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DATE: JUNE 3, 1975

The 13th NHL Amateur Draft was dominated by one issue -- money. The 3-year-old war between the NHL and WHA had already caused significant financial bleeding on both sides. The fight to sign amateur stars had led to major increases in the average player's salary. Teams were shelling out unprecedented amounts of cash to stay competitive, and NHL President Clarence Campbell expressed grave concerns about the sport's future. As teams prepared for the draft, they worried about the money they might have to offer their top rookies.

Complicating matters was a hard-line stance by the new Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (CMJHL). Upset by the loss of so much talent in 1974, the CMJHL countered with two moves. First, it decided to allow up to four overage juniors to compete on each of its teams in 1975-76. This enabled the CMJHL to raise the NHL and WHA's price for drafting a 20-year-old still technically eligible for major junior. Second, the CMJHL instituted a sliding cost scale for the drafting of its players. The cost for early-round 20-year-olds was raised from $20,000 to $23,000. The cost for 19-year-olds was substantially higher, and the cost for the top 18-year-olds was set at $100,000 per player.

The NHL and WHA avoided the issue by agreeing not to draft underage players in 1975. The WHA's Toronto Toros, however, intended to sign underagers Mark Napier, John Tonelli and John Anderson for the 1975-76 season, and the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association demanded payment which the Toros refused. The WHA still owed the CAHA $190,000 for players drafted in 1974, and the NHL said it saw no reason to pay for its 1975 draft picks if the WHA was not meeting its own obligations. The heated issue remained unsettled by the time draft day arrived on June 3 and was finally put to rest when the WHA paid the balance of its debt to the CAHA in August 1975.

After drafting ahead of the WHA in 1974, the NHL went second in 1975. This gave teams a chance to see which juniors would spark bidding wars. The WHA draft was May 29, a full five days before the NHL draft. This had a minimal effect on the NHL draft, but Claude Larose, taken No. 1 by the WHA, dropped to No. 120 in the NHL draft because he had already committed to play in the rival league.

When draft day arrived, the NHL insisted on the same level of secrecy established the previous year. The entire draft was conducted by conference call from the NHL headquarters in Montreal, and picks were not publicized to the media for several days. In addition, teams began signing players as quickly as possible to keep them away from the WHA. Five of the NHL first-round picks signed almost immediately. This group included Wayne Dillon, whose WHA contract had just expired after his two years there. Also signing early were No. 1 overall pick Mel Bridgman, Richard Mulhern, Pierre Mondou and Bob Sauve.

Washington became the first team to trade its No. 1 overall pick on draft day in a deal with Philadelphia. Other than this trade, the draft lacked the previous year's drama, since the selection of underagers in 1974 gutted the 1975 crop of 20-year-olds. Los Angeles' Dave Taylor, an afterthought in the 15th round, turned out to be perhaps the best NHL player, and most of the first-round picks did not develop into stars. This poor first-round judgment would help prompt the NHL to form the Central Scouting Service the following season. By creating one clearinghouse for scouting reports, the league hoped to give its teams an opportunity to cut scouting costs and receive a consistent ranking of the top prospects' likelihood of NHL success.

One big winner on June 3 was the Western Canadian Hockey League, which produced the top seven picks. It was also an important day in the NHL's gradual movement toward a more international player pool. Friction with the CMJHL certainly contributed to this trend, making college hockey stars more attractive. A record 68 players, including Taylor, were selected from U.S. college teams. Americans continued to make gains as 45 U.S. players were drafted, an increase of five from the previous year. Three Finns and two Swedes were selected, and Philadelphia made history in becoming the first NHL team to draft a Soviet player. The Flyers took Viktor Khatulev with a ninth-round pick.

Eligible For Draft: All amateur players born before January 1, 1956.
Draft Order: Teams drafted in reverse order of their 1974-75 finish.
Irregularities:  There was no set number of rounds. Teams had the right to pass in any round, and the draft continued until all teams were done selecting. Toronto passed on its option to use Pittsburgh's first-round pick, instead saving it for a future draft. Philadelphia passed in Round 8, but re-entered for Rounds 9 and 10 before passing again in Round 11. Chicago passed in Round 9, but re-entered for Rounds 10 and 11 before passing again in Round 12. Vancouver passed in Round 10, but re-entered for Round 11 before passing again in Round 12. Kansas City passed in Round 10, but re-entered in Round 12 before passing again in Round 13. St. Louis passed in Round 10, but re-entered for Rounds 12 and 13 before passing again in Round 14. California, Boston and Buffalo passed in Round 11. Detroit passed in Round 12. Washington, Minnesota and N.Y. Islanders passed in Round 13. Atlanta passed in Round 13 but re-entered for Round 18. Toronto passed in Round 14. Pittsburgh passed in Round 15 but re-entered for Round 18. N.Y. Rangers and Los Angeles passed in Round 17. Montreal passed in Round 18.
Rotation: Washington, Kansas City, California, Minnesota, Detroit, Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, Vancouver, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers, Pittsburgh, Boston, Los Angeles, Montreal, Buffalo, Philadelphia.
Total Rounds: Eighteen
Cost to Draft: The new CMJHL charged the NHL a rate of $23,000 per player for premium juniors. The league paid the total as a lump sum.
Draft Rights: Team could offer player contract at any time after draft.
No. 1 pick: Mel Bridgman (by Philadelphia)
Reached NHL: 87 players (40.1 percent)
Won Stanley Cup: 8 players (3.7 percent)
Most NHL Games: Dave Taylor (1,111 games)
Most Playoff Games: Mel Bridgman (125 games)
Highest Pick to Miss: No. 9 (Robin Sadler)
Lowest Pick to Reach: No. 210 (Dave Taylor)
Players Drafted: 217 (126 forwards, 65 defense, 26 goalies)

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Total Selected: 217
Forwards: 126
Defense: 65
Goaltenders: 26
Major Junior: 135
College Players: 61
Canadian: 162
Euro-Canadian: 3
USA Citizens: 46
U.S.-Born: 45
European: 6
Reached NHL: 87
Won Stanley Cup: 8
Hall of Fame: 0
All-Star Game: 6
Year-end All-Star: 3
Olympians: 11
Picks Traded: 21
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