During the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the Boston Bruins made modern day history by drafting three consecutive players in the first round. They could have used the picks to move up in the draft, but were happy to add three great players to their prospect pool. They realized that in today's salary cap era of the NHL, drafting and developing your own players is the key to long term success. When the Bruins last won the Stanley Cup in 2011, their three leading scorers in the playoffs were David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand, all of whom were original draft picks of the Bruins.
Throughout their storied history, the Bruins have drafted some amazing talent, including the likes of Ray Bourque and Joe Thornton, but for every great player they drafted, there have been an equal amount of duds. The players included on this list were all high end prospects, who showed a ton of potential. Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, they never came close to the living up to the potential they once showed. Some players could simply not translate their junior success into NHL success. Some players who came from overseas, had trouble adapting to the North American style of game. Unfortunately some players suffered career debilitating injuries, that would shorten their once promising careers.
By drafting a bust of a player, not only do you waste a high draft pick, but you miss out on drafting possible franchise changing players. The Bruins passed on taking some future star players and even some future Hockey Hall of Fame members. In hindsight, there are definitely some draft choices the Bruins wish they could take back.
Without further ado, here are the top 15 worst Boston Bruins draft mistakes.
15 Dmitri Kvartalnov - 1992
Dmitri Kvartalnov had the most NHL success of any player on this list, it's just too bad his NHL career barely lasted two seasons. Kvartalnov was already twenty-six-years-old when the Bruins took him with the 16th overall pick. He had spent five seasons playing in Russia before making his North American debut in 1991 in the International Hockey League. He absolutely tore it up in the IHL, leading the league in points with 118, and was named the league's MVP. After being drafted by the Bruins in 1992, he made an immediate impact, scoring 72 points during his first season. His second and and final NHL season wasn't as successful, as he ended up splitting time with Boston and their AHL affiliate in Providence. Kvartalnov left for Europe in 1994, where he would go on to achieve great success.
Even though it's only a small sample size, it's safe to say that Kvartalnov would have had a great NHL career had he stayed in North America. The Bruins would have been better off drafting Martin Straka, who the Penguins took 19th overall,. three picks later. Straka played 15 productive NHL seasons for six different teams.
14 Andy Hilbert - 2000
Andy Hilbert was a star player in college while playing for the University of Michigan. In his final season he recorded 64 points and was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, as college hockey's top player. Hilbert, drafted in the second round, made his pro debut with the Providence Bruins in 2001-02, leading the team in points as a rookie with 53. Hilbert ended up playing four seasons in the Bruins' system. He was one of top scoring players in the AHL, but only registered six points in 38 games with Boston.
Hilbert would have stints with the Blackhawks, Penguins, and the Islanders, where he found a bit of success, but battled inconsistency. A few players that went shortly after Hilbert in the draft, included Ilya Bryzgalov, Antoine Vermette, and Paul Martin.
13 Martin Samuelsson - 2000
Martin Samuelsson was drafted with the 27th overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. After spending a couple of seasons in his home country of Sweden, he made his North American debut in the 2002-03 season. It was a good first season for Samuelsson, as in 64 games with the Providence Bruins of the AHL, he recorded a decent 39 points. Those numbers earned him a call up with Boston, where he played in eight games, recording his first NHL point in the process. However, it would be all downhill for Samuelsson after that. In 120 AHL games over the next two seasons, he only registered a combined 27 points. That was it for Samuelsson, as he left for back home in 2005 and retired from the game just three years later in 2008. Future Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams was selected with the very next pick by the Philadelphia Flyers, while Niklas Kronwall went right after him.
12 Jordan Caron - 2009
Jordan Caron had very good junior career playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. During his draft year of 2008-09, Caron led the Rimouski Oceanic all the way to the Memorial Cup. During that same season, Caron scored a career high 36 goals and added 31 assists. The Bruins liked the big forward and took him with the 25th overall selection. Caron went on to play parts of five seasons with the Bruins franchise, as he split his time with Boston and their minor league affiliate. His final totals with the Bruins were a paltry 28 points in 134 games.
Caron has also had stops in Colorado and St. Louis, where he spent the majority of his time in the minors. Boston missed out on drafting one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL today, in Ryan O'Reilly, who went to Colorado eight picks later.
11 Hannu Toivonen - 2002
Hannu Toivonen was the third goalie taken in the first round of the 2002 draft and the Bruins were hoping he was their answer to their long term goaltending future. In his first two seasons in the AHL, he posted stellar numbers, so it was looking like he had a bright future with Boston. Toivonen made his NHL debut in the 2005-06 season, posting fairly good numbers in twenty games. He spent the next season as a backup to veteran Tim Thomas, where he struggled mightily, compiling a record of 3-9-1, with a terrible 4.23 GAA and a horrendous .875 save percentage. That was end of Toivonen's time in Boston, as he was traded to the St. Louis Blues. He again struggled in his short time with the Blues and has since spent the rest of his career in the minors and in Europe.
10 Matt Lashoff - 2005
Matt Lashoff was a talented offensive defenseman who played his junior career for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. He had a solid draft year, recording 22 points. The following season he exploded for 47 points, which made the Bruins feel even better about taking him a year earlier with the 22nd overall pick. Lashoff had a great start to his professional career, recording 36 points in 64 games with the Providence Bruins. He would play the next three seasons with the Boston organization, playing great in the AHL, but never making an impact when he got a chance to skate with the big club. Lashoff has proven to be nothing more than a solid minor league defenseman. A few players who went later in the first round include T.J. Oshie, Andrew Cogliano, and Matt Niskanen.
9 Nevin Markwart - 1983
Nevin Markwart wasn't one of the biggest or most skilled guys, but he was known in junior as an incredibly hard working player. In his final year of junior, playing for the Regina Pats, Markwart did manage to record a decent 66 points in 43 games. He made his pro debut with Boston in the 1983-84 season, which end up being his best season, recoding 30 points while playing a gritty role. Markwart would spend the next eight seasons playing with Bruins and their AHL affiliate. Due to his style of play, Markwart was always injured and only played an average of around 20 games a season after 1987, until he retired in 1993.
The Bruins knew they weren't getting the most skilled player in Markwart. However, they would have been better off drafting Claude Lemieux, who not only had a better junior career, but had an outstanding NHL career too. He went five picks later.
8 Dave Pasin - 1984
Dave Pasin was a goal scoring machine for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League. In 198 games, he scored an incredible 172 goals. The Bruins liked the offensive potential he had and took him with the 19th overall selection of the 1984 NHL Draft. Pasin made the Bruins roster in his very first pro season in 1985-86 as a nineteen-year-old. He put up some fairly good numbers in his rookie season, including scoring 18 goals. Unfortunately for Pasin and the Bruins alike, it was all downhill from there. He would never play another game for the Bruins after that season, as he was stuck in the minors for the remainder of his time in the Bruins organization.
Pasin rights were traded to L.A in 1988, but he wouldn't have any luck there either. He only played five games with the Kings, before finishing off his career in Europe. Boston could of drafted future 50 goal NHL scorer in Stephane Richer, who went early in the second round to the Montreal Canadiens.
7 Robert Cimetta - 1988
Robert Cimetta was an elite scorer in the Ontario Hockey League. In his draft year. he scored 34 goals in 64 games. The following season, he erupted for 55 goals in just 50 games, which led the entire league. Things were looking good for the 18th overall selection of the 1988 draft heading into his first pro season. He got into 47 games in his rookie season with the Bruins, scoring 17 points. Unfortunately for the Bruins, those numbers would be career highs for Cimetta. He was traded to the Leafs in 1990, just two years after being drafted. He couldn't crack the Leafs lineup on a consistent basis and headed off to Germany to finish off his career.
Legendary NHL tough guy Tie Domi, who played over 1000 career games, went shortly after Cimetta in the 1988 draft.
6 Shayne Stevenson - 1989
Shayne Stevenson had a successful junior career with both the London Knights and Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. His best year came during his final season of junior in 1989-90, when he recorded 90 points with the Rangers. It was looking like the Bruins made the right move by taking Stevenson with the 17th overall selection of the 1983 Draft.
Unfortunately, things didn't work out for Stevenson and the Bruins as he would play just 19 games for Boston and 27 NHL games in total. The Bruins missed out on drafting some great players who were drafted right after Stevenson. Those players include star goaltender Olaf Kolzig and one of the best defensive defensman of the 1990s in Adam Foote.
5 Evgeni Ryabchikov - 1994
Evgeni Ryabchikov was the third goalie taken, 21st overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. He honed his skills in Russia before making the trip over to North America ahead of the 1994-95 season. His stay only lasted three years, as he struggled to adapt to the North American game. His best season was his first with the Providence Bruins. In 14 appearances. he compiled a record of 6-3-1 with a 3.49 GAA and a .879 save percentage. Those numbers were nothing to call home about and they only got worse from there. He left back home to Russia in 1998, never coming close to getting a sniff of NHL action. The 1994 draft produced a lot of great future NHL goaltenders like Jose Theodore, Marty Turco, and Evgeni Nabokov, all of whom were drafted after Ryabchikov.
4 Lars Jonsson - 2000
Lars Jonsson developed his game playing in the Swedish junior league. The Bruins liked the skills that the defenseman brought to the table, so they used the seventh overall selection on him. Jonsson would play six seasons in the Swedish Elite League before finally making the trip over to North America in 2006. The Bruins and Jonsson were never able to agree on a contract, so the Bruins ended up getting a compensatory draft pick, while Jonsson signed with the Flyers. His stay in North America only lasted two seasons, where he found himself mostly in the minors. Jonsson was clearly a waste of any draft selection, never mind a top ten selection. The Bruins could have drafted imposing defenseman Brooks Orpik, who went 18th overall to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
3 Gord Kluzak - 1982
Gord Kluzac was the first player taken in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft. He was a star defenseman in junior that could play both sides of the ice, but it was in junior where he suffered his first major knee injury. The Bruins knew about the knee injury, but they thought Kluzak had too much potential that they couldn't pass on drafting him. That risk unfortunately did not pay off for the Bruins. Kluzak was with the Boston organization for nine seasons, but only suited up for 299 out of a possible 720 regular season games. He missed the entirety of the 1984-85 and 1986-87 seasons due to his knee problems. In his last three seasons, he played only a combined 13 games. In his one full season in 1983-84, Kluzac showed what he was capable of, recording 37 points and adding 135 penalty minutes. All things pointed to Kluzac having an fantastic career had he been able to stay healthy.
Had the Bruins passed on taking the injury plagued Kluzak, they could have selected future Hall of Fame defensemen Scott Stevens or Phil Housley, who both were top six draft picks.
2 2. Johnathan Aitken - 1996
The Boston Bruins had high hopes when they drafted Johnathan Aitken with the eigth overall draft choice in 1996. The big defenseman had a solid career in the Western Hockey League, playing for both the Medicine Hat Tigers and the Brandon Wheat Kings. Aitken spent his first two professional seasons with Boston's AHL affiliate. His play and numbers were not too impressive, so much so that the Bruins decided to release him after just two seasons. Aitken would spend three seasons in the Chicago Blackhawks system, finally making his return to the NHL in 2003-04. In a career high 41 games, Aitken recorded just one assist on a historically bad Blackhawks team. That would be the last time Aitken would play in the NHL, as he retired just three years later.
Johnathan Aitken was the definition of a bust, a guy with so much potential who never came close to living up to it. A few of the players who went later in the 1996 first round included Derek Morris and Dainius Zubrus.
1 Zach Hamill - 2007
Zach Hamill was a star player for the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League. During his draft year, he put up an impressive 93 points. That was enough for the Bruins to take him with the eigth overall pick. Hamill spent his first two professional seasons playing for the Bruins AHL affiliate, where he produced more than respectable numbers. However, when he was given the shot to play with Boston, Hamill was a complete non-factor. In twenty games with the Bruin he failed to score a single goal, recording just four assists. By the start of the 2012-13 season, the Bruins had already given up on Hamill. He would join the Canucks organization, playing for their minor league affiliate before heading to Europe, where he remains playing today.
To put more salt in the wound, current San Jose Sharks star Logan Couture went with the very next pick after Hamill.