Mario Lemieux with over 1,700 career NHL points is one of greatest players of all time. However, he has played with some really terrible players. There is a list of over 600 players that have played for the Pittsburgh Penguins and as with any other team a lot of them were not all that good. This list will focus on those awful players that were either high draft picks, were part of big trades but never amounted to anything and those that did not deserve a chance because they were just that horrible.
During Lemieux’s time with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1984-1997 and 2000-2006 the team went from being a team that was rebuilding in the mid-80s to one that was a Stanley Cup contender in the 90s to one that was rebuilding once again during the early 2000s. There were a lot of mediocre players that played for the Penguins during the first rebuild but no one from that era made this list because I believe they were too obscure and not worth mentioning. There are a couple of players from the Penguins glory years that are on this list but most of the players I included are from the second rebuild.
Researching for this article made me realize that most of Lemieux’s career with the Penguins was quite awful (from the team's standpoint) and only for a few years during the 1990s did he experience team success. The Penguins did win two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992 and were relatively successful for the rest of the decade. However, during the 2000s Lemieux only made the playoffs once in 2000-2001 before the second rebuild took place.
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15 Shane Endicott
Endicott’s ascent to the NHL is a bit of a mystery. Despite being drafted 52nd overall in 2000 after averaging less than a point per game during his junior career with the Seattle Seattle Thunderbirds, Endicott debuted with the big club for the 2000-01 season. However, he only lasted four games and in his entire NHL career he only played a grand total of 45 games and managed only 3 points. His NHL career ended after the 2005-06 season and hockey career ended in 2009-10.
14 Steve McKenna
McKenna is on this list because during his time with the Penguins and during his entire NHL career he was a total goon and did not contribute much to the teams he played for. His first tenure with the Penguins was the 2000-01 season and he actually managed somehow not to record a single point in the 34 games he played in while accumulating 100 minutes in penalties. He played two more seasons with the Penguins later in the 2000s and scored only 11 goals in 124 games.
13 Konstantin Koltsov
Koltsov is the first draft pick that is on the list. He was picked 18th overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft and he was a bust. He played 144 games for the Penguins and only managed 12 goals. Unlike most of the players on this list he continues to play hockey in the KHL despite posting very modest numbers. His best season in the KHL was 2013-14 when he scored 11 goals playing for the Atlant Moscow Oblast.
12 Milan Kraft
Another bust of a draft pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kraft was selected 23rd overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He managed only 82 points in 207 games for the Penguins and his best year was his last in the NHL, the 2003-04 season when he scored 19 goals and 40 points. Kraft is on this list because despite the hype of being a first round pick and having one decent NHL season, he has been unable to find employment with another NHL team and has played in various Czech leagues until he stopped his hockey career in 2013.
11 Landon Wilson
Wilson is on this list because I remember him as a highly touted Toronto Maple Leaf prospect that just did not pan out. In 12 seasons in the NHL he never played more than 70 games in which he did for the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2000-01 season. He was a journeyman player and played for a total of five teams in his career and scored five goals in his 19 games as a Penguin. His hockey career ended in 2010 with a total of 53 goals in the NHL.
10 Kent Manderville
The second Maple Leaf on this list, Leafs fans may remember Manderville during the Leafs playoff run of the early 1990s but the bottom line is that he was a borderline NHL player. His 104 points in 646 games are a testament to that and how he managed to play so many games in the NHL is beyond me. He was a fan favorite as a Leaf for his good work ethic so I guess that made him survive in the league for as long as he did. Manderville managed only 3 goals and 8 points in his two seasons with the Penguins in the early 2000s.
9 Nolan Baumgartner
Unlike some of the other players on this list Baumgartner actually had a very successful junior career. He won back to back Memorial Cups in 1994 and 1995 and won the best defenceman award in 1995 as well. This led him to be picked 10th overall by the Washington Capitals in 1994 but in his NHL career he totalled only 143 games and only five for the Pittsburgh Penguins in which he did not record any points. Baumgartner is as high as he is on this list because most top 10 NHL picks last longer in the league than he did.
8 Ramzi Abid
Out of all the players on this list Ramzi Abid is the highest draft pick that played the fewest games in the NHL. He played in only 19 games for the Penguins between the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons and managed only five points. In his NHL career he managed only 30 points in 68 games for four different teams after being drafted 28th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 1998.
7 Dan Focht
Another first round draft pick Focht only played 82 games in the NHL and scored eight points but that is not what makes him awful. In his one full season with the Penguins in 2003-04 he had a minus-23 rating in 52 games which is quite terrible. Looking at Focht’s junior numbers makes me scratch my head to why the Phoenix Coyotes made Focht the 11th pick in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft since he never scored more than 6 goals in junior and his only glaring statistic are his 161 penalty minutes during the 1995-96 seasons for the Tri-City Americans of the WHL.
6 Sebastien Caron
A big part of the reason why the Pittsburgh Penguins struggled during the early 2000s was because they did not have a proven number one goalie. Caron played in 90 games for the Penguins up until 2005-06 season and had a goals against average of over 3.40 which is absolutely horrendous. In today’s NHL, most starting goalies have a goals against average of under 2.50 and anything higher than that is mediocre. Caron played a total of 95 games in the NHL and had a career goals against average of 3.44.
5 Kelly Buchberger
Buchberger is a lot like Kent Manderville in that he is a lunch pail player with little or no skill and he showed this on the Penguins during the 2003-04 season when he scored a putrid 4 points in 71 games. Buchberger may be a two-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Edmonton Oilers, but he is also holds record to one of the worst offensive seasons in NHL history. It's not hard to see why the Penguins of the early 2000s fell into obscurity.
4 Rico Fata
Rico Fata is the second highest draft pick that is on this list as he was selected 6th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. His three seasons in Pittsburgh from 2003 and 2004 and a brief stint in during the 2005-06 campaign were actually his most productive years in the NHL. He scored 21 goals in 120 games during this time but after the 2005-06 season he played all of his hockey overseas until he played his last game in 2014.
3 Alexandre Daigle
Daigle never lived up to the hype of signing the richest rookie deal in NHL history when he was picked first overall by the Ottawa Senators in 1993. His deal was worth $12.25 million over five years and at the time that was the highest rookie contract in NHL history. He was frequently criticized in Ottawa for his lack of effort and motivation as he seemed to care more to be in the spotlight than focusing his on ice production.
He played for Pittsburgh during the 2002-03 season and only scored 7 points in 33 games. He ended his NHL career in 2006 with the Minnesota Wild and accumulated a total of 129 goals in 616 games. Daigle is as high on this list as he is because he was a first overall pick that never panned out and he could have been great if he focused on his hockey career a little bit more.
2 Alex Stojanov
The top two players on this list have the dubious distinction of being high draft picks that never materialized and part of two of the worst trades in Penguins history. Stojanov was selected 7th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft and was traded to the Penguins for Markus Naslund during the 1995-96 season. Stojanov scored only seven points in 107 games in the NHL whereas Naslund scored 869 points in his NHL career and is one of the greatest Canucks of all time. He also captained the team from 2000-08.
1 Kris Beech
Kris Beech is perhaps part of one of the worst trades in NHL history. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2001 offseason along with a couple of other prospects for one of the greatest players in NHL history, Jaromir Jagr. Jagr continues to play in the NHL at the age of 44 at a very high level and in his career he has won two Stanley Cups, five Art Ross trophies, a Hart Memorial trophy and is a 13-time NHL All Star.
Beech on the other hand only played in 198 NHL career games scoring a minuscule 67 points. The other two players traded for Jagr were Michael Sivek and Ross Lupaschuk who combined only played in 41 games and tallied 6 points.
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