Flops, flubs ... NHL style

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

Remember Dave Chyzowski? Ryan Sittler? Scott Scissons?

How about Jason Bonsignore, Terry Ryan or Brandon Convery?

Likely not, eh? That's the problem.

They are just a few of the reasons the NHL entry draft is commonly referred to as a "crapshoot."

For all the Ed Jovanovskis and Brendan Shanahans and Scott Niedermayers who were selected with high picks and lived up to expectations, there are also the Johnathan Aitkens, Adam Bennetts and Steve Kellys.

For all the first-round jewels, there are also the first-round busts.

"Sometimes things just don't turn out the way you think they will," one scout said this week. "Sometimes the wrapping is a lot nicer than the present."

Tell it to the Capitals. They used the fourth overall pick in the 1996 draft to take Alexandre Volchkov after the Russian winger had put up a 36 goals in 47 games with the OHL's Barrie Colts. Volchkov wound up playing a grand total of three games in the NHL and, while still only 28, has been retired for three years.

NOT A JOLY OLD TIME

The Capitals were horrible in the early 1970s, and part of it is because they didn't do themselves any favours at the draft table. In 1974, the took Regina Pats defenceman Greg Joly first overall in what many consider one of the biggest draft gaffes ever. It's not that Joly was so bad --he did play 365 games in the NHL, picking up 21 goals, 76 assists and 250 penalty minutes. It's just that by taking him, the Caps passed on Wilf Paiement, Clark Gillies, Doug Risebrough and Pierre Larouche.

The Islanders are another example of how fickle draft day can be. Along with Denis Potvin and Gillies and Mike Bossy and Pat LaFontaine, their list of first-round picks include winger Alex McKendry (14th overall in 1976; 46 career games, three goals); and Scissons (sixth overall in 1990; two NHL games).

One of their worst days was in 1989, when they were among the teams who decided not to risk an early pick on Nicklas Lidstrom (53rd overall), Sergei Fedorov (74th) or Pavel Bure (113th). Selecting second overall, the Islanders grabbed Chyzowski, a speedy winger who was coming off a 56-goal season (in 68 games) with Kamloops.

Chyzowski's NHL career lasted 126 games, during which he racked up 15 goals and 16 assists.

In hindsight, they would have rather blurted the name Bill Guerin (fifth overall) or Olaf Kolzig (19th) with that opportunity.

"Hindsight is not a box lunch," said one scout. "They don't pass it out on draft day."

At least three teams were out to lunch midway through the 1997 draft: The Oilers, the Kings and the Blackhawks. They took Michel Riesen (12 NHL games, one assist), Matt Zultek (no NHL games) and Ty Jones (14 NHL games, no points) with picks 14, 15 and 16, respectively. The names look very much out of place in a draft that produced first-rounders Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Oli Jokinen, Roberto Luongo, Eric Brewer, Sergei Samsanov, Nick Boynton, Marian Hossa Scott Hannan and Brendan Morrow.

That the latter two were picked 23rd and 25th is nothing those three teams care to be reminded about.

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


Videos

Photos