If summer is good for anything hockey related, it's that we can imagine what the future might be when it comes to draft players and prospects. The unfortunate side of things is that not everyone makes it to the NHL for a myriad of reasons. Injuries, staying in Europe, just not NHL talent are a few of the ways a prospect might not pan out. So going through all the old drafts got me thinking about players I liked as prospects who just didn't pan out. I was also curious as to who people around here liked when they were young and just didn't realize their full potential.
Every year the NHL drafts 210 players. Despite best intentions and best wishes, most of those players will never play a full season in the NHL. It's an unfortunate fact of life. As a fan of a team with possibly seven picks, you can hope for at best half of them to make it to the NHL. That's one of the reasons we repeat around here that the draft is a crapshoot. As much as you can hope, there's no magical way to always bring a prospect along right either. In the end all you can do as a coach or GM is take off the training wheels and hope for the best. After the cut are a few players who I rooted for that just didn't make it.
Don't get me wrong, Jason Krog is probably one of the most talented players in the AHL currently. He has averaged a point per game in not only the AHL, but during three separate stints in Europe. I remember when Krog was signed, there was a good amount of fanfare for the Hobey Baker winner. In Krog's case it's probably a matter of inches. Although he's listed at 5'11, he might be a bit shorter then that. During his career he's only played two full NHL seasons, both before the lockout for the Ducks. Since then it's been all short term stints. To borrow a baseball term, he seems to be a AAAA type player. Too good for the AAA but not good enough for the big show. I still hold out hope for it to click for him, but it doesn't seem like it will.
I remember watching the 99 Draft and being most excited about Branislav Mezei. Taken 10th overall by the Islanders, it wasn't hard to imagine the 6'4 defenseman playing in a pairing with the 6'9 Zdeno Chara. None of that ever happened, as Mezei struggled to break into the Islanders lineup before being traded to the Panthers. He eventually left North America for the KHL. Looking at his draft day scouting report, another listed strength beyond his size was his play on the point on the Power Play. In his final two OHL seasons he put up 18 and 21 assists. During his 240 NHL game career? a career total of 19 assists.
Being a goalie back when I used to play, I was always interested in the Islanders prospect goalies. Not only did I have an Eric Fichaud style goalie stick, but I also had a version of his lighthouse themed goalie mask. In what was one of GM Don Maloney's smarter moves he traded the struggling and older Benoit Hogue for Eric Fichaud. Fichaud was being touted as the next Patrick Roy and was a highly regarded prospect. He had put up great numbers in juniors and seemed a sure thing. Unfortunately injuries kept Fichaud from ever returning to the form he once displayed in Juniors and even during his first AHL stint. Ironically, Fichaud played his last NHL game in 00-01 while Benoit Hogue played his last NHL game in 01-02.