A prospect getting drafted in the first round of the NHL Draft doesn’t necessarily mean he’s destined for success. Many players have failed to live up to expectations after being a anticipated pick, but these five players stand out from the rest. This is Manigen’s Top 5, and today we’re looking at the top five biggest draft busts in NHL history. The criteria for this list is what spot the player was drafted in, how underwhelming his career was, and the player(s) he was drafted ahead of.
#5: Nikita Filatov: 6th overall, 2008- Columbus Blue Jackets
The biggest draft bust in recent memory is Nikita Filitov. This Russian winger was considered to be on the same level as that year’s first overall pick, Steven Stamkos. Seven years later, Stamkos is now one of the league’s elite, but hardly anybody remembers Filatov. The move plain and simple never worked out for the Blue Jackets. Filatov played in just 53 games over four seasons and scored just 6 goals and 14 points…yikes. Filatov now plays in the KHL in Russia and the Blue Jackets are just trying to forget that mistake.
Filatov was drafted ahead of Drew Doughty, Tyler Myers, Tyler Ennis, Alex Pietrangelo, and Zach Bogosian.
#4: Patrik Stefan: 1st overall, 1999- Atlanta Thrashers
This pick turned out being a microcosm of what the Atlanta Thrashers franchise was destined for: disaster. Atlanta was awarded the first overall pick of the first NHL Entry Draft the team participated in, and the team picked Patrik Stefan. Stefan was highly anticipated and the Thrashers seemed to be off to a flying start with the young center at the core of the new team. However, Stefan was disappointing to say the least, scoring only 177 points in his six seasons with the team. Atlanta traded him to Dallas in 2006 and the Stars did not resign him after his contract expired. As a result, Stefan retired abruptly that year.
Stefan’s poor performance was solidified in NHL history by his infamous blunder in his final season. No further commentary is needed.
Stefan was drafted ahead of the Sedin twins.
#3: Rick DiPietro: 1st overall, 2000- New York Islanders
Ironically, one year after Stefan, the New York Islanders drafted goaltender Rick DiPietro with the first pick. Drafting a goaltender high is considered taboo in the NHL, but Islanders GM Mike Milbury threw caution to the win and drafted the American backstop. To make DiPietro the no. 1, Milbury traded then 21 year-old Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers. To say that move came back to bite the team on its collective rear would be an immense understatement. Though his reason for busting was more injuries than poor play, DiPietro still never came to fruition after how heavily the Islanders invested in him. He played in only 318 games in his career, all with New York, posting a 130-136-36 record. Despite his proneness to injuries, Milbury signed DiPietro to a 15 year contract in 2006 (that’s right, 15 years). He played in only 175 games after that and the Islanders bought him out in 2013. DiPietro is now a radio show host in NYC and Milbury is an analyst for NBC Sports. Need I say more?
DiPietro was drafted ahead of Dany Heatly, Marian Gaborik and Scott Hartnell.
#2: Alexandre Daigle: 1st overall, 1993- Ottawa Senators
“I’m glad I got drafted first, because no one remembers no. 2.” Alexandre Daigle said this after he became the new Senators first entry Draft pick ever (No. 2 was Chris Pronger.) . They would have been fitting last words considering how the highly touted Franco-Canadian’s career panned out. 129 goals and 327 points in a 616 game career is pretty bad for a guy who was considered on the same level as Rocket Richard. Daigle never scored more than 26 goals in a season.
In addition to Chris Pronger, Daigle was drafted ahead of Paul Kariya, Chris Gratton, Jason Arnott and Jocelyn Thibault.
#1: Brian Lawton: 1st overall, 1983- Minnesota North Stars
There really isn’t any way that you can’t call Brian Lawton the biggest draft bust in NHL history. 1983’s first overall, Lawton was the first ever American to go first overall in the NHL, and he had a modest career to show for it. 112 goals and 266 points in 483 career games. However, modesty isn’t what you’d expect from a first round pick, especially not Lawton. He wasn’t a bad player, but he’s the biggest draft bust of all time because of who the North Stars chose him over (the list will make you cringe).
Lawton was drafted ahead of Pat LaFontaine, Steve Yzerman, Tom Barrasso and Cam Neely.
Agree/Disagree? Did I miss anyone you think should be on here? Be sure to let me know.
What do you want the next Manigen’s Top 5 to be about? Be sure to let me know that too!