|1977 DRAFT QUICK FACTS|
|DATE: JUNE 14, 1977|
The 15th NHL Amateur Draft marked the end of an era in the intense fight
between the NHL and its rival major league, the WHA. As the draft, originally
scheduled for May 31, 1977, drew near, the NHL and WHA were already discussing a
merger or another scenario in which the NHL would absorb the top WHA teams.
After five years of struggle over signing draft choices -- a period that drove
salaries up to crippling levels for both leagues -- a light had appeared at the
end of the tunnel and the draft would no longer be overshadowed by the big
In 1977, the NHL had an even greater concern than the 5-year-old WHA
squabble. The same financial pressures that had threatened to drive Kansas City
out of the NHL a year earlier were now hovering over the Cleveland franchise. As
draft day approached, the Cleveland franchise was on the brink of folding. The
situation was so desperate that the NHL delayed its draft until June 14, 1977,
in order to determine if Cleveland would be returning to the league.
Fortunately, the Barons were able to solve their financial woes (at least on
a temporary basis) and the event went ahead with a full 18 teams. The delayed
start pushed the NHL draft to just two days before the WHA draft, thereby
eliminating much of the lead time the league could have used in signing players
before they were selected by WHA teams. This was no longer a major concern,
however, since the leagues appeared poised to make peace. The true resolution
would ultimately be delayed by a year, but the end was already in sight.
Despite the suddenly friendlier climate between the leagues, the NHL chose to
maintain a degree of secrecy around the 1977 draft. Once again, the draft was
conducted via conference call, and its results were not heavily publicized
so as to keep the information away from WHA clubs fighting to sign the same
junior players. This would mark the last time such behavior was necessary, and
in future years the draft would evolve into a very public event.
NHL executives made a significant change in the draft rules for 1977. Teams
were told that if they did not sign a player within one year of the draft -- up
to 48 hours before the next draft -- that player would be allowed to re-enter in
1978 if he wished. An NHL team faced more pressure to decide if they wanted to
keep a player in the organization, cutting its window of time from two years to
one. Players enjoyed more freedom to get away from a team they did not wish to
join, but the teams received the benefit of cutting down the number of potential
free agents in a bid to control rookie salary escalation.
The big winner in 1977 was U.S. college hockey, which set a record with 49
players selected from its ranks. Europeans were in less demand than the previous
year, as only three Finnish and two Swedish players were drafted. The NHL was
also a winner -- dominating the WHA in the final year of all-out signing wars.
Top picks Dale McCourt and Barry Beck signed within days of the draft, and the
WHA was able to keep just one first-round junior (Scott Campbell) out of the
|Eligible For Draft: All amateur players born before
January 1, 1958.|
Order: Teams drafted in reverse order of their 1976-77 finish.
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. Buffalo passed in
Round 7 but re-entered in Round 8 to trade its next four picks to Philadelphia
before passing again in Round 12. Pittsburgh passed in Round 7 but re-entered
in Round 8 to trade its next five picks to Philadelphia before passing again
in Round 13. Vancouver and Los Angeles passed in Round 8. Cleveland and Boston
passed in Round 9. Colorado, Chicago, Minnesota, St. Louis, Atlanta and
Toronto passed in Round 10. Washington passed in Round 11. Philadelphia passed
in Round 12. N.Y. Rangers passed in Round 13. N.Y. Islanders and Montreal
passed in Round 16, leaving only Detroit to pick in Rounds 16 and 17.
Detroit, Colorado, Washington, Vancouver, Cleveland, Chicago, Minnesota, N.Y.
Rangers, St. Louis, Atlanta, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Buffalo, N.Y.
Islanders, Boston, Philadelphia, Montreal.
Total Rounds: Seventeen
Cost to Draft:
The NHL paid the CMJHL $1,000 for each major-junior player selected, plus
another $4,000 for each player who signed an NHL contract. Every time a
drafted player completed a set of 40 NHL games (up to 120 games), his NHL team
would pay $5,000 to his last major-junior team. No NHL team was required to
pay more than $15,000 of this "developmental" money for any single player.
Team could offer player contract at any time after draft. Players who did
not sign within the following year -- up to 48 hours before the next draft --
would be eligible to re-enter the draft in 1978 if they chose to do so.
Otherwise, they would have to wait for at least one more year before becoming
unrestricted free agents.
|No. 1 pick: Dale McCourt (by Detroit)|
NHL: 97 players (52.4 percent)
Won Stanley Cup: 8 players
Most NHL Games: Gordie Roberts (1,097 games)
Playoff Games: John Tonelli (172 games)
Highest Pick to Miss:
No. 42 (Guy Lash)
Lowest Pick to Reach: No. 184 (Val James)
185 (104 forwards, 57 defense, 24 goalies)
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