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Biggest NHL draft busts

Ray Martyniuk was selected fifth overall by Montreal in 1970, but never played in the NHL. (THN Archives)

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Ray Martyniuk was selected fifth overall by Montreal in 1970, but never played in the NHL. (THN Archives)

In determining the biggest busts in history, let’s agree there is a different set of expectations for first overall picks compared to later selections. Alexandre Daigle (especially) and Patrik Stefan were very highly hyped and expected to produce at all-star levels in the NHL. While neither came anywhere close to fulfilling those lofty expectations, both still played more than 400 NHL games. Yes, they still busted - and how - but let’s give them some credit for making it to the big leagues and sticking around for a while.

On the other hand, there’s Ray Martyniuk, who won just about everything a goalie could in the WCHL in the late 1960s. Labeled the “can’t miss kid,” Martyniuk didn’t play a second in the NHL. Surely, that makes him a bigger bust than Daigle or Stefan. We think it does; in fact, we think it makes him the biggest bust in NHL history.

Another gauge on how big of a bust a player was is to look at how long it took them to end their hockey careers altogether. Daniel Dore was expected to be a power forward for his hometown Quebec Nordiques, but was never able to cope with the pressure of playing in his backyard. Not only did Dore play just 17 games, his hockey career was over six years after he was drafted. In 1994 he started playing for Montreal…in a roller hockey league.

Alexandre Volchkov and Scott Scissons also fall into the category of fast flameouts. Volchkov, a star with the Ontario League’s Barrie Colts in the mid-‘90s, soon earned a reputation as a floater and made his way into an NHL lineup for only three games. He returned to Russia in 2000. Scissons, a 40-goal man in the Western League, was selected by the Islanders one pick after Pittsburgh took Jaromir Jagr in 1990, but had nowhere near the Czech star’s impact. He played only two NHL games, spending most of his pro career in the International League before disappearing from the game a mere five years after he was drafted.

You’d think the Islanders would learn. The year before picking Scissons, they had drafted another WHL sniper, Dave Chyzowski, with the second overall choice (Mats Sundin went No. 1 to Quebec). After being rushed to the NHL - he played 90 games for New York before he turned 20 - Chyzowski ended up with 15 goals in 126 career games. After several seasons in the IHL, he spent seven years in Europe - far, far away from the NHL.

10. Alexander Svitov (3rd overall, Tampa Bay, 2001)

Youngest player to skate in the Russian Elite League topped out at 18 points in the NHL.

9. Daniel Tkaczuk (6th overall, Calgary, 1997)

The next Ron Francis played 19 NHL games as a 21-year-old and never made it back.

8. Patrik Stefan (1st overall, Atlanta, 1999)

Czech star and No. 1 selection never scored 15 goals in a season.

7. Dave Chyzowski (2nd overall, NY Islanders, 1989)

THN’s 1989 Draft Preview had it right, calling Chyzowski a “boom or bust” prospect.

6. Jason Bonsignore (4th overall, Edmonton, 1994)

Scored 22 goals in the OHL at age 16, but never played a full NHL season.

5. Scott Scissons (6th overall, NY Islanders, 1990)

Played in two NHL games and spent most of his time in the IHL.

4. Alexandre Daigle (1st overall, Ottawa, 1993)

Scored 51 points as a 21-year-old, but hit 50-point mark only twice more.

3. Daniel Dore (5th overall, Quebec, 1988)

Power forward never hit his potential (or anything else).

2. Alexandre Volchkov (4th overall, Washington, 1996)

Russian sniper was too lazy for professional game.

1. Ray Martyniuk (5th overall, Montreal, 1970)

“Can’t miss kid” didn’t play an NHL game.

This Top 10 originally appeared in THN's Ultimate Book of Hockey Lists.

The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.

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