Buffalo - August 21, 2014 - With the focus on the Sabres’ drafting and stockpiling prospects being the main talking points when it comes to the team these days, I couldn’t help but think: “who are some of the worst misses in the team’s history of drafting?”
We’ve already covered the non-existent Taro Tsujimoto and the uber-disappointing Marek Zagrapan and Artem Kryukov. Today, we look at a swing and a miss from a draft that was nothing but swings and misses: Barrett Heisten.
The 1999 NHL Draft, in retrospect, will go down as one of the worst top-to-bottom drafts in NHL history and its top overall pick, Patrik Stefan to the former Atlanta Thrashers, is considered one of the biggest busts in NHL history.
The Sabres, picking 20th overall, tabbed the tough, grinding Heisten out of Anchorage, AK. He was what the Sabres were at that time: nothing flashy, but tough and full of character. He showed a strong offensive game and looked like he could be the power forward the team was looking for.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t even come to terms to get him into camp. After he dropped out of college to play with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, Heisten was declared a free agent during the 2001 season and signed with the New York Rangers.
Heisten enjoyed a strong year in Seattle, posting 77 points in 58 games before suiting up with the Rangers for 10 games in 2001-02. Little did the Rangers know, that would be the last they’d see of Heisten. He would spend the next season underwhelming the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL before bouncing around with Utah and Bridgeport Sound until the 2005-06 season, where he played three years in the ECHL with the Alaska Aces before calling it quits.
Like those mentioned above, Heisten never even suited up for the Sabres despite having a high draft pick used on him. At least he suited up in the NHL somewhere, unlike the other three. At least the argument can be made for Tsujimoto that he never made the NHL because he didn’t exist. The other three technically existed, though not in the hockey universe.
This is one of those drafts, though, where the Sabres can be let off the hook a little bit. After they picked Heisten, the only things resembling NHLers were Nick Boynton (21st overall), Martin Havlat (26th overall), Jordan Leopold (44th overall), Henrik Zetterberg (210th overall) and the guy they tabbed with the 138th pick, Ryan Miller.
It’s little wonder the Sabres were bad for years heading into the locked out season of 2004/05: they kept taking players in the first round that never panned out.
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