the Blues.
3 Peter Forsberg - Philadelphia Flyers
Yes, Swedish forward Peter Forsberg was a part of a large deal that brought Hockey Hall Of Fame forward, Eric Lindros, over to the Philadelphia Flyers organization; but the fact that the Flyers traded Forsberg before his NHL career even began was arguably another big mistake in franchise history.
Forsberg played a majority of his NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche (formerly Quebec Nordiques), and won two Stanley Cups with the Avs too. Lindros’ career entailed a ton of drama from day one of entering the league, and he was plagued by serious concussion injuries. South Philly has to wonder what it would have been like if the Flyers hadn’t given up on Forsberg too soon, right? The Swede finished his NHL career with 885 career points, in just 13 seasons, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame in 2014.
2 Brett Hull - Calgary Flames
When NHL fans picture and reflect back on Hockey Hall Of Famer, Brett Hull, one will usually envision him scoring a goal for either the St. Louis Blues or Dallas Stars. However, Hull was actually drafted by the Calgary Flames back at the 1984 NHL Entry Draft and surprisingly in the sixth round, too. After parts of two seasons to begin his NHL career with the Flames, the sniper was traded at the age of 23 and to the St. Louis Blues during the 1987-88 regular season.
Yes, the Flames won the Stanley Cup without Hull in 1989, but they hadn’t realized that they may have traded their soul with the devil; as Hull quickly transformed into one of the league’s best players and with the Blues. Hull finished his NHL career with the two Stanley Cup rings (1999 Dallas Stars & 2002 Detroit Red Wings), and 1,391 career points.
1 Mats Sundin - Quebec Nordiques
Yes, believe it or not, but one of the NHL’s best players of all-time, Mats Sundin, was not only a member of the Quebec Nordiques at one point, but he was also given up on and much too early by the Nordiques. Sundin was draft by Quebec at the 1989 NHL Entry Draft and with the first overall pick. Yes, Sundin lived up to his first overall pick expectations, but those expectations were more notable and accomplished with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not the Nordiques.
Quebec decided to trade a (then) young Sundin after the 1993-94 season, and the rest was history as the Swedish native became one of the Leafs’ best players of all-time. In 13 seasons, number 13 for the Original Six franchise, recorded 987 regular season points.
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