The NHL Entry Draft is one of the biggest nights in hockey. Many young players are chosen with extreme excitement and optimism as the NHL franchises look to add great players to their rosters or developmental systems. For the amateur player being drafted, this night can be a whirlwind of emotions. Once selected these players will feel an enormous pressure to contribute in a positive way to the team that took a chance on them. But do all these players actually handle the pressure?
In all sports, we have seen some pretty terrible draft busts. Players who were supposed to be great in the league, but they just can’t seem to adjust to the sport at the professional level. It’s a shame of course for these players and the franchise, because the potential was there. That’s what makes each years draft so intriguing, because anything can happen after this pivotal night. Being dominate in high school and college is impressive, but these are the perfect examples of how difficult it is to succeed at the professional level in sports. It is literally a whole new ballgame.
The reasons that these draft picks did not succeed vary from lack of talent, to personal problems on and off the ice. These failed draft picks become just names to fans that are labeled as a bad decision. You win some, you lose some. But obviously once these players leave the NHL they don’t just disappear off the face of the earth. What these players decide to do with their lives after hockey is fascinating to explore. I have often wondered how these players reinvented themselves after their disappointing NHL careers.
In this article we will be looking at some of the biggest NHL Draft busts, and what they did after their careers in the NHL.
Here are the top 15 worst NHL Draft picks, and where they are today.
15. Nikita Filatov
Pegged as a incredibly fast and skilled player, it looked like the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets made the right choice with picking the Russian Nikita Filatov. After being drafted with the sixth overall pick in 2008, it was soon realized that Nikita didn’t work well with his fellow players and coaches. He moved back and forth between the NHL, AHL, and KHL until he was then moved to Ottawa where his career then finally fizzled out.
At only 25, Filatov is still very young and will most likely continue to play for a few years in Russia. He is now playing with the Moscow Dynamo, where he scored zero goals this season.
14. Scott Scissons
Unlike most great players from the legendary 1990 NHL Draft, Scott Scissons’ career didn’t pan out like it was supposed too. He was drafted with the sixth pick in the draft to the New York Islanders. He only managed to play an astounding three games in the NHL. Yes, three games, two regular season games and one playoff game. The Islanders are kicking themselves over this one, because many great players could have been chosen instead of Scissons.
Scott Scissons now lives in his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where he works for his family business, Western Mobile Homes. He also coaches his sons’ hockey teams in Saskatoon.
13. Dave Chyzowski
Another New York Islander mistake, Dave Chyzowski did not turn out like many thought he would. With the second overall pick in another legendary draft of 1989, the Islanders and many other NHL fans believed New York was getting a star. Sadly, they got only a shell of what Dave could have been, scoring only 31 points in 126 games. He did manage to have a pretty productive minor league career, but the Islanders probably don’t care about that.
After his playing career, Chyzowski took on the position of Marketing Coordinator for the Kamloops Blazers Hockey Club in Canada.
12. Jason Bonsignore
After a couple promising seasons in the OHL, the Edmonton Oilers pulled the trigger and drafted Jason Bonsignore with the fourth pick in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. Little did the Oilers know, that Jason would only manage to play in 79 career games, scoring only 16 points. After moving from league to league to league, Jason retired from hockey in 2008.
What’s Jason Bonsignore up to today? Well, he currently runs the Rochester Red Wings travel hockey program. He is also the head coach of two of their AAA teams. He also recently signed a contract with the Hamilton Steelhawks in January of 2016, to play hockey once again.
11. Alexander Volchkov
After dominating in the OHL, the Washington Capitals showed immense interest in Alexander Volchkov. They chose him with the fourth pick in the 1996 NHL Draft, believing he would be a star. Not only was he not a star, he was kept scoreless in his incredibly short three game career in the NHL.
Alexander Volchkov currently resides in his homeland of Russia. At 38 years of age, he is finally retired after a disappointing, but long , playing career. He retired from the Yertis Pavlodar hockey club in Russia in 2011.
10. Pavel Brendl
The 1999 draft was perhaps the worst one in history as the Sedin twins were the only first rounders to amount to anything. Pavel Brendl went fourth overall to the New York Rangers. After becoming a dominant forward with the Calgary Hitmen, Brendl soon developed a reputation for being lazy.
He never played for the Rangers, and in only 78 career games with the Flyers, Coyotes and Hurricanes, managed 22 points. He was out of the NHL by 2006 and never came back. He has played for various leagues in Sweden, the Czech Republic and the KHL in Russia. His most recent stop was in Slovakia, playing for the HK 36 Skalica in 2014-15.
9. Hugh Jessiman
Hugh Jessiman was a sight to behold at 6-foot-6, 224 pounds from New York City. He was supposed to be a total beast in the NHL, well at least that’s what the New York Rangers thought. They chose him with the 12th pick in 2003, and have regretted it ever since. It didn’t take the Rangers long to realize he was a bust, and they traded him before he ever played in a single game for them. He went on to play in only two NHL games, both for the Panthers, were he was held scoreless. Most of his playing career was spent in the AHL.
Hugh Jessiman just finished his season with the Vienna Capitals in Austria, where he scored two goals in seven games. Apparently, we have yet to see the end of Hugh Jessiman’s hockey playing career.
8. Patrik Štefan
In 1999, Štefan was drafted with the daunting first pick by the Atlanta Thrashers, ultimately not living up to the hype. In his 455 game career, he only scored 188 points until he left for the NLA league.
Due to a serious hip injury and a multitude of other chronic injuries, Patrik Štefan was forced to retire in 2007, when he was unable to find a team to sign him. He is currently a player agent in Laguna Beach, California, and a coach at the Orange County Ice Palace.
7. Rick DiPietro
Rick DiPietro is one of the more unfortunate cases of an NHL bust. Rick was selected with the first pick in 2000 by the Islanders. He actually started out with a pretty nice career. He was a solid player for the first six seasons, but after signing a new 15 year contract, he underwent multiple knee surgeries. Rick ended up not being able to play more than 27 games in a season for the rest of his career due to his recurrent knee problems, and was finally released by the AHL team the Charlotte Checkers.
Rick DiPietro is now a successful radio talk show host in New York City at ESPN 98.7.
6. Alexandre Daigle
With so much pressure to become a superstar player, Alexandre Daigle definitely did not live up to the hype, making him one of the worst busts in the NHL. He was drafted with the first pick in the 1993 draft to the Ottawa Senators. He wasn’t awful in the NHL, but was he a first pick in the draft type player? No…far from it. He scored a disappointing 327 points in 616 NHL games, until he finally moved to the Swiss League.
Alexandre Daigle became a free agent in the Swiss League in 2010, and he has not been picked up by anyone since. Although his career is not officially over, his hockey career definitely didn’t pan out the way everyone had hoped. We wish him all the best in his next step.
5. Alexander Svitov
Svitov was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2001 with the third pick in the NHL Entry Draft. Svitov recorded only eight points in his rookie season, where he was then traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He then moved to different leagues to try to salvage his career, but Alexander just couldn’t succeed against the talent of the NHL.
Still playing, Alexander Svitov is on the Ak Bars Kazan team in Russia for the KHL. Though not great, he has had at least some success in the KHL. At 33 years old, his career may soon come to an end, and it is yet to be seen what his future may hold.
4. Daniel Tkaczuk
Daniel Tkaczuk had an impressive junior hockey career with the Barrie Colts, turning enough heads to get him picked sixth overall by the Calgary Flames in 1997. After his rookie season with the Flames, he was moved to the minor leagues. Daniel was not happy with being a minor leaguer, so he tried his luck in Europe, playing for many different teams overseas.
Daniel Tkaczuk is now the president of iHockeyTrainer.com, an online hockey school for training and skill development. He is also a columnist for thehockeynews.com, often providing insight from a player’s perspective.
3. Daniel Doré
Daniel Doré was picked by the Quebec Nordiques with the fifth pick in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. Instead of being rewarded with a solid NHL player, the Nordiques acquired what turned out to be a total dud. In his incredibly short 17 game career, Doré only scored five points for the team until being moved down into the AHL.
Daniel Doré is currently an amateur scout for the New York Rangers. Maybe it takes a bust to a know a bust, and Daniel will be keen on keeping the Rangers from making the same mistake the Nordiques made.
2. Cam Barker
Cam Barker came into the league with a lot of promise thanks to a stellar career with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL and was drafted third overall in 2004 to the Chicago Blackhawks. Barker enjoyed some success with Chicago, earning a Stanley Cup in 2010 but he never quite kept his spot.
After signing him to a three-year deal worth worth $9.25 million, he was traded to Minnesota, where his career fizzled out. After being placed on waivers, the Oilers picked him up, where his career really bottomed out.
He has been out of the NHL since 2013, and has played in the KHL ever since.
1. Brian Lawton
Lawton was one of the more infamous NHL busts considering he was picked before Steve Yzerman. Brian Lawton never made the mark in the league that most prognosticators thought he would. He played 483 games in the NHL where he scored a paltry 266 points. He was sent down and brought up from the IHL multiple times, but he just never seemed to get it going in the big leagues.
His career ended after being released by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lawton is currently an on-air analyst for the NHL Network.
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