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.

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20 Derek Forbort

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

While Derek Forbort was always expected to take awhile, five years is probably a lot longer than anyone in the Los Angeles Kings organization would have anticipated. Forbort, a big defenseman who was taken 15th in 2010, is expected to get a shot with the Kings this season, but that's in part due to the loss of Andrej Sekera and the deportation of Slava Voynov. Forbort could justify the pick this year, but the fact that he is the last player from the 2010 first round yet to play an NHL game is concerning.

19 Brandon Gormley

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Gormley was selected 13th overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2010 Draft, but the high selection never paid off for the 'Yotes. Gormley has since been shipped off the Colorado, where Patrick Roy is building quite the pile of reclamation projects. Of all the teams that Gormley should have been able to crack relatively easily, it would have been the Coyotes - even when they were half decent a few years back. Gormley's getting one last shot in Colorado, but he's quickly running out of time to show he can play at the highest level.

18 Brett Connolly 

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Brett Connolly was a top-10 pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning who was expected to become a top-flight power forward to run through opponents alongside scoring dynamo Steven Stamkos. It never panned out with Tampa, as he bounced between the NHL and the minors, while only putting up 32 points in 134 games with Tampa. He'll get a second chance in Boston this year, but if the numbers don't begin to rise, Connolly will forever become a member of the top-10 bust list.

17 Dylan McIlrath

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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.

While that hasn't necessarily been the case with Dylan McIlrath, there's clearly something that's been hindering him from sticking in New York. Drafted 10th overall in 2010, McIlrath should have been a staple on the Blueshirts blueline by now, but things just haven't worked out as planned. He'll likely get a legit shot this season, but if he drops the ball he might not get another chance in the Big Apple.

16 Anthony Mantha

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When the Red Wings drafted Anthony Mantha 20th overall in 2013, many were proclaiming him to be the pick the steal of draft. Mantha was a prolific goalscorer in junior, but injuries and an inability to adapt to the pro game made many change their tune about the young forward last year. Mantha is slowly regaining his form from two years ago, but if he can't put the puck in the net in the minors, it'll be difficult for him to transition to the pros - if he ever gets the chance.

15 Mark McNeill

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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?

Whatever your stance is on the matter, the fact remains that McNeill has been a disappointment thus far, to say the least. He's already been cut from the Hawks roster for the start of this year and he'll likely need a slew of injuries to get a shot to prove himself with the big club.

14 Zack Phillips

via wild.nhl.com

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.

To this point, that hasn't materialized - mainly because he hasn't been able to translate those skills to the AHL, let alone the pros. At this rate, it might have been wise to bump Phillips a little higher on the list.

13 Stefan Noesen 

via pucksofafeather.com

Stefan Noesen drew a lot of interests from clubs before the 2011 Draft and he ended up falling to the Ottawa Senators at the 21st pick. One of those teams was the Anaheim Ducks and they eventually landed Noesen when they traded for him in the Bobby Ryan deal. They're hoping that Noesen can rekindle what he showed them during his draft year. While Noesen has been dealing with injuries since 2011, he'll still have to prove that he can still perform - and stay - on the ice.

12 Joe Morrow 

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Morrow wasn't supposed to take this long. The 2011 first round defenseman of the Pittsburgh Penguins was supposed to become a stalwart on the Pens blueline, but his slow development led to him being shipped to Dallas for a rental in Brendan Morrow. He was then packaged in the Seguin deal and has now landed in Boston, where he'll finally get a chance to show what he can do - especially with Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg sidelined with injuries. This is Morrow's last crack at it or he'll also be watching from the sidelines - permanently.

11 Jack Campbell 

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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.

Campbell has been inconsistent at best throughout his AHL career and hasn't done nearly enough for the Stars to give him the backup's chair in Dallas, let alone the keys to the crease. Campbell probably won't finish his career in Dallas and it's mostly on him. There's a reason Jim Nill felt the need to go out and sign Antti Niemi and it wasn't because he's in love with Finnish goaltenders (right?).

10 Joel Armia

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of Finish players, there's one worth mentioning on this list. Joel Armia was supposed to become an solid forward with some offensive punch on a Buffalo Sabres team that was building towards the future back in 2011. Armia never panned out in Buffalo, playing only one game with the team during his four years in the organization before being shipped off to Winnipeg in the Evander Kane trade. Armia might not get much a chance in the 'Peg either, by the looks of it, so he's quickly turning into a shoo-in for future bust lists.

9 Scott Glennie

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Here's where we get into the really disappointing cases. First up is former Dallas Stars first-rounder Scott Glennie, who was taken eighth overall in 2009. Dallas chose to let Glennie walk after he was never able to make the jump to the big club over half a decade with the team. While Glennie dealt with injuries throughout his career in Dallas, reports surfaced that he was never fully committed to becoming a professional hockey player - in the sense that was wasn't willing (or simply not doing) the kinds of things it takes for a young talent to become a legitimate NHLer. Glennie gets on the list because he's still young enough and likely to get another shot at some point, but that shot will likely be his last to prove he belongs.

8 Griffin Reinhart

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Griffin Reinhart just looks like a guy who should be a stud in the NHL - unfortunately, up to this point, that hasn't been the case. With only eight NHL appearances since being drafted fourth overall in 2012, Reinhart has been a major disappointment for the Isles. He's found new life in Edmonton, where it appears he's beaten out Darnell Nurse (who maybe should have also been on this list at this rate) on the Oilers back-end - for now. Reinhart has a chance to prove himself on a team where he's not exactly getting pushed for playing time, nor where the expectations for strong defensive play have been very high over the past several years. If he can't cut it in Edmonton, well...

7 Sven Baertschi

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Sven Baertschi was arguably the Calgary Flames most confusing, tantalizing and frustrating prospect for quite some time, before the Flames finally decided to move on from the Swiss forward last season. He would have wildly inconsistent stints with Calgary, first getting everyone excited with a few good games before disappearing and ultimately getting sent back down to the minors. He'll look to revive his career in Vancouver this year. If he finally puts it all together, Vancouver will have gotten a steal. If not, he'll be a draft bust list fixture for a very long time.

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.

Not a good outlook for a guy who was taken 13th overall three years ago.

5 Nail Yakupov

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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

via thestar.com

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.

Biggs will now get a shot in Pittsburgh (with Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate, to be precise), where he'll look to rebound from recent injury troubles and get a fresh start with the Pens. If he can't stick there, he probably won't stick anywhere.

3 Duncan Siemens

via dirtydangle.com

Biggs may seem like the bigger bust, but that's because he plays in a hockey-crazed market like Toronto, where everything is magnified. Duncan Siemens was drafted higher than Biggs in the same 2011 draft, going 11th overall, to the Colorado Avalanche. He got one game with the Avs last season - the only NHL game he's ever suited up for. Siemens got cut from the team's camp early this year - early as in he got cut along with a bunch of guys who had absolutely zero chance of making the team out of camp. That's quite telling and if Siemens doesn't get his act together soon, there won't be any more training camps for him to get cut from.

2 Jarred Tinordi

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Jarred Tinordi is unique, since he's one of the few on the list who's had somewhat substantial NHL playing experience - compared to most of the players on this list, at the very least. For a guy of Tinordi's stature, combined with being relatively mobile for a guy his size, it's a wonder he's not a staple on the Canadiens defense by this point. It seems to be more of a mental game with Tinordi and this training camp will likely decide his fate. At the very least, we'll find out whether or not he's going to remain a member of the Canadiens. If he does get a shot elsewhere, though, he won't get as much time to prove he belongs as he has in Montreal - even if he spent most of his time in the AHL.

1 Mikhail Grigorenko

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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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