Canadiens: For Juraj Slafkovsky, Alexandre Daigle Isn't a Draft Bust, He's a Draft Lesson.

Ottawa Senators v New Jersey Devils
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Those aren’t the kind of scraps I’m talking about. I’m talking about the kind you forget in the back of the cupboard for a few years. The kind that could light it up in the minor leagues but never quite figured things out in the show. The kind that well, no player realistically could have done anything with to make a team competitive no matter their talent.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Ottawa expected Alexandre Daigle to do from the onset, and that right there is why I view Daigle less as the NHL’s all-time worst draft bust, and moreso a perfect case study into why realistic expectations are, as I said, essential as essential can be to a prospects development, something Ottawa never had and still to an extent doesn’t have, turning to Joonas Korpisalo to save the teams net in free agency when he’s never served a No. 1 starting role in the NHL.

Ottawa handled Daigle’s development horrifically, and essentially thought that, rather than getting a prospect, they would be getting the next Wayne Gretzky right away to carry the team into the promised land. That’s akin to saying that the magic beans Jack sold his cow for in Jack and the Beanstalk would realistically lead to a Golden Goose. It’s a delusion that should be a product of the past, yet is still seen in remnants today, and its something that will only ever hurt a prospect, and that applies just as much to guys like Slafkovsky as it did to Daigle.

In Ottawa’s inaugural season, their leading scorer was Norm Maciver, a talented-yet undersized defenseman from Thunder Bay, Ontario, who carved out a solid if unremarkable career as a power-play specialist from 1987 till 1998. In between stints with the Rangers, Oilers, Penguins, Jets, Whalers and Coyotes, Maciver posted superb 17-46-63 totals over 80 games in 92-93, after starting the season opener on the Senators third pairing. While he would never reach those heights again, Daigle at least had the benefit of playing alongside a budding superstar in Yashin his first season in Ottawa, but the rest of the roster was, well, non-existent.

Aside from Yashin and the introduction of Daniel Alfredsson as the team’s new franchise forward in the 95-96 season, the Sens other top scorers in Daigle’s first three seasons included the likes of Randy Cunneyworth (yes, the former Habs coach) Dave McLIwain, Bob Kudelski, Sylvain Turgeon, and Steve Larouche. While all solid players in their own right (with Larouche being one of the purest goal-scorers in minor league history), it wasn’t exactly a great sign if they were on your first line.

By the time other established scorers had entered the fold like Shawn McEachern and Radek Bonk, Daigle was already gone, with Ottawa management having finally soured on him after a dismal start to the 97-98 season, sending him to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Vaclav Propsal and Pat Falloon, another draft bust.