Last week I looked at the top 10 late round finds in the NHL Entry Draft, to show that there can always be a diamond in the rough that makes it either through luck or late-blooming. This week I take the opposite approach and count down the top ten busts, or those players that were thought to be sure things that wound up being huge disappointments.
To qualify for the list, the player must have been drafted in the top 10 in their draft year. No, you will not find Alexandre Daigle on this list, because compared to these guys, Daigle was an NHL Hall of Famer. Here are the 10 biggest busts in the NHL draft:
10. Daniel Dore (Quebec Nordiques 5th Overall in 1988) - Dore put up 91 points to go along with 236 PIMs in his final junior year and was supposed to be a great power forward at the NHL Level. At 6’3″, 200 lbs he was a supposed to be a force for his home province Nordiques. However, after playing only 17 games (5 points, 59 PIM) at the NHL level, he bounced around the minors before jumping to Roller Hockey and then scouting for the Bruins.
9. Brian Finley (Nashville Predators, 6th overall in 1999) - The Barrie Colts goaltender was a hot goaltending prospect who played in a Memorial Cup final in 2000, and was a two time member of Team Canada at the World Juniors (1999, 2000). He did win a Calder Cup at the AHL level, but never really got a chance at the NHL level, playing 166 minutes in 4 games with Nashville and then Boston.
8. Alek Stojanov (Vancouver Canucks, 7th overall in 1991) - Stojanov has two dubious claims to fame, draft bust and the guy Vancouver gave Pittsburgh to get Markus Naslund in one of the most lop-sided trades in NHL history. Coming out of junior with comparisons to Bob Probert for his toughness and scoring touch, Stojanov played only 107 games over 4 NHL seasons, racking up 7 points and 222 PIMs.
7. Daniel Tkaczuk (Calgary Flames, 6th overall in 1997) – Tkaczuk was a star in junior for the Barrie Colts, and was a two time member of Canada’s World Junior team (leading the team in scoring in 1999 while winning a Silver medal). He put up 105 points in his final year in Barrie. After being named to the AHL all-rookie team in 2000 he earned 19 games with the Flames in 2000-01. He scored 4 goals and 7 assists in those 19 games, but was sent back to the AHL and never played another NHL game. He is still playing professionally in England.
6. Craig Duncanson & Dan Gratton (Los Angeles Kings, 9th & 10th overall in 1985) – The Kings thought that they were going to cash in big time with 2 top 10 picks in the 1895 draft. One mistake can happen easily, but surely two mistakes on back to back picks are unlikely. The pair of 6′, 200-pounders (big players at the time) were going to shift the balance of power in the Smythe Division. Not so fast, as the pair of top 10’s played a combined 45 NHL games and 10 points.
5. Scott Scissons (New York Islanders, 6th overall in 1990) – One of the best and deepest top-10’s in the history of the NHL draft has one large blemish. Find the name that doesn’t belong: Nolan, Nedved, Primeau, Ricci, Jagr, Scissons, Sydor and D. Hatcher. Scissons was the last in a long line of busts selected by the Islanders in the first round (more on that later). Scissons played 2 NHL games and never scored a point. The other 7 players drafted in the top 8 in the 1990 draft each played at least 900 NHL games.
4. Dave Chyzowski (New York Islanders, 2nd overall in 1989) - One year before Scissons was Chysowski. Right after Mats Sundin became the first European taken first overall, the Islanders selected the Kamloops Blazers forward who had just put up 56 goals and 104 points in the competitive WHL. Chyzowski played 126 games over parts of 8 NHL seasons, managing 31 points. The list of minor league and European teams he played for is extensive, but he never really caught on at the NHL level.
3. Jason Bonsignore (Edmonton Oilers, 4th overall in 1994) – At 6’4″, 220 lbs and with more talent than most players, Bonsignore was thought to be a steal at #4. However, his work ethic never caught up with his talent and he managed to play only 79 NHL games with Edmonton and Tampa Bay. He played in the minors for a long time, but it was another case of wasted talent.
2. Alexandre Volchkov (Washington Capitals, 4th overall in 1996) - In the Mid 90’s the Barrie Colts were pumping out top level prospects that didn’t pan out. Volchov was perhaps the greatest disappointment of them all. Comparisons to Vladimir Krutov due to his tank-like stature and great hands, Volchkov was a star import for the Colts, combining with Jan Bulis and Daniel Tkaczuk to form a powerhouse OHL team. As a pro, his attitude and ego trumped his talent, as he played only 3 pointless NHL games before walking out on Washington and having an altercation with management in Edmonton, where he was traded. He went home to play in Russia, but never did anything of consequence.
1. Pavel Brendl (New York Rangers, 4th overall in 1999) – The ultimate combination of speed, skill and size, the Czech native honed his talents in 3 huge seasons for the Calgary Hitmen. He put up point totals of 134, 111 and 85 points (the latter in only 49 games) in his three seasons in the WHL. Brendl also led the Czech Republic to a gold medal at the 2001 World Junior Championships. However, he couldn’t find a full time job in the NHL with either the Rangers, Flyers, Hurricanes or Coyotes, playing only 78 NHL games, totalling 22 points. He played in the KHL last season.
So there you see, even in the first round there is no such thing as a SURE THING. All of these players had that tag, and all of them failed to live up to expectations. The moral of this story is watch out who you draft from the Barrie Colts, who had 3 alumni on this dubious list. Also beware of uber-talented European players, and remember that work ethic and attitude usually trumps talent.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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