Throughout training camp I've been spending a lot of time looking at / reviewing old draft history to see what players went to which teams, and where they were drafted, etc. I was interested in seeing if there was a pattern, or some way of knowing which prospects might jump out.
It's really interesting to know that, basically, there are about 15 bonafide NHLers in a draft, and maybe three or four star players - if you're lucky, one or two franchise players, every year. But where are they and where do they come from?
Well - as I've been going through the drafts, I've discovered that, basically before the lockout - teams had absolutely no idea what they were doing. You should look at the 99 - 2003 drafts, they are brutal in the top end, while the second - fourth rounds are where the quality picks come from.
Anyhow - I've wanted to make All-Star Teams out of each draft - looking back on each year, selecting the best team out of the bunch of players and then having the draft years go head-to-head to see which was the best (just for fun).
In any case, this has taken a lot of work and ALSO a lot of time to just collect the data. So I may draw this out for a little while. Meaning, not post something every day, but rather every few days - and I want to see what you think about it. Look at the list, look at their accomplishments and see where you'd rank the draft year - and see if there are players you would include on the team vs. the players I put on the team.
Anyhow - I begin the whole process way back in 1981 (a good year if you ask me : if we go back much further than this, I don't even recognize players' names. Even in 1981, I'm not sure who's who - but I've tried).
Check the draft for yourself!
The first line: Mark Hunter, Dale Hawerchuk and Mike Eagles
2nd: Tony Tanti, Ron Francis, Normands Leveille
3rd: Richard Chernomaz, Claude Loiselle, Scott Arneil
4th: Steve Gatzos, Doug Smith, Todd Strueby
D: Chris Chelios, Al MacInnis
Garth Butcher, Bruce Drive
Joe Cirella, Tom Kurvers
G: Grant Fuhr
Look like a good team? Not so much in the forward position, eh? I would agree. This group (thanks in great part from Chelios and Fuhr) have a load of awards in their name.
Among forwards: 7,198 games played, 2,038 goals, 2,125 assists, 5,001 points, 7,258 PIM, 598 PP goals, 189 Game Winners in the regular season.
In the playoffs, 515 GP, 110 goals, 220 assists, 329 points, 575 PIM and 15 game-winning goals.
1 Calder Trophy, 1 Selke Trophy, 3 Lady Byngs, 1 Clancy; 11 All-Star appearances, 2 Stanley Cups
Among defensemen: 6,373 GP, 826 G, 2,784 A, 3,610 PTS, 9,170 PIM, 343, PPG, 98 GWG.
In the playoffs: 696 GP, 94 G, 314 A, 408 PTS, 1,030 PIM, 14 GWG.
4 Stanley Cups, 4 Norris Trophies, 25 All-Star appearances, 9 First-Team All-Stars
2,088 GP, 918 wins, 771 losses, 278 ties, 77 Shut outs
Playoffs: 236 GP, 122 W, 97 L, 11 SO
5 Stanley Cups, 2 FirstTeam all-Stars, 2 Vezina Trophies, 1 Jennings Trophy, 9 All-Star Game Appearances
Total: 1 Calder, 11 Stanley Cups, 2 Vezina, 1 Jennings, 4 Norris, 45 All-Star Game Appearances, 19 First-Team All-Stars, 3 Lady Byngs, 1 Selke, 1 Clancy.
Player of the Draft: (edit, Oct. 3)
I have added this section to highlight the player of the draft, because in some instances, the numbers of the draft can be heavily skewed by the inclusion of one particularly significant player that might have a career that would be considered greater on its own than the culmination of all of the other players in the draft combined. For example, in the 1983 draft, there's a player that single-handedly makes that draft incredible. And you'll see who that is very shortly.
In any case, my "Player of the Draft" from 1981 is: Chris Chelios, who has finally retired just this year after an absolutely unparalleled career.
Regular season: 1,651 GP, 185 G, 763 A, 948 PTS, 2,891 PIM, 69 PPG, 31 GWG
Playoffs: 266 GP, 31 G, 113 A, 144 PTS, 423 PIM, 13 PPG 6 GWG
3 Norris Trophies ('89, '93, '96) 11 All-Star Game appearances, 3 Stanley Cups, 5 First-Team All-Stars. An incredible career, especially considering he was drafted 40th overall. A very special honorable mention to Al MacInnis, who is undoubtedly right up there as a great NHLer with Chelios.
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