Top 30 Biggest NHL Draft Busts: Where Are They Now?

A high draft pedigree doesn’t guarantee success in any sport as we have seen time and time again. Still, when a player is taken early in the draft, fans quickly begin to dream about what that player might someday become. Did we just draft the next Wayne Gretzky? I think we did. Then he turns out to be a bum and contingent of angry fans take up pitchforks to drive them away from their team. Still, it may shock some to learn that every player, even the one’s that bust and wash out of the league quickly, have a life after failing in the NHL.

This column aims to shine some light on the players that we forgot (or want to forget in some cases) ever were thought capable of cutting it in the National Hockey League. Players run the full gamut of possible life turns. Some would be fine and live normal lives while others lives went downhill in pretty dramatic. In some cases, the player seems to have just dropped off the face of the earth, never to be seen again. Many would slink away to play in different leagues. It’s interesting to think about a player’s life after their hockey career is over because they have two things many of us never get: fame and money. The case of fame is also a tricky one since many of the players left the ice were leaving it disgraced. Still, being a well-known face, even one associated with failure, is probably better than being some nobody trying to live a good life.

The decisions the ex-player makes with these two things is up to them. Maybe they wisely invest their money and parlay their notoriety into something lucrative. Maybe their life spiraled horribly out of control and they ended up with a substance abuse problem. Maybe they are playing in some democratically challenged country? Who knows? Well, you will after you finish this column.

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30 Neil Brady

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A stud while playing in the minors, Neil Brady was selected third overall by the by the New Jersey Devils in the 1986 NHL entry draft. He struggled off the bat, looking nervous and quickly losing his confidence. This led the Devils to trade their high draft pick to the Ottawa Senators where he scored the franchise's’ first ever goal. Despite the nice bit of bar trivia, Brady still struggled with his new team. He’d end up bouncing around a little longer with the Dallas Stars before spending the rest of his hockey career with the now-defunct International Hockey League.

Brady would play with the IHL until it broke down and shuttered in 2001. He would retire immediately after its closing. Brady stayed quiet after his retirement and decided to simply move back to Canada. He opted to live in Calgary, where he remains and works.

29 Brian Finley

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Regarded as a potential franchise goalie, Brian Finley was selected 6th overall by the Nashville Predators in the 1999 draft. Due to a mix of injuries and lack of talent, Finley struggled to make much of an impact with the Predators. He would only play two games for the team, allowing 10 goals in 107 minutes. The Predators washed their hands of him and he ended up signing with the Boston Bruins. He would play two games for the Bruins before retiring. His NHL career spanned a total of four games.

In a 2010 article, Finley opened up about what being a hyped prospect was like and how being drafted didn’t end up the way he wanted. He wonders what might have been if he hadn’t torn his groin and needed major surgery multiple times in his career. He is currently a Toronto-area policeman.

28 Wayne McBean

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In what will probably be a reoccurring theme, Wayne McBean was a great amateur player. He would collect a gold medal with the Canadian team in the 1988 World Junior Championships. The defenceman would be selected with the 4th pick overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. He would be traded two years later to the New York Islanders. His career ended in 1994 after a wrist injury. The former top-five pick finished his NHL career with 10 goals in 211 games played.

While McBean didn’t have a stellar NHL career, he seems to be doing well for himself now. He currently owns a few golf courses and their clubs. He purchased the Sendas Golf Club in Mesa in 2008 and has been pumping money into it for renovations. He bought this club with his brother and an ownership group. His team has spent over $3 million to revamp the course and make it an established golf course in Arizona.

27 Michael Henrich

via edmontonjournal.com

Taken with the 13th pick overall in 1998 NHL entry draft by the Edmonton Oilers, Michael Henrich never came close to living up to any of the hype around him. While he tried his best to crack the professional roster, the right wing was never able to take the ice for the Oilers. He became the only player taken in the first round of the 1998 draft to never play in the NHL. The majority of his career involved Henrich bouncing around international and amateur teams. It was a mix of injuries and inability to adjust to the professional speed that doomed Henrich.

As of now, Henrich is married with two kids. He has been keeping a low profile but has been seen helping out around his brother Adam’s hockey organization, Henrich Hockey.

26 Petr Taticek

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During the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, the Florida Panthers decided to take Petr Taticek with the ninth pick overall. This turned out to be a terrible decision because Taticek wasn’t very good. He would dwell in the Panthers' minor league system for a few years before getting his chance to play for the professional team. His chance lasted a total of three games, and he failed to record any statistic of note. Zeros across the board. He would then be traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins and never played for them. He ended his NHL career by signing with the Washington Capitals and failed to make a difference on their farm teams.

Still, despite the failures early in his career, Taticek is actually still playing hockey. He is currently playing for ERC Ingolstadt, a German club. He seems to be doing well for himself, accounting for 28 total points in the season as of this writing.

25 Scott Glennie

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Selected 8th overall in the 2009 NHL entry draft by the Dallas Stars, Scott Glennie has been unable to make an impact that would match his high draft pedigree. He has played a total of one game for the Stars and it's likely that will be his only one. He was cut in the 2014-15 season after spending 99 percent of his tenure with the minor league team. Like many players that bust, Glennie explained in an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press that the pressure was too much, “A lot of things came at me really quickly, and I wasn’t mentally prepared for a lot of it," he said.

Now, Glennie is still working at trying to make his dreams of playing the NHL a reality. He is still only 25. He is toiling way on the Manitoba Moose, a Canadian team that plays in the AHL. He often mentions the hard work he is putting during the interview with the Press. Also, according to his Twitter, he is pretty hyped on John Wick. 

24 Kyle Beach

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When one of the most well-known memories of your hockey career is starting a fight in the minors, you know things went wrong somewhere. Still, this is where we are at with Kyle Beach, the disgraced 11th overall pick in the 2008 draft. He was chosen by the Chicago Blackhawks but failed to ever make an impact. He literally never played for the Blackhawks, becoming the first player since Eric Lecompte to be taken by the team in the first round and never played for the team. 

Like some of the previous players on this list, Beach is young and still able to make a living playing hockey. The 27-year old is currently playing the Graz 99ers, an Austrian hockey team. This will probably the fate for a Beach, another failed high draft pick.

23 Alexandre Picard

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Selected with the 8th overall pick in the 2004 NHL entry draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Alexandre Picard was actually able to play a few games for the team that drafted him. That probably shouldn’t be a big accomplishment, but compared to the names on this list, it feels like it’s worth mentioning. Picard played a total of 67 NHL games for the Blue Jackets over three professional stints and had 2 assists in those games. He would play the majority of his hockey career in the minors.

As of now, the 31-year old winger is still hanging around hockey. He is currently playing for HK Hradec Kralove, a team in the Czech Republic. Across 18 games with them, Picard has accounted for 18 total points for the team.

22 Brent Krahn

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Brett Krahn was selected in the 2000 NHL entry draft with the ninth pick overall by the Calgary Flames. He was an extremely well-regarded prospect heading into the draft season but Krahn struggled to put everything together. He also faced a variety of injuries that hampered his chance of breaking into the NHL. He would only play in NHL game with the Dallas Stars in the 2008-09 season.

In an interview with Hockey Central 960, Krahn spoke about how he is currently “roughnecking” on a service rig in Canada. He also appears on a radio show once a week to talk about hockey from his insider point of view. He describes working on the rig as a “chance to earn a living" and that he “couldn’t be happier right now.”

21 Steve Kelly

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Steve Kelly would play for six different NHL teams during his career. He started off with the Edmonton Oilers when they selected him with the sixth pick in the 1995 NHL draft. The center didn’t exactly have a memorable career. He appeared in 149 games and accounted for a total of 21 points. He never played in more than 43 games in any season. His best stint was his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning where he appeared in 58 games over two seasons.

Following his underwhelming career in the NHL, Kelly would join the Calgary Police Service. Kelly made headlines when he joined the Player Impact Program, a training for young hockey players to learn about sexual assault. During an interview about the program, Kelly claimed that he didn’t believe in rape culture and blamed the media for hyping up the idea of it.

20 Pavel Brendl

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Another star at the amateur level, Pavel Brendl was selected 4th overall in the 1999 NHL entry draft by the New York Rangers. He never came close to living up to his hype, especially with the Rangers. He failed to ever appear for the team that actually drafted him, which isn’t exactly a good thing. He did have a very brief NHL career with three other teams. All in all, Brendl would only play 78 games in the National Hockey League and only scored 22 total points.

Like many of the players on this list, Brendl left the NHL disgraced and disappeared into the European hockey wilderness. His last notable hockey moments came in Slovakia. He is not currently signed anywhere and has most likely hung up his skates for good.

19 Dan Woodley

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Dan Woodley was a gifted scorer by all measures and considered a can’t miss prospect. That turned out to be wrong, as the Vancouver Canucks learned after they selected him 7th overall in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft. Woodley failed to ever record a start for the Canucks, as he was quickly shipped off when a new regime took over. His NHL career only saw him play in five games and score two goals.

Woodley’s post-hockey career is actually a pretty cool story as he has helped build the Regis Jesuit High School hockey team into a regional powerhouse. The Colorado high school has amassed a handful of state championships under Woodley’s leadership. He also helps coach a different youth team in Colorado as well. It’s like the old saying goes, those that can’t do, teach.

18 Nikita Filatov

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Taken with the sixth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets flubbed horribly when they grabbed Nikita Filatov. The Russian struggled to make much of an impact with the Blue Jackets. Filatov would only play 44 games for the team before being shipped off to Ottawa. When he was sent back to Russia, Filatov had only played in a total of 53 games and scored a total of 16 points in the NHL.

Filatov eventually returned from Russia, where he still plays hockey. A recent interview explained that Filatov had major financial troubles and couldn’t justify playing minor league hockey in America. He has said that he is more stable now and would consider a return to the American Hockey League if the right offer comes along.

17 Pat Falloon

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The San Jose Sharks selected Pat Falloon second overall in the 1991 NHL draft. They had watched Falloon in Spokane, Washington and his teammate Ray Whitney, which led them to think the two could form a potent scoring combination. They selected the two back-to-back. It didn’t work out that way, as both didn’t spend much time on the team. Falloon would only spend four seasons with the Sharks before he was shipped off. Falloon struggled with weight problems throughout his NHL career, earning him the nickname “Fat Balloon.”

Still, despite all of the problems, Falloon had a long NHL career. He would play in 575 games and score a total of 322 points in the NHL. He is now currently a farmer in Manitoba. He says it’s a life he enjoys and that he is enjoying raising a family.

16 Alexander Svitov

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The memories of Alexander Svitov in the NHL are a staggering mix of weird and bad. He was selected with the third overall pick in the 2001 NHL entry draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The staff viewed him as NHL ready and were ready to have him debut with the team the next season. Due to a political snafu, Svitov was forced to serve in the Russian Army before coming over. He didn’t appear for the Lightning until that next year. His coach hated him, often referring to him as lazy. In the end, Svitov didn’t spend too long with the Lightning before being traded to Columbus Blue Jackets.

Svitov would play in 179 games total for the two teams. The centre would only account for a total of 37 total points. You can now find Svitov in Russia, where he is currently captaining the Ak Bars Kazan of the Kontinental Hockey League.

15 Bryan Fogarty

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Selected with the ninth pick in the 1987 draft by the Quebec Nordiques, Bryan Fogarty is a sad story. He was a star in the minors, breaking Bobby Orr’s 23-year old record for goals scored by a defenceman. He would play for three different NHL teams across six seasons. He appeared in a total of 156 games and scored a total of 74 points. Throughout his NHL career, Fogarty was haunted by a drinking problem. He checked into rehab a few times throughout his career.

The final chapter of Fogarty’s life came in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on March 7th, 2002. He was visiting for a fishing expedition with his uncle and spent the day before the adventure drinking. He died that night due to an enlarged heart. He was 32.

14 Dave Chyzowski

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Often labeled the biggest bust in New York Islanders history, Dave Chyzowski had a very disappointing career. The winger was selected second overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. It took him a few years to debut for the team and it wasn’t very memorable when he finally did. He spent the majority of his career with the Islanders before ending up with the Chicago Blackhawks to end his career. His NHL playing career ended with him only appearing in 126 games for a total of 31 points.

Chyzowski is still floating around the Islanders organization, serving as the team’s director of sales and marketing. In a nice twist of fate, Chyzowski’s son, Nick, was drafted by the team as well. Time will tell if he is able to surpass the bar his father set him.

13 Daniel Tkaczuk

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An amateur hockey star, Daniel Tkaczuk was selected 6th overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames. This would be the only team that Tkaczuk would play for during his disappointing NHL career. He played in a total of 19 games for the Flames and scored a total of 11 points. All of these stats were accumulated during the 2001-02 season, his only one in the NHL. He would bounce around European teams for another decade until he hung up his skates in 2012.

Tkaczuk decided to stay around hockey and got into coaching. He has quickly risen up the coaching ranks and is currently an assistant coach for the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves. Before ending up with this team, Tkaczuk worked for the Kitchener Rangers as an assistant coach.

12 Doug Wickenheiser

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Selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the first overall pick in the 1980 NHL Draft, Doug Wickenheiser had his moments but didn’t really live up to the potential. Wickenheiser would spend four seasons with the Canadiens but never really showed anything. He would be shipped off to the St. Louis Blues. Wickenheiser had his best moment of his career in St. Louis, scoring the winning goal to cap off a frantic comeback by the Blues in what became known as the “Monday Night Miracle.”

Wickenheiser played a total of 556 NHL games and scored a total of 276 points. He would be diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. It would kill him on January 12th, 1999. His memory lives on through his family and the 14 Fund, which hands out large sums of money to the community.

11 Brett Lindros

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Labeling Brett Lindros as a bust may be a little unfair. Sure, he was taken ninth overall in the 1994 NHL Entry draft by the New York Islanders and his career didn’t last long. Still, it’s debatable about how much of Lindros’ short career can be credited to his lack of skill or to injury. He only played in 51 NHL games before concussions forced him to end his career. He is the younger brother of the NHL star Eric Lindros.

Don’t cry for Lindros, though. Odds are he is living a better life than you. He is currently working for the Toronto hedge fund HGC Investment Management. Lindros was also able to survive a rather gruesome snowmobile incident in 2001. While Lindros’ career probably wasn’t what he dreamed it would be, he seems to have landed on his feet.

10 Alexandre Volchkov

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One of the bigger flops to come over from Russia, Alexandre Volchkov would be selected 4th overall by the Washington Capitals in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. He would only end up playing in a grand total of three games for the Capitals. He failed to have any impact in that brief stint, failing to rack up a single point. He would be traded to the Edmonton Oilers a few years later but never came close to sniffing the NHL with his new club. Like so many others, Volchkov was a talented player before he ended up in the NHL but quickly burned out.

Volchkov found nothing but failure in America and scurried back to Russia for the 2000-2001 season. He would play for a variety of teams and leagues before finally hanging up his skates following the 2010-11 season.

9 Hugh Jessiman

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Despite having one of the best nicknames I’ve ever heard, Hugh “The Huge Specimen” Jessiman flopped horribly during his short NHL stint. Selected 12th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers, Jessiman failed to ever appear for the team. He would quickly be shipped down south, where he played for the Florida Panthers. He appeared in two games for the Panthers, the only two of his NHL career, and failed to notch any stats of note.

Like so many others, Jessiman left to play hockey in Europe. He bounced around the continent, playing for whichever teams would take him. He seems to have retired from the sport following the 2014-15 season. In an attempt to shift career focuses, Jessiman has been trying to secure a degree in business. He has signed up for classes at his alma mater, Dartmouth and a well-regarded business school in Vienna, where his career ended.

8 Daniel Dore

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Selected with the 5th pick overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft by the Quebec Nordiques, Daniel Dore flopped quickly. He would only appear in 17 games for the Nordiques and create a total of 5 points. He would only play two seasons in the NHL, all of which was with the Nordiques. He bounced around a few more minor league teams before hanging up his skates. He also had a brief stint of playing for an inline hockey league.

Dore is still floating around the hockey world, even though he failed to cut it as a player. He has been an amateur scout for the past 20 years. He worked for the Boston Bruins first and was fired in June 2007. He currently works for the New York Rangers.

7 Ray Martyniuk

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Once referred to as “The Can’t Miss Kid,” Ray Martyniuk did not have the NHL career many envisioned. He was selected fifth overall in the 1970 NHL amateur draft by the Montreal Canadiens, the second highest a goalie had been taken in the draft at that point. Martyniuk never played in the NHL, making him the only top-five pick to never appear in the NHL. The lifelong minor league didn’t stay in hockey for long.

Martyniuk would live in Michigan after his hockey career. He worked for Coca-Cola, working on vending machines. He raised more than $600,000 for cancer research by organizing charity golf tournaments. He would then spend the rest of his life in Panama, where he stayed until he died in the fall of 2013.

6 Jason Bonsignore

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Selected with the fourth pick overall in the 1994 NHL entry draft by the Edmonton Oilers, Jason Bonsignore never came close to reaching the talent many saw in him. Despite being selected by the Oilers, the majority of Bonsignore's career games came while playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was never particularly good at any stop, finishing his NHL career with a 79 games played and whooping 11 total points scored.

Bonsignore bounced around minor leagues teams before he decided to give coaching a try. That path took him to serve as the head coach of the Rochester Red Wings Squirt AAA travel hockey team. He did that until he decided to give hockey another shot. He is currently playing for the Hamilton Steelhawks.

5 Scott Scissons

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The 1990 NHL Entry Draft is regarded as one of the best in the history of hockey. That makes the decision by the New York Islanders in selecting Scott Scissons fourth overall all the more disappointing for fans. Scissons' NHL career was a disaster as he would only appear in three NHL games for the Islanders. He ended up retiring at the age of 22, ending what was a very disappointing hockey career.

Scissons decided to try his hand at being a normal person and all indicators seem to point at that going well. He got a certificate in commerce and worked for Western Mobile Homes. He is currently operating the company south of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He also stays involved with hockey by coaching his son’s youth team.

4 Rick DiPietro

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Taken first overall by the New York Islanders in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Rick DiPietro busted due to injuries. While the fact that DiPietro’s career wasn’t what many thought it would be was due to injuries, he still warrants a spot on this list. While healthy, DiPietro was actually pretty good. Sadly, he was very rarely healthy for an extended period of time.

Don’t cry for DiPietro, though. In 2006, he signed a 15-year, $67.5 million contract. He never came close to living up that contract, mostly because of injuries. In 2013, the Islanders decided to buy out the remainder of the contract and have agreed to pay DiPietro $1.5 million a year until 2029. Currently, DiPietro is a radio host for a New York ESPN Station. He also does analysis on the Islanders' pre and post game shows.

3 Patrik Stefan

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Regarded as one of the biggest busts in NHL history, Patrik Stefan was selected first overall in the 1999 NHL entry draft by the Atlanta Thrashers. Stefan had a long but underwhelming career. He played in 455 games and scored 188 total points. He also suffered from a variety of injuries, which may have stunted his growth as a hockey player. The most memorable moment of his career came when he missed a shot on an empty net and fell over. It is one of the sport’s premier blooper.

Stefan now lives in Detroit, Michigan. He is still active in the world of hockey, serving as a coach for the Little Caesars hockey organization. His two sons are a part of the league. He is also trying to build a career as a hockey agent.

2 Brian Lawton

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Taken before a handful of hockey legends, Brian Lawton, the first overall pick in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by the Minnesota North Stars, is regarded as one of the biggest busts in NHL history. Much of Lawton’s bust status comes from the fact that he was simply okay, while many of the players after him had amazing careers. He would play for six teams, appear in 483 games, and score a total of 266 points.

Lawton has stayed very involved in hockey since he retired. He worked in NHL front offices for nearly a decade. He also started an agency to represent athletes. He rose up the ranks and became the Tampa Bay Lightning’s general manager in 2008. He would be fired in 2010. Lawton can now be found as an NHL analyst on the league’s network.

1 Alexandre Daigle

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Labeled as a “can’t miss prospect,” Alexandre Daigle was grabbed by the Ottawa Senators first overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. Turns out the moniker was unwarranted, as he ended up going down as one of the biggest busts in NHL history. Daigle would score a total of 327 points across 616 games played in his NHL career. He retired once at the age of 25 before coming back for another few years of lackluster hockey.

Daigle seemed to have a fun life, especially during his first retirement. He allegedly dated Pamela Anderson, hung out with Cuba Gooding Jr. on a beer league team, and started an event promotion company called Imposter Promotion. After his second retirement, Daigle had much less fun. He works in real estate in Montreal and is married (not to Pamela Anderson) with three kids. 

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