Of the top 10, two are playing meaningul roles in the NHL and just 5 are in the NHL.
11 of the picks are in the league today, including Wade Belak, Dan Cloutier and Jeff Friesen.
Jason Bonsignore, Jason Botterill, Evgeni Ryabchikov, Jeff Keatly, Chris Wells, Vadim Sharifijanov, Alexander Kharlamov, Eric Fichaud, Brad Brown, Chris Dingman, Jamie Storr, Brett Lindros, Jason Wiemer and Nolan Baumgartner were all first rounders.
Patrik Elias, Chris Drury, Milan Hejduk, Jose Theodore, Daniel Alfredsson, and Steve Sullivan were all later taken.
Alfredsson is the only player who *may* be classified as a franchise type player.
Weak, weak year.
Although a case could be made for 1996. Tomas Kaberle may be the best player of that year.
1996 and 1999 were definitely worse. 1992 was a pretty bad first round, too. 1989 was a terrible first round, the only reason anyone talks positively about that draft is the number of "older" Soviet players who were drafted in the later rounds due to the fall of the Iron Curtain.
1997 was a hit or miss draft. Some great players, but there's never been a draft with more highly-touted players who disappointed or flopped.
1994 will go down as an average draft with a below average first round. It is saved by the strength of the later rounds. It's surprising, too, because there were high expectations for the top end, and not so high expectations for the picks after the first round. Some notes on those selected:
-There are a lot of players who have been in the league for a long time, and have had good careers but should still be characterized as disappointments. Tverdovsky had several years as a top offensive blue-liner, but never took his play to that next level of a top No. 1 defenceman who could get 25 minutes per night on a contender. Bonk had years when he was a productive, big centre, but never reached the elite power centre status that many expected of him. Jeff O'Neill was compared to Ron Francis and Pat LaFontaine when he was in junior. Appeared to be destined for superstardom. But consistency has eluded him. Ethan Moreau is a very reliable forward, and Edmonton definitely misses him. But he was projected as a future top scorer who would be a first-line scoring LW.
-Many thought Jamie Storr would be the first goalie to crack the top four of a draft. Many thought LA had a steal when they got him at 7. But he could never make that step from top non-NHL goalie to average NHL goalie, let alone elite NHL goalie.
-Jeff Friesen was one of the top LWs in the league in the late 90s/early 00s. He wasn't a disappointment at all. He scored a lot of big goals in the Devils 2003 Cup win. Hard to say why he has struggled the last three seasons. Anyone who knows the game would never mention him in the same breath as Wade Belak.
-Baumgartner never recovered from suffering some serious shoulder problems a couple years after he was drafted. He looked like a Kevin Lowe clone in junior. Health was part of his problem. He lost about a year-and-a-half of his development. Also, for whatever reason, his defensive abilities never translated to the NHL.
-Alexander Kharlamov is, of course, the son of iconic Valery Kharlamov. What else do they have in common? Neither played in the NHL. Kharlamov and Brett Lindros were the talk of the draft outside of the top five picks and Storr. Kharlamov looked like a star a year after he was drafted, but struggled in North America. By 1997, he was in the NHL.
-Remember the Eric Fichaud hype? He was going to be the next great French Canadian goalie. But he, too, ran into injury problems after a sensational junior career. He also didn't take the next steps in his development. One of the biggest goalie flops I've ever seen.
-Little known fact: Jason Botterill is the only player in modern WJC history (starting with the 1981-82 tournament) to win gold three straight years.
-At least Fitch played in the NHL. Evgeny Ryabchikov didn't. The Russian goalie would have been the Bruins No. 1 goalie at the start of the 1994-95 season. Then the lockout hit. Then the wheels fell off his development. Then he really sucked in the AHL during the lockout. He was never really heard from again.
-Little known fact #2: Contrary to what some around here tell you, a combination of great size and skill doesn't guarantee success in the show. Chris Wells is massive and had world-class stickhandling ability. He played 195 games and scooped up 29 points.