NHL Draft: Jack Skille and the 25 Worst First-Round Picks of the Last 10 Years

Liz BrownsteinContributor IMarch 25, 2011

NHL Draft: Jack Skille and the 25 Worst First-Round Picks of the Last 10 Years

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    When looking back on NHL entry drafts, sometimes there are retrospective steals, players who have really been influential in the NHL and proven their worth, even though they were drafted after the fourth or fifth round.  

    On the flip side, there are also some players who were drafted early and have yet to play in the NHL or have yet to make any sort of mark on the game today.  

    Here is my list of the 25 biggest disappointments out of the last 10 years of drafts.  Every player was chosen in the first round, and none of them have played in more than 36 games in the NHL since they were drafted.

    Please note that goalies were omitted from this list, as were players who were drafted after 2008.  It's difficult to really predict who out of the recent drafts will make a big impact in the future, and so far, no one has really been a disappointment because there aren't high expectations for players who are still closing out their teenage years.

Dishnorable Mentions

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    Shawn Belle: Defense

    Drafted: 30th Overall in 2003

    Belle was one of the more experienced players on my list having played 16 games in the NHL and tallied up one assist, however he is not as much of a disappointment because he was drafted as the last pick in the first round.


    Andy Rogers: Defense

    Drafted: 30th Overall in 2004

    Rogers has yet to play in his NHL debut game and has been a steady contributor in the American Hockey League with 119 games played and 10 points total in his AHL career.

25. Kenndal McArdel

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    Position: Left Wing

    Drafted: 20th Overall in 2005

    Kenndal McArdel has one of the better resumes for this list of disappointing draft picks, with 22 NHL games played and three points in the big leagues.  

    The forward for the Florida Panthers made his debut in the 2008-2009 season playing three games over the course of that season but spending most of that year in the AHL.

24. Matt Pelech

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    Position: Defense

    Drafted: 26th Overall in 2005

    Pelech played five games for the Calgary Flames back in the 2008-2009 season and tallied up three assists and nine penalty minutes.  

    The 23-year-old is currently playing in the American Hockey League, and because he is so young and has made a small appearance in the NHL, he is on the better end of this list of lacklusters.

23. Kris Chucko

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    Position: Right Wing

    Drafted: 24th Overall in 2004

    Kris Chucko was drafted late enough in the first round that when he didn't get a big break, it wasn't too much of a surprise.  

    Chucko has only appeared in two games in the NHL and has not tallied a point in the big leagues yet, and the main reason he is this low on the list is because he is still young and has a chance to prove himself but has yet to do so.

22. Lukas Kaspar

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    Position: Left Wing

    Drafted: 22nd Overall in 2004

    Lukas Kaspar has been less of a disappointment than a lot of other players because he was drafted later than many of the other players but has appeared in more games than a lot of others on this list.

    The left wing has played in 16 games in the NHL and has tallied four points and eight penalty minutes.  All in all, Kaspar has proven that he can possibly be a strong depth contributor to a team that needs that secondary scoring.

21. Jonas Johansson

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    Position: Right Wing

    Drafted: 28th Overall in 2002

    Jonas Johansson was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche late in the first round back in 2002 and was then traded to the Washington Capitals a year later.

    Johansson has since played in only one NHL game with the only statistics he posted was two penalty minutes. He has also been a standard player in the AHL and other minor leagues, but the 27-year-old has yet to make a big impact in the NHL.

20. Joe Finley

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    Position: Defense

    Drafted: 27th Overall in 2005

    Joe Finley has been a pretty big disappointment mostly because he hasn't even gotten the nod in the AHL either.  Finley has not been given any chances in the NHL and has only played in one game in the American Hockey League.

    Finley played last season with the ECHL team, the South Carolina Stingrays and appeared in 17 games with a total of four points and 43 penalty minutes.

19. Ryan O'Marra

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    Position: Center

    Drafted: 15th Overall in 2005

    Ryan O'Marra is now 23 years old and has only played 16 games in the NHL, all with the Edmonton Oilers. Three games were played in the 2009-2010 season and 13 in the current season.

    O'Marra has tallied a total of four points in his NHL career, including only one goal, three assists and four penalty minutes  For being in the first half of the first round, O'Marra had a lot of potential but did not live up to the hype.  

18. Jakub Kindl

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    Position: Defense

    Drafted: 19th Overall in 2005

    Jakub Kindl has finally started to make a name for himself in the league, however it took him several years to finally get any looks from Detroit at all.

    Kindl played in three games last year but was held off until this year for his first point.  This season, he has played a total of 41 games and has tallied three points since.  All in all, Kindl really seemed like a solid defenseman from the Czech Republic, but he hasn't really impressed everyone like he could have.

17. Adrian Foster

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    Position: Center

    Drafted: 28th Overall in 2001

    For a player who was chosen so late in the first round, he is less disappointing than the other players who were chosen earlier and have yet to play in the NHL.

    Foster has, also, never made his NHL debut, opting instead to consistently play in Germany after he was drafted by the New Jersey Devils late in the first round of the 2001 entry draft.

16. Martin Vagner

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    Position: Defense

    Drafted: 26th Overall in 2002

    Martin Vagner is another name that most NHL fans will find completely unknown considering Vagner has not played in any NHL games despite being originally selected by the Dallas Stars in the first round of the 2002 draft.

    Vagner has an interesting story, in that he re-entered the draft two years later and dropped to the ninth round of the 2004 draft, so even though he has stayed to play all his career games in Czechoslovakia, he is still a disappointment after being picked so early in the 2002 draft.

15. Alexander Svitov

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    Position: Center

    Drafted: Third overall in 2001

    He gave Tampa Bay, the franchise that drafted him, 11 points in 74 games over two seasons before going to Columbus. He overwhelmed there, too, and has spent the last five years in Russia.

    Why is he a bad pick? The 2001 Draft was loaded, and wasn't lacking for talent just at the center position. Here are just a selection of the other centers picked that year:

    Fourth: Stephen Weiss

    Sixth: Mikku Koivu

    16th: RJ Umberger

    32nd: Derek Roy

    49th: Mike Cammalleri

14. Thomas Hickey

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    Position: Defense

    Drafted: Fourth Overall in 2007

    Hickey, although the earliest pick to make this list, has yet to play in the NHL to date, however is less disappointing because of one thing.  He is the only player to make this list out of the 2007 draft.

    Considering Hickey has had only a few years to prove himself, he is less of a draft dud compared to the ninth picks who were chosen almost a decade ago, given them ample time to work their way into the big leagues.

13. Alex Bourret

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    Position: Right Wing

    Drafted: 16th Overall in 2005

    Bourret was chosen as the first player in the second half of the first round by the Atlanta Thrashers and was later traded to the New York Rangers. Then, later that same day, he was sent to the Phoenix Coyotes.  

    After he had a lackluster performance in the AHL, the Coyotes released him and has since played in European leagues and has pretty much sacrificed any chances at making it into the NHL.  All in all, Bourret has really flopped for being the 16th overall pick back in 2005.

12. Jakub Koreis

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    Position: Center

    Drafted: 19th Overall in 2002

    Jakub Koreis was given a Phoenix Coyotes jersey back in 2002 when he was drafted, however he has not played in any NHL games since.

    Koreis is now 26 years old and has been playing in Finland's hockey league since 2001 when his official career began.

11. Sasha Pokulok

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    Position: Defense

    Drafted: 14th Overall in 2005

    Sasha Pokulok is another unknown name, considering the former first-round pick is now only playing in the minor leagues and the European leagues.

    Pokulok was drafted by the Washington Capitals, however, he was released as a free agent before this season and has since opted to sign a short-term contract with a German team in Europe.

10. Lauri Tukonen

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    Position: Right Wing

    Drafted: 11th Overall in 2004

    Lauri Tukonen is a right winger from Finland who is still currently in the system as a prospect for the Tampa Bay Lightning—the third NHL team that he has technically been involved with since he was drafted.

    Tukonen was drafted by the Kings, was eventually traded to Dallas, and then later, settled in Tampa Bay. However, he is now playing in Finland. Tukonen has played five games in the NHL and an impressive number in the AHL minor leagues. However, he has still not been near the player they expected him to be.

9. Jens Karlsson

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    Position: Left Wing

    Drafted: 18th Overall in 2001

    Jens Karlsson is a Swedish left winger, who is currently playing in Sweden and has played in his native country since 1997 when his professional career began.

    Karlsson was drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Kings but was never signed to a contract. He never made his debut in the NHL, making him a pretty large disappointment to the people who expect big things from first-round picks.

8. AJ Thelen

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    Position: Defense

    Drafted: 12th Overall in 2004

    AJ Thelen has yet to play in any NHL games since being drafted back in 2004, however, he has played a few games in the minor league.  Thelen has appeared in 10 games in the AHL and has tallied zero points and eight penalty minutes.

    Thelen was initially drafted by the Minnesota wild, but after a series of complicated transitions, he opted to sign with the minor league affiliate of the New York Islanders. However, this first-round pick has yet to see his NHL debut.

7. Igor Knyazev

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    Position: Defense

    Drafted: 15th Overall in 2001

    Igor Knyazev was drafted halfway through the first round by the Carolina Hurricanes back in the 2001 entry draft and has yet to make his NHL debut.

    Knyazev played a for a couple different teams in the minor league, AHL and has also been playing in Russia for a few years. At 28 years old, Knyazev has been a pretty bad disappointment.

6. Artem Kryukov

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    Position: Forward

    Drafted: 15th Overall in 2000

    Kryukov was given a Buffalo Sabres jersey way back in 2000 and has never played a professional game in the National Hockey League or any part of North America.

    The Russian forward had played his full hockey career in Russia for a few different teams in the KHL. Kryukov has been a pretty disappointment for a first-round pick.

5. Petr Taticek

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    Position: Center

    Drafted: Ninth Overall in 2002

    For a ninth-round pick nine seasons ago, it was almost expected that he would play in several games just a few seasons after being drafted, but Taticek has not done that.  

    Petr Taticek played in a grand total of three NHL games, all in the 2005-2006 season with the Florida Panthers, but he has yet to tally any points at all.  

4. Hugh Jessiman

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    Position: Right Wing

    Drafted: 12th Overall in 2003

    Most people might have only heard this name, Hugh Jessiman, very recently, as he made his NHL debut earlier this season, back in Feburary, has since tallied a whopping two games played in the NHL.

    After being drafted in the first half of Round 1, people come to expect that after a few seasons, these young stars can break into the big leagues, however, Jessiman had to wait for seven seasons of disappointment before he played two contests this year.  Overall, I'd say that classifies this class of 2003 veteran as a bad pick.

3. Marek Zagrapan

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    Position: Center

    Drafted: 13th in 2005

    Zagrapan was chosen early enough in the 2005 draft for many people to expect to at least see him play a bit.  However, we are in the sixth season since his draft class, and still, no one has seen Zagrapan, since he has yet to make his NHL debut.

    Marek Zagrapan has jumped between playing in the AHL and Russia's KHL, however this 13th pick overall has been completely silent and unheard of in the NHL.

2. Jack Skille

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    Position: Right Wing

    Drafted: Seventh Overall in 2005

    Jack Skille has just recently begun to make a name for himself in the National Hockey League.  Skille has played in just 88 career games and notched a total of 26 points.  Numbers that he was expected to surpass greatly when he was being scouted.

    Skille was expected to be one of the next big names in the NHL. However, with players who were drafted in the same year in later rounds, such as Keith Yandle (fourth round) and Darren Helm (fifth round), clearly outplaying him, he is our second biggest disappointment of the past decade of drafts.

1. Lars Jonsson

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    Position: Defense

    Drafted: Seventh Overall in 2000

    At age 29, you come to expect that players who were drafted in the top 10, especially top eight, would have made a pretty strong statement in the world of hockey.

    Jonsson has done anything but that.  After being drafted seventh overall, he has since played in just eight NHL games and posted a weak two points before fleeing for Europe.  Since his departure, Johnsson has not returned to the NHL, and speculation says that the star that he was expected to become just couldn't adapt to the style of the American league, making him our biggest disappointment since 2000.