It’s also notable for having 11 American-born players drafted in the first round. Perhaps even more interestingly, it’s notable that every player who was drafted in the first round has appeared in at least one NHL game.
However, just because every player suited up for at least one big-league contest doesn’t mean there aren’t guys from that round and others who didn’t meet expectations and have been forgotten. Here are five of them.
Alexander Burmistrov: Atlanta Thrashers, Eighth Overall
Alexander Burmistrov could have been the next Pavel Datsyuk.
The Russian possessed an abundance of skill, including playmaking ability, adept offensive instinct, and penchant for creating offensive chances for his teammates seemingly out of thin air. Add to that his soft hands and agility and you can see why the Atlanta Thrashers were so stoked to grab the centre — who’d just had a successful 65-point season with the OHL’s Barrie Colts — at eighth overall.
Burmistrov made the Thrashers, a weak team at the time, without ever playing an AHL game. In his rookie 2010-11 season — the Thrashers’ last in the The Big Peach before being purchased by True North and relocating to Winnipeg that spring — Burmistrov tallied a modest 20 points in 74 games but put opponents on notice with goals like the dazzling one below.
In his first season with the Winnipeg Jets, Burmistrov improved on his point total, tallying 28, which included 13 goals. While he seemed to be rounding into form, things went downhill in a hurry.
Burmistrov’s attitude and sense of entitlement cast a shadow over his skill. In 2012-13, his relationship with then-Jets head coach Claude Noel soured. Burmistrov was bitter with Noel for a number of reasons, including that the coach sent him down the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps in the wake of the 2012 NHL lockout instead of letting him return to Russia, where he could make more money. Additionally, the 21-year-old was peeved that veteran Olli Jokinen was getting more playing time, and that he was relegated to fourth-line and penalty kill roles.
After the lockout-shortened season — in which he tallied just 10 points in 44 games — Burmistrov bounced back to his home country and played the next two seasons with Kazan Ak-Bars of the KHL. However, in July 2015, with Noel having been fired and replaced by Paul Maurice, Burmistrov made a return to Winnipeg.
His second go-around with the Jets, however, was a disappointment. In 2015-16, he tallied 21 points, and in 2016-17, he put up just two assists in 23 games before being placed on waivers and getting claimed by the Arizona Coyotes.
In 2017, Burmistrov — now a fringe player rather than an exciting prospect — signed a one-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks. He played 24 games there before “retiring” from the NHL on Christmas Eve and returning to Russia, likely never to return to North America.
Burmistrov began the 2018-19 season with Kazan, but after struggling there, he was traded to Salavat Yulaev Ufa and played alongside other former NHLers Linus Omark and Nikita Soshnikov.
He returned to Kazan for the 2020-21 season.
Quinton Howden: Florida Panthers, 25th Overall
Winnipegger Quinton Howden was selected by the Panthers after a breakout 65-point season for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. The big-bodied Howden was praised by Hockey’s Future for his “excellent speed and agility,” “above average shot and scoring touch,” and puck-handling skills that “allow him to avoid defenders and distribute the puck effectively.”
After being drafted, Howden returned to the WHL for two more very successful years, tallying 79 and 65 points, respectively, before turning pro in the 2012-13 season and playing the entire year for the San Antonio Rampage. There, he put up a promising 30 points in 57 games.
However, like countless others, the production and skills he teased in junior and the AHL never really translated into big-league success. In 92 games with the Panthers over three seasons, he produced just 17 points and played mainly lower-line roles.
On July 1, 2016, Howden signed a one-year, two-way contract with his hometown Winnipeg Jets. However, he ended up playing only five games for the squad in 2016-17 and was held pointless. He spent most of the year with the Manitoba Moose, notching 24 points in 58 games.
After not being tendered an offer by the Jets after the season, Howden signed with the KHL’s Dinamo Minsk, where he played in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
He began 2019-20 by playing 37 games for Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo, but finished the season with Podolsk Vityaz.
In December 2020, he signed a contract with the Malmo Redhawks of the Swedish Hockey League.
Mark Visentin: Phoenix Coyotes, 27th Overall
It’s true that every player selected in the first round in 2010 played at least one game in the NHL. Mark Visentin played exactly one.
A start on April 12, 2014 was the only taste of the NHL crease the Watertown, Ontario product would get in his tumultuous career.
Vistentin backstopped the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs for four seasons between 2008-09 and 2011-12, recording 89 wins in that span. His 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons were his best: he put up a combined 60-18-8 record and 14 shutouts over those two years. Because of this, he was ranked highly ranked among North American goalies.
Visentin also backstopped Canada at the 2011 and 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship, but is mostly known for surrendering five goals in the third period of the 2011 gold medal game in an epic late-game collapse against Russia.
Visentin was hounded by injuries through his career. He suffered an ankle injury during the Coyotes’ 2014-15 training camp and was forced to undergo season-ending surgery. This led the Coyotes to opt against tendering him a qualifying offer.
Visentin signed with the Rockford IceHogs, the Chicago Blackhawks’s AHL affiliate, after that. In 2015-16, he suffered another ankle injury, which, once again, required season-ending surgery.
Vistentin’s professional career was pretty much kaput thereafter, but dubious endings continued to dog him. In his last-ever professional game — a one-period appearance with the Austrian League’s Szekeshfehervar Alba Volan HC in 2017 — he allowed five goals on 20 shots. After that one game, his contract was terminated due to yet another injury.
He hasn’t played since.
Ludvig Rensfeldt: Chicago Blackhawks, 35th Overall
Ludvig Rensfeldt was stab-in-the-dark pick by the Blackhawks in the wake of their first Stanley Cup victory since 1961.
Just on the cusp of their dynastic three Cups in six years run, the Blackhawks gambled on Rensfeldt, who Rotoworld called “an inconsistent player at this stage of his career,” who could either turn into “a top-six NHL forward who can average a point a game,” or “bomb out completely.”
It was the latter: the Swede never suited up for the Blackhawks or any other professional North American team. He played one season of junior hockey with the Sarnia Sting in 2011-12, tallying 43 points in 53 games, but then went back to Sweden.
The winger never returned to North America, opting instead to build a career in his home country. He played with the Malmo Redwings for two seasons after his junior stint, then four years for Rogle BK.
He then served as an alternate captain for captain of Timra IK in 2018-19 before moving on to play with Orebro HK, where he remains today.
Luckily for the Blackhawks, they were so powerful in the first half of the 2010s that they could afford to burn a pick on Rensfeldt.
Curtis Hamilton: Edmonton Oilers, 48th Overall
Like Visentin, Curtis Hamilton also played in just one NHL game.
After playing four full seasons with the Saskatoon Blades — the last of which was an 82-point campaign — and representing Canada at the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships, the Kelowna, B.C. product seemed ready to break out and translate his skills as a power forward to a consistent NHL role.
The left-winger, however, spent the entirety of the next four seasons with the Oklahoma City Barons, even as the Oilers languished at the bottom of the Northwest and Pacific Divisions.
Also like Visentin, Hamilton required surgery after a serious injury, one to his knee he sustained in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs. In 2014-15, he suited up for his only NHL game and was held pointless (but did get in a fight).
After 2015, he made his way overseas, and has since played for six teams. He last played with the British Elite Ice Hockey League’s Belfast Giants in 2019-20.
Honorable Mentions: Brett Bulmer, Sebastian Wannstrom, Brock Beukeboom
Declan Schroeder is a 27-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.