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NHL Power Rankings: Worst First-Round Draft Pick for Each Team

Ryan DavenportContributor IJanuary 18, 2017

NHL Power Rankings: Worst First-Round Draft Pick for Each Team

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    First Round Draft Picks in the NHL are, just as they are in every other major professional sport, an arena for which General Managers and scouts can make or break their careers.  

    As quickly as a great selection can help the career of a GM, a terrible one can kill it even more rapidly.  In addition, fans remember draft busts longer than they remember the successful ones.  

    Just ask Ottawa Senators fans.  When they think about their team's success at the Draft, do they think about Jason Spezza, Chris Phillips, Martin Havlat and Marian Hossa, or do they remember the disappointment that was Alexandre Daigle? 

    With that in mind, here's a look at each NHL team's all-time worst First Round Selection.  

1. Anaheim Ducks- Stanislav Chistov, Fifth Overall in 2001

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    The Anaheim Ducks made a number of great selections in the 1990's that helped set the team up for future success, but they made one stinker of a pick in 2001 when they took Stanislav Chistov with the Fifth choice in the Draft.  

    Chistov was an enticing Russian prospect who put up decent numbers in the Russian Superleague during his draft year, but his stock dropped immediately after Anaheim took him in 2001, as he went scoreless in nine games in Russia the following season.  

    After coming over to play for Anaheim in 2002-03, Chistov helped the Ducks reach the Stanley Cup Finals, potting 30 points in the regular season as a rookie.  

    However, from there Chistov went into a tailspin and never again posted 20 points in the NHL.  He has since returned to Russia where he has become a productive KHL player, but he was clearly unable to adapt to the more physical North American style of play.  

2. Atlanta Thrashers- Patrik Stefan, First Overall in 1999

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    The recently-assembled Winnipeg Jets hockey operations staff must look back to the 1999 NHL Draft and think about what could have been.  

    Though it was a relatively weak talent pool looking back, the two reigning scoring champions in Henrik and Daniel Sedin were taken at slots two and three, but the Thrashers ended up with a journeyman who couldn't live up to the hype.  

    With the top selection in the 1999 Draft, Atlanta picked Patrick Stefan, a center who had spent the previous two seasons playing in the IHL, then regarded as the third best league in the world.  Stefan looked like a solid, if unspectacular prospect as he produced at a better than a point-per-game clip during his final season in the IHL.

    Unfortunately, that offense didn't carry over to the NHL, as Stefan hit 40 points just once during his career, and was out of the NHL completely by 2007.  

    Though he didn't materialize into the star that Atlanta had hoped for, he was a solid two-way centerman, but one who seemed to crumble beneath lofty expectations. 

3. Boston Bruins- Gord Kluzak, First Overall in 1982

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    Fortunately for the Boston Bruins, they haven't had a ton of high Draft picks over the course of the last 30 years, because they've been a competitive team for the majority of that time.  

    However, they did not choose wisely in 1982, when they tabbed defenseman Gord Kluzak the top selection in that year's NHL Draft.  

    Though Kluzak went on to become a serviceable NHL defenseman, he was injury plagued through his career, and retired in 1991 after playing in just 299 games with the Bruins.  

    Knee injuries proved to be Kluzak's undoing, and ultimately this is a selection the Bruins wish they could have back.  

4. Buffalo Sabres- Shawn Anderson, Fifth Overall in 1986

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    In general, the Buffalo Sabres have drafted better than almost any team in the NHL, so it's difficult to find many bad choices they've made over the years.  

    With that being said, they made an unfortunate selection when they took Shawn Anderson fifth in 1986, especially considering the next defenseman taken in the Draft was Brian Leetch at the ninth slot.  

    Though Anderson was a solid NHL defenseman for a couple of years, he didn't exactly develop the way the Sabres had envisioned, as he played just 255 games and was out of the NHL by age of 26.  

5. Calgary Flames- Daniel Tkaczuk, Sixth Overall in 1997

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    Entering the 1997 NHL Draft, Daniel Tkaczuk was one of the most highly touted forwards available, after he posted a mind-boggling 45 goals and 93 points for the Barrie Colts of the OHL.  

    That's why the Calgary Flames felt confident in taking Tkaczuk with the Sixth Overall selection in the Draft, but Tkaczuk soon proved that his ceiling as a player wasn't as high as the Flames had previously believed.  

    The season after the Draft, Tkaczuk failed to build on his draft-year performance in the OHL, and didn't receive a call-up to the NHL until 2000-01, when he tallied 11 points in 19 games with Calgary.  

    However, from there Tkaczuk never managed to play another NHL game, and has bounced around Europe and minor leagues ever since. 

6. Carolina Hurricanes- Jeff Heerema, 11th Overall in 1998

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    At the 11th pick in any NHL Draft, teams are not guaranteed to be getting an everyday player, let alone a future star.  

    However, since the Carolina Hurricanes haven't had many flops in franchise history, the biggest may be Jeff Heerema, who went 11th in 1998.  

    After putting up solid numbers in the OHL, Heerema showed some promise as an NHL forward, but it would be a long time before he ever donned a Hurricanes jersey.  

    Once he did, it didn't last long, as Heerema played in just 32 NHL games before embarking on a professional hockey tour of the European leagues.  

7. Chicago Blackhawks- Adam Bennett, Sixth Overall in 1989

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    Overall, the Blackhawks have chosen wisely with their higher draft picks over the course of the last 30 years, but Adam Bennett was a bust at number six in 1989.  

    Bennett had a solid rookie season in the OHL in 1988-89, but never blossomed into the two-way defenseman that scouts had projected he'd be.  

    After failing to stick with Chicago in the early 1990's, Bennett was dealt to Edmonton, where he played the majority of his 69 NHL games.  

    From there, Bennett bounced around the minors for a couple of seasons before calling it a career.  

8. Colorado Avalanche- Todd Warriner, Fourth Overall in 1992

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    This is a tough one, because Todd Warriner was a serviceable NHL defenseman who played almost 500 NHL games, but ultimately he's the biggest bust in the Colorado Avalanche's recent history because he was such a high draft pick.  

    Warriner was drafted fourth by the Quebec Nordiques in 1992, but before he could play a game for Quebec, he was dealt to Toronto as part of the deal that brought Wendel Clark to Quebec City.  

    From there, Warriner became a solid rearguard, but after being dealt by the Leafs in 2000, he changed teams four more times before hanging 'em up at age 29.  

9. Columbus Blue Jackets- Alexandre Picard, Eighth Overall in 2004

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    The Columbus Blue Jackets' defense has been quite porous for the most part since the team entered the league in 2000, which is a large factor in why they've only made one Postseason appearance in 11 seasons.  

    The team thought they'd found a future gem in Alexandre Picard when they drafted him Eighth in 2004, but he has failed to materialize into the offensive blueliner they hoped he'd be. 

    Since being drafted, Picard has played in just 67 NHL games, and has yet to record a goal during that time.  Though he has received a number of call-ups during his professional career, he went the entire 2010-11 season without skating in an NHL game, which is not a good sign.  

    It's early to completely write Picard off, but the early returns haven't been good for the talented Quebec native. 

10. Dallas Stars- Brian Lawton, First Overall in 1983

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    In a bold move, the Minnesota North Stars took high schooler Brian Lawton with the top selection in the 1983 NHL Draft, and thought they'd found their franchise centerman.  

    Instead, they found themselves with a player who simply wasn't equipped to be a superstar in the NHL, and he crumbled beneath all the pressure.  

    While Lawton managed a couple of decent seasons early in his career, he never developed into the offensive dynamo that the North Stars had projected him to be, and he was shipped to the New York Rangers in 1988.  

    After 30 games, Lawton was traded again, and from there he bounced to three other NHL teams before retiring in 1993.  

11. Detroit Red Wings- Joe Murphy, First Overall in 1986

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    Over the years, the Detroit Red Wings have managed to stay competitive because they are constantly restocking their organization with great prospects, as a result of good drafting.  

    However, even the best teams have some players they wish they hadn't drafted, which for the Red Wings, includes Joe Murphy, the top selection in the 1986 NHL Draft. 

    Murphy was a talented forward out of Michigan State, but he never fulfilled his potential as an NHL player, as he bounced from team to team during his professional career.  

    He did manage to play in over 700 games, but he didn't stay long with any of them, and ended his career as a seldom used player with the Washington Capitals in 2001. 

12. Edmonton Oilers- Jason Bonsignore, Fourth Overall in 1994

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    Going into the 1994 NHL Draft, the Edmonton Oilers possessed two of the top six selections, so the team hoped to pick up a franchise cornerstone or two for the future.  

    They managed to get one with their second First Round pick, as they grabbed Ryan Smyth at the Sixth Overall spot.  Though Smyth was a great selection, their previous pick was a disaster, as they snagged Jason Bonsignore at number four.  

    In his draft year, Bonsignore was considered by many to be the most talented player available, though his desire and work ethic were constantly questioned.  

    In the end, he turned out to be a major bust, as he scored just three goals in 79 NHL games, and teased coaches and teammates alike with his sublime talent throughout his career.  

13. Florida Panthers- Rotislav Olesz, Seventh Overall in 2004

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    In the team's brief history, the Florida Panthers have been on the money with many of their high draft picks such as Jay Bouwmeester, Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton.  

    The team looked to continue that success when they took promising young Czech forward Rotislav Olesz with the Seventh Overall Pick of the 2004 NHL Draft.  

    Olesz looked to be on his way to fulfilling his potential in 2006-07, as he registered a career-high 30 points for the Panthers, but since then has taken several steps back in his development. 

    He's still looking for his first 15-goal season, and with the Panthers reloading their roster with offensive talent, he may never get there.  

14. Los Angeles Kings- Jamie Storr, Seventh Overall in 1994

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    In 1994, many scouts considered Jamie Storr to be the best goaltender available in that year's NHL Draft, which is why he was taken in the top ten by Los Angeles.  

    Storr showed promise early in his career, playing over half of his team's games in 1999-00 and 2000-01, but struggled as a starting goaltender and had lost his crease by the time the 2001-02 season rolled around.  

    Originally hailed as the team's next franchise netminder, he was replaced by Felix Potvin, and never again regained his status as the team's top goalie. 

    After leaving the Kings, Storr spent a couple of seasons in the AHL and Germany, leaving many to wonder what could have been.   

15. Minnesota Wild- Benoit Pouliot, Fourth Overall in 2005

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    Out of the first five players taken at the 2005 NHL Draft, only one has failed to become a standout in the NHL.  Carey Price, Sidney Crosby, Bobby Ryan and Jack Johnson have all blossomed into star players, but the player taken Fourth Overall, Benoit Pouliot lags far behind.  

    Pouliot, who was selected by Minnesota, hasn't developed into the scoring machine that the Wild envisioned him being.  

    After a couple of solid, if unspectacular, seasons in the OHL, Pouliot was given a number of opportunities to prove himself at the NHL level, but was never able to stick with the Wild.  

    In 2009, he was dealt to Montreal, and he's had some success there, posting 15 goals in 39 games in 2009-10.  

    At this point, it's unclear whether he'll be able to make a career for himself as a top-nine forward in the NHL, but he certainly still has time to prove himself. 

16. Montreal Canadiens- Doug Wickenheiser, First Overall in 1980

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    In 1980 the Montreal Canadiens used the first pick to select Doug Wickenheiser. Wickenheiser's junior hockey credentials were strong leading into the draft, but he failed to deliver during his brief stint with the Montreal hockey club.

    Wickenheiser had a serviceable, if unspectacular NHL career, playing 556 games and scoring 276 points.

    Players picked after Wickenheiser in the first round include Dave Babych, Paul Coffey, Larry Murphy, Brent Sutter and Denis Savard.

17. Nashville Predators- Brian Finley, Sixth Overall in 1999

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    At the 1999 NHL Draft, The Nashville Predators used the Sixth Overall Selection on Brian Finley, a talented goaltender from the Barrie Colts of the OHL.  

    The Predators thought they'd acquired their goalie of the future, but instead they ended up with a netminder who basically fell apart before the time his junior career was over.  

    Finley saw action in four NHL games between 2002 and 2007, but never developed into anything more than a serviceable AHL goaltender. 

    Fortunately, the Predators have been blessed with great goaltenders for the last decade, so most fans have forgotten that the team's highest draft pick since 1998 only played four NHL games.  

18. New Jersey Devils- Neil Brady, Third Overall in 1986

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    Unlike the New Jersey Devils teams of the last twenty years, the Devils of the 1980's struggled to ice competitive teams, and consequently enjoyed a number of top-five draft selections.  

    Though picks like Brendan Shanahan, Kirk Muller and Bill Guerin turned out to be smart choices, their top selection in the 1986 Draft was a disastrous one.  

    With the Third Overall Pick in the Draft, the Devils grabbed Neil Brady, a skilled center from Medicine Hat of the WHL.  

    After drafting Brady, the Devils allowed him time to develop in the AHL, where he became a prolific scorer.  Unfortunately, that success didn't carry over to the NHL, as Brady scored just two goals in three stints with the Devils, and he was dealt to Ottawa in 1992.

    As a Senator, Brady's best season saw him post 24 points, but he was out of the NHL by 1995.   

19. New York Islanders- Rick DiPietro, First Overall in 2000

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    During Mike Milbury's decade as the General Manager of the New York Islanders, 'Mad Mike' made a number of poor moves that set the franchise back years.  

    Milbury managed to trade away future stars like Zdeno Chara, Todd Bertuzzi, Eric Brewer and Wade Redden, but his worst decision of all was dealing franchise netminder Roberto Luongo to Florida in order to select Rick DiPietro with the top pick in the 2000 NHL Draft.  

    Since then, Luongo has gone on to become one of the best goaltenders in the world, while DiPietro has played in more than eight games just once since 2008-09.  

    To be fair, DiPietro enjoyed periods of success early in his career, including an All-Star Game Selection in 2008, and was good as the Islanders' starting goalie for four seasons.  

    However, he's been plagued by hip and knee injuries since then, and at least for the time being, it doesn't look like he'll ever be the goaltender he could have been.  

20. New York Rangers- Pavel Brendl, Fourth Overall in 1999

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    In 1999, the New York Rangers had high hopes for Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark after drafting both in the top ten of the 1999 NHL Draft.  

    While Lundmark never lived up to his potential, he managed to play in almost 300 NHL games. Brendl, on the other hand, has to be the most disappointing selection in New York Rangers history.  

    Brendl was a prolific scorer in the WHL, as he put up back-to-back seasons with 59 or more goals and at least 111 points.  He appeared to have the speed, skill and instincts to become the next Pavel Bure, but for whatever reason, those talents weren't enough to help Brendl become an NHL player.  

    He was dealt three different times, and was given the chance to prove himself on multiple occasions, but he simply couldn't create offense at the next level.  In 78 NHL games, Brendl produced just 22 points, and by 2004 he had returned to Europe to start a career there.  

21. Ottawa Senators- Alexandre Daigle, First Overall in 1993

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    This one is a slam dunk.  There has been no player who has failed to live up to the hype in such overwhelming fashion like Alexandre Daigle during his time with the Ottawa Senators.  

    As the top pick in the 1993 Draft, Daigle was marketed as the game's next superstar, and he had the personality, good looks and junior hockey resume to back that claim up.  Unfortunately, none of that meant anything once Daigle hit the ice with the Senators.  

    As a rookie in 1993-94, Daigle tallied 51 points and played reasonably well for a terrible Ottawa Senators team.  However, after that season, Daigle hit 20 goals on just one other occasion with the Senators, and he was labeled as a bust by the time his third NHL campaign was over.  

    In 1997-98, the Senators gave up on Daigle and traded him to Philadelphia, where he continued to underachieve.  From there, Daigle bounced between four more NHL teams, and retired from hockey in 2000.  

    Though he made a comeback two years later, and even lead the Minnesota Wild in scoring in 2005-06, Daigle never seemed to even scratch the surface of his potential, and Ottawa Senators fans won't soon forget the bust that was Alexandre Daigle. 

22. Philadelphia Flyers- Maxime Ouellet, 22nd Overall in 1999

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    Since 1990, the Philadelphia Flyers have had just three top-five draft picks, so they haven't had any mind-boggling busts in recent memory.

    However, with that being said, there have been a few Flyers prospects who haven't even come close to meeting the team's expectations of them, such as goaltender Maxime Ouellet.

    Ouellet was taken 22nd Overall in the 1999 after a stellar season with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, and played well as Team Canada's starting goaltender at the 2000 and 2001 World Juniors.  

    Unfortunately for the Flyers, who couldn't find a starting goaltender, Ouellet didn't continue to develop at the same rate, and in 2002 he was dealt to Washington as part of the package that brought Adam Oates to Philadelphia.  

    While Ouellet was fantastic in the minors, he played just six NHL games with the Capitals before being traded once again.  He never materialized into an NHL goaltender, and is on this list because of how much promise he showed early in his career. 

23. Phoenix Coyotes- Kyle Turris, Third Overall in 2007

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    This wasn't an easy decision, especially considering how young Kyle Turris is, but as things stand today, he's probably the biggest bust in Phoenix Coyotes history.

    Since being selected with the Third Overall Pick in 2007, Turris has carried the weight of being a potential savior for a cash-strapped franchise.  In juniors, Turris was a scoring machine, and following the 2007 Draft, he played well for the University of Wisconsin.  

    The expectations only continued to rise when Turris lead Team Canada in scoring en route to a Gold Medal at the 2008 World Juniors, but his first stint in the NHL quickly tempered them. 

    As a rookie in 2008-09, Turris posted just 20 points in 63 games, and appeared to be physically overmatched by the competition in the NHL.  Consequently, Turris spent the entire 2009-10 season in the AHL, where he put up solid numbers with the San Antonio Rampage.  

    Last year, Turris managed to tally 25 points for the Coyotes, but bigger things are expected of him.  Though it's much to early to label him as a true bust, Turris will have to pick his game up offensively if he's going to demonstrate that he was worth the third pick in the 2007 Draft. 

24. Pittsburgh Penguins- Darrin Shannon, Fourth Overall in 1988

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    Fortunately for Pittsburgh Penguins fans, the biggest bust in the team's history was only a member of the organization for about four months.  

    Darrin Shannon, the player the Penguins selected with the Fourth Pick in 1988, was dealt to Buffalo in November of that year as part of the trade that brought Tom Barrasso to Pittsburgh.  

    Shannon was a highly touted prospect, and the Sabres were excited about acquiring the young forward.  Buffalo opted to keep him in the AHL for two years, where he put up respectable offensive numbers for the Rochester Americans.  

    However, he didn't impress the Sabres during his two stints with the team, and he was shipped to Winnipeg.  

    As a member of the Jets, Shannon had a couple of 50-point seasons, but he never became the scoring star that the Penguins, Sabres and Jets projected him to be. 

25. St. Louis Blues- Marek Schwarz, 17th Overall in 2004

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    Going into the 2004 NHL Draft, there were two goaltenders that were considered a cut above the rest, as Al Montoya and Marek Schwarz were both thought to be potential starting goaltenders at the NHL level.  

    For whatever reason, Schwarz slid all the way to St. Louis at the 17th Pick, and the Blues thought they'd secured their goaltender for the future.  

    Instead, they had acquired a player who would go on to play just six games in the NHL.  Schwarz moved around a lot before making his debut with the Blues, bouncing between the Czech league, the WHL and AHL at a young age.  

    By the time he finally suited up for the Blues, he was no longer considered a high-end prospect, and never really demonstrated the talent that made him such a coveted player leading up to the 2004 Draft. 

26. San Jose Sharks- Andrei Zyuzin, Second Overall in 1996

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    Andrei Zyuzin was definitely not a terrible NHL player by any standards, but he never lived up to the expectations that go along with being a top-two pick in a draft.  

    In 1996, the Sharks took Zyuzin with the hope that he'd be the two-way defenseman to anchor the team's first pairing.  In the season following the draft, Zyuzin looked good playing in the Russian Superleague, tallying 17 points in 41 games as a 19-year old.  

    However, once the talented Russian moved across the pond to San Jose, it became apparent that he would be nothing more than a journeyman with a cannon for a shot.  

    He ended up playing for six different NHL teams, and wound up playing back in Russia by the time he was 30.  

27. Tampa Bay Lightning- Alexander Svitov, Third Overall in 2001

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    In many cases, prospects end up being labeled as busts because they simply weren't as good as scouts believed them to be.  Other draft picks, like Alexander Svitov, don't pan out because they don't have the desire and mental toughness required to be an everyday player in the NHL.  

    Svitov, the Third Overall Pick in 2001, was a sublimely talented prospect with a big frame that had scouts drooling.  

    However, as skilled and strong as Svitov was, his attitude became a major stumbling block for him.  At what should have been his coming out party, the 2001 World Junior Championships, Svitov made headlines for spitting in the face of Canada's Brian Sutherby after Team Canada eliminated the Russian team.  

    Svitov followed that up with a couple of mediocre seasons in the AHL and proved to be ineffective during his opportunities at the NHL level.  

    He was eventually shipped to Columbus, but he fared no better there and finished his career with just 13 goals in 179 NHL games.  

    Svitov continues to play in Russia, but is still not the impact forward that scouts projected him to be.  

28. Toronto Maple Leafs- Scott Pearson, Sixth Overall in 1988

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    In 1988, Scott Pearson was one of the most coveted offensive prospects heading into the NHL Draft due to his size, skill and mean streak that was on display during his junior career.  

    In 1987-88, Pearson not only put up a respectable 58 points in 46 games with Kingston of the OHL, but he also racked up over 100 penalty minutes for the second consecutive season.  

    After finishing up his junior career in 1989, Pearson went on to play in the AHL, where he put up solid numbers, but was ineffective during his NHL call-ups.  

    The Leafs quickly became impatient with Pearson, and dealt him to Quebec in 1990.  As a Nordique, he wasn't much better, and he was again traded, this time to Edmonton.  

    Pearson did have one decent NHL season in which he scored 37 points for the Oilers, but his time there didn't last long either, and he was traded twice more before eventually leaving for Germany in 2000.  

    All in all, Pearson played in 292 games, but registered less than 100 points.  He could never find consistency at the NHL level, which is why he didn't last as long as scouts believed he would. 

29. Vancouver Canucks- Alex Stojanov- Seventh Overall in 1991

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    Interestingly, the biggest bust in Vancouver Canucks history was part of the most lopsided trade in franchise history which brought the team's future captain, Markus Naslund, to Vancouver.  

    In 1991, the Canucks drafted tough winger Alex Stojanov with the Seventh Overall Pick in the Draft, and envisioned him being the power forward the team needed up front.  

    However, Stojanov was dealt to Pittsburgh in 1996 in exchange for Naslund, which proved to be an awful deal for the Penguins.  Naslund went on to break many of the Canucks' franchise scoring records, while Stojanov became known for using his hands to fight rather than put pucks in the net.  

    Ultimately, Stojanov wasn't fast enough to play in the NHL, and lasted just 107 games.  While he did rack up 222 penalty minutes over that span, he potted just seven points, and was strictly a minor leaguer as of 1998. 

30. Washington Capitals- Alexander Volchkov- Fourth Overall in 1996

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    In recent years, the Washington Capitals have had great success in selecting Russian players, but in 1996, they used the Fourth Overall Pick in the Draft on a highly skilled forward with a bad attitude who ultimately became the biggest bust in franchise history.  

    Alexandre Volchkov was an extremely talented prospect out of Barrie in the OHL, and looked to have the speed and skill to be a star in the NHL.  

    However, his attitude was so bad that these talents went to waste and he essentially found his way out of NHL work because of it.  

    While playing with Washington's minor league affiliate in Portland, Volchkov walked out on his team during a playoff game, causing the team to trade him to Edmonton.  

    Shockingly, his time there went even worse.  In a meeting with the Oilers' management, Volchkov referred to himself as the "Volchinator" and spoke strictly in the third person.  He never played a game with the Oilers, and finished with just three NHL games on his resume.  

    Volchkov was out of hockey completely by 2003, and remains one of the biggest busts in NHL history. 

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