The NHL Draft is always an exciting time for young hockey prospects aspiring to a big-league career. Players selected among the top-10 in a draft year are expected to have the best chance of reaching stardom.
Some attain that goal, while others go on to decent, if unspectacular, NHL careers. And for some, being a top-10 NHL draft pick is the high point of their professional career.
No matter how high a player is selected in the NHL draft, it’s still not a certainty they’ll become stars.
Here’s a brief look at five notable top-10 NHL draft picks who, for a variety of reasons, didn’t pan out as projected.
Alexandre Daigle. Selected first overall in the 1993 draft by the Ottawa Senators, he’s often the poster boy for NHL draft busts. A flashy, high-scoring player in junior hockey, Daigle was considered a “can’t-miss” kid. Sadly, he was rushed into the bigs by the Senators before he was mentally and physically ready.
In 616 NHL games, Daigle scored 129 goals and 198 assists for 327 points. After nine middling seasons with the Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild between 1993-94 and 2005-06, Daigle spent the next four seasons playing in Switzerland.
Out of hockey since 2010, Daigle lives quietly in Montreal with his wife and three children and works in real estate.
Terry Ryan. Selected eighth overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1995 NHL Draft, the 6-foot-one, 210-pound Ryan failed to pan out as an NHL center. He played only eight games with the Habs over three NHL seasons, spending his career in the minor pros before retiring in 2002-03.
Since then, Ryan’s played senior men’s hockey in Newfoundland and Alberta. He’s also worked in the film industry in Newfoundland. In 2014, he released a best-selling book, “Tales of a First Round Nothing.”
Patrik Stefan. The Atlanta Thrashers picked Stefan first overall in the 1999 entry draft. For many, he’s the prime example of a draft bust. To be fair, however, he was often hampered by injuries – notably concussions and a hip injury – that ended his playing career.
Stefan spent six of seven seasons with the Thrashers, finishing up with the Dallas Stars in 2006-07. In 455 NHL games, he tallied 64 goals and 124 assists for 188 points. Since 2008, he’s worked as a NHLPA-certified player agent.
Gilbert Brule. A star with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Brule sixth overall in the 2005 NHL draft. However, he struggled at the NHL level, frequently hobbled by various injuries, waning self-confidence and a fractured relationship with his father. His most famous moment during his NHL career occurred away from the ice, giving a lift to U2 frontman Bono in 2011.
In 299 NHL games (2005-07 to 2013-14) with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers and Phoenix Coyotes, Brule netted 43 goals and 52 assists for 95 points. He spent the past two seasons in the KHL.
Nikita Filatov. In the 2008 NHL Draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets picked Filatov sixth overall. He was ranked by scouts as the best European skater in that draft. While blessed with offensive talent, Filatov had difficulty adjusting to the NHL level, especially with the defensive aspects of the game. He also encountered financial difficulties.
After parts of three seasons with the Blue Jackets, Filatov was dealt to the Ottawa Senators in 2011. He spent only nine games with the Senators in 2011-12 and was eventually transferred to CSKA Moscow. Filatov has since spent his pro career with several KHL teams. In 53 NHL games, he scored only six goals and eight assists for 14 points. He recently mused about a possible NHL comeback.