History of the NHL Draft: 50 Years of the Draft


A few weeks back, The Hockey Fanatic made our 2012 NHL draft predictions with our mock NHL draft. We were a little creative incorporating a few trades and some “phantom” scouting reports.  In honor of the 50th anniversary of the NHL Entry Draft, we wanted to take a look a drafted hockey players would could have easily been a number one pick during their draft year had the GMs been able to see into the future.

Looking forward to the 50th annual NHL Entry draft this Friday in Pittsburgh, PA.


50 Years of the NHL Entry Draft:  50 Players Who Could Have Been #1 Picks

Here is a look at fifty players who could have been a number one pick in the NHL draft (based on the careers that they ended up having).

  1. Mark Messier – arguably the greatest leader in all of sports was selected 48th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1979 NHL Draft.  Messier would go on to win six Stanley Cups. 1,756 regular NHL games, 694 goals, 1,887 points, Mark Messier is one of the greatest hockey players to have ever played the game.  If only the other twenty GMs would have known back in 1979 how Mark Messier would develop as a player.  There would have been a chance that Messier could have went first overall in the great draft class of 1979.
  2. Steve Yzerman – drafted fourth overall in 1983 by the Detroit Red Wings.  You have to wonder what the North Stars, Whalers and Islanders were thinking?  Yzerman would play his entire career with the Red Wings, winning a few Stanley Cups along the way.
  3. Martin Brodeur – goalie drafted 20th overall by the New Jersey Devils.  Who knew that Brodeur would go on to become the winningest goalie in the history of the NHL?  Nineteen teams passed on the goaltender was was drafted out of the QMJHL having played with St. Hyacinthe Lasers.
  4. Nicklas Lidstrom – drafted 53rd overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1989, Lidstrom went on to become one of the most decorated defenseman of all time.  Having recently retired from the NHL, Nick Lidstrom was a steal for the Wings with the #53 pick in 1989.
  5. Mike Bossy – drafted 15th overall in 1977 by the New York Islanders.  Pure scoring talent that so many teams overlooked in the 1977 NHL draft.  50 goals in 50 games good enough for you?
  6. Ken Dryden – selected 14th (yes 14th) overall by the Boston Bruins in 1964, one of the games greatest goaltenders would end up playing his career with the Montreal Canadiens.  Looking back, Mr. Dryden could have easily been a number one back.  The 1964 first overall pick belonged to the Detroit Red Wings.
  7. Ray Bourque – in 1979 Bourque was drafted 8th overall by the Bosotn Bruins.  Bourque would go on to win rookie of the yer honors (ahead of Wayne Gretzky who did not qualify for the award) and go on to a stellar career with Boston and Colorado.
  8. Paul Coffey – drafted sixth overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 1980, Paul Coffey went on to become one the greatest offensive defensemen of all time.  A smooth skater, Coffey was part of the powerhouse Oilers teams of ’80’s.  The Capitals took Darren Veitch with their fifth overall pick that year.  Just shows the importance of having great scouts.
  9. Luke Robitaille – drafted in the ninth round, 171st overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 1984, Lucky Luc was a diamond in the rough.
  10. Jaromir Jagr – drafted fifth overall by Pittsburgh in 1990.  This future hall of famer was passed up by the Quebec Nordiques, Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers.
  11. Bobby Clarke – drafted 17th overall in 1969 by the Philadelphia Flyers, scrappy forward Bobby Clarke was passed up in favour of players such as Don Tannahill, Bob Currier and Tony Featherstone.  For the record the Flyers also selected The Hammer, Dave Schultz with the #52 pick in this same draft.  The birth of the Broad Street Bullies?
  12. Darryl Sittler – the 1970 draft saw the Toronto Maple Leafs select sleek centreman Darryl Sittler with the 8th overall pick.  Sittler still holds the record for most points in a single game with 10 in a 1976 game vs Boston.
  13. Larry Robinson – the Big Bird was selected 20th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1971 NHL draft.
  14. Patrick Roy – drafted 51st overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1984.  Who knew?
  15. Joe Sakic – drafted 15th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1987, can you believe some of the players that were drafted ahead of “Burnaby Joe”?
  16. Rod Langway – drafted 38th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1977.  Stud of a defenseman.
  17. Dominik Hasek – drafted 199th overall by the Chicago Black Hawks in 1983.
  18. Grant Fuhr – the cool as a cucumber goaltender drafted 8th overall in 1981 by the Edmonton Oilers having played his junior career with the Victoria Cougars.
  19. Brad Park – in the 1966 draft, the Boston Bruins had the number one pick and opted to select defenseman Barry Gibbs from the Estevan Bruins.  The Rangers were up next and selected Toronto Marlboros defenseman Brad Park.  It all worked out in the end as Park played a number of stellar years with the Boston Bruins after being traded from the Rangers.
  20. Peter Mahovolich – drafted second overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1963, the Montreal Canadiens had the top pick that year opting to go with left-winger Garry Monahan who was a teammate of Mahovolich with the St. Michael’s Juveniles.
  21. Marcel Dionne – similar to Peter Mahovolich, Marcel Dionne was taken #2 by the Detroit Red Wings after the Montreal Canadiens selected right winger Guy Lafleur with the top pick of the 1971 NHL draft.
  22. Bryan Trottier – selected 22nd overall by the New York Islanders a steal knowing what we know know as the native of Val Marie, Saskatchewan put up a lot of points in the NHL with his major stops being with the Islanders and the Penguins.  The 1974 draft saw the Red Wings pick Greg Joly with the first overall pick.  Ouch.
  23. Ron Francis – drafted 4th overall by the Hartford Whalers in 1981, Francis would go on to amass 1,798 points in 1,731 games.  Damn.
  24. Bill Barber – drafted 7th overall by the Flyers in 1972, Bill Barber could have easily been a number one pick had we known then what we know now.
  25. Glenn Anderson – drafted 69th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 1979, right-winger Glenn Anderson went on to have a stellar career and was a consistent playoff performer.
  26. Chris Chelios – drafted 40th overall in 1981 by the Montreal Canadiens.  Chelios played until he was 48 years old finishing his career in 2009-10 with the Atlanta Thrashers.
  27. Steve Larmer – drafted 120th overall in the sixth round of the 1980 draft by the Chicago Black Hawks.
  28. Doug Gilmour – drafted by St. Louis in 1982, Gilmour went 134th overall.  Seriously?
  29. Scott Stevens – drafted fifth overall in 1982 by the Washington Capitals.  I bet the Bruins (Gord Kluzak) and Maple Leafs (Gary Nylund) were kicking themselves a few years later.
  30. Kevin Lowe – drafted 21st overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 1979.  The first ever pick by the Oilers turned out to be a solid defenseman who would win six Stanley Cups by the time his career finished up.
  31. Lanny McDonald – the Stache was drafted fourth overall in 1973 by the Toronto Maple Leafs after Denis Potvin was selected #1 by the New York Islanders.
  32. Teemu Selanne – drafted tenth overall in 1988 by the Winnipeg Jets.  The Finnish Flash set a rookie record by scoring 76 goals in his first season in the NHL.
  33. Bernie Federko – drafted 7th overal by the St. Louis Blues in 1976.
  34. Randy Carlyle – drafted 30th overall in 1976 by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  35. Joe Nieuwendyk – drafted 27th overall in 1985 by the Calgary Flames.
  36. Thomas Steen – the slick Swede was drafted 103rd overall by the Winnipeg Jets in 1979.
  37. Mike Liut – a solid goaltender drafted 56th overall by the St. Louis Blues in 1976.
  38. Al Secord – drafted 16th overall in 1978 by the Chicago Black Hawks.  A true power forward.
  39. Kent Nilsson – drafted in 1976 by the Atlanta Flames going 64th overall.
  40. Bob Nystrom – after playing junior with the Calgary Centennials, Bob Nystrom was selected by the New York Islanders 33rd overall in the 1972 NHL draft.  Nystrom would go on to win four Stanley Cups with the Islanders.
  41. Doug Wilson – Norris trophy winner was drafted sixth overall in 1977 by the Chicago Black Hawks.
  42. Stan Smyl – drafted in 1978 by he Vancouver Canucks going 40th overall.  The Steamer was a key contributor on some poor Canucks teams.
  43. Theoren Fleury – drafted 166th overall by the Calgary Flames in 1987.
  44. Rob Blake – the great defenseman was selected 70th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 1988 out of Bowling Green University.
  45. Pavel Bure – the Russian Rocket was drafted 113th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 1989.
  46. Pavel Datsyuk – drafted 171st overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.  What a late steal in the sixth round of the draft.
  47. Anton Stastny – drafted by the Flyers in 198th spot in the 1978 draft.  Anton Stastny went on to have a solid career with his brothers Marian and Peter playing in Quebec with the Nordiques.
  48. Daniel Alfredsson – taken 133rd overall in the 1994 draft by the Ottawa Senators.
  49. Jarome Iginla – drafted 11th overall in 1995 by the Dallas Stars.
  50. Henrik Lundqvist – drafted 205th overall by the New York Rangers in 2000.



For a historical breakdown of the draft visit: http://www.nhl.com/ice/draftsearch.htm?year=2012

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