Detroit Red Wings: The 5 Biggest Draft Fails in GM Ken Holland's Tenure

Isaac SmithAnalyst IJune 24, 2013

Detroit Red Wings: The 5 Biggest Draft Fails in GM Ken Holland's Tenure

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    The Detroit Red Wings have had some notable successes in the NHL Draft over the past three decades, which have led to four Stanley Cups since 1997. But with those successes, obviously come failures.

    With the Red Wings' brass getting ready for the 2013 NHL Draft which is just under a week away, they will hope to find more success stories than failures.

    But failures (or busts) are not uncommon in the Detroit drafting era, even with Ken Holland at the helm.

    Here are the five biggest draft busts since Ken Holland took over the team in 1997.

    Note, "bust" in this stance will be used to describe a player who could or should have been a decent NHL player in regards to where he was picked.

5. Dick Axelsson

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    Dick Axelsson has a nose for the net and a sweet pair of hands. Axelsson also has quite the YouTube compilation of highlights as well.

    Perhaps that is what Ken Holland and the Detroit Red Wings saw in him when they selected him in the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft at 62nd overall.

    Axelsson has never played in the NHL, logging just 17 games and five points with the Grand Rapids Griffins since being drafted by the Red Wings.

    Certainly not the worst player that Ken Holland has ever drafted, but due to his lack of production and playing time at an NHL level, he easily makes this list.

4. Igor Grigorenko

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    Igor Grigorenko was drafted in the second round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft at 62nd overall.

    The young Russian forward showed a lot of promise coming into the NHL, as he helped lead the Russians to a World Junior Championship the season before he was drafted.

    Grigorenko played with current NHL superstar Ilya Kovalchuk. However, Grigorenko never adjusted to the North American game, playing just five games (and scoring no points) with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL before never playing in a North American league again.

    His lack of AHL or NHL production could largely be attributed to a set of serious injuries that he sustained in a car accident in 2003, via

    While it may seem unfair to put him on this list after he came back from that injury, he was drafted in the second round and didn't do much in the way of points or making the Red Wings, so Grigorenko makes this top-five list quite easily.

3. Ryan Barnes

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    Ryan Barnes came into the NHL as a tough guy, trying to earn a roster spot with the Red Wings.

    While it is hard to label Ryan Barnes as a draft bust when the Red Wings were such a deep team in the early 2000s, the fact that he was drafted 116 spots before Pavel Datsyuk makes it easier to label him as one of the Red Wings' worst draft picks of the Ken Holland era.

    Barnes was drafted 55th overall in the second round of the 1998 NHL Draft, but played just two regular season games with Detroit (both in 2003-04).

    He ended up bouncing around between the AHL and ECHL before calling it a career after the 2006-07 season.

2. Tomek Valtonen

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    Tomek Valtonen was no stranger to dropping the gloves.

    Detroit drafted Valtonen in the second round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft at 56th overall.

    The Red Wings management likely had high hopes after Valtonen's 1998-99 season with the Plymouth Whalers, as the Polish right wing had 24 points in 43 games.

    That season, though, would prove to be the last that Valtonen played on North American soil, as he played for Jokerit of the Finnish Elite League, putting up more than 100 penalty minutes three times.

    Being picked right after Ryan Barnes, it doesn't help that Pavel Datsyuk was drafted in the same draft as Valtonen.

1. Tom McCollum

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    Tom McCollum was the "top" goalie prospect in the Red Wings organization until they drafted Petr Mrazek who led the Grand Rapids Griffins to a Calder Cup championship this year.

    McCollum was drafted in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at 30th overall. For how high he was selected, one might think that there should be great things expected of him.

    Alas, McCollum played in one NHL game in his career and it might have been his last, giving up three goals on eight shots in relief of Joey MacDonald.

    In fact, McCollum was so bad that Mike Babcock actually put MacDonald back into the game for the third period.

    As one of only a handful of first-round picks that Ken Holland has ever had on draft day, McCollum is definitely, by far, the worst first round pick since Ken Holland took over. And for that reason, he marks the biggest draft "fail" as well.


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