Since the beginning of the 1970s, it's been easy for any casual fan to quantify what was expected out of players coming into the the league, because a player's draft position is attached to them for life. It's the reason why Alexandre Daigle is spoken of very differently than any of the otherwise identical mediocre soft skill players that have passed through the league over the years. It's reductive to completely equate a decision made by one GM, once when a player is 18 years old, but it's an easy reference point. There is no player today that you can't just look up and see a number that suggests what people thought he might turn into.
I'm wondering about players who were hotly anticipated by NHL clubs before the draft happened. Obviously, I know all about Bobby Orr, Jean Beliveau, etc. But the closest thing to a major "disappointment" from before the draft that I know about is Frank Mahovlich, who obviously had some question marks, but I can't see as any more of a disappointment than say, Joe Thornton (who, as we've learned in the draft era, is very good as #1 picks go). Who are some players who showed promise and delivered less?
I'm also curious at how much anticipation their was surrounding some of the youngsters allowed to play in the NHL during WWII. Bep Guidolin and Don Gallinger were the only skaters HR lists as being 17 and playing full schedules. Guidolin in particular was 16 on the day of his first game. Unlike WHA teenagers Gretzky, Messier and Gartner, neither were stars, as Guidolin peaked at 9th in scoring in a blip year, and retired at 28, while Gallinger got booted out of the league at 22 for gambling. Were either of these players notable disappointments?
not sure I understand the question. Do you mean highly touted, franchise type players, who were tracked/monitored/scouted before the draft and came in with super-lofty expectations? (So, every #1 pick since television, gretting crazier every year since the internet game along? Crosby?)
The players who really stood out in terms of pre-draft hype are:
> Tavares (since he got "exceptional status" for the OHL, 45 goals at 15 which is even more impressive than the 72 goals at 16 when he broke 99s OHL record)
> Ovechkin (to a lesser extent because he played in Russia, and the CDN media didn't hype him as much as they would if he was from Guelph)
> Lemieux (4pts in game in his draft year in Laval. Astounding numbers)
> Gretzky (since he was 6, 10, 16 and so on)
These guys had the most pre-NHL hype that I can recall.
Daigle didn't get that much hype, relatively speaking. He was a flashy kid who craved attention, besides the hockey part. That made things worse for him, especially since he wasn't that good.
I don't even think Stamkos got that much hype, relatively speaking.
I'd say NONE of the players I've listed have disappointed in any way. They were all spectacular, with 99 & 66 probably the only ones who exceeded everyone's expectations. Tavares has probably been "disappointing" for those who bought into the "he's better than gretzky was at the same age" but most hockey people realized that by 18, he wasn't Gretzky and tempered expectations. And frankly, he'll have an amazing career and won't disappoint anyone by the time he's done. That level of hockey sense and work ethic are extremely rare.
Back to your question, I think almost everyone "disappoints" if you're a first overall, because the hype machine always projects what a player's max potential upside might be, and very few players are able to reach that. I mean, is Rick Nash a disappointment? Patrick Stefan? Chris Phillips? Lecavalier? They were all hyped to some extent, all kinda under-delivered on their maximum expected (hoped for?) output at the time.