As the calendar continues to creep toward the 2011 NHL Draft, we’re looking back at the Blackhawks’ history in the event.
On Wednesday, in the first piece in the series, we looked back at some of the best draft steals in the history of the Blackhawks. Now, in the second edition, we’ll look back at the worst first round selections in the history of the organization.
For this list, we (obviously) only considered players selected in the first round of the NHL Draft.
However, in considering the negative value of that selection, we’ll only look at players picked within a reasonable distance behind that selection; if the Hawks had a late round pick (see number six), we will look into the second round for potential replacement selections.
We will not, however, look at all players selected in that draft; if a player slid into the fourth or fifth round, every team but one missed on that player. Likewise, we won’t consider players selected before the Blackhawks pick.
Each player will be listed with their draft year and overall selection number, as well as their statistics as a member of the Blackhawks. We’ll then point out how poorly the Blackhawks picked.
This list comes with fair warning: it’s painful. In the last 35 years, the Blackhawks have made some terrible errors in judgement at the NHL Draft.
10. Tony Tanti, F – 1981 – 12th overall (3 games played, 1 goal)
- Missed Pick: Al MacInnis (15th overall – 1,274 points in 1,416 career NHL games).
- Tanti was traded in the middle of the 1982-83 season for Kurt Fraser, and went on to post multiple 70-point seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. He did not, however, compare with what could have been if Chicago had taken MacInnis.
9. Tim Higgins, F – 1978 – 10th overall (358 games, 184 points)
- Missed Picks: Al Secord (16th), Joel Quenneville (21st)
- If I need to point out the quality of player that Secord was at the NHL level to a Blackhawks fan, then truly history has failed. And Quenneville makes the missed picks simply because many Hawks fans don’t realize that the team’s current head coach was picked as highly as he was in the 1978 Draft.
8. Mark Bell, C – 1998 – 8th overall (339 games, 151 points)
- Missed Picks: Alex Tanguay (12th), Robyn Regehr (19th), Simon Gagne (22nd), Scott Gomez (27th)
- Bell was never anything more than mediocre for the Hawks, while each of the four listed players they could have had have been productive NHL players.
7. Mikhail Yakubov, C & Pavel Vorobiev, RW – 2000 – 10th & 11th overall (97 games and 36 points combined)
- Missed Picks: Brooks Orpik (18th), Anton Volchenkov (21st), Brad Boyes (24th), Steve Ott (25th), Niklas Kronwall (29th)
- Considering the talented players taken after the Blackhawks had consecutive selections early in the 2000 Draft, any GM would be happy to be unemployed after this showing. Because of our stipulations of relative proximity to the pick, we didn’t include in this tar-and-feather job Tomas Kopecky (38th) and Ilya Bryzgalov (44th), both of whom were picked before the Hawks’ second selection.
6. Adam Munro, G – 2001 – 29th overall (17 games, 4-10-3 record)
- Missed Picks: Derek Roy (32nd) and Mike Cammalleri (49th)
- Munro allowed 51 goals in 17 games, and his save percentage was well below .900 for his NHL career. Meanwhile, Roy and Cammalleri continue to be quality NHL players today.
5. Jack Skille, F – 2005 – 7th overall (79 games, 25 points)
- Missed Picks: Devin Setoguchi (8th), Anze Kopitar (11th), Marc Staal (12th), Tuukka Rask (21st), TJ Oshie (24th)
- A lot of Chicago fans don’t think Skille got a square shot with the Blackhawks before he was dealt to Florida last year, but the fact remains that the Hawks passed on a legitimate superstar in Kopitar, a 2010 Vezina candidate in Rask and other players that are still developing into solid NHL players. James Neal and Ondrej Pavelec were also selected before the Hawks’ second pick in the 2005 Draft.
4. Keith Brown, D – 1979 – 7th overall (812 games played, 64 goals, 266 assists)
- Missed Picks: Ray Bourque (15th), Michel Goulet (20th)
- It’s hard to consider Brown, who was a mainstay on the Blackhawks blue line for a decade, to be a draft bust. After all, he ranks 12th in the franchise’s history in games played in the Indian head. But when you put his 330 points up against Bourque’s 1,579 as a fellow defenseman, or Goulet’s 548 career goals, and the Blackhawks clearly missed the boat with Brown.
3. Cam Barker, D – 2004 – 3rd overall (200 games played, 80 points)
- Missed Picks: Andrew Ladd (4th), Blake Wheeler (5th), Drew Stafford (13th), Travis Zajac (20th), Mike Green (29th)
- Yes, the Blackhawks eventually added Ladd to the mix and he was part of the championship team, while Barker was not. This story is not yet complete, however, as Nick Leddy can still make the long-term impact of the Barker selection a relatively positive decision for the franchise.
2. Jimmy Waite, G – 1987 – 8th overall (58 games, 14-23-7 record, .860 save percentage)
- Missed Pick: Joe Sakic (15th)
- What Sakic did in the NHL should be common knowledge, but I’ll leave you with one thought: what if the Hawks had selected Sakic in 1987 and Jeremy Roenick in 1988…
1. Karl Dykuis, D – 1990 – 16th overall (18 games, 9 points)
- Missed Picks: Keith Tkachuk (19th), Martin Brodeur (20th)
- The 1990 Draft was one of the best of the last three decades for the NHL: Owen Nolan, Jaromir Jagr, Keith Primeau and Derrian Hatcher were just a few names that came off the board before the Hawks’ selection. But when the Hawks passed on Tkachuk (1,065 career points) and one of the best goaltenders to ever live in Brodeur, they left two franchise-defining players on the board for nothing.