With many players selected in the 2010 NHL Draft reaching their 11th season in the NHL, we have a much larger picture as to how their careers are turning out. The top-10 of the 2010 Draft was a particularly active group, with franchise faces, huge trades, and even a few busts littering these picks.
The 2010 NHL Draft occurred on June 25-26 at the Staples Center in Las Angeles, California. Now, let’s look back at the top-10 drafts picks to see exactly where they ended up in their careers a decade later.
1. Taylor Hall – Edmonton Oilers
To say that Taylor Hall’s career has been eventful would be an understatement. As the first of four first-overall draft selections by the Edmonton Oilers from 2010-2015, Hall was expected to become the face of one of the most storied franchises in the NHL.
For his part, Hall showed glimpses of brilliance, posting an 80-point campaign in 2014-15 that appeared to be his coming-out party as an elite player. However, he regressed over the next two seasons due to injury and was eventually traded to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson in the 2016 offseason.
After joining New Jersey, Hall took some time to adjust before posting an epic 39-goal, 93-point campaign in 2017-18, which carried the Devils back to the playoffs while earning him the 2018 Hart Trophy.
Despite this breakout, injuries derailed Hall’s 2018-19 season, where he only played 33 games. However, coming into 2019-20, expectations were through the roof for the Devils, as the team spent big in the offseason to inject new talent into their roster.
When they stumbled out of the gate, however, the Devils fired their head coach and general manager, then traded Hall to the Arizona Coyotes, where he helped the team reach the 2020 Playoffs by winning their play-in game. After that, he signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres, that, simply put, didn’t work well for either party, leading to his trade to the Boston Bruins at the 2021 trade deadline.
While in Boston, Hall has seemingly revitalized his game, posting 14 points in 16 regular-season games played. With this strong play, he will look to be an offensive driver for the Bruins as they push to win the 2021 Stanley Cup.
2. Tyler Seguin – Boston Bruins (Via Toronto Maple Leafs)
When the Bruins traded Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs for their 2010 first and second-round picks along with a 2011 first-rounder, even the most optimistic fans wouldn’t have expected the 2010 first-round selection to be in the top-five. After Toronto sputtered throughout the 2009-10 season, however, the Bruins found themselves with an opportunity to take one of the top talents at the draft.
With little surprise, the Bruins selected Tyler Seguin second overall, taking a premier scoring talent to offset the loss of Kessel.
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Seguin’s time with Boston started strong, with the young forward helping the team win the Stanley Cup in 2011 while reaching the Final again in 2013. Shortly after they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games, he was traded to the Dallas Stars for a bevy of players and prospects.
Once he joined the Stars, Seguin started to reach his full potential, dominating play alongside Jamie Benn. In his first six seasons in Dallas, he scored at least 30 goals five times and broke 80 points twice.
With all of this success, Dallas decided to lock down their star forward. In the 2018 offseason, they signed Seguin to an eight-year, $78.8 million extension that will keep him as one of the faces of the franchise for years to come.
3. Erik Gudbranson – Florida Panthers
As the first defenseman selected in 2010, Erik Gudbranson was expected to become the face of the Florida Panthers’ blue line for the next decade-plus. He had the size and talent to develop into a truly dominating force but still needed to round out his offensive game to become a true NHL star.
Despite breaking into the Panthers’ lineup to start the 2011-12 season, Gudbranson struggled to establish himself as a top-shelf talent. In over 300 games in Florida, he only posted 43 points, along with a miserable minus-49.
By the 2016 offseason, Florida decided they had seen enough, sending Gudbranson to the Vancouver Canucks for picks and a prospect. In his three seasons with Vancouver, he continued to struggle on both ends of the ice, only posting 19 points while going minus-48 in that span.
Towards the 2019 trade deadline, the Canucks moved Gudbranson to the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he played less than a season before being sent to the Anaheim Ducks. From there, he was traded to the Ottowa Senators in 2020, and then to the Nashville Predators at the 2021 trade deadline. While he will seemingly continue to get work as a bottom-six defenseman across the NHL, it seems unlikely that he will ever be able to live up to the expectations of a top-three draft selection.
4. Ryan Johansen – Columbus Blue Jackets
With the fourth-overall pick, the Columbus Blue Jackets took a bit of a reach and selected Ryan Johansen. While Johansen was seen as a talented player, he was expected to be drafted closer to 10th overall, not in the top-five.
While he may have been a surprise selection, Johansen quickly rewarded Columbus. He started the 2011 season with the franchise, and would truly breakout in 2013-14 with a 30-goal campaign.
After repeating his success in 2014-15, Columbus decided to make a true hockey trade with the Nashville Predators, swapping Johansen for top defensive prospect Seth Jones midway through the season.
Since joining Nashville, Johansen has been a solid player, helping the franchise reach their first Stanley Cup Final in 2017. Jones, for his part, has developed into a premier defenseman, taking over a top-pairing role with Zach Werenski while helping lead Columbus to their first-ever playoff series victory in 2019.
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In all, the selection of Johansen can be seen as a win for the Blue Jackets, as he not only had some of his best seasons with the franchise but also returned a truly elite defenseman who became part of their core for years to come.
5. Nino Niederreiter – New York Islanders
When Nino Niederreiter was drafted fifth overall by the New York Islanders, he became the highest-selected Swiss-born player at the NHL draft. With that honor under his belt, Niederreiter continued breaking records with New York when he made his debut in 2010, making him the youngest player to appear in and score a goal for the Islanders’ at the time.
Despite this fast start, Niederreiter struggled to find a role with the franchise. He was returned to the Portland Winterhawks just nine games into the 2010 season to continue his development, and the following season only appeared in 55 games, playing limited minutes. By the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, relationships soured between player and the franchise that drafted him.
At the start of the 2013 offseason, it was clear that something had to give between Niederreiter and New York. Before free agency kicked off, he was dealt to the Minnesota Wild for Cal Clutterbuck and a 2013 third-round draft selection.
With the Wild, Niederreiter saw a bigger role and increased ice time. However, his scoring was never exceptional, with streaky play dominating the discussion around him. While he would go on to break the 20-goal mark three times, his overall totals never had the pop one would expect for a top-five pick.
At the 2019 trade deadline, the Wild moved on from Niederreiter, who was sent to the Carolina Hurricanes for Victor Rask. He immediately made an impact in Carolina, posting 14 goals and 30 points in 39 games along with four points in the playoffs. After having another strong season in 2020-21, he has appeared to find his perfect role within the Hurricanes organization.
6. Brett Connolly – Tampa Bay Lightning
For the Tampa Bay Lightning, Brett Connolly will always be that high-end draft pick that just didn’t quite make it. He wasn’t a pure bust for the franchise, but he never lived up to the billing of a sixth-overall selection either.
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After his selection, Connolly bounced between the Lightning and their AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. While he looked great in Syracuse, it was unclear if that would translate to the NHL.
At the 2015 trade deadline, Tampa Bay moved on, dealing Connolly to the Boston Bruins for two second-round draft picks. He would go on to struggled with injury in Boston throughout the 2015-16 season, before leaving the franchise to sign with the Washington Capitals.
In his three seasons with Washington, Connolly experienced his greatest NHL successes. He broke 20 goals scored, earned consistent playing time, and even won the 2018 Stanley Cup.
In the 2019 offseason, Connolly signed a four-year, $14 million contract with the Florida Panthers, but he never really found his role with the franchise, leading to his trade to the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2021 deadline. While he didn’t produce much in Chicago, he will look to rebound with the storied franchise in the coming seasons.
7. Jeff Skinner – Carolina Hurricanes
Out of all the players taken early in 2010, Jeff Skinner is, arguably, the hidden gem. As the seventh-overall selection, Skinner made an immediate positive impact on the Hurricanes, posting 31 goals and 63 points en route to the 2011 Calder Memorial while being the youngest player to reach an All-Star game in NHL history.
Skinner followed that rookie season with mostly consistent efforts, posting 20 goals six times in eight seasons in Carolina while breaking 60 points twice. While the Hurricanes weren’t the best team during that stretch of time, he still provided needed scoring for the franchise.
In the 2018 offseason, after spending eight seasons with Carolina, Skinner was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for prospect Cliff Pu, a second-round pick in 2019, and a third-round selection in 2020. Skinner immediately rewarded the Sabres, posting 40 goals for the first time in his career. With a breakout season under his belt, the Sabres signed Skinner to a massive eight-year, $72 million extension.
Since that extension, things have gone poorly for both parties. Buffalo’s rebuild has stalled and Skinner’s play has stagnated, causing him to fall down their line-up. In 2021, he posted just 14 points in 53 games and was a healthy scratch at times. If he is unable to turn around his game, his contract could be an anchor that drags down the Sabres’ rebuild for years to come.
8. Alexander Burmistrov – Atlanta Thrashers
If Skinner was the gem of the top-10, then Alexander Burmistrov was the first real bust. As the eighth-overall selection by the then Atlanta Thrashers, Burmistrov was expected to inject some needed offensive talent to the struggling franchise.
While he would play 74 games in the 2010-11 season, he only posted 20 points. After the Thrashers were relocated and became the Winnipeg Jets, Burmistrov would show some growth in his game, scoring 13 goals and 28 points in 28 games.
When the NHL lockout started in 2012, Burmistrov was sent to the AHL instead of being allowed to play in Russia for a more lucrative deal. This, along with dissatisfaction with head coach Claude Noel, led him to leave the NHL and sign with Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL.
Two years after departing the NHL, Burmistrov rejoined the Winnipeg Jets, playing one full season before being waived and subsequently claimed by the Arizona Coyotes during the 2016-17 season. In the 2017 offseason, he signed a one-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks, but would only go on to play in 23 more games before retiring from the NHL and rejoining the KHL in 2017.
Overall, Burmistrov was a major disappointment as a top-10 pick, never managing to translate his top-end scoring talent. However, with a successful career in the KHL, he at least found his place in the hockey world.
9. Mikael Granlund – Minnesota Wild
Even before Mikael Granlund was NHL eligible, he was making waves in his home country of Finland. After making his SM-liiga debut as a 17-year-old, he earned the Finnish Liiga rookie of the year award, the Raimo Kilpo trophy (the Liiga equivalent to the Lady Bing award) and was voted Finland’s young athlete of the year in 2009.
With so much experience and hype, it came as no surprise to see Granlund selected in the top-10 of the 2010 Draft, going ninth-overall to the Wild. While his NHL debut was delayed as he played out his contract in Finland, he eventually started playing in 2012-13.
For seven seasons, Granlund grew his game in Minnesota, developing into a consistent 20-goal scoring, 60-plus-point producing forward for a franchise in need of such offense. His play complemented the Wild’s forward core, helping them reach the playoffs throughout the 2010s.
At the 2019 trade deadline, the Wild moved on from Granlund, trading the 26-year-old forward to the Predators for Kevin Fiala. This move brought a younger, cost-controlled forward to Minnesota while giving Nashville more offensive talent to their already strong roster.
Unfortunately for Granlund and the Predators, things have not worked out as well as planned. In 2019-20, he played 63 games and only posted 30 points, well below his career totals with the Wild. Fiala, on the other hand, scored 54 points, showing that he could be one of the new faces of hockey in Minnesota.
10. Dylan McIlrath – New York Rangers
As one of the bigger players at the entire 2010 draft, it came as no surprise to see Dylan McIlrath draw so much attention. With the 10th-overall pick, the New York Rangers added his impressive size to their franchise, hoping that he could develop into a true cornerstone of their defense.
After finishing his time with the Moose Jaw Warriors, McIlrath joined the Ranger’s AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale, in the 2012-13 season. From there, he spent the majority of his time in the AHL, playing a tough-as-nails game while racking up 100-plus penalty minutes in three straight seasons.
Unfortunately for McIlrath, a devastating knee injury derailed his career. Through the 2016-17 season, he only played 38 games with the franchise that drafted him, registering just four points in the process. Due to this, he was traded to the Panthers in 2016-17, then was traded again at the 2017 deadline to the Red Wings.
Since joining Detroit, McIlrath carved out a niche with the franchise, acting as an NHL call up when the rebuilding Red Wings needed a player to fill in the gaps. He did enough to earn a two-year extension through the 2020-21 season, which will keep him with the franchise as a veteran presence on their AHL roster.
The 2010 Top 10 Saw Everything
Arguably, the most interesting part of the top-10 picks of 2010 is just how much movement happened to them over their decade in the NHL. Not a single player remains with the franchise that drafted them, a surprise given some of the incredible talents selected.
It is impressive to see the number of players still playing in the NHL from this top-10. Many of these selections have carved out their niches in the league, continuing to make an impact 10 years after they were drafted.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.