Rather than do an "all time NHL draft busts" I wanted to focus more on players drafted within the top 5 from from 1999 until 2006.
In any given draft year the expectation of a top 5 pick would either be a top six forward, a top 4 defensemen or a starting goaltender at the very least. The hope is that the player becomes an all-star building block.
Any player drafted 1 through 5 would have been extremely well vetted by professional scouts who know what they're looking for and the potential upside of these particular players are always very high.
It would be entirely reasonable to expect these players to be contributing to their clubs by their 22nd birthday. By the teams that drafted them.
Thats why these particular players - to me - are considered draft "busts."
Drafted 4th overall in 1999 by the New York Rangers.
Pavel has all the tools to make it in the NHL - size, speed, scoring skill.
He absolutely lite up the WHL prior to being drafted scoring 320 points in 178 games.
In the NHL he has a grand total of 22 points in 78 games.
It was a weaker draft year though with only Jamie Lundmark, David Tanabe, Barret Jackman, Nick Boynton & Martin Havlát going after him in the first round. Martin Havlát of course being passed over by many others going at the 26th spot.
Drafted 5th overall in 2000 by the New York Islanders.
This was a toss-up between Torres & Rostislav Klesla. Klesla can play on the top 4 on many teams, but Torres is more effective being a bottom six player.
In a top 5 selection, I'd expect more than 182 points in 482 games. This is a player you could have just as easily aquired via free agency or a later round pick.
The Islanders could have drafted any of Scott Hartnell, Brooks Orpik, Alexander Frolov, Anton Volchenkov, Brad Boyes, Steve Ott, Justin Williams & Niklas Kronwall in the first round.
Drafted 3rd overall in 2001 by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Could just as easily been Stanislav Chistov drafted 5th overall.
Skill set never materialized to the pro-level with a grand total of 37 points in 179 games. A completed bust for the third overall pick!
Stephen Weiss, Mikko Koivu, Mike Komisarek, Pascal Leclaire, Dan Hamhuis, Aleš Hemský, Shaone Morrisonn, Colby Armstrong, & Tim Gleason were all selected in the first round after this dud.
Drafted 2nd overall in 2002 by the Atlanta Thrashers.
Is Kari Lehtonen a good goalie? Sure is. Is he the starter? Right now - no. Next year - yes. Is it for the team that drafted him? Alas - no.
He's only a "bust" in the sense that he was the second overall pick and he's not going to backstop the team that drafted him through some playoff rounds.
I'm of the opinion that you should never drafted a goalie in the first round unless he's the second coming of Brodeur - goalies develop way too late.
In the first round Atlanta could have picked Jay Bouwmeester, Joni Pitkänen, Ryan Whitney, Scottie Upshall, Keith Ballard, Alexander Semin or (more importantly) - Stanley Cup winning Cam Ward!
Drafted 4th overall in 2003 by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Actually Nikolai Zherdev is a decenct top-six forward, who can put up okay numbers in relation to his spot picked in the draft.
However, he's already displayed inconsistancies in his game, has been a contractual problem, fled to the KHL - and from rumblings from the players, not especially noted for being a "team" player.
I'd rather have Thomas Vanek, Milan Michálek, Ryan Suter, Braydon Coburn, Dion Phaneuf, Jefff Carter, Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Steve Bernier, Zach Parise, Eric Fehr, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Mark Stuart, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Corey Perry or Patrick Eaves over this guy.
This was a very good draft year BTW!!
Drafted 5th overall in 2004 by the Phoenix Coyotes.
First I'd like to say that I don't consider this player a "bust" at all. This was a weaker draft year.
Blaker Wheeler is the "bust" by default only in the sense that he isn't playing for the team that drafted him, and the team didn't get anything back for him (as they would've in a trade) as Blake was signed by Boston via free agency.
I would have only picked only Travis Zajac, Andrej Meszároš, or Mike Green over Blake.
Drafted 4th overall in 2005 by the Minnesota Wild.
Hopefully he can bounce back with the Montreal Canadians, which pretty much cements him on this list. I'm hoping he does but it doesn't look good.
That and the fact that the Wild could have had anyone of Devin Setoguchi, Anže Kopitar, Marc Staal, Martin Hanzal, Tuukka Rask, Niclas Bergfors, & T. J. Oshie.
Drafted 1st overall in 2006 by the St. Louis Blues.
Anytime you draft first overall - expectations are huge.
Two players of the four drafted directly after him made significant contributions to their teams winning the Stanley Cup.
He's still young for a defensemen - and he will be a top two, all-star defensemen eventually. But it may not be for the Blues. I'm simply stating the facts. The longer he takes to develop his game into the player he's forcasted to be, the greater chance he'll be doing it for another team.
If Erik Johnson wasn't drafted 1st overall, then he would not have been my "bust". That would have gone to Phil Kessel.