Top 20 NHL First Round Picks at Risk of Being a Bust

For every Sidney Crosby, there's an Alexandre Daigle.

Maybe not always on that level, but the comparison can be applied to essentially any two players: one a first-round pick who justified his selection, met and exceeded expectations, and is currently anchored into an NHL roster sport. The second player, on the other hand, is also a first rounder, but his roster spot is far from secure - if he even has one...if he's even still in the picture.

For every successful first-round pick, there is a draft bust story. No first round will ever produce 30 full-time NHL players, but teams can dream. Some surefire prospects will get hurt or lose the fire that got them to the top of their class and flounder. Some will plateau at the major junior level, while others will simply not be able to keep up with the speed of the best league in the world.

For players drafted between 2010-2014, the time to make the jump is either right now or not too far down the road. Players drafted closer to 2014 are getting their first cracks at making the jump to the NHL, while those drafted closer to 2010 are rapidly approaching what we'll call their "prospect expiration date" - the point where teams run out of patience with a young player and let them go.

The names on this list fall somewhere in those categories and they'll need to do everything in their power to get off this list in the near future, or they'll find themselves on another type of list - the actual draft bust list.

20 Derek Forbort

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

19 Brandon Gormley

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

18 Brett Connolly 

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

17 Dylan McIlrath

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

For all the rage and attention that big, strong defenseman get in the lead up to their draft year, there is always the (forgotten) inherent risk that the big guy won't be able to keep up in the NHL.

16 Anthony Mantha

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

15 Mark McNeill

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Mark McNeill has been a member of the Chicago Blackhawks organization since 2011, but he's never suited up for the team in a regular season game. Granted, its not easy to crack a roster that has won three Stanley Cups in the past six years - but didn't they trade all those guys, though?

14 Zack Phillips


Zack Phillips was all the rage back in 2012. A member of the prolific Saint John Sea Dogs teams of the early 2010s, Phillips was touted as a high-octane offensive forward with tons of talent that would translate nicely to the increasingly fast NHL game.

13 Stefan Noesen 


12 Joe Morrow 

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

11 Jack Campbell 

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when Jack Campbell exploded on the scene a few years back and was proclaimed the next great American goaltender?

We don't remember it that well either.

10 Joel Armia

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

9 Scott Glennie

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

8 Griffin Reinhart

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

7 Sven Baertschi

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

6 Radek Faksa

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Radek Faksa was supposed to be the Dallas Stars big center for years to come, but things haven't worked out as planned up to this point. Maybe the Stars would have still gone out and acquired at least one of Tyler Seguin or Jason Spezza, but they surely would have liked to have Faksa in their top 3 centers by this point.

Instead, Faksa has struggled to stay on the ice - and when he has played, he hasn't been as advertised. He's got a shot to make the team this year, but its time for Faksa to make a statement before he becomes a lifelong AHLer.

5 Nail Yakupov

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The star of this list is none other than the darling of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft - the darling of the leadup, anyway. Yakupov has been anything but during his time with the Oilers, save for a few good moments here and there. He's butted heads with coaches, fallen into deep slumps and has dealt with injury troubles - all issues that have colluded in the slow, steady destruction of the young Russian sniper's career.

Yakupov has yet to crack 20 goals or 35 points in his short NHL career, but he's only 21 - so there's plenty of time for him to turn things around. On the flip side, number one overall picks these days are expected to put up big numbers immediately and Yakupov simply hasn't done that. If this is the best we're going to see from Yakupov, he'll become a fixture on the draft bust list very soon.

4 Tyler Biggs


Tyler Biggs was a big deal (pun absolutely intended) during his draft year. A hulking forward with offensive ability, Biggs was going to be the Leafs' "poor man version" of Eric Lindros, or someone along those lines. Biggs heightened expectations further with a solid first year in the OHL, but his game never translated in the minors, where he only put up 15 points in 108 games with the Toronto Marlies. It got so bad that he had to be sent to the ECHL last year.

3 Duncan Siemens


2 Jarred Tinordi

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

1 Mikhail Grigorenko

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

What a fall from grace Mikhail Grigorenko has suffered.

The Russian phenom went from being in the discussion for the first overall selection in the 2012 draft to being shipped off to Colorado from Buffalo as a reclamation project for Patrick Roy to toy with throughout the year. Grigorenko has his best years as a junior player under Roy, so maybe his former coach will know what buttons to push to get the undoubtedly talented Russian going. If he can't get his career back on track in Denver, Grigorenko may very well be the next to bolt to the KHL after failing to stick in North America.

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Top 20 NHL First Round Picks at Risk of Being a Bust