With many players selected in the 2010 NHL draft reaching their 10th season in the NHL, we now have a much larger picture as to how their careers will turn 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 players.
The 2010 NHL Draft occurred on June 25-26 at the Staples Center in Las Angeles, California. So, let’s look back at the top-10 drafts picks from the 2010 Draft to see exactly where they ended up in their careers nearly 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 to the NHL. 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.
Related: 2010 NHL Draft Results
Despite this breakout, injuries derailed Hall’s 2018-19 season, where he only played 33 games. However, coming into the 2019-20 season, expectations were through the roof for the Devils, as the team spent big in the offseason, injecting a ton of new talent into their already strong roster.
When the Devils stumbled out of the gate, the team fired their head coach and general manager and traded Hall to the Arizona Coyotes. Since joining Arizona, he has failed to show that Hart-winning form, but there is still time to turn things around in the desert and help the franchise push for a Stanley Cup before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the 2020 offseason.
2. Tyler Seguin – Boston Bruins (Via Toronto Maple Leafs)
When the Boston 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 become the second overall. After Toronto sputtered throughout the 2009-10 season, the Bruins suddenly 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 one of the premier scoring talents to offset the loss of Kessel one year earlier. For his part, Seguin had the raw talent to become one of the top offensive players in all of the NHL.
Related: Best & Worst Draft Picks Since 2010
Seguin’s time with Boston started strong, with the young forward helping the team win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the Final again in 2013. However, 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 six full seasons in Dallas, he scored at least 30 goals five times and broke 80 points twice in that same span.
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 the 2010 draft, 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. While his time in Anaheim has been a bit more successful than at other points in his career, 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 highly talented player, he was expected to get selected closer to 10th overall, not in the top-five.
While he may have been a surprise selection, Johansen quickly rewarded Columbus on the ice. While he would start the 2011 season with the franchise, he 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, if not somewhat underwhelming player, failing to break 20 goals scored in four seasons. Jones, on the other hand, has developed into a premier defenseman, taking over a top-pairing role with Zach Werenski while helping to lead Columbus to their first-ever playoff series victory in 2019.
Related: The NHL’s Top 5 Defenses
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.
During the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, he spent the entire year with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, with relationships seeming to sour between player and the franchise that drafted him.
By 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 sent 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 scoring totals never had the pop one would expect for a top-five pick.
At the 2019 trade deadline, the Wild decided to move 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. While the 2019-20 season has been less productive for him, all signs point to a bright future for him with the Hurricanes.
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.
Even on draft day, Connolly was a clear boom-or-bust pick. With injury costing him most of the 2009-10 season, all that teams had to go off of was his 60-point campaign from one year earlier. The spark was there for all-star production, but it was uncertain if injury would slow that potential.
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, the Lightning decided to move on from Connolly, dealing him to the Boston Bruins for two second-round draft picks. He would go on to play with the Bruins through the 2015-16 season, where he struggled with injury, before leaving the franchise and signing with the Washington Capitals.
In his three seasons with Washington, Connolly experienced his greatest NHL successes. He broke 20 goals, got 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, where he looks to continue his legacy in the NHL just across the state from the team that drafted him.
7. Jeff Skinner – Carolina Hurricanes
Out of all the players taken early in the 2010 draft, Jeff Skinner may have been 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.
He followed up 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 managed to provide scoring that the team needed to build upon.
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 for acquiring him, posting 40 goals for the first time in his career in 2018-19.
After that breakout season, the Sabres rewarded Skinner with a massive eight-year, $72 million extension. While he hasn’t been able to live up to that pay raise in 2019-20, he will continue to be one of the franchise faces for the foreseeable future.
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 now-defunct Atlanta Thrashers, Burmistrov was expected to immediately 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, posting 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 at the draft, never managing to translate his top-end scoring talent to the NHL. However, with a successful career in the KHL, he has at least managed to continue finding a place in the hockey world.
9. Mikael Granlund – Minnesota Wild
Even before Mikael Granlund was NHL eligible, he had been 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 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
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, and he helped to get the team to the playoffs throughout the 2010s.
At the 2019 trade deadline, the Wild decided to move 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 in this trade. In 66 games with the franchise, he has only posted 27 points, well below his career totals with the Wild. Now, in the final year of the three-year contract he signed in Minnesota, he could be dangled as trade-bait once again or walk away from Nashville in the 2020 offseason.
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 in the first round. With the 10th-overall pick, the New York Rangers decided to add 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 of the WHL, 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, racking up 100-plus penalty minutes in three straight seasons.
Despite being given time to develop with New York, McIlrath just couldn’t break into the NHL. 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 slow development, he was traded to the Panthers in 2016-17, then was traded again at the 2017 deadline to the Red Wings.
Since he joined Detroit, McIlrath has 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 on their roster. 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.