Tuesday, June 21, 2011
The 2011 NHL Entry Draft, to be held in St. Paul, Minnesota, is just three days away. As part of our countdown to the draft, we are going to take a look today at the first, and only, NHL draft ever held in Minnesota.
The 1989 NHL Entry Draft was held at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, which was home to the Minnesota North Stars. The first NHL draft, then called the Amateur Draft, was held in Montreal, Quebec at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Montreal remained host to the draft through 1984, although at a few different venues over time, until Toronto hosted the draft in 1985. It was back to Montreal in 1986, followed by Detroit in 1987, a return to Montreal in 1988 and finally to Minnesota in 1989, only the third time in the draft's 27 year history it was held outside of Montreal.
History was made at the draft when the Quebec Nordiques selected Swede Mats Sundin first overall, making him the first European-born player taken with the first pick in NHL history. He would go on to have a successful 18 year NHL career, scoring 564 goals and 1,349 points in 1,346 games played, putting him among the top 20 all-time goal scorers in league history and the only Swede to reach 500 goals and the first Swede to reach 1,000 points.
Slightly less successful with the second pick, the New York Islanders selected Canadian Dave Chyzowski who played just 126 NHL games while scoring 15 goals. He would go on to have an 18 year career, but the majority of it was spent in the IHL and in Europe.
Scott Thornton was picked third by the Toronto Maple Leafs and had a long NHL career which lasted until 2008.
The Winnipeg Jets took Stu Barnes fourth followed by the New Jersey Devils choice of Bill Guerin. The host Minnesota North Stars picked Minnesota native Doug Zmolek 7th overall, but he would end up as property of the San Jose Sharks and would never wear the North Stars sweater.
Other notables in the first round were Bobby Holik at #10 to the Hartford Whalers and the well-travelled and Third String Goalie favorite Mike Sillinger to the Detroit Red Wings at #11. Olaf Kolzig was the first goaltender taken 19th by the Washington Capitals and would go on to serve the Capitals for 16 seasons.
Round 2 saw the Nordiques make another solid pick when they chose Adam Foote, who would play for the franchise for 13 years in his first tour of duty with the team, including a pair of Stanley Cups following the Nordiques relocation to Colorado.
The Capitals again chose a goaltender in the second round when they chose Byron Dafoe with the 35th pick.
The Detroit Red Wings then began to distance themselves from the herd with their third round selection of defenseman Niklas Lidstrom, who will play his 20th season in Detroit in 2011-12 and is widely regarded as one of the best defenseman in the history of the league.
The other main notable of the third round was Kris Draper, taken #62 by Winnipeg, but later acquired by Detroit for a single dollar in 1993. He would prove to be one of the greatest bargains in league history by going on to play 17 seasons with Detroit, contributing to four Stanley Cups and winning a Selke Trophy in the process.
The highlight of round four again went to the Red Wings, with their pick of Sergei Fedorov of the Soviet Union. Following his defection from the Soviet Union, his flashy style would make him a star player of the 1990's, which included a 56 goal season in 1993-94. His trophy cabinet would include the Hart, Pearson and Selke Trophies in 1994, another Selke in 1996 and three Stanley Cups, all with Detroit.
Another club to risk a later pick on a Soviet was the Vancouver Canucks, whose choice of Pavel Bure at #113 paid off handsomely when Bure became an NHL star with seasons of 60, 60, 51, 58 and 59 goals during his 12 year NHL career.
Also of note were steals Donald Audette at #183 in round nine by the Buffalo Sabres, goaltender Arturs Irbe at #196 by Minnesota in round ten and another addition to the embarrassment of riches for Detroit with their selection of rugged defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov of the Soviet Union with the 221st pick in round #12.
Nicklas Lidstrom and Vladimir Konstantinov were both selected in the 1989 draft
In all, 252 players were taken over the 12 rounds of the draft from Sweden, Canada, the United States, Czechoslovakia, West Germany, Finland and the Soviet Union as well as 18 Minnesota natives, led by Zmolek.
Of the players drafted, Lidstrom has played the most games at 1,494 and counting, Sundin the most goals at 564 and points with 1,349.
On the other end of the scale, of the 252 players chosen, 139 would never see action in an NHL game, even seven of the Red Wings picks, despite the amazing success they had that year with their other selections. Another 20 picks would play less than 20 NHL games, 14 of those in the single digits.
This Friday evening the draft returns to Minnesota for only the second time ever with the host Minnesota Wild picking 10th in the first round. Rounds two through seven will take place on Saturday.
Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 Quebec Nordiques Mats Sundin jersey, the first player taken in the only previous draft held in Minnesota and the first European-born player ever taken first overall.
This jersey features the NHL 75th Anniversary patch worn by all players in the NHL to commemorate the league's anniversary.
This was the first season that the Nordiques added the red trim around their previously single color numbers.
Today's video highlight are the Quebec Nordiques selecting Mats Sundin first overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, the first European ever drafted first overall. Unfortunately for Sundin, they apparently didn't have baseball caps in Sweden at that time, resulting in the world's first stovepipe ballcap.