|1978 DRAFT QUICK FACTS|
|DATE: JUNE 15, 1978|
LOCATION: THE QUEEN ELIZABETH HOTEL (MONTREAL)
The 16th NHL Amateur Draft was the last to be called an "amateur draft"
before the league created the modern "entry draft" in 1979. In
addition, the drafting system that had been in place for nine seasons made its
final appearance in 1978. A year later, the annual number of rounds would be
predetermined, and teams would no longer be permitted to pass in rounds and then
re-enter as they had in the past. In addition, teams would no longer be able to
purchase late-round draft picks as they had from 1969 to 1978. Trades for draft
picks after 1978 would have to involve players or future non-cash
considerations. The 1978 draft also marked the last time NHL teams had to compete with the
upstart WHA in signing star junior players. Signs of the rival league's demise were already
evident, and for the first time since 1973, the WHA did not draft in
head-to-head competition with the NHL. This enabled the NHL to take the draft
out of the secrecy it had required since 1974. There was no longer a need for
the conference-call format, and once again the draft became a public event at Montreal's
Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Most important, the 1978 draft would mark
the final time in NHL history that underage players (those who did not turn 20
in their draft year) were ineligible. In 1979, this would become the most dramatic
and significant change in draft history, but in 1978 it was still unimaginable.
And while the 1978 draft included many historic lasts, it also included a historic
first -- the first time teams drafted players selected in a previous
draft. Several 1977 draft picks, who were not offered contracts within a
year, had opted to re-enter the draft in 1978.|
Once again, the struggling Cleveland franchise's financial problems were a big
issue as draft day neared. A year earlier, the Barons had saved themselves from
folding, even though the uncertainty of their future had forced the NHL to delay
its draft. In 1978, the Barons weren't so lucky. The team folded, merging its
remaining players and ownership group with Minnesota just days before the draft. That left the
NHL with the question of how to handle Cleveland's scheduled 1978 draft picks.
The league decided to leave only the Barons' first two picks in play. The
first-rounder was moved to the last pick in the round (18th overall) and then
packaged in the Cleveland-Minnesota dispersal draft. The Washington Capitals,
who had the dispersal draft's No. 1 pick, were given the option of selecting the
first two former
Cleveland players or using the No. 1 draft pick vacated by Cleveland.
Washington opted to pass in the dispersal draft and take the draft pick instead.
Meanwhile, the NHL allowed Cleveland's second-round pick to be used by
which had obtained it from Cleveland in a trade. All of Cleveland's other draft
picks were voided, and teams which had traded picks to Cleveland were also
forbidden from using those picks.
It was a huge year for St. Louis, which set
an individual team record with 31 picks in 1978, breaking the previous mark of
27 by Montreal in 1977. The Blues achieved this total by purchasing late-round
picks from several other teams. St. Louis' record is likely to stand for all
time, since the total number of rounds has been restricted ever since the 1978
draft, and it is now virtually impossible for one team to accumulate 31 selections
in a single draft. On the other hand, Pittsburgh drafted only three players in
1978, the smallest total by an actively drafting team since the first true
universal draft in 1969. Overall, the final total of 234 draft picks was the
second-highest in NHL history to that point in time and, despite the loss of the
Cleveland franchise, represented an increase of 49 players over the 1977 total.
In one particularly comic moment near the end of the draft, Montreal general
manager Sam Pollock attempted to make his 16th round pick before he realized
Detroit was still drafting, and had the pick ahead of his. Pollock went ahead
and announced the name of St. Lawrence defenseman Brian Crawley. Detroit
officials then argued that they had to pick ahead of Montreal, and as a result,
they quickly chose Crawley with their 16th pick -- just to stick it to the
Ironically, the only future Hall of Famer drafted in 1978 didn't reach the
NHL for 11 years. Russian hockey legend Viacheslav Fetisov, picked in the late
rounds by Montreal, finally came to North America in 1989, but never played for
the first team that drafted him. While 1978 wasn't a great draft for Hall of
Famers, it was a memorable year for many other groups. The biggest winners were
Americans, Europeans and college players, who all were drafted in record
numbers. A whopping 80 drafted collegians (73 from U.S. schools) broke the old
record by 19. In addition, 17 Europeans were drafted, beating the previous high
by nine, and a total of 47 Americans broke the previous record by two.
|Eligible For Draft: All amateur players born before
January 1, 1959.|
Order: Teams drafted in reverse order of their 1977-78 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. Cleveland did not
draft because the team had folded a few days earlier. However, the NHL
continued to recognize the first- and second-round picks that would have
belonged to Cleveland. The Barons' first pick, No. 5 overall, was dropped to
the end of the first round (No. 18 overall) and given to Washington, which
gained it in the Cleveland-Minnesota dispersal draft. Cleveland's second pick,
No. 23 overall, was used by Washington, which had obtained it in a trade. All
other Cleveland picks were voided, including those obtained from other teams.
As a result, the N.Y. Islanders were barred from using their fourth-round
pick, which the team had swapped with Cleveland. Minnesota and Vancouver
passed in Round 11. Vancouver re-entered in Round 12 and passed again in Round
13. Buffalo passed in Round 12. Chicago, Philadelphia and N.Y. Islanders
passed in Round 13. Boston passed in Round 14. Washington, St. Louis,
Colorado, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Toronto passed in Round 15.
N.Y. Rangers passed in Round 16. Detroit
passed in Round 18, leaving only Montreal to pick in Rounds 18 through 22.
Minnesota, Washington, St. Louis, Vancouver, Colorado, Pittsburgh, N.Y.
Rangers, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Toronto, Buffalo,
Philadelphia, N.Y. Islanders, Boston, Montreal
Cost to Draft: The NHL paid a lump sum to the CMJHL to support major junior hockey as a whole.
Prior to the 1978 draft, the NHL also committed to future payments that would
ensure the CMJHL's continued success as the primary pipeline for NHL-caliber
talent. NHL president John Ziegler estimated that by 1980, the sum of NHL
payments to the CMJHL would amount to $30,000 per drafted player.
Team could offer player contract at any time after draft.
|No. 1 pick: Bobby Smith (by Minnesota)|
NHL: 95 players (40.6 percent)
Won Stanley Cup: 16 players
Most NHL Games: Brad Marsh (1,086 games)
Playoff Games: Craig MacTavish (193 games)
Highest Pick to Miss:
No. 30 (Dale Yakiwchuk)
Lowest Pick to Reach: No. 233 (Louis
Players Drafted: 234 (143 forwards, 67 defense, 24 goalies)
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