2011 NHL Draft: Power Ranking the 11 Worst No. 1 Picks in Draft History
It's one of the most talked about days in an NHL season—the NHL Draft—and at the center of all the hype is two things: which team picks first, and which player goes first overall.
That first overall position in the draft launches a player into a career of scrutiny, pressure, and if all goes well, endless praise. But if things go wrong, and the player chosen first to potentially turn around a franchise doesn't work out, that's when you get your name on lists like this.
There are plenty of early draft picks that haven't worked out over the years, but nothing is worse than having first choice in the draft, and choosing the wrong guy.
This season, like every other in the past, the pressure will be on to choose that right player, and forever avoid the shame of picking a dud first overall in the NHL Draft.
Here's the 11 worst No. 1 picks in NHL Draft history.
1. Gord Kluzak—1982 Boston Bruins
Gord Kluzak was selected first-overall by the Boston Bruins in 1982. He scored 25 goals and 123 points in 299 career games.
We really needn't say more than that, but it gets worse when you look at the players chosen after him. Brian Bellows, Phil Housley, Dave Andreychuk, Pat Verbeek and Doug Gilmour all scored over 1,000 points in their illustrious careers. They were all picked after Kluzak.
And you can't forget Scott Stevens, who was selected fifth that year and went on to become one of, if not the most, feared defenseman to ever step foot on the ice.
Kluzak comes in first on the worst No. 1 list because frankly, he did absolutely nothing in his career. And you just can't have that if your selected first-overall. Actually ,you can't have that if you're selected anywhere in the draft, or else your career ends rather quickly.
It's a miracle he was able to appear in four full seasons.
It's not Kluzak's fault he was chosen where he was; it wasn't his choice for which organization he played for, but his talent level, and his production—or lack thereof—was entirely his fault.
And because of that, Gord Kluzak is the worst No. 1 draft pick in NHL history. And it's not even close.
2. Brian Lawton—1983 Minnesota North Stars
The 1983 NHL Entry Draft provided the NHL with one of the best players to ever play the game, and one of the most courageous leaders of all time. Unfortunately for the Minnesota North Stars, who held the first-overall pick, they didn't choose Steve Yzerman that year.
No, the North Stars selected Brian Lawton with the No. 1 pick, and frankly they regretted it from day one of that season on. Yzerman was selected fourth-overall by the Detroit Red Wings, right after the New York Islanders took Pat LaFontaine.
In his first season, Lawton played 58 games, scoring 10 goals and 31 points. In Yzerman's first year, he potted a slightly better 39 goals and 87 points in 80 games. After it was all said and done, Lawton finished his career having played just 483 games, scoring 112 goals and 266 points.
Yzerman finished his career with 692 goals, 1,755 points, and three Stanley Cups.
But the reason Lawton is on this list isn't just because Minnesota missed out on Yzerman—and LaFontaine, John Maclean, Russ Courtnall and Cam Neely—in the first round, it's because this No. 1 pick's best season (1986) was 21 goals and 44 points. That's it.
He was a bust, and a major one at that. And even though he has gone on to become a very successful player agent for multiple current NHL players, his playing career was nothing more than a blip on the radar screen.
And really, that's being generous.
3. Gregory Joly—1974 Washington Capitals
Gregory who? It's okay, the Washington Capitals aren't really sure either. Greg Joly was the Capitals first pick in the 1974, and it turned out to be the last player they should have gone anywhere near.
Joly played a whopping 365 games in his career—or the number of days in a year the Capitals regretted drafting him. He scored 21 goals and 97 points, like, in total. Not to mention in his first season, he played 44 games but finished as a minus-68.
You can't make things like that up.
The reason he doesn't make No. 1, though, is because of the lack of talent overall in the draft year. The best player taken was Bryan Trottier, and he wasn't selected until the second round.
Joly was a bust in every sense of the word, and the Capitals were anything but *jolly about picking him.
*The only thing worse than that line was Joly's career.
4. Patrik Stefan—1999 Atlanta Thrashers
The 1999 NHL Entry Draft is one that has been widely regarded as one of the worst ever, and other than the Sedin twins (and Henrik Zetterberg way, way later in the draft), it hardly offered the league much else. The only player selected before Daniel and Henrik Sedin that year was Patrik Stefan, first-overall.
And while the twins have each scored over 600 points in their careers already, Stefan bowed out with 188 (64 goals, 124 assists) in his not-so-special career that lasted just 455 games.
His best season was 2003-04, when he scored 14 goals and 40 points, which is what some first-overall picks score in a month.
Stefan never amounted to anything in the NHL, and if it weren't for some other absolutely brutal No. 1 picks, he could have been the worst of all time.
5. Alexandre Daigle—1993 Ottawa Senators
He was one of the most highly-touted first-overall picks, but in Ottawa, he's known more as the No. 1 bust. Alexandre Daigle was supposed to be the next big thing in the NHL, but after 616 games in his career, he scored 129 goals and 327 points.
His career started off well when he scored 20 goals and 51 points in 1993-93, and again hit the 51-point mark in 1996-97 season when he scored 26 goals, but after that it all went downhill. And it was a steep, slippery slope.
In his next six seasons, Daigle's best goal total was nine. His best point total was 26. He was officially a bust, and bounced around six different teams before leaving the league after the 2005-06 season as a member of the Minnesota Wild.
He tried acting next. Yeah, Daigle didn't work out so well.
6. Doug Wickenheiser—1980 Montreal Canadiens
Regina, Saskatchewan native Doug Wickenheiser was selected first-overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1980. He went on to score 276 points (111 goals, 165 assists) in his 556-game NHL career.
Three of the next five players selected went on to score a combined 4,085 career points. Yeah, needless to say they didn't pick the right guy this time around, as those three players they missed out on were Denis Savard, Larry Murphy and Paul Coffey.
Oh, and Jari Kurri, Bernie Nichols and Steve Larmer were all picked after Wickenheiser as well, although it took until the fourth round before any team even clued on their talent, so the Canadiens can't be solely blamed.
They can, however, be blamed for the bust that was their 1980 draft. Especially because when the hockey world now thinks of the name Wickenheiser, well, let's just say Doug got beat by a girl.
7. Rejean Houle—1969 Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens had the first two overall picks in the 1969 NHL Draft. They chose Rajean Houle first and Marc Tardif second—neither player did much of anything impressive personally during their brief stays in the NHL.
Houle did manage to score 30 goals once in his career (1977-78) but the left-winger ended his 635-game career with just 161 goals and 408 points. Tardif wasn't much better, finishing his career with 194 goals and 401 points in 517 games.
8. Bryan Berard—1995 Ottawa Senators
Although his career was majorly impacted by a horrific eye injury in 2000, Bryan Berard still makes the list as one of the worst No. 1 picks in history.
He was selected ten picks before Jarome Iginla, so, case closed.
After being selected first by the Ottawa Senators, Berard appeared in 619 career games with six different NHL teams. He scored 76 goals and 323 points, which is respectable considering the number of games he played, but not No. 1 pick worthy.
His best season was 2003-04 with the Chicago Blackhawks, when he scored 13 goals and 47 points.
9. Rick Green—1976 Washington Capitals
Rick Green wasn't exactly a bust, but he certainly didn't have the franchise-changing impact the team was hoping for when they drafted him No. 1 in 1976.
Green went on to play for six seasons for the Washington Capitals before playing the next seven as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. His last two seasons were spent with the Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders.
He wasn't expected to score big-time points, and was mainly used for his size as a stay-at-home defenseman, but he didn't really pan out for the Caps as they hoped. He did go on to win a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens 1986.
10. Chris Phillips—1996 Ottawa Senators
The 1996 NHL Entry Draft is another that might be the worst draft in history (Daniel Briere is arguably the best player out of it), so you know the player picked first-overall is going to be on this list. The man with that dubious distinction is none other than Chris Phillips, drafted by the Ottawa Senators.
He's played 945 career NHL games since then, which is not too shabby, and has amassed 60 goals and 237 points, but first-overall material? Come on.
To put it in perspective, the Senators also had the third-last pick in 1996 (ninth-round, 239th-overall) and chose Sami Salo, who has gone on to score 84 goals and 280 points—in 253 fewer games than Phillips.
Phillips still plays for the Sens. Salo does not. Ouch.
11. Dale McCourt—1977 Detroit Red Wings
Dale McCourt was good, really good when he was drafted first-overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1977. He hit the 30-goal mark in four of his first five seasons, and had 70-plus points in his first four.
The problem was he played just three more seasons in the NHL before leaving to play in Switzerland. McCourt played just 532 games in all, scoring 194 goals and 478 points—which is great, but you can imagine the Red Wings were planning on getting a lot more out of him.