Top 10 NHL Draft Busts Since 2000
NHL Draft Busts
Sometimes, a player just doesn't pan out the way they are supposed to for a team. That's common. Other times, players simply fall so short of expectations teams are forced to scramble to hide them or make up for their mistake.
With the NHL landscape always changing, it is extremely important for a team to be able to hit on its high picks to keep up with the NHL competition year in and year out. When that does not happen, the team usually falls behind. This can easily be said of the lesser teams in the NHL the past few seasons, as their drafting whiffs can be easily traced to their struggles the past few seasons. It's no surprise that the Columbus Blue Jackets, the New York Islanders, and the New York Rangers have multiple appearances on this list and have struggled over the past decade.
All of these players may not be household names to everyone, but they certainly haunt the general managers that chose them. All of them are first-round picks, and eight of the ten are top-ten picks. That is a hefty investment to put into someone that simply does not make a contribution to your team.
Most of these teams have found a way to rebound, but it certainly was not overnight. The Rangers found Lundqvist, the Islanders Tavares, but others have not been able to find their way over the hump just yet. That includes the Blue Jackets, who are hoping Ryan Murray doesn’t make it on this list in a few years, and the Minnesota Wild, who just spent $200 million on two free agents to fix their mess.Matt Clouden is the featured writer for the Buffalo Sabres for Rant. Follow him on Twitter: @SwordPlay18.
Gilbert Brule is certainly not a household name in 29 NHL cities, but he may be very common in Columbus.
Brule was drafted sixth overall by the Blue Jackets in the 2005 Draft after a solid sophomore season with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. Coming into the draft, Brule was ranked as the second-ranked skater behind some guy named Sidney Crosby. Brule began play with the Jackets at the end of the 2005-2006 WHL season, playing in seven games. His offensive gifts were supposed to be able to help the budding Blue Jackets' offense, but that never materialized.
Brule scored only 19 points in his rookie season despite playing in 78 games. Granted the talent of the Blue Jackets teams he played for was not top-notch, but a lot more was expected of the top pick. After another disappointing season, the Jackets traded Brule to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Raffi Torres. Brule had a career year with the Oilers in 2009-10, scoring 37 points, but has never come close to his potential.
Brule is currently in the Swiss A League playing for Zurich after spending last season with the Phoenix Coyotes.
When the Minnesota Wild drafted Benoit Pouliot at number four in the 2005 Draft, many believed he was going to be the perfect complement to Marian Gaborik, as he had the same sort of skill set.
Unofrtunately for Wild fans, that dream did not last long. Pouliot never found the all-around game that he had displayed in his rookie season with the OHL's Sudbury Wolves, something that earned him the OHL Rookie of the Year award. After never finding a way to stay on the Wild's roster for a full season for three seasons, the Wild traded Pouliot to the Montreal Canadiens during the 2009-10 season. After putting up career numbers that year, Pouliot regressed again, only scoring 13 goals in 79 games the following year.
Pouloit played last season with the Boston Bruins, and signed a contract with the Tampa Bay lightning this offseason.
In 2001, the Columbus Blue Jackets had a huge hole at the goaltending position. After having Marc Denis and Ron Tugnutt as their starters for their first three years, the Blue Jackets were desperate for a top netminder.
Enter Pascal Leclaire, the goaltender from the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. The Jackets drafted him eighth overall in the 2001 draft. The 2001 Draft may go down as one of the weakest in recent NHL history, especially for goaltenders, but the fact remains that Columbus drafted Leclaire at a position where he was expected to become the franchise netminder.
After a few solid years with the Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate, Leclaire worked his way into the lineup and had a solid 2005-2006 season, playing in 33 games and posting an 11-5 record with a .911 save percentage. He started the 2007-08 season extremely strong as well, posting a .919 save percentage, but still only played in 54 games. After hurting his ankle in the 2008-09 season, Leclaire was never able to reclaim his job back from Steve Mason, and was traded to the Ottawa Senators the following year. Despite being their starter at the beginning of the year, Leclaire ended the year the backup after posting a dreadful .887 save percentage in 33 games.
Leclaire is currently unsigned and has been since the end of the 2010-11 season.
To be fair, Nazem Kadri has not had too much time to prove himself to the Toronto Maple Leafs fan base, but his performance thus far has been objectively disappointing.
Drafted seventh overall in the 2009 Draft, Kadri was a hot commodity in many teams' war rooms, especially if you were picking between the fifth and tenth picks. Not rated in the top ten by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, Kadri's play with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers and London Knights opened a lot of eyes. He even spurred this infamous exchange between Leafs general manager Brian Burke and the Ottawa Senators' Brian Murray.
But since his drafting, Kadri has not been the offensive boon for the Leafs he was meant to be. In the past two season, Kadri has been unable to stay on the NHL roster for more than 30 games, and has not registered more than 12 points in either season. While playing well at the AHL level, Burke certainly didn't draft Kadri to dominate there. There was also talk of him being "chubby" coming into AHL camp this year, which sparked a lot of reaction from Leafs fans.
Kadri is young and has time to reverse his current course, but if all remains the same, he may be the pick that ends Burke's career with the Leafs.
Kyle Turris was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes third overall in the 2007 NHL Draft after scoring 121 points in 53 games for his Junior A club in the 2006-07 season, becoming the highest Junior A player ever taken. Turris then played one season for the University of Wisconsin, scoring 35 points in 36 games during his freshman year.
Turris signed an entry-level deal with the Coyotes after his freshman year, and started the following season on the Phoenix roster, scoring 20 points in 63 games. The following year, Phoenix sent Turris to the minors where he played the entire season with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. After a strong season, Turris found his way back to the Coyotes lineup in 2010-11, but once again struggled, only scoring 25 points.
Turris then held out of the Coyotes camp when his entry-level deal ended, with some reporting he was asking for $4 million a season as a way for the Coyotes to trade him. After signing him to a two year, $2.8 million deal, the Coyotes traded him to the Ottawa Senators for David Rundblad.
Turris had a solid season with the Sens, posting 29 points in 49 games, but still has not performed to this top-three billing. He is only 23, so he may turn it around, much like Kadri, and will have every chance to do so as he just signed a (somewhat comical) five year, $17.5 million extension with the Sens.
The Columbus Blue Jackets were in need of a lot of offensive help, with Rick Nash as their only offensive threat on a nightly basis after the 2003-04 season. And no, David Vyborny did not instill fear into any opponents' hearts. So in the 2004 Draft they selected Alexandre Picard with the eighth overall selection.
Picard came highly touted. He ranked third on NHL Central Scouting's North American list and had just won the Mike Bossy Award in the QMJHL which is given to the best prospect in the "Q" going to the draft that year. Other winners of that award include Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury. But it's safe to say Picard has not lived up to their example.
After breaking into the Columbus lineup in 2005-06, Picard never was able to stick with the Blue Jackets for an entire season. His 17 games in 2005-06 was the most he would play for the Blue Jackets, who eventually traded him to the Phoenix Coyotes, where he stayed in the AHL for two years.
In 67 games in the NHL, Picard totaled only two assists. He is currently playing in the Swiss A League.
Al Montoya gained recognition from NHL scouts after leading the United States World Junior squad to its first gold medal in the competition in 2004, posting a 6-0 record in the tournament. Montoya also dominated at the University of Michigan, winning at least 26 games all three years he was the starter.
With Mike Dunham as their starter, the New York Rangers needed a goaltender in the worst way, so they took Montoya sixth overall in 2004. After one more year with Michigan, Montoya signed with the Rangers and played in Hartford for their AHL team. Despite some moderate success, the Rangers found themselves in a fortunate position when Henrik Lundqvist came back after the lockout and proved himself a number one goaltender. This left Montoya in the AHL to develop.
After struggling in Hartford the next two years, Montoya was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in 2008, where he was assigned to the AHL as well. Montoya saw his first NHL action with Phoenix, appearing in five games in 2008-09, but was soon relegated back to the AHL.
Montoya traded to the New York Islanders in 2011, where injuries gave him the chance to play in 21 games, where he posted an impressive .921 save percentage, but that success did not repeat last season with him posting a .893 save percentage. Montoya has signed a one-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets.
Hugh Jessiman came out of his college playing days with Dartmouth College, his nickname was "Huge Specimen" due to his 6'6", 224 pound frame. The kid also had some talent though, enough to get him drafted at 12th overall in the 2003 draft.
In a draft that many consider to be one of the deepest of all time (Shea Weber was drafted in the second round), Jessiman became the last first rounder in that class to play an NHL game...eight years later.
After getting injured his junior year at Dartmouth, Jessiman signed with the Rangers and played in Hartford in the AHL, where for the next few years he bounced between the ECHL and AHL. He then was traded to the Nashville Predators for basically nothing, and continued his AHL career in Milwaukee. He then was signed by the Chicago Blackhawks to play in the AHL, then was traded to the Florida Panthers to do the same.
Jessiman played his first pro game in 2011 for the Panthers, and played one more NHL game before being sent back to the AHL. Ottawa signed Jessiman to a two-way deal this offseason.
Rob Schremp was likely one of the most talented players to play in the CHL in a long time. Schremp was named OHL Rookie of the Year in 2004, and was drafted 25th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2004 Draft. Schremp then went on to score 90 points in 2004-05 and 145 points in 2005-06 for the London Knights. Oilers fans were, to put it lightly, excited.
The Oilers let Schremp play in the AHL with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for the 2006-07 season, where he scored an impressive 53 points in 69 games for the Penguins. Schremp then scored 76 points in the AHL the following season, but struggled to crack the Oilers lineup. The same story unfolded for the 2008-09 season, and the Oilers eventually released Schremp.
The New York Islanders claimed Schremp off waivers, and he played 44 games with the Isles, scoring 25 points in 2009-10, but was unable to improve upon his performance the next season, scoring only 22 points. After being released by the Islanders in 2011 after 45 games, the then Atlanta Thrashers claimed him, but he continued to struggle, only scoring 4 points in 18 games.
Schremp now plays for Modo in the Swedish Elite League.
There is not much explanation needed with this selection. The New York Islanders chose the Boston University standout first overall in the 2001 Draft before the likes of Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik. His selection also prompted then Islanders general manager Mike Milbury to trade away Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers for basically nothing.
DiPietro started that year, but posted an abysmal 3-15 record to go along with an embarrassing .878 save percentage. After spending the better part of two years in the AHL with the Islanders' affiliate in Bridgeport, DiPietro impressed in 2003-04, winning 23 games and posting a .911 save percentage. He had similar success his next season after the lockout, winning 30 games and posting a .919 save percentage. After his success in the 2006 season, the Islanders and general manager Garth Snow signed DiPietro to a 15 year, $67.5 million deal.
After inking his name on that deal, DiPietro won 32 games in 2006-07 and led the Islanders to the playoffs, but struggled in 2007-08, only winning 26 games and posting a goals against average of 2.82. Then, starting in the 2008-09 season, DiPietro has played in over 10 games only once, 2010-11, where he posted a .886 save percentage and a 3.44 goals against average. In that time DiPietro has not cracked a .900 save percentage and has had a goals against average of over 3.00 three of four seasons.
DiPietro is probably the consensus worst number one pick since 2000, and likely the worst since Alexandre Daigle in 1993, or Patrik Stefan in 1999.