In some ways, draft busts are remembered for their failures as much as the players who met expectations and didn't succumb under pressure. The Buffalo Sabres management has a good eye for drafting youngsters and developing them through their system before rushing them into the NHL. And just as Tyler Myers is the exception to that rule, even proper preparations can't stop a club from striking out in a selection sometimes.
In a decade-long list of choices, one name stands for the Sabres with infamy and that's center Marek Zagrapan. Selected 13 overall in 2005, the Slovakian didn't receive a call-up in three years to join the squad because of his slow production in the AHL, hence why I couldn't locate a picture of him in our database. Unsurprisingly, he disappeared to the KHL last summer where more opportunities will serve him.
He had three seasons to grow in the minors but his personality and maturity were major roadblocks. Flair made Zagrapan a high commodity in his draft year but like certain people before him, his head was in the wrong place. Amazingly, Sasha Pokulok was taken by the Washington Capitals immediately after Buffalo got Zagrapan. Our friends at Japers Rink have called him their worst draft selection of the last decade. Pokulok was at such a low point in progressing that he couldn't stick with Hershey of the AHL and was moved to the ECHL.
Two disappointments drafted simultaneously - small world. Onto the fun part which is looking at some of the talent Buffalo passed over in favor of Zagrapan. Martin Hanzal (17th overall), Tuukka Rask (21st overall), Nicklas Bergfors (23rd overall), T.J. Oshie (24th overall), Andrew Cogliano (25th overall), Matt Niskanen (28th overall), Steve Downie (29th overall), James Neal (33rd overall), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (35th overall), Ondrej Pavelec (41st overall), Paul Stastny (44th overall), Guillaume Latendresse (45th overall) and Mason Raymond (51st overall).
I'm not finished. Kristopher Letang (62nd overall), Kris Russell (67th overall), Jonathan Quick (72nd overall) and Cody Franson (79th overall) were called in the third round. Our very own Chris Butler was taken in the fourth round (96th overall) and Nathan Gerbe was picked in the following round (142nd overall). There's enormous amounts of skill in that list that could have assisted Buffalo in certain aspects that they are struggling with today.
Ten years is a long time and to have your name recognized during that span is worth noting. Regrettably, Marek Zagrapan will be remembered for all of the wrong reasons in Buffalo.