Draft Busts From the 2000s That Weren’t Busts at All

If there’s one factor that’s true about each single NHL Draft, it’s that some highly-touted prospects gained’t pan out. It’s the danger of choosing 18-year-olds with years of improvement forward of them; at such a younger age, 1,000,000 issues can stop them from reaching their targets. Generally it’s the perspective, taking part in with a poor crew, failing to answer the elevated stress, or just not having the talent set to play on the highest stage. No matter the reason being, they nonetheless all get known as the identical factor – a draft bust.

Check out Alexander Svitov, for instance. Chosen third general in 2001 behind Ilya Kovalchuk and Jason Spezza, who each went on to have glorious NHL careers, the Tampa Bay Lightning solely acquired a season and a half from the Russian star earlier than buying and selling him for virtually nothing to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He lasted two extra seasons earlier than returning to Russia, the place he performed till 2021-22. Had the Lightning re-done the draft, they may have taken Mikko Koivu as a substitute, who went sixth general to the Minnesota Wild, or possibly Tomas Plekanec, who wasn’t picked till the third spherical.

Jason Spezza, left, selected by the Ottawa Senators second overall, Ilya Kovalchuk selected by the Atlanta Thrashers first overall, and Alexander Svitov selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning
The 2001 NHL entry draft’s high three picks, Jason Spezza, left, chosen by the Ottawa Senators second general, Ilya Kovalchuk chosen by the Atlanta Thrashers first general, and Alexander Svitov chosen by the Tampa Bay Lightning third general, pose collectively following the primary spherical of the draft Saturday, June 23, 2001, on the Nationwide Automotive Rental Middle in Dawn, Fla. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Tony Gutierrez)

Nevertheless, Svitov’s story is way from easy. A highly-touted energy ahead from Siberia, the 6-foot-3 ahead made his debut in Russia’s high league as a 16-year-old in 1998-99 and was already seen as an NHL-ready prospect on draft day, however when he signed his contract with the Lightning, he returned to Russia for the summer time. That’s when he was reportedly knowledgeable that he needed to serve two years within the navy and was subsequently suspended from his crew in Avangard. The Lightning shortly tried to rectify the state of affairs, hoping to get their high prospect over for the 2002-03 season as a substitute, however within the meantime, the Russian media was accusing {the teenager} and his household of being grasping for taking a job within the NHL.

It’s no surprise, then, that Svitov burned out shortly after arriving in North America, and he’s removed from the one prospect who underwent unimaginable stress and trauma settling into their skilled hockey profession. Dozens of highly-touted draft picks have fizzled out earlier than they hit their stride and have been merely tossed apart as one other draft bust. However there’s extra to their tales than meets the attention. Trying again on the 2000-09 NHL Drafts, listed here are six extra gamers that don’t need to be known as a draft bust.

Rick DiPietro

At the moment, Rick DiPietro is considered as a colossal failure by the New York Islanders, who chosen him first general in 2000. However little or no of his fall from grace needed to do with him; the crew round him lacked expertise due to a horrible basic supervisor, and the extraordinary stress and impatience that adopted him led to a collection of accidents that ultimately compelled him to retire in 2013-14.

On this present day in 2000, the New York Islanders chosen Rick DiPietro with the primary general decide within the NHL Entry Draft https://t.co/O8POzIYnGO

Taking DiPietro first general was not a nasty decide by any means. As a freshman with Boston School, he claimed Hockey East’s Rookie of the 12 months, New England’s Most Worthwhile Participant, and was named the perfect goalie on the 2000 World Junior Championships after posting a 1.81 goals-against common over 5 appearances. However what made him a really elite prospect was his skill to deal with the puck and problem shooters, just like Martin Brodeur, who led the New Jersey Devils to Stanley Cup Championships in 1995, 2000, and 2003.

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However the Islanders didn’t understand that they wanted greater than a goalie to win video games. Simply earlier than making the decide, they shipped out each Kevin Weekes and Roberto Luongo, their two finest goalies, in separate offers, and a yr later, traded away Zdeno Chara and the second general decide in 2001 for the temperamental star Alexei Yashin. Little by little, the Islanders tore aside their roster, including growing older veterans and function gamers, leaving DiPietro as one of many solely shiny spots on the crew.

By 2006-07, DiPietro had emerged as one of many NHL’s higher up-and-coming goalies after a rocky begin within the league. However then the Islanders’ put the ultimate nail in his proverbial coffin, signing him to the league’s longest contract ever, a 15-year deal that might maintain him beneath contract till he was 40 years previous. At first, the extremely dangerous transfer appeared like it might repay, as he was chosen to the 2008 All-Star Recreation, however then the accidents hit. From 2008-2013, he performed greater than 10 video games in a season simply as soon as, showing in 26 contests in 2010-11, so the Islanders determined to chop ties with him, shopping for him out on July 3, 2013. He tried to return again the season after with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Charlotte Checkers, however the accidents had taken their toll, and he opted to retire in 2013-14.

Dan Blackburn

When the New York Rangers stepped as much as the rostrum on the 2001 Draft, they have been desperately in want of a brand new franchise goalie. Mike Richter was not the goalie he as soon as was, and neither Man Hebert nor Kirk McLean had been viable stopgaps. Their selection to interchange him was Dan Blackburn, a extremely touted goalie taking part in with the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Kootenay Ice who immediately turned their goalie of the long run. Whereas the hype round him was large, he didn’t disappoint, making the crew out of coaching camp as a 19-year-old and beginning 31 video games, which earned him a spot on the NHL All-Rookie and Younger Stars groups.

Congrats to ICE Alumnus Dan Blackburn who was inducted to the Alberta Hockey Corridor of Fame for his function on the 1999 Canada Video games Gold Medal crew! https://t.co/BXWjKYRLP4

The next season Blackburn performed 32 video games, and though his .890 save proportion was decrease than anticipated, he had all of the makings of a top-tier goalie, and far was anticipated from him in 2003-04. However simply earlier than the Rangers’ coaching camp opened, he pulled a muscle in his shoulder whereas weightlifting. Initially, he thought nothing of it, however he managed just a few preseason video games earlier than being compelled to the sidelines, the ache in his shoulder insufferable every time he lifted his arm. So he was positioned on the injured reserve in hopes that the problem might be resolved.

Sadly, additional exams revealed it wasn’t a pulled muscle, however that Blackburn has suffered nerve harm in his shoulder. He sat out your complete 2003-04 season, present process a number of surgical procedures to revive full motion in his arm and hand, however nothing labored. He even tried a comeback in 2004-05 sporting two blockers, nevertheless it did little good and after 12 video games he was compelled to retire on the age of twenty-two. He’s remained in hockey circles, operating youth goaltender camps, in addition to showing within the 2011 NHL Alumni recreation towards the Philadelphia Flyers. However taking part in competitively is all however unimaginable for the previous first-round decide, as he nonetheless is unable to completely use his left hand.

Luc Bourdon

The 2005 Draft class is without doubt one of the deepest in NHL historical past. Headlined by Sidney Crosby, arguably probably the greatest gamers of all time, the primary spherical additionally included future all-stars Bobby Ryan, Carey Value, Tuuka Rask, Marc Staal, T.J. Oshie, and Anze Kopitar. Nevertheless, regardless of the depth, not everybody panned out. Proper earlier than the Los Angeles Kings snapped up Kopitar eleventh general, the Vancouver Canucks seemed to bolster their defence for the foreseeable future and chosen Luc Bourdon from the Quebec Main Junior Hockey League’s (QMJHL) Moncton Wildcats.

Luc Bourdon with the Vancouver Canucks (Icon SMI)

Bourdon made his skilled debut in October 2006, taking part in 9 video games for the Canucks earlier than returning to the QMJHL, wanting each bit like a future two-way top-pairing defender, demonstrating an unimaginable work ethic and improbable skating abilities. He returned to the NHL in 2007-08, taking part in 27 video games throughout a number of call-ups whereas spending a lot of the season with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Manitoba Moose, the place he had 14 factors in 41 video games. His first NHL objective got here in November that yr towards the Minnesota Wild, and he scored once more in January, this time towards the Tampa Bay Lightning.

On the finish of the 2007-08 NHL season, he returned house to New Brunswick and acquired his motorbike license, shopping for a motorcycle shortly after. He had it simply two days earlier than colliding with a truck, killing him on affect. His dying rocked the local people, as he had been a hero to many from there who noticed him as a small-town child who broke via to the most important stage within the hockey world. But it surely was additionally devastating for the Canucks and the many individuals he impacted alongside the way in which. Bourdon is remembered as a talented hockey participant whose profession was minimize means too quick, but in addition a passionate, caring one who caught up for his associates.

Alexei Cherepanov

Alexei Cherepanov was hailed as probably the most gifted prospects of his class heading into the 2007 Draft. He topped NHL Central Scouting’s listing for European Skaters, rating forward of Mikael Backlund, Lars Eller, and Simon Hjalmarsson, and scored 18 targets to set a rookie report in Russia, surpassing Pavel Bure, Alex Ovechkin, and Evgeni Malkin. Though he was anticipated to be a top-10 choice on the very least, the dearth of a switch settlement between the Russian league and the NHL precipitated him to fall to the seventeenth decide, the place the New York Rangers scooped him up.

13 years in the past, hockey world misplaced probably the most gifted younger gamers of that point – 19-year-old Alexei Cherepanov.
The annual KHL rookie of the yr trophy is known as after him – The Alexei Cherepanov Award. https://t.co/jxpSvxE6zo

Video scouting wasn’t what it’s in the present day, and plenty of followers and scouts hadn’t been capable of see the ‘Siberian Categorical’ play, however those that had have been ecstatic over his potential as probably the most purely gifted prospects of his draft class. Sadly, that potential was by no means realized. Cherepanov returned to Russia for the 2007-08 season, the place he put up very comparable totals to his rookie season. He remained in his house nation for 2008-09, and the Rangers have been hopeful they may carry him to North America for the next season, however in October, simply 15 video games into the season, the 19-year-old winger collapsed on the bench throughout a recreation. Crew medics have been unable to revive him and he died earlier than an ambulance was capable of decide him up.

After his dying, it was revealed that Cherepanov had suffered from power ischemia, a syndrome in which there’s a poor blood provide to sure areas of the physique. Within the younger Russian’s case that day, it was his coronary heart. Whether or not his membership knew in regards to the illness is troublesome to say, as experiences differ, however there’s no query that the tragedy rocked the franchise. Avangard Omsk retired his No. 7, and the league named their Rookie of the 12 months Trophy after him. Moreover, the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) was compelled to re-evaluate its medical practices, making certain that nothing like that ever occurred once more.

Cody Hodgson

Three years after the collection of Bourdon, the Canucks have been as soon as once more in possession of the tenth general decide. The crew probably didn’t count on to be in the identical place so quickly, however they weren’t apprehensive; their core was in place, and simply wanted a season or two to generate some momentum. So, armed with one other excessive decide, they seemed for character and intelligence, which led them to probably the greatest in each areas, Cody Hodgson.

Cody Hodgson Vancouver Canucks
Cody Hodgson, Vancouver Canucks (Picture by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI through Getty Photos)

After one other dominant yr within the Ontario Hockey League and on the 2008 World Juniors, Hodgson seemed able to problem for an NHL roster spot, however through the summer time of 2009, he ended up injuring his again. Initially, it was assumed it was a disc harm and that he’d be prepared for coaching camp in September, however months handed and he was unable to return to the ice. Throughout that point, he started incomes a popularity as somebody who was difficult to take care of and blamed everybody else for his issues, which led to a fractured relationship with the Canucks.

Associated: Cody Hodgson: A Promising Profession Reduce Brief

It wasn’t till April 2010 that it was found that the gifted heart had torn a muscle in his again, and by then, the Canucks have been seemingly uninterested in him recovering, so that they shipped him and one other participant off to the Buffalo Sabres for Zack Kassian and one other defenceman. It had little to do together with his talent; after 63 video games in Vancouver, he had 16 targets and 33 factors, which put him within the operating for the Calder Trophy because the league’s finest rookie. However his popularity had been sullied by each coach and basic supervisor, so he had little selection however to start out recent.

Hodgson performed effectively in his first season with the Sabres, however quickly previous points cropped up once more and he was purchased out, which allowed the Nashville Predators to signal him to a one-year deal. Again accidents continued to plague him, and eventually, he came upon the rationale why – he found he had malignant hyperthermia (MH), a degenerative situation that produces rigidity in muscle tissues, together with coronary stress. At simply 26 years previous, he was now not capable of play hockey and was compelled into retirement. Nevertheless, on condition that many individuals with the illness are wheelchair-bound, he says he nonetheless feels blessed for the profession and life he’s had.

Kyle Seashore

In 2008, Kyle Seashore was seen as probably the greatest younger energy forwards within the recreation. In his draft yr, he scored 27 targets and 60 factors in 60 video games whereas placing up 222 penalty minutes. Standing 6-foot-3 and already weighing over 200-pounds as a young person, his potential appeared sky-high. Some sources noticed him as a top-five decide in a draft stacked with elite defencemen, so when the Chicago Blackhawks stepped as much as the stage with the eleventh general decide, they have been very happy to seize him.

Seashore shortly emerged because the Blackhawks’ high prospect, main the WHL with 52 targets in 2009-10 and being named to the league’s first All-Star crew. After an early exit from the playoffs, he turned professional, becoming a member of the AHL’s Rockford Icehogs and working towards with the Blackhawks on their Stanley Cup run. With a couple of video games beneath his belt within the minors, he was anticipated to affix Chicago for the beginning of the 2010-11 season, however abruptly, the ability ahead seemed utterly completely different. He had a poor coaching camp and was re-assigned to the Icehogs, the place he remained till 2013. After that, he left to play in Europe, ending his profession in Germany in 2022.

Kyle Beach Chicago Blackhawks
Kyle Seashore in a preseason recreation with the Chicago Blackhawks on Sept. 11, 2010 (Picture by Claus Andersen/Getty Photos)

Followers have been dumbfounded how their crew’s finest prospect may go from an all-star to a no one in a single season, and quite a lot of sources thought of him the Blackhawks’ worst draft bust ever. Nevertheless, in 2021, particulars have been revealed that put every thing into context. Throughout that 2010 run, Seashore had a non-consensual encounter with video coach Brad Aldrich that left him feeling scared and alone. However what was even worse was that when the incident was reported, the crew did virtually nothing, leaving Seashore damaged. “It made me really feel like I didn’t exist. It made me really feel like he was in the correct and I used to be unsuitable.”

It’s no surprise that Seashore’s NHL profession fell aside after 2010. He now not felt welcome in a corporation that valued his abuser over him, and shortly he was labelled as lazy, self-involved, and problematic. Fortunately, some restitution has come round for Seashore, as he agreed to a confidential settlement in December with the crew, and each Stan Bowman and John Quenneville, the overall supervisor and coach of the 2010 Blackhawks, have stepped down from their respective roles. He’s additionally taken time to deal with the investigation, hoping that by talking up, he’d assist another person going via what he did, as a result of nobody ought to should undergo that have.

A Profession Reduce Brief

The 2000s are sometimes seen as probably the greatest eras in drafting in NHL historical past due to the elevated deal with scouting in addition to a much bigger emphasis on low season coaching and diets. Younger gamers have been extra ready to play within the NHL than ever earlier than, leading to fewer high-end draft busts than within the earlier decade. So, in terms of gamers thought of busts, it appears way more probably that they have been prevented ultimately from reaching their objective, whether or not that be as a consequence of accidents or different circumstances than merely being ‘not ok.’

After all, accidents are part of hockey. Many gamers have been compelled into retirement as a result of their our bodies can’t sustain with the depth {of professional} hockey. Bobby Orr, Cam Neely, Mike Bossy, and Pavel Bure are only a few of the celebs of yesteryear who may have had unimaginable careers had accidents not minimize their taking part in time quick. However a minimum of these gamers acquired to make a profession within the NHL earlier than accidents took over. When a prospect or younger participant is compelled into early retirement, critics are relentless, not often giving them a second thought till extra particulars about their lives and taking part in days are revealed. Many greater than these six have been topic to unthinkable trials earlier than the age of 25, and followers ought to suppose twice earlier than labelling them nothing greater than a bust.

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