When it comes to hockey players, evaluating natural talent isn’t that difficult. Most knowledgeable hockey fans could spot a young player with the skills to potentially have success at the next level and beyond. The hard part is determining which of these talented players will be able to make the transition to the NHL. A majority of the time they can gauge a kids potential success at the higher levels, but once in a while they are way off. Every now and then a kid comes along that looks like a sure fire NHL’er, yet for whatever reason cannot take that next step when matched up against the games best. Here is my list of the top 13 NHL draft busts since 2010:
Nichushkin’s NHL career hasn’t exactly panned out as he’d hoped since he was taken 10th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. As a rookie in 2013-14, Nichushkin posted decent numbers (14 G, 20 A). A hip injury kept him sidelined for most of the next season. Then, in 2015-16, his 29 points through 79 games was a a disappointing dropoff.
Prior to free agency, Dallas approached Nichushkin with a qualifying offer that the young skater didn’t sign, and remained a restricted free agent. When the opportunity to play in his home country came up, the 21 year old signed the deal, joining the KHL’s CSKA Moscow team.
The KHL club hasn’t been all that impressed with his play, which reportedly has the team considering releasing him. Dallas still holds the rights to Nichushkin, and had hoped he would benefit from his time in Russia. But right now, things don’t look great for the former first-rounder.
Drafted 4th overall in the 2012 Draft by the New York Islanders, Griffin Reinhart was a highly touted defenseman who has spent five seasons in the WHL with the Edmonton Oil Kings, producing 111 points, along with a +83 plus/minus rating, in 209 games. He then spent three seasons in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors and Bridgeport Sound Tigers, accumulating 53 points in 143 games.
The Edmonton Oilers gave up a first-rounder to acquire him in 2015. He played in a total of 29 NHL games with the Islanders and Oilers during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, finishing with a disappointing 2 assists and a -5 rating. The 6-foot-4 defender obviously has upside, but so far in his career, he’s been labeled a bust
The 28th pick overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, Zack Phillips posted eye popping numbers with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. The center posted 219 points and a +117 plus/minus rating in 192 games. He then spent four seasons in the AHL, skating for four different teams, and collecting a total of 100 points in 260 regular season games.
Never making it up to the NHL, Phillips spent last season (2016-17) playing in Sweden and now laces them up for the Nottingham Panthers of the EIHL.
The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Percy as the 25th pick overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. From 2009 to 2013, the defenseman played 218 games in the Ontario Hockey League, posting 122 points and a +55 plus/minus rating. On to the AHL where between the 2011-12 and 2016-17 seasons he played a total of 214 games for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Toronto Marlies, though only came away with 72 points in total. He skated in only 12 NHL games with the Leafs during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons accumulating just 3 points.
Currently, Percy is a free agent.
This goaltender turned some heads, winning 89 of 166 games for the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League. The 27th overall pick of the NHL Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes went on to start 89 games in the AHL, winning only 33 contests.
He made his one and only NHL appearance in April 2014, losing 3-2 and now plays in Austria.
The Phoenix Coyotes selected Samuelsson as the 27th pick overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. From 2011 to 2014, the center posted 198 points to go along with a +84 plus/minus rating in just 162 games played for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. From there it was on to the AHL, where from 2014 to 2017 he played a total of 136 games for four different teams, yet produced a grand total of only 55 points. He skated in 3 NHL games with the Coyotes during the 2014-15 season, but finished without a point.
Henrik was last spotted lacing them up for the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL.
Chosen by the Florida Panthers as the 25th overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft was center Quinton Howden. His play in the Western Hockey League with the Moose Jaw Warriors was stellar, totaling 239 points in 244 games. But unfortunately for him, that’s the only place where he excelled. He posted mediocre numbers during his stint in the AHL, finishing with 99 points in 207 games. The slide continued during his time in the NHL, as he only posted 17 points in 97 games between 2012-13 and 2016-17, playing for both Winnipeg and Florida
Howden is now playing overseas with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL.
Jack Campbell was a product of the U.S. National Team Development Program and starred for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. His draft stock rose considerably after starting for the gold winning U.S.Team in the 2010 World Juniors. The Dallas Stars used their 11th overall pick to take him. Though he had some success with the minor league Texas Stars, he ended up playing in only one game and eventually was demoted to the ECHL.
Campbell eventually got to mind the net for a single game for the Stars before being traded to Los Angeles where he also started one game. Final record 0-1 with a 4.50 GAA. A huge bust for the first goaltender to be picked in 2010.
Drafted 22nd overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, ahead of NHLers like Victor Rask, Brandon Saad, Boone Jenner and a handful of other notable players, Biggs now looks poised to never play an NHL game. He had the second worst +/- rating amongst the other forwards on the U.S. National Development Team. He was also the most penalized player at both the U18 world juniors and for the U.S. U18 Development Team. He is big at 6’3″/225 pounds, he is talented, but thus far he is a bust.
This right winger played a total of 119 regular season games for the Wilkes-Barre /Scranton Penguins and Toronto Marlies of the AHL from 2012-13 to 2015-16, finishing with a meager 17 points. He never laced them up in the NHL.
Michael Dal Colle
Michael Dal Colle was drafted 5th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft by the New York Islanders. This left winger had a terrific junior career, including leading the Oshawa Generals to a championship in the 2014-15 season. In the OHL from 2012 to 2016, Dal Colle racked up 316 points and a +76 plus/minus rating in 246 games. While Dal Colle didn’t light up the AHL last season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, his production was decent (15 goals and 41 points in 75 games).
Although he has put up good numbers in the minors, he has not made it to the NHL level as of yet. Dal Colle is big (6’3, 198 lbs) and he wouldn’t be the first promising prospect to take a bit longer to refine his game to NHL standards. For now though, he’s been a bust.
At one time, Brandon Gormley was considered a stud defenseman. He was a point per game man with the Moncton Wildcats and was a member of Canada’s bronze medal winning junior team at the 2012 IIHF championships. In 2010 the Phoenix Coyotes called Gormley’s name, taking him as the 13th pick in the draft. Once he was done in 2012, they assigned him to their AHL affiliate in Portland and for the most part, Gormley played well.
In 2013-14 he got his first taste of NHL action, scoring no points in five games. After that, he skated in 53 more, scoring five points and a -10 plus/minus rating. He has since faded and hasn’t played in the NHL since 2015-16.
Chosen by the Colorado Avalanche as the 17th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, center Joey Hishon thrived in the OHL with the Owen Sound Attack posting a total of 255 points in 244 games. He was less than impressive in the 13 games he played in the NHL, tallying only 2 points with the Avalanche in 2014-15. He posted 109 points in 174 AHL games, but by this time his NHL window was closed.
He eventually signed with Jokerit Helsinki of the KHL where he had a lackluster season, and now plays in Sweden.
Mikhail Grigorenko was drafted 12th overall in the 2012 Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. The center had a nice career in the QMJHL racking up 178 points and a +60 plus/minus rating in the 115 games. His success continued in the AHL where he put up 40 points in 52 games.
He spent five seasons in the NHL from 2012 to 2017, but never lived up to expectations, compiling just 64 points and a -26 plus/minus rating in 217 games with the Avalanche and Sabres.
Grigorenko has moved on to the KHL, inking a three-year deal with CSKA Moscow. His NHL days are most likely behind him.