Ranking the NHL Teams with the Worst Draft Records Since 2000
Drafting young prospects and developing them into quality talent is among the main pillars for building and maintaining a competitive NHL team. While the draft can be a crap shoot, particularly in the latter rounds, a consistent record of selecting and developing young prospects plays a crucial role in constructing a successful roster.
To establish a deep pool of promising talent, teams must do well selecting players throughout the the various rounds of each draft. Some teams have had varying degrees of success, while others have done rather poorly in recent years.
The following slideshow ranks the 10 NHL teams with the worst draft records since 2000. It includes a list of notable selections (including their draft year), each team's top selection during this period and a brief analysis of their respective records.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning
Notable draft selections: Center Steven Stamkos (2008), defenseman Victor Hedman (2009), right wing Nikita Kucherov and left wing Ondrej Palat (2011).
Top draft selection: Steven Stamkos is the franchise player he was projected to become when taken first overall in the 2008 NHL draft. The Lightning captain is a two-time winner of the Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading goal scorer.
Analysis: Between 2000 and 2007, few NHL teams had a worse draft record than the Tampa Bay Lightning. Of the few Lightning prospects selected during that period to reach the NHL, only Alex Killorn and Karri Ramo remain in the NHL.
The Lightning have had more success at the draft table since 2008, especially since Steve Yzerman took over as general manager in 2010. It coincides with their recent development into a dominant NHL team, which explains why they're not higher on this list.
9. Florida Panthers
Notable draft selections: Center Stephen Weiss (2001), defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (2002), right wing Nathan Horton (2003), center Nick Bjugstad (2010).
Top draft selection: During his six seasons with the Panthers, Jay Bouwmeester was their best defenseman and a model of consistency. He had five 82-game seasons, netting 42-plus points in three of them.
Analysis: Weiss, Bouwmeester and Horton were the Panthers' only noteworthy selections between 2001 and 2003. Their draft record from 2004 to 2008 was decidedly grim, as none of their picks from that period achieved NHL stardom.
Since 2009, however, the Panthers have done a better job finding talent. Bjugstad, 2013 Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau and promising defenseman Aaron Ekblad are among their recent picks to become key roster players.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets
Notable draft selections: Right wing Rick Nash (2002), center Derick Brassard (2006), right wing Jakub Voracek (2007), center Ryan Johansen (2010).
Top draft selection: During Rick Nash's nine seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, he became their franchise scoring leader. He had seven seasons of 30-plus goals and eight seasons with 54-plus points. In 2004, he was co-winner of the Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading goal scorer.
Analysis: From 2000 to 2009, the Blue Jackets had more duds than hits. Noteworthy draft busts include Nikolai Zherdev (fourth overall in 2003), Alexandre Picard (eighth overall in 2004), Gilbert Brule (sixth overall in 2005) and Nikita Filatov (sixth overall in 2008). Had they retained Brassard and Voracek, it might have offset these lousy picks.
Since 2010, the Blue Jackets' draft record seems to be improving. Johansen is a superstar in the making, while left wing Boone Jenner (2011) shows considerable promise. If not for these recent picks, the Blue Jackets would be higher on this list.
7. New Jersey Devils
Notable draft selections: Defenseman Paul Martin (2000), left wing Zach Parise (2003), center Travis Zajac (2004), center Adam Henrique (2008).
Top draft selection: In five of Zach Parise's seven seasons with the Devils, he enjoyed five seasons of 31-plus goals and 62 or more points, including a career-high 45 goals and 94 points in 2008-09.
Analysis: Strong drafting during the 1990s by New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello and his scouting staff played a key role in building three Stanley Cup champions. However, apart from a few notable exceptions (Martin, Parise, Zajac and Henrique), their draft record since 2000 is very disappointing.
Failing to match their earlier draft success has played a significant part in the Devils' decline in recent years. It remains to be seen if promising players like defensemen Eric Gelinas, Damon Severson, Adam Larsson and Jon Merrill can help the Devils regain their lost glory.
6. Calgary Flames
Notable draft selections: Defenseman Dion Phaneuf (2003), defenseman T.J. Brodie (2008), left wing Johnny Gaudreau (2011), center Sean Monahan (2013).
Top draft selection: Dion Phaneuf enjoyed his best NHL seasons during his four-and-a-half years with the Flames. He tallied 47 or more points in each of those seasons, including a career-best 60 points in 2007-08.
Analysis: For a long time, the Calgary Flames had one of the worst draft records in the NHL. From 2000 to 2010, their most notable selections were Phaneuf and Brodie. Most of their other picks who reached the NHL went on to become role players on other teams.
The Flames' record has shown some improvement since 2011, thanks to promising forwards Gaudreau and Monahan. It's because of those youngsters the Flames aren't among the top five teams on this ranking.
5. Carolina Hurricanes
Notable draft selections: Goaltender Cam Ward (2002), center Eric Staal (2003), left wing Jeff Skinner and defenseman Justin Faulk (2010).
Analysis: Apart from a few notable picks like Ward and Staal, the Hurricanes didn't do well in the draft between 2000 and 2009. Most of those selected who reached the NHL largely became role players with the Hurricanes or other clubs. This has contributed to their ongoing playoff drought since 2009.
The Hurricanes have shown modest progress in their recent draft record. Skinner (when healthy) and Faulk have become essential players, and center Elias Lindholm (fifth overall in 2013) has considerable promise. Still, the Hurricanes have room for improvement in drafting and developing young talent.
4. Dallas Stars
Notable draft selections: Right wing Loui Eriksson (2003), defenseman Matt Niskanen, right wing James Neal (2005), left wing Jamie Benn (2007).
Top draft selection: Jamie Benn is considered among the NHL's elite players. As of Jan. 7, the Stars captain had 306 career points in 383 games, including a 79-point performance in 2013-14. With 34 points in 38 games this season, he's on pace for over 70 points.
Analysis: Of those players selected by the Dallas Stars since 2000, only Benn can be considered a genuine superstar. From 2000 through 2010, Eriksson and Niskanen were their only first-round picks to achieve any measure of NHL stardom.
To build up their roster, Stars general manager Jim Nill must do a better job at the draft table than his predecessors. Nill has put considerable stock into his young players, but it's too early to tell how their current prospects will pan out.
3. Vancouver Canucks
Notable draft selections: Defenseman Kevin Bieksa (2001), center Ryan Kesler (2003), goaltender Cory Schneider and defenseman Alexander Edler (2004),
Top draft selection: In 10 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, Ryan Kesler established himself among the NHL's best two-way centers. He won the Selke Trophy in 2011 as the NHL's top defensive forward, tallying 75 points in 2009-10 and 73 points in 2010-11.
Analysis: The Vancouver Canucks' draft record since 2000 is a poor one, with Kesler, Bieksa, Schneider and Edler their only notable selections who have achieved NHL stardom. Few of the others who reached the NHL have gone on to have productive careers.
The Canucks currently possess an aging roster, which will soon require a significant rebuild. Though recent selections Bo Horvat and Jake Virtanen are promising, it's too early in their careers to determine what level of NHL success they'll achieve.
Notable draft selections: Right wing Ales Hemsky (2001), right wing Jordan Eberle (2008), left winger Taylor Hall (2010) and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011).
Top draft selection: Taylor Hall has established himself among the NHL's best left wings. As of Jan. 7, the 23-year-old had 250 points in 281 NHL games, including an 80-point performance in 2013-14.
Analysis: An abysmal draft record is one reason the Edmonton Oilers are poised to miss the playoffs for the ninth straight season. Hemsky, Eberle, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins are the only Oilers first-rounders to achieve some measure of NHL stardom.
The Oilers have also done a poor job finding talent beyond the first round. Of the players currently on their active roster, defenseman Jeff Petry (2006) is the only notable who isn't a first-round pick. In drafting and developing young talent, the Oilers are among the league's worst.
1.Toronto Maple Leafs
Notable draft selections: Left wing Alexander Steen (2002), goaltender Tuukka Rask (2005), center Nazem Kadri (2009).
Top draft selection: Tuukka Rask became an elite NHL goaltender with the Boston Bruins, winning the Vezina Trophy in 2014. The Leafs traded Rask to Boston in 2006 for goalie Andrew Raycroft, who is no longer in the NHL.
Analysis: The Toronto Maple Leafs have the NHL's worst draft record since 2000, which is one reason they've missed the playoffs in every season but one since 2005-06. Most of their picks who reached the NHL were second-tier talent. The few who achieved stardom (Rask and Steen) did so with other NHL teams.
The Leafs' poor performance in drafting, developing and retaining young talent is a key factor in their 47-years-and-counting Stanley Cup drought. Until this is suitably addressed, they'll remain among the NHL's mediocre franchises.