NHL Draft: Biggest Busts Picked at Each Top 5 Draft Position

Mark JonesSenior Analyst IJune 19, 2012

NHL Draft: Biggest Busts Picked at Each Top 5 Draft Position

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    What's the difference between Jason Spezza and Alexander Svitov?

    One pick.

    Indeed, Spezza (the No. 2 pick in 2001) and Svitov (the No. 3 pick in 2001) were chosen as consecutive picks of the NHL Entry Draft just 11 years ago.

    The majority of the hockey world, of course, knows one as a superstar four-time 30-goal scorer and the other as a second-rate bust with only 37 career points to his name.

    But for the Ottawa Senators (selectors of Spezza) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (selectors of Svitov), the effects of these two picks are still very much felt to this day.

    One team got an All-Star, first-line forward.

    The other team got nothing.

    Now, 11 seasons and 10 drafts later, the odds are that another Spezza-Svitov scenario will happen yet again in the 2012 NHL draft. After all, it's happened—many times, actually—in every year since.

    Over the course of the past few decades, the list of Svitov-like disappointments has grown to be enormous. A look back at some of the biggest top-five busts of the last 25 years—including Svitov, of course—is on the coming slides.

No. 1 Position

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    Rick DiPietro, 2000 (Islanders): Once a rather promising goalie with the N.Y. Islanders, DiPietro has undergone a four-year saga of injury debacles and attitude questions that have plummeted him into infamy.

    Patrik Stefan, 1999 (Thrashers): Perhaps the must-discussed draft bust of all time, Stefan played seven miserable seasons with the Thrashers and Stars, never scoring more than 14 goals in any one, before calling it quits.

    Alexandre Daigle, 1993 (Senators): The first overall pick of 1993, who became famous when a bomb joke threw him off a 1996 team plane trip, produced only a couple decent seasons in a career of mediocrity before being bounced all the way to Switzerland. 

    Other Disappointments: Chris Phillips (1996, Senators), Brian Berard (1995, Senators)

No. 2 Position

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    Andrei Zyuzin, 1996 (Sharks): This particular Russian bust—a title all too often heard in the early rounds of the draft—never scored more than eight goals and 21 points in an NHL season before ending up back in Europe.

    Oleg Tverdovsky, 1994 (Ducks): Not too many draft pick "busts" can say they've won two Stanley Cups, but despite Tverdovsky's pair of rings, the 1994 second overall pick went downhill quickly after a few good years in Anaheim and now plays in the KHL.

    Dave Chyzowski, 1989 (Islanders): This Edmonton native stunned scouts while with the WHL's Kamloop Blazers, but bounced between the NHL and AHL throughout his career while scoring only 31 career points in the big leagues.

    Other Disappointments: Wade Redden (1995, Islanders), Pat Falloon (1991, Sharks)

No. 3 Position

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    Cam Barker, 2004 (Blackhawks): 2004's highest-picked defenseman, chosen directly after, of all players, Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, fizzled with Chicago and Minnesota before a contract buy-out brought him to Edmonton last season.

    Alexander Svitov, 2001 (Lightning): Our title slide example, as previously noted, had a tumultuous and unproductive three-season career with Tampa Bay and Columbus before returning to Avangard Omsk, the team of his pre-NHL years.

    Aki-Petteri Berg, 1995 (Kings): Finnish defenseman Aki Berg never found his stride in eight seasons with the Kings and Maple Leafs, tallying only 85 points in over 600 career appearances before returning to Scandinavia.

    Other Disappointments: Kyle Turris (2007, Coyotes), Mike Rathje (1992, Sharks), Scott Thornton (1989, Maple Leafs), Curtis Leschyshyn (1988, Nordiques)

No. 4 Position

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    Pavel Brendl, 1999 (Rangers): Czech forward Pavel Brindl's career, after compiling a jaw-dropping 172 goals in 178 junior league games, went downhill quickly as he bounced around the NHL, never playing more than 26 games with a single team.

    Alexandre Volchkov, 1996 (Capitals): Some consider Volchkov the biggest bust in NHL draft history. He appeared in only three games during his entire North American career, tallying zero points and a minus-two rating for the 'Caps.

    Jason Bonsignore, 1994 (Oilers): Few fourth overall picks have ever tallied fewer career goals than Bonsignore's whopping total of three—a fairly accurate representation of this journeyman's uneventful 79-game career.

    Other Disappointments: Benoit Pouliot (2005, Wild), Nikolai Zherdev (2003, Blue Jackets), Todd Warriner (1992, Nordiques), Wayne McBean (1987, Kings)

No. 5 Position

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    Nino Niederreiter, 2010 (Islanders): It may be a little early yet to call Niederreiter a bust, but the 19-year-old's originally sky-high stock took a huge hit in his first professional season; the forward's mere one goal and zero assists in 55 games played ranked him among the most worthless players in the NHL this past season.

    Stanislav Chistov, 2001 (Ducks): A relatively promising 12-goal, 30-point rookie campaign went down the drain quickly for Chistov, as the Russian forward scored only 31 points in 117 more NHL appearances before returning to the KHL.

    Vitali Vishnevsky, 1998 (Ducks): Another fifth-overall selection of the Ducks, Vishnevsky's 552-game career as an extremely defensive defenseman fizzled out in his late 20s—although after picking up a Stanley Cup ring in 2007.

    Daniel Dore, 1988 (Nordiques): Dore's 17-game NHL career may seem extremely underwhelming at first, but fear not—the Canadian winger had a very successful three-year career with Roller Hockey International league after his NHL exit.

    Other Disappointments: Raffi Torres (2000, Islanders), Richard Jackman (1996, Stars), Chris Joseph (1987, Penguins)