saw this on another Hockey website and thought it would be cool to do here ......
Although most recent attention of poolies has rightfully been paid to free-agent signings and trades, and their ripple effect in fantasy, let's not forget there was also a little thing called the NHL Entry Draft earlier this month. And while it's safe to assume dozens of what will ultimately become fantasy worthy players were selected, the reality is it's all but inevitable that some early picks will turn out to be busts. And therein lies the focus of today's poll.
The question is who will, by the end of their NHL careers, be the five biggest busts picked in the first round since 2011. To be eligible, each skater (no goalies are included) not only must have been a first-round draft pick but also have played 100-400 games in the NHL and still have been on an NHL roster in 2019-20, as I want to focus on once highly touted players who have already been given a fair chance to demonstrate their talent but also not those who've played so many games that it's already crystal clear whether they will or won't be a total bust.
Yes, it is true that in logging even 100 games these players are not busts as compared to those who either never made it to the NHL or never even reached the 100 game mark. But what I wanted to focus on were players who had their chance to play well but failed, as quite often they were the ones on which fantasy attention was paid more so than guys who never made it to the NHL. In other words, think of "bust" here as meaning failure to capitalize on the opportunity.
So to reiterate, you're voting on more than if these players have been a bust thus far; this poll requires you, especially for the younger players, to predict whether, when their careers are all said and done, they will have been one of the five biggest draft busts picked in the first round since 2011. Lastly, you should factor in expectations – that is, generally the earlier a player was picked the more he should be expected to produce; but if a player wasn't projected to be an elite scorer, that makes him less of a bust if indeed he puts up less than stellar numbers.
Here are the voting choices, in alphabetical order with their draft year and spot, career games played, and career stats through 2019-20. A link to the voting poll is at the end of the column.
Joel Armia (2011, 16th overall, 295 games, 111 points)
On the plus side, his points per game have increased in each of his NHL seasons. Sound good? It does until you realize his career-best in 2019-20 was only a 42 point full season pace and he still hasn't reached the 300 career game mark despite being 27 years old.
Sven Baertschi (2011, 13th overall, 291 games, 138 points)
Rather than hitting his stride as he entered his prime, Baertschi has seen his total games played number drop with each passing season he's spent in Vancouver. One has to wonder if he will even get another NHL deal once his current one expires after 2020-21.
Sam Bennett (2014, 4th overall, 364 games, 128 points)
A punch line even before getting drafted due to being unable to notch a single pull-up at the NHL combine, his performance as an NHLer hasn't been much better, never having once posted a point per every other game. Still, he's 24 and had eight points in Calgary's ten playoff games; and the team might be looking to retool its line-up, so perhaps he could be a later bloomer?
Lawson Crouse (2015, 11th overall, 230 games, 63 points)
It's only been a few years, but early returns have been pretty dismal for Crouse. And despite playing for the Coyotes, a team which could use all the offense it can get, Crouse has yet to have a TOI above 13:35 in a season.
Jonathan Drouin (2013, 3rd overall, 349 games, 209 points)
Given how highly touted he was before and after being drafted, for him to not yet have posted a full-season scoring pace above 60 points can only be viewed as a major disappointment. And with his ice time per game decreasing in each of the past three seasons, his status as a draft bust might soon be cemented.
Haydn Fleury (2014, 7th overall, 132 games, 23 points)
For starters, Fleury didn't even log his first NHL game until the 2017-18 campaign, which is a good bit of time for someone picked so early in the draft. Making matters worse, since arriving in the NHL, Fleury has done little to nothing to justify having been drafted…..at all, let alone at pick seven.
Noah Hanifin (2015, 5th overall, 389 games, 138 points)
Many a poolie latched onto Hanifin either after he was picked fifth overall or upon learning he was to be an NHLer for his age 18 season, which can portend greatness. And although he's certainly not played poorly, with a career-best 82 game scoring rate of 34 points and seemingly not panning out as an offensive blueline threat, he's on his way to what can only be termed a disappointing career.
Tyson Jost (2016, 10th overall, 208 games, 72 points)
After stellar play as a teen in Canada and then for a season at college, Jost's arrival in the NHL was greatly anticipated. Fast forward to now, and Jost finally played a full NHL season, but yet again failed to make any sort of impact.
Slater Koekkoek (2012, 10th overall, 149 games, 29 points)
For starters, Koekkoek has failed to become an NHL regular despite playing at least a game in what has now been six NHL seasons. And then the Blackhawks, despite being a team not brimming with blueline talent, opted not to even qualify him. Whether Koekkoek is even in the NHL this time next season is very much up for debate.
Sonny Milano (2014, 16th overall, 125 games, 47 points)
A junior phenom, particularly in international competition, much was expected from Milano. Yet 2019-20 was the first season he didn't spend part of in the AHL. And although he failed to impress with the Blue Jackets, his trade to Anaheim might ignite him as shown by his five points in the nine games he played for the Ducks following the trade.
Casey Mittlestadt (2017, 8th overall, 114 games, 39 points)
After five points in six games the season he was drafted, Mittlestadt has tallied just 34 in 108 subsequent games. Now in danger of being leapfrogged on the depth chart by Dylan Cozens, the best Mittlestadt might hope for is to be moved to another team for a fresh start.
Ryan Murray (2012, 2nd overall, 347 games, 110 points)
Murray failed to play more than 60 games in any of the past four seasons, as injuries have taken a toll on what was supposed to be a promising career. Traded to New Jersey earlier this month for a draft pick, Murray is a far cry from the player he was expected to be.
Valeri Nichushkin (2013, 10th overall, 288 games, 101 points)
After 34 points in his age 18 season, Nichushkin looked to be on the fast track to greatness. But within three seasons he was back in Russia, before returning to the NHL for the Stars in 2018-19, failing to score a single goal in 57 games. His playing style now having morphed into less of an offensive game, chances are Nichushkin will never live up to his draft and rookie season hype.
Nolan Patrick (2017, 2nd overall, 145 games, 61 points)
Could Patrick be at risk of being the forward version of Ryan Murray? Early signs are there, as he missed a chunk of games in his first two seasons than all of 2019-20.
Brendan Perlini (2014, 12th overall, 239 games, 76 points)
The former top pick and prospect was just not qualified by the Red Wings, which not only was his third NHL team but also one needing all the help it can get. If he does manage to remain in the NHL, it might not be for long.
Jesse Puljujarvi (2016, 4th overall, 139 games, 37 points)
Will JP be Nichuskin 2.0, or might he be like Jiri Hudler and parlay an early career segue overseas into NHL success? If the Oilers brought him back, chances are they will allow him to play in the top six; whether or not JP can seize upon that remains to be seen.
Nick Ritchie (2014, 10th overall, 294 games, 111 points)
After showing signs he might be blossoming in 2018-19, Ritchie's 2019-20 season was a step back and earned him a ticket out of town from the Ducks, a team which gave him no shortage of chances and certainly not flush with forward talent. And with the Bs, he was almost invisible on the ice, other than racking up PIM.
Jack Roslovic (2015, 25th overall, 180 games, 67 points)
Every season the Jets pine for a second-line center, and every season they opt not to hand the reins to Roslovic. That says a lot, as does his paltry career point total.
Jake Virtanen (2014, 6th overall, 279 games, 95 points)
Not only has he not come close to reaching the heights to which he was supposed to ascend by now, "Shotgun Jake's" main claim to fame to date is being a fan meme. Yes, bigger players take longer to develop, but shouldn't there have been more promising signs from Virtanen thus far?
Pavel Zacha (2015, 6th overall, 266 games, 108 points)
Like several others on the list, it's troubling that Zacha has failed to find success despite playing for a team that seemingly could use his talent. If we're not yet at the point where Zacha is a lost cause, we might be reaching that stage soon.
There you have it – you 20 candidates. Remember that in casting votes you should select the five skaters who – versus expectations and based on not just what they've done so far but also how you see the career playing out – will be the five biggest draft busts (i.e., NHL failures) dating back to 2011.