NHL: A Tale Of Good & Bad Drafts

Matt Eichel@@mattyalloutSenior Writer IJune 28, 2008

Drafts can equal the best or they can equal busts.

Some teams hit a gold mine in certain years while they go nowhere the other.

Here are some of the best and worst draft years for teams.

Best Draft Classes:

Detroit Red Wings - 1989

With 14 draft picks in the 89 Draft, the Detroit Red Wings were well on their way to rebuilding the franchise.

After drafting franchise player Steve Yzerman in the 1983 draft, Detroit continued to draft strong players such as Adam Graves and Joe Murphy.

In a draft where the Quebec Nordiques selected Mats Sundin first overall, the Red Wings had the one draft year that would propel them into molding a championship team.

With the 11th overall pick, Detroit took Mike Sillinger.

Sillinger would only play in Detroit from 1990-91 until being dealt to Anaheim in 1994-95.  Since starting his NHL career, Sillinger has played with 12 different teams.

After selecting bruising defenseman Bob Boughner 32nd overall in Round two, Detroit would take coveted defenseman Niklas Lidstrom 53rd overall in Round three; talented Russian superstar, Sergei Fedorov, 74th overall in Round four; grinder, Dallas Drake, 116th overall in Round six; and another bruising defenseman in Vladimir Konstantinov 221st overall in Round 11.

Drake would be traded to the Winnipeg Jets during the 1993-94 seasons, but would return to the Wings for the 2007-08 seasons to win a 2008 Stanley Cup.

Fedorov's defection to North America helped the Wings rebuild, as he would score nine 30+-goal seasons from 1990-91 until 2002-03.

Lidstrom remains a pillar on defense and their current captain.

Konstantinov was also a pillar on defense before an unfortunate accident following the Wings 1997 Stanley Cup win. 

Quebec Nordiques - 1979

New to the NHL, the Nordiques made an impact immediately by drafting Michel Goulet 20th overall, Dale Hunter 41st overall, and Anton Stastny 83rd overall.

The following season, Quebec would sign Anton's brother Peter Stastny, who would defect to Quebec and play ten and a half seasons.

Goulet's career was highly successful, as he would play eleven seasons in Quebec scoring seven 40+-goal seasons in a Nordiques uniform.

In 15 NHL seasons, Goulet would score 1152 points in 1089 games with Quebec and Chicago.  He would top the 100-point plateau four times, including 121 points in 1983-84.

Dale Hunter's career was a story of success and leadership.

Drafted by Quebec, Hunter would play six and a half seasons in a Nordiques jersey, scoring over 60 points along with 200+ PIMs.

In 1987-88, Hunter was dealt to the Washington Capitals, where he would become the heart and soul of the Capitals.

During his twelve years in Washington, Hunter would top the 1,000-point plateau and 3500 PIM plateau as well, becoming one of a rare breed of player to do both in a career.

Anton Stastny's career would be short but would be very productive.

From 1980-81 until 1988-89, he would net 636 points in 650 games.

As his career in Quebec would begin to decline statistically, Stastny would be demoted to the AHL for 19 games and would then would take off for Europe and retire after the 1990-91 season.

Chicago Blackhawks - 1980 & 1983

In 1980, the Blackhawks would select two potent scorers in Denis Savard at third overall and Steve Larmer at 120th overall.

Along with those two top picks, the Hawks also selected Troy Murray 57th overall and Carey Wilson at 67th overall.

Savard's career would span 18 seasons, twelve and a half with Chicago, where he would score 1338 points in 1196 games.

The highlight in Savard's career would be the 1993 Stanley Cup ring he got while playing in Montreal.  He would score five 100+ point seasons, his best coming during the 1987-88 season with 131 points.

Larmer would play 12 seasons in Chicago, reaching 70+ points in each of those seasons.

Winning the 1982-83 Calder with 90 points in 80 games, he would be part of the Blackhawks run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1992.

Larmer would win his only Stanley Cup in 1994 with the Rangers and reached the 1,000-point plateau the next season and then retired.

Troy Murray would have a successful career scoring 584 points in 914 NHL games with the Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Colorado Avalanche.

Murray's career season would be in 1985-85 scoring 99 points.

Carey Wilson would play in 552 games notching 427 points with the Calgary Flames, Hartford Whalers, and the New York Rangers.

In 1983, the Blackhawks would have another successful draft as they would select superstar goaltender Dominik Hasek 199th overall.

In addition to Hasek, the Hawks would select Marc Bergevin 59th overall, who would go on to play 1191 NHL games, and Brian Noonan 179th overall.

Noonan would play 629 games and notch 275 points with Chicago, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, and the Phoenix Coyotes.  Noonan would capture the Stanley Cup with the 1994 Rangers along with Larmer. 

Buffalo Sabres - 1983

The top of the draft for Buffalo would be goaltender Tom Barrasso, who would go fifth overall.  Barrasso would play six seasons in Buffalo and would capture the Calder Trophy and the Vezina Trophy in the 1983-84 season.

Barrasso would be dealt to the up and coming Pittsburgh Penguins in 1988-89 and would go on to anchor the net for the Penguins 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup Championships.  He would win twelve 20+-win seasons.

The Buffalo Sabres 1983 draft crop would combine to play in 4403 NHL games.

John Tucker and Christian Ruuttu were the best two forwards of their draft crop scoring 436 points in 656 games and 432 points in 621 games respectively.

Another great late pick would be German defenseman Uwe Krupp, who would be best known for his quadrupal overtime Stanley Cup winning goal for the Colorado Avalanche against the Florida Panthers in 1996. 

Edmonton Oilers - 1979 & 1980

As the WHA and NHL amalgamated together in 1979, the Edmonton Oilers would benefit from the NHL Draft.

In 1979, the Oilers would select defenseman Kevin Lowe 21st overall, Mark Messier 48th overall, and Glenn Anderson 69th overall.

Between those three picks there is 4139 games, 1276 goals, 2142 assists, and 3418 points including 18 Stanley Cups.

In 1980, the Oilers hit gold once again selecting Paul Coffey sixth overall, Jari Kurri 69th overall, and Andy Moog 132nd overall.

Between these three players would be a combined 12 Stanley Cups.

These two draft years would cement the Oilers dynasty of the 1980s with a combined 30 Stanley Cups in two draft years.

Montreal Canadiens - 1987

In 1987, the Montreal Canadiens selected a group of future NHL warhorse veterans in Rounds 1-3.  They would pick Andrew Cassels, 17th overall; John LeClair; Eric Desjardins; and Mathieu Schneider who is still active.

Three of the four players would be instrumental in Montreal's 1993 run to the Cup including Desjardins hat trick in Game two against Wayne Gretzky's Los Angeles Kings at the Montreal Forum.

Cassels would only play two seasons in Montreal before being dealt to the Hartford Whalers.

Despite his long career, Cassels would only ever play in 21 playoff games. 

Calgary Flames - 1984

Calgary was beginning an emergence as a NHL power after a move from Atlanta in 1980.

Always seeming to be under their provincial rivals shadow, the Flames managed to select a solid draft class in 1984.  

With decent draft years in recent years picking Hakan Loob, Al MacInnis, Sergei Makarov, and Dan Quinn, the Flames would bolster their lineup by selecting Gary Roberts 12th overall.

Following Roberts was Paul Ranheim at 38th overall, Brett Hull and Gary Suter.

Hull would be traded before Calgary's 1989 Stanley Cup Championship but MacInnis and Suter would bolster Calgary's defense en route to their championship.

Worst Draft Classes

Toronto Maple Leafs - 1999

In all, the draft class of 1999 for the Toronto Maple Leafs would play a combined three NHL games.

Toronto's top pick, Luca Cereda, was seen as a premier Swiss player, yet Cereda would only play in the AHL with the St. John's Maple Leafs, with a career best 25 points in 68 games in 2002-03.

At 60th overall, the Leafs selected Peter Reynolds who had a mediocre OHL career with the London Knights and North Bay Centennials.

Reynolds would only make it to the AHL and ECHL.

The rest of the draft class would be selected 108th-267th overall with two players never coming to North America at all.

Philadelphia Flyers - 1999

The Flyers 1999 class was not any better with a combined 13 NHL games, the majority played by 22nd overall pick goaltender Maxime Ouellet.

Three of the Flyers picks would never come over to North America.

The fact that the Flyers only had one pick through the first three rounds was the main reason for the Flyers below average draft class.

Los Angeles Kings - 1985 & 1989

With Wendel Clark being the premier pick of the 1985 draft, the Los Angeles Kings had the ninth and 10th overall picks.

Those picks came the selected Craig Duncanson and Dan Gratton before other draft notables Dave Manson, Calle Johansson, Sean Burke, Joe Nieuwendyk, and Mike Ricther.

The only other pick that would ever play in the NHL was Petr Prajsler at 93rd overall.  Having only 91 NHL games between their ten picks, the Kings had a dismal 1985 draft class.

They would follow that up with another dismal draft in 1989, with the players only playing 205 NHL games between three of their twelve picks.

New York Islanders - 2001

Yet another Mike Milbury disaster on Long Island as their eight picks only played a combined eight NHL games.  However, the Islanders did not have their first pick until the 101st overall pick, well into round four.

Montreal Canadiens - 1999

Only one game played by all eleven-draft picks in 1999, the Canadiens continued to draft dismally through the Rejean Houle/Andre Savard era.

With their first overall pick 39th overall, the Canadiens selected Alexander Buturlin, who would never come over from Russia.

Their 58th overall pick Matt Carkner would play one NHL game for the San Jose Sharks in 2005-06 picking up his first and only NHL point.

Their 145th overall pick, was Marc-Andre Thinel, thought to be the steal of the draft.

After three seasons in the QMJHL, including a 150-point season in 2000-01, Thinel would never make it past the AHL and now plays in France.

Edmonton Oilers - 1990

Possibly one of the worst drafts ever; none of their picks would ever make the NHL.

With their first pick 17th overall, the Oilers took winger Scott Allison, a grinder-style player.

Allison would play three seasons in the AHL and would bounce around European leagues.

Alexander Legault was selected 38th overall and would never play past the 1993-94 season.

Joe Crowley would also never play beyond the 1994-95 season.

The Oilers last four picks would never make the trek across to North America. 

Winnipeg Jets - 1987

After taking Bryan Marchment 16th overall, the Jets other picks would only play a combined 21 NHL games.

Their 37th overall pick Patrik Erickson never came to Winnipeg to play.

Three players were selected from Minnesota high schools and they would never step onto the NHL ice.


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