When it comes to the NHL Draft, there is always a lot of hype, expectations, and big shoes to fill.
While some prospects are able to fulfill the expectations set upon them and thrive on the NHL stage, there are others who do not even come close to doing what many people in the hockey world thought they could do at the NHL level.
With that in mind, here are some of the more memorable draft busts in NHL Draft history:
Pavel Brendl, 1999 No. 4 overall Pick, New York Rangers
Back in the late 1990’s, New York Rangers’ general manager Neil Smith made a lot of bad moves whether it was through trades, free agent signings or the NHL Draft.
In 1999, it was the NHL Draft in which Neil Smith made a mistake. Smith thought so highly of prospect Pavel Brendl that he traded goaltender Dan Cloutier and other picks to move up to the fourth overall pick in the draft to select Brendl.
Brendl, although he had a ton of success as a junior with the Calgary Hitmen, never played a game in the Rangers’ organization because he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for Eric Lindros. In Philadelphia, Brendl only scored 12 points in 42 games, which prompted the team to trade him to the Carolina Hurricanes, where he would only play 26 games over parts of two seasons and contribute just 9 points.
Brendl would play two games with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2005-06 but that would be the last we would hear of Brendl in the NHL.
Daniel Tkaczuk, 1997 No. 6 Overall Pick, Calgary Flames
Just because a player has success at the junior level does not mean that it will translate to success in the NHL.
This was the case with Daniel Tkaczuk, the sixth overall pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. Tkaczuk was a star with the Barrie Colts as he racked up 334 points in four years in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
His professional hockey life was a much different story. He played a total of 19 games with the Calgary Flames in the 2001-02 season and had 4 goals and 7 assists for 11 points.
Tkaczuk would never play a game in the NHL after that as he spent the rest of his career bouncing around in the American Hockey League (AHL) as well as some leagues overseas.
Patrik Stefan, 1999 No. 1 Overall Pick, Atlanta Thrashers
In the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, the Atlanta Thrashers selected Patrik Stefan with the first overall pick. Prior to being drafted, Stefan performed well for two seasons with the Long Beach Ice Dogs in the International Hockey League (IHL) as he compiled 50 points in 58 games.
Once he joined the Thrashers and the NHL in the 1999-2000 season, things went downhill from there. In 455 career games in the NHL with the Thrashers and Dallas Stars, Stefan posted just 64 goals and 124 assists for 188 points.
Stefan left the NHL leaving only this behind:
Brett Lindros, 1994 No. 9 Overall Pick, New York Islanders
While there have been many successful brothers that have played in the NHL, one particular brother of an NHL star did not have the same kind of career that his brother did.
With the ninth overall pick in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Islanders selected Brett Lindros, who was the brother of Eric Lindros. Brett played just 51 games in the NHL and recorded just seven points before being forced to retire due to concussions.
Bryan Fogarty, 1987 No. 9 Overall Pick, Quebec Nordiques
In the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, defenceman Bryan Fogarty was taken by the Quebec Nordiques. Fogarty scored 155 points with the Niagara Falls Thunder in the OHL in the 1988-89 season before joining the NHL in 1989-90.
While Fogarty did alright in his first two seasons with the Nordiques, he never really did much after. He spent time in the NHL, AHL, and IHL Halifax Citadels (AHL), New Haven Nighthawks (AHL), Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL), Cleveland Lumberjacks (AHL), Atlanta Knights (IHL), Las Vegas Thunder (IHL), Kansas City Blades (IHL), and Montreal Canadiens (NHL) among others.
Fogarty died in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on March 6, 2002 due to an enlarged heart.
Scott Scissons, 1990 No. 6 Overall Pick, New York Islanders
The New York Islanders were unlucky when they drafted Scott Scissons with the sixth overall pick in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.
Prior to the draft, Scissons showed his offensive talent in boasting back-to-back 80-point seasons with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League (WHL). After those seasons, however, Scissons’s offensive abilities disappeared.
Scissons played just two NHL games (one in 1992-93 and one in 1993-94) with the Islanders and did not record a point in either game. After the 1993-94 season, Scissons spent three seasons in the International Hockey League and was not heard from after that.
It is strange to think that the Islanders were so certain that Scissons would be a great NHLer that the franchise would have taken Scissions over Jaromir Jagr if given the chance to do so.
Pat Falloon, 1991 No. 2 Overall Pick, San Jose Sharks
Going into the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, everyone in San Jose was excited about having a team in the NHL in the 1991-92 season as the San Jose Sharks.
Unfortunately, the franchise did not get off to a great start in drafting Pat Falloon with the second overall pick. While he got off to a decent start with 25 goals as a rookie and leading the team in points, this would end up being the best season of his NHL career.
Falloon would spend the rest of his career bouncing around the league for the next decade with the likes of the Philadelphia Flyers, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins before retiring after the 1999-2000 season. Falloon finished his career with 143 goals and 179 assists for 322 points in 575 career games.
Doug Wickenheiser, 1980 No. 1 Overall Pick, Montreal Canadiens
It is not very often that the Montreal Canadiens had a high pick in the draft.
However, in 1980, the team had the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft and they used it on forward Doug Wickenheiser. Wickenheiser was not terrible but in 180 games with the Canadiens, he posted just 105 points.
Wickenheiser would spend nine years in the NHL with the Canadiens (3 ½), St. Louis Blues (3 ½), Vancouver Canucks (1) and the New York Rangers (1) while also seeing time in the AHL and IHL. Wickenheiser would finish his career having played 556 games and scoring 111 goals and adding 165 assists for a total of 276 points.
Wickenheiser passed away on January 12, 1999 from lung and brain cancer.
Alexandre Daigle, 1993 No. 1 Overall Pick, Ottawa Senators
If you want to look back at the top bust ever in the NHL Entry Draft, you do not have to look any further than Alexandre Daigle.
Daigle was the first overall pick in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators. After putting up decent numbers in his rookie season with 51 points (20 goals and 31 assists), Daigle never ended up living up to his potential.
Daigle could never really stick with one team for too long besides the Senators, who gave him five years to prove himself to the organization. After the fifth season with the Senators, Daigle spent one and a half seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, a half a season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, 58 games with the New York Rangers, one season with the Pittsburgh Penguins and two seasons with the Minnesota Wild before going overseas to play with Davos.
Daigle finished his NHL career with 129 goals and 198 assists for 327 points in 616 games.