It seems as though being selected as the first-overall pick in the Entry Draft seems much more lucrative and special to any professional athlete beginning their careers. You always see the look of disappointment on the face of the player that goes second-overall.
But as we’ve seen, going first overall does not mean you’ll have the most successful career of everyone in your draft class. In fact, more often than not, someone drafted after the first selection goes on to make a bigger name for themselves. We’ve seen major draft busts in every major sport.
We’ve seen players who are best remembered for being busts, while guys selected shortly after them became All-Stars and Hall of Famers. We’ve seen fanbases suffer, as they saw the GM of their teams fail to make the right pick. But after all, nobody is perfect and every team has made a large number of draft mistakes. It’s human nature.
But in many cases, it’s remarkable to think just how much a guy drafted after the first selection can make a much bigger name for themselves. They don’t worry about how their pro careers start, but how they finish it. That’s what matters most, remember that kids.
In recent years, we have seen the first-overall picks live up to the hype, but historically, a lot of them never developed. Even today, we see a lot of second or later picks turn out much better than the first.
Without further ado, we present you the 15 second overall selections who did more than the guy selected before them.
15. Jimmy Carson, 1986
Best remembered as a piece who came to Edmonton in the infamous trade that moved Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings, Jimmy Carson still made a name for himself as a productive player and not just as part of a huge trade.
In a career predominantly spent with the Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings, he scored 275 goals and 561 points in 626 games.
Joe Murphy wasn’t far behind him as the top pick, but not quite as talented as Carson: He scored 233 goals and 528 games in 779 games. At least he won a Stanley Cup with the Oilers in 1990, something Carson failed to win.
14. Brendan Shanahan, 1987
This is not meant to disrespect the great Pierre Turgeon, it’s just that Shanny had a little something more in his career.
Brendan Shanahan won three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, becoming the key piece they needed to win it in 1997. He made it to eight All-Star games, won an Olympic Gold Medal, and made it to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
He had 656 career goals and 1,354 points, while Turgeon would score 515 goals and 1,327 points.
13. Wade Redden, 1995
Don’t let the toxic contract he signed with the New York Rangers fool you, Wade Redden was an absolute stud when the New York Islanders drafted him. But his best years came with the Ottawa Senators, who coincidentally enough took Bryan Berard with the top pick in 1995.
Redden played 11 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, hitting the 40-point mark four times and scoring double-digit goals five times. He made the Senators a consistent playoff team that reached the 2007 Stanley Cup Final.
Berard was injury-prone throughout his career, playing just 619 total games. He had 323 career points against Redden’s 457.
12. Gabriel Landeskog, 2011
To put things in perspective, Gabriel Landeskog became the youngest captain in NHL history with the Colorado Avalanche. So, it clearly did not take him long to fit in and become a well-rounded player and leader.
As for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the top pick in 2011? The Edmonton Oilers are probably going to be forced to trade him. He’s underachieved and been injured throughout his entire career.
Landeskog has 100 goals and 246 points in 346 career games. Nugent-Hopkins has 77 goals and 222 points in 313 games.
11. Dany Heatley, 2000
Though his career started going nowhere in the 2012-13 season, there were few better pure goal-scorers than Dany Heatley in the 2000s.
He was a four-time 40-goal scorer and he even hit the 50-goal mark in 2005-06 and 2006-07, surpassing the 100-point mark in both those seasons. Heatley’s efforts guided the Sens to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final.
As for Rick DiPietro, the first overall pick in 2000? He will best be remembered for signing a 15 year, $67.5 million contract, despite only appearing in 318 NHL games. His 130-136-36 record goes to show Heatley had a much better career.
10. Alexei Yashin, 1992
Like Rick DiPietro, Alexei Yashin’s remembered as a guy who signed a huge contract, but didn’t live up to it.
A 10-year, $87.5 million contract signed with the Isles saw Yashin get payed plenty while playing in Russia. Still, his 337 goals and 781 points in 850 NHL games are hard to overlook.
Roman Hamrlik, the first overall pick, wasn’t a terrible player by any means. He was a solid number-two or three defenseman, but he didn’t take over games like Yashin. His best season was a 16-49-65 campaign in 1995-96, but he never came close to those totals again.
9. Dave Babych, 1980
Dave Babych probably isn’t someone you’d call a future Hockey Hall of Famer, but he still had a solid all-around career and remains popular in Vancouver Canucks lore…mainly for his moustache. The second-overall pick of 1980 never scored 20 goals in a season, but his 723 career points in 1,195 games are no joke.
Doug Wickenheiser went first overall to the Montreal Canadiens, but he never lived up to the hype, scoring just 276 points in 556 games.
8. Wilf Paiement, 1974
The three-time NHL All-Star made the Washington Capitals look silly for passing on him, as the Kansas City Scouts happily took Wilf Paiement second overall.
Paiement became a standout for the Scouts/Colorado Rockies franchise (now the New Jersey Devils). He had five 20-goal seasons there and was a star on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Quebec Nordiques as well.
He finished with 356 goals and 814 points, while Greg Joly, the top pick by Washington, had just 21 goals and 97 points in 365 games.
7. Sylvain Turgeon, 1983
While many remember the top pick in this draft, Brian Lawton, being one of the biggest draft busts ever, it’s easy to overlook the success Sylvain Turgeon had.
Turgeon hit the 40-goal mark twice with the Hartford Whalers, including a 45-34-79 effort in 1985-86. He finished with 269 goals and 495 points, while Lawton had just 112 goals and 266 points.
The second overall pick helped put the Whalers on the hockey map, while Lawton failed to turn around a struggling Minnesota North Stars franchise.
6. Tyler Seguin, 2010
Everyone who remembers this draft remembers the analysts saying “Taylor vs. Tyler,” though it seemed clear for the most part that the Edmonton Oilers would take Taylor Hall.
Though Hall has not been a bust by any means, instead of turning the Oilers around, he’s seen them be among the league’s worst teams, competing for first overall picks more than playoff spots.
As for Tyler Seguin, he won a Stanley Cup in his rookie year with the Boston Bruins before the team got sick of his off-the-ice behaviour and traded him to the Dallas Stars. Hall hasn’t made the playoffs, scoring 132 goals and 328 points in 381 games. As for Seguin, he’s in his fifth playoff season, with 163 goals and 355 points in 426 games.
5. Brad Park, 1966
Brad Park had a phenomenal career. If you look at his career resume, a Stanley Cup is all that is missing, though he guided his teams there many times, with the Boston Bruins losing in the Finals to the Montreal Canadiens in 1977 and 1978.
The Hockey Hall of Famer scored 213 goals and 896 points in 1,113 games, and was a five-time First Team All-Star. He was ranked as the 49th greatest player ever by The Hockey News.
Though the top pick, Barry Gibbs, had some nice moments, his 58 goals and 282 points in 796 games suggest that Park would have been the logical first choice.
4. Peter Mahovlich, 1963
Though he didn’t quite have the career his older brother Frank did, Peter Mahovlich made a huge name for himself in the NHL, being one of the greatest second-overall picks of all-time.
He was part of the Montreal Canadiens dynasty of the ’70s, winning four Stanley Cups with the team. He finished with 288 goals and 773 points in 884 games, with his best season being 35-82-117 in the 1974-75 campaign.
The top pick, Garry Monahan, had just 116 goals and 285 points in 748 games.
3. Brian Bellows, 1982
A member of the 1993 Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup-winning team, Brian Bellows also made it to three NHL All-Star Games. He was a nine-time 30-goal scorer and had a 55-goal season with the North Stars in 1989-90.
Bellows’ 40 goals in 1992-93 helped the Canadiens win what remains the most recent Stanley Cup victory for a Canadian team. He finished his career with 485 goals and 1,022 points in 1,188 NHL games. The top pick, Gord Kluzak, had just 25 goals and 123 points in 299 games.
At least Bellows was able to help the North Stars franchise forget about taking Brian Lawton.
2. Daniel Sedin, 1999
Sadly for Patrik Stefan, the top pick in 1999, he’s best remembered for slipping and falling on a breakaway with an empty net. That moment came with the Dallas Stars, which allowed the Oilers to go down the ice and score with less than a second left.
As for Daniel Sedin? He only became arguably the greatest player in Vancouver Canucks history, with 355 goals and 942 points heading into the 2016-17 season. He won the Art Ross in 2011, led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final that year and won Sweden a Gold Medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics.
The long-time struggling Canucks also took Henrik Sedin third-overall in 1999, giving the Canucks the greatest twin combination in sports history.
1. Chris Pronger, 1993
There just wasn’t a question about who number one would be.
The 1993 NHL Draft is best remembered for two things:
1) The Ottawa Senators taking Alexandre Daigle, who never reached his full potential in the NHL,
2) The team passing on Chris Pronger, who became an all-time great defenseman.
A six-time All-Star who won the Norris and Hart Trophy in 2000, Pronger helped the Anaheim Ducks win the Stanley Cup in 2007 and won two Olympic Gold Medals with Team Canada. In fact, he led the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, and the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in his first year with each of those teams.
He scored 157 goals and 698 points in 1,167 games, while Daigle scored just 129 goals and 327 points in 616 games, with a +/- rating of -176.
Pronger made the Senators regret not taking him even more in 2007, when his Ducks beat Ottawa in the 2007 Stanley Cup Final.
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