The biggest draft busts in NHL history

I’ve been doing a lot of draft-relating work recently. The OHL draft, that is. Projecting the careers of 15 year old hockey players is really hard, and on April 5th the Ottawa 67’s will try to do just that, and I’ve been focusing a lot of my time recently into help prepare for that. As a stress relieving exercise for myself, and with the NHL draft now just starting to appear on the hockey radar, let’s talk about the worst case scenario’s. The guys that most under exceeded their expectations entering the NHL.

To give us a rough estimation of comparison for players spanning generations and positions, GVT will be used to compare players career value. To calculate a player’s ‘expectations’ based on his draft position, we’ll use a chart to see how a player should perform relative to his peers at different picks by % of GVT. Here’s what this chart has looked like since the inception of the draft.



We can then calculate the expected GVT that we would expect for the player, by summing up the total GVT added by draftees from his class and dividing it by the percentage value he “should” have had relative to his draft class. There ¬†are a total of 19.01 first overall draft picks in the current size of the NHL draft, so Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, for example, will have to account for 1/19th of the total GVT added by the entire draft class to reach expectations.

And here’s our top 15 biggest NHL draft busts.


The best player on this list seems to be Sylvain Turgeon. A couple of these guys couldn’t even handle any above replacement level play at all, like Dave Archibald, who scored 50 goals in his final year of junior hockey for the Portland Winter Hawks, but wouldn’t even reach 20 in a single year playing in parts of 8 seasons, or Dave Chyzowski, who by age 30 was playing for the¬†Schwenningen Wild Wings. Recent busts include Rick DiPietro and Alexandre Daigle. The reader might raise a brow to their rather low position on this list, as they are the most often referenced players when discussing the topic in question. Brian Lawton is one Alexei Yashin career (160 GVT) away from fulfilling his draft expectations.

About Matt Pfeffer

Matt Pfeffer is a contributor to The Hockey News and Hockey Prospectus, where he also manages the statistics on the site. He is the statistical analyst of the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League, and has consulted for several pro hockey teams.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *