A Look at Each NHL Franchise’s First Draft Pick

Since 1963, the NHL Amateur Draft has been the way for young players to be selected and given the opportunity to play in the NHL. Although, it is said that the previous way of getting young talent, through sponsorship and signing young players to contracts guaranteeing they have their rights, affected the first 6 drafts, 1963 to 1968. But, the first pick for each franchise is the first true player for that team, excluding the Original Six teams. The ultimate goal of your first draft pick is for that player to be a central part of your team for the first several years. This is gonna be a look back at each NHL franchise’s first draft pick.

Mighty Ducks of Anaheim/Anaheim Ducks

Paul Kariya- 4th overall (1993)

Paul Kariya spent 606 of his 989 NHL games as a part of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. In those 606 games, he scored 300 goals and 369 assists for 669 points. He would form a deadly duo with Teemu Selanne when Selanne was traded to Anaheim during the 1995-96 season. With the Ducks, he won the Lady Byng twice and was top 10 in Hart voting twice, placing as high as second. Kariya went to 7 All-Star Games representing the Ducks. He was on the 1995 All-Rookie Team, was on three First All-Star Teams (1996, 1997, 1999), and two Second All-Star Teams (2000 and 2003). He was the captain from 1996 to 2003 and was pretty much “Mr. Duck” until Ryan Getzlaf. Kariya may be best known for his “off the floor, on the board” performance in game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals against the New Jersey Devils where he was hit by a hard open-ice hit by Scott Stevens. He left the ice and went to the locker room before coming back and scoring a goal to help the Ducks force game 7. Kariya would leave the Ducks after that series, but he was the franchise leader in games played, goals, assists, points, short-handed goals (16), and shots (2,455) as well as being the longest-serving captain until Ryan Getzlaf beat his record. His number 9 was retired in 2018 and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.

I’d say that the Ducks hit on their first-ever draft pick.

Arizona/Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets

Jimmy Mann- 19th overall (1979)

The former WHA teams, Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, Hartford Whalers, and Edmonton Oilers, had unusual circumstances for their first picks. They were all forced to pick at the end of each round, except if they traded for a pick. Winnipeg had the second pick in the 1979 draft of the WHA teams. They selected Jimmy Mann. Jimmy Mann played 5 seasons with the Winnipeg Jets. He played in 202 games, scoring 9 goals and 12 assists for 21 points before going to Quebec and then Pittsburgh.

The Jets/Coyotes’ first pick was a miss, especially considering how loaded the 1979 Draft was.

Boston Bruins

Orest Romashyna- 3rd overall (1963)

To start off this one I want to preface by saying that I was unsure if I should include Original Six teams since it’s not the same as the other 27 teams that have used their first selection as the first true player for that team (a player that has only been with them). I decided to anyway even though most of the players taken in 1963 were pretty bad or didn’t even have NHL careers at all so there was not as big of an effect as the other teams.

Romashyna was the first European-born player to be drafted into the NHL, having been born in Allied-Occupied Germany. Romashyna never turned pro, let alone played in the NHL. He stands as the first German-born player to be drafted, which I mentioned in my article about Germans in the NHL.

The Bruins’ first pick was a miss, but this was the first draft and most of the best young players were already spoken for, so can’t fault them for not getting a good one.

Buffalo Sabres

Gilbert Perreault- 1st overall (1970)

Just 3 years after the league doubled in size, two cities that were vying for teams in 1967, Buffalo and Vancouver, were granted their own franchises. Buffalo would be given the top pick in 1970 and would select Gilbert Perreault. He was the first french-Canadian to not be given special priority to the Canadiens. Perreault would play in 1,152 games across 17 seasons all with Buffalo. In those 1,191 games, Perreault scored 512 goals and 814 assists for 1,326 points. Perreault would end his career first in every major category for the Buffalo Sabres and is still the leader in all major categories besides power-play goals where he is second to Dave Andreychuk. Perreault would score seven points in one game, a Sabres record, and would record the first power-play goal and hat-trick in Sabres history. Perreault would win the Calder and Lady Byng. He would get Hart votes in five seasons, getting as high as fifth. He was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1971, and to the NHL Second All-Star Team twice (1976 and 1977). He led the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1975 in a losing effort to the reigning champion Philadelphia Flyers. He would serve as team captain for the last four years of his career. He was named to the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players in 2017 and was the only Sabre to wear 11, having it retired in 1990, the same year he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Sabres definitely hit with their first pick.

Calgary/Atlanta Flames

Jacques Richard- 2nd overall (1972)

In the NHL’s third expansion since the Original Six era began, the Atlanta Flames and New York Islanders joined the league. Atlanta would select 2nd in the 1972 Draft, after the Islanders. They used the second pick to select Jacques Richard. Richard was considered to be a future NHL superstar with how his junior career played out but really didn’t live up to that. He played in 215 games across three seasons with the Atlanta Flames. In those 215 games, he had 57 goals and 46 assists for 103 points. Ironically, his one great season, which came with the Nordiques in 1980-81, had him score 51 goals and 52 assists for 103 points. Besides that one season, he was mediocre and spent time between the NHL and AHL.

The Flames’ first pick definitely was a miss.

Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers

Ray Allison- 18th overall (1979)

The Hartford Whalers were the first former WHA team to pick in 1979. They would select Ray Allison 18th overall. He would play in 70 games during two seasons with the Whalers scoring 17 goals and 12 assists for 29 points. He would then be traded to the Flyers where he would be a nice depth scorer for a couple seasons until an ankle injury derailed his career.

The Hurricanes/Whalers’ first pick, like the Jets, was a miss.

Chicago Blackhawks/Black Hawks

Art Hampson- 5th overall (1963)

Art Hampson never played an NHL game and only played in 8 games for the Oshawa Generals after being drafted where he had 2 assists.

A miss completely, again, from the 1963 Draft.

Cleveland Barons/California/Oakland/Bay Area (Golden) Seals

Ken Hicks- 3rd overall (1967)

Decided to include the Seals, even though they’re not around in the traditional sense (they’re kinda linked to the San Jose Sharks in a weird way, but that’s a story for another time). The Seals, then Barons, are possibly the absolute worst franchise in NHL history since the start of the Original Six era (1942). Hicks never played in the NHL, and the farthest he progressed was playing three seasons in the EHL (Eastern Hockey League)

The Seals’ first pick, much like other expansion teams, was a miss due to much of the high-end talent still being a part of the old sponsorship system.

Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques

Michel Goulet- 20th overall (1979)

The third former WHA team to pick in 1979 did better than the previous two. The Nordiques selected Michel Goulet, following in Montreal’s footsteps in getting french-Canadians. Goulet would play a season in the WHA for the Birmingham Bulls before being made eligible for the 1979 NHL draft. Goulet would play in 813 games with Quebec where he scored 456 goals and 490 assists for 946 points. He scored 50 goals in four consecutive seasons from the 1982-83 season to the 1985-86 season. After the 1990-91 season, Goulet would be traded to Chicago where he would finish out his career. He was on the NHL’s First All-Star Team three times (1984, 1986, and 1987) and the NHL’s Second All-Star Team twice (1983 and 1988). He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998 with his former teammate, Peter Statsny.

The Avalanche/Nordiques really did hit on their first pick.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Rostislav Klesla- 4th overall (2000)

The turn of the century saw two teams added to the NHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, rounding the league to 30 teams. Columbus got the short end of the stick with drafting as their first pick would be fourth. They chose defenseman Rostislav Klesla. Klesla was a defensive defenseman. That shows in his number. He played in 515 games for the Blue Jackets in a decade with them scoring 41 goals and 92 assists for 133 points. He would finish 7th in Calder voting and would be named to the 2002 NHL All-Rookie Team. He would then be traded to Phoenix during the 2010-11 season, where he would finish out his career.

The Blue Jackets missed on their first pick but would get that franchise player 2 years later.

Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars

Wayne Cheesman- 4th overall (1967)

Another victim of the NHL starting the amateur draft while still having it be affected by the old sponsorship rules. The North Stars selected Wayne Cheesman with their first-ever pick. Cheesman would never play a professional game.

Another miss, but the NHL kinda screwed the ’67 expansion teams.

Detroit Red Wings

Peter Mahovlich- 2nd overall (1963)

Peter Mahovolich was probably the third-best player taken in the first six drafts, all of which were affected by the NHL’s sponsorship rule. Mahovolich didn’t do much with the Detroit Red Wings. He played 186 games for the Red Wings at the beginning and end of his career, scoring 26 goals and 64 assists for 90 points. He is best known for his role with the Montreal Canadiens in the 70s, winning four Cups with them and playing alongside his brother Frank. Pete would place fifth in Calder voting in 1966-67. He would get Hart votes twice with the Canadiens and played in the 1976 All-Star Game, in which he was the MVP.

The Red Wings definitely hit with this pick, considering most players from this draft didn’t even really have NHL careers.

Edmonton Oilers

Kevin Lowe- 21st overall (1979)

Just like the three other former WHA, the Oilers were given picks at the end of each round. Edmonton was given the last pick due to the fact that they had been able to retain the rights of Wayne Gretzky instead of him going into the NHL Draft. This would prove not to be a hindrance to the Oilers and was definitely the right move, you gotta keep a young Wayne Gretzky. The Oilers would select Kevin Lowe with their first pick in the NHL. Kevin Lowe might not have been the most instrumental in the Oilers dynasty, but definitely helped. Lowe was the defensive defenseman that offensive defenseman Paul Coffey needed. Lowe would play 1,073 games for the Oilers scoring 74 goals and 309 assists for 383 points. He was on all five of the Oilers’ Stanley Cup-winning teams before winning another Cup with the Rangers in 1994, alongside former Oilers teammates Mark Messier, Esa Tikkanen, Jeff Buekeboom, Glenn Anderson, and Craig MacTavish before returning to the Oilers to finish out his career. Lowe received votes for the Norris four times, finishing as high as fifth, and won the 1990 King Clancy. Lowe would play in 7 All-Star Games (84-86, 88-90, and 93). Lowe was the last of the Oilers’ “Group of Seven” (Gretzky, Messier, Anderson, Coffey, Fuhr, and Kurri along with Lowe) to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (2020) and have his number 4 retired (2022). Kevin Lowe is the all-time leader in games played and scored the first Oilers goal in the NHL.

The Oilers definitely hit on this pick, even though they were put in the worst position for their first pick.

Florida Panthers

Rob Niedermayer- 5th overall (1993)

The Florida Panthers had the lowest first pick, besides Original Six teams, and the ’67 Expansion teams, and of course the WHA teams when they chose Rob Niedermayer fifth overall. Niedermayer is the younger brother of the more well-known Scott Niedermayer. Rob would mostly be a depth scoring piece for the Panthers in their first 8 seasons, playing in 518 games for the Panthers scoring 101 goals and 165 assists for 266 points. He would have a career season in 1995-96 where he had 61 points and helped guide the Panthers to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals where they would lose to the Avalanche. He would go on to play with the Flames, Ducks, Devils, and Sabres. He won a Cup in 2007 with Anaheim alongside his brother. Niedermayer would get Selke votes three times, but finishing not higher than 18th.

The Panthers definitely could’ve had a better first pick in franchise history, but wasn’t the absolute worst either.

Los Angeles Kings

Rick Pagnutti- 1st overall (1967)

After being able to select first in the expansion draft, the Kings were given the first pick in the 1967 Amateur Draft as well. They selected defenseman Rick Pagnutti. Pagnutti got as high as the AHL in his career before he retired in 1977.

The Kings were another expansion team screwed over by the old sponsorship rules, thus missing with their first draft pick.

Minnesota Wild

Marian Gaborik- 3rd overall (2000)

The other team to start to play in 2000, Minnesota saw the return of NHL hockey to the State of Hockey. Minnesota picked third after the Islanders and Thrashers. They got Marian Gaborik. Gaborik scored the first goal in Wild history and started off his career with a pretty impressive rookie year that would see him get him a seventh-place finish in Calder voting. In 502 games with the Wild, Gaborik would score 219 goals and 218 assists for 437 points. He would finish 37th in Lady Byng voting in 2007-08 along with 11th in Hart voting that year and 20th in Hart voting the year before. Gaborik would then go on to play for the Rangers, Blue Jackets, Kings, and Senators before he retired in 2018. When he left the Wild he was the franchise leader in goals, assists, and points, along with other Wild records. He is widely considered to be one of the best Wild players ever.

The Wild definitely hit with their first pick, not a pure superstar, but was a central piece of their team for years.

Montreal Canadiens

Garry Monahan- 1st overall (1963)

Garry Monahan was the first-ever player selected in the Amateur draft. He played 14 games for the Canadiens across two seasons and would not record a point in any of those games. He is best known for his time in Toronto. He also played in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Vancouver. There’s not much else to say besides his best offensive season was 44 points in 76 games in 1976-77.

The Canadiens missed on this pick and really set up a low standard for the first six amateur drafts.

Nashville Predators

David Legwand- 2nd overall (1998)

David Poile, the son of the Flyers’ first GM, Bud Poile, shared the same stress of selecting the first player in franchise history, albeit under better circumstances. Poile would select center David Legwand. Legwand would be a permanent feature on Nashville’s forward core spending 15 years in the Music City. In those 15 years, he played in 956 games scoring 210 goals and 356 assists for 566 points. Legwand would get votes for the Selke three times finishing as high as 12th. He also finished 45th in Lady Byng voting in 2006-07. Legwand is still probably the best forward drafted by the Nashville Predators. Legwand played 21 games with Detroit before playing a season each with Ottawa and Buffalo before retiring.

I would say that Nashville hit with their first pick. Legwand may not have been the best, but just like Gaborik, he was an integral part of the team for years.

New Jersey Devils/Colorado Rockies/Kansas City Scouts

Wilf Paiement- 2nd overall (1974)

The Kansas City Scouts came into the league in 1974 with the Washington Capitals. The Capitals selected first so Kansas City selected second. They picked right-winger Wilf Paiement. Paiement was an alright player for the Kansas City Scouts and Colorado Rockies. He played in 392 games and scored 153 goals and 183 assists for 336 points with the Scouts/Rockies. Paiement would play in three straight All-Star Games from 1976 to 1978. Paiement would play for Toronto, Quebec, New York (Rangers), Buffalo, and Pittsburgh to finish out his career. Paiement might be best remembered as being one of the two other players in NHL history to wear 99 that were not named Wayne Gretzky.

Paiement was an All-Star while with Kansas City/Colorado but was only there for about 5 years and wasn’t the best focal point for an offense, but wouldn’t say it was a complete miss.

New York Islanders

Billy Harris- 1st overall (1972)

With the Atlanta Flames picking second, the Islanders would get the first pick in the 1972 Draft. They picked right-winger Billy Harris. Harris would immediately help the struggling expansion team with an impressive rookie season that would see him finish third in Calder voting. In 623 games for the Islanders, Harris scored 184 goals and 259 assists for 443 points. Harris scored the first Islanders goal and would not miss a game for his first 576 games, still the Islanders’ longest iron man streak. He would go to the 1976 All-Star Game. Harris would be overshadowed in his Islanders career by other players drafted after him like Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Clark Gilles, and Bob Nystrom. Harris would also get Selke votes in his last full season with the Islanders, 1978-79. During the 1979-80 season, Harris was traded to LA in a deal that included Butch Goring. Harris was instrumental in helping the Islanders start and helping them win a Cup, even though he wasn’t on the team when they won.

Billy Harris definitely was a hit for the Islanders and was the start of impressive drafting that would lead to a Stanley Cup.

New York Rangers

Al Osborne- 4th overall (1963)

Osborne followed suit with most of the players taken in the first round of the 1963 Draft and didn’t ever play in the NHL. The highest he got was the AHL.

Miss, again, for the 1963 NHL Draft, not surprising.

Ottawa Senators

Alexei Yashin- 2nd overall (1992)

1992 would see the second consecutive year with a new team, this time adding two in the Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning got the first pick, leaving Ottawa to select second. They chose center Alexei Yashin. Yashin was arguably the best player on the Senators throughout most of the 90s and knew it. In 504 games with Ottawa, he had 218 goals and 273 assists for 491 points. Yashin would finish fourth in Calder voting in his rookie year and would regularly lead the Senators in points. Yashin’s relationship with the Senators was strained almost from the start because he believed he would be the face of the team, but the Senators picked first the next year which would be Alexandre Daigle, who would be a more marketable face for the Senators, then they would be getting other names like Marian Hossa and Daniel Alfredsson. After a contract dispute that saw him sit out the entirety of the 1999-00 season, Yashin would play one more season with Ottawa before being shipped off to Long Island where he would be given the highest-paid contract in the league. During his time in Ottawa, Yashin would play in two All-Star Games, 1994 and 1999, and would be named to the 1999 NHL Second All-Star Team. Yashon would receive votes for the Lady Byng in two different seasons, finishing as high as fifth. He would receive votes for the Hart in his last two seasons with the Senators, finishing second in 1998-99. Yashin would play in another All-Star Game during his first season with the Islanders and played for them for five seasons after the trade before finishing out his pro career in Russia.

Even though the Senators had a strained relationship due to not keeping him the top marketed player on their team, Yashin was a great first pick and was central in most of the success that Ottawa had in their first eight years.

Philadelphia Flyers

Serge Bernier- 5th overall (1967)

I have made an article about Serge, so I won’t go too in-depth about him in this, but for the Flyers, he played in 123 games where he scored 35 goals and 40 assists for 75 points. He would play a couple seasons in LA and then would join the Nordiques n the WHA where he really shined, scoring multiple 100+ point seasons, and stayed with the Nordiques when they switched to the NHL but was back to being mediocre and retired soon after the switch back to the NHL.

The Flyers did miss with their first pick ever, due to sponsorship, just like many of the Original Six and Expansion Six teams. Ed Snider considered the 1969 draft to be the first real draft for the Flyers (the one with Bobby Clarke).

Pittsburgh Penguins

Steve Rexe- 2nd overall (1967)

The Penguins would use their first pick in franchise history to select goalie Steve Rexe. Rexe would never play higher than the AHL, helping the Springfield Kings win the Calder Cup in 1975. That is really his only notable accomplishment.

Pittsburgh, again, is screwed over by the early drafts like many of the first 12 teams of the post-Original Six era.

San Jose Sharks

Pat Falloon- 2nd overall (1991)

The San Jose Sharks just missed out on starting their franchise with Eric Lindros but selected right-winger Pat Falloon. Falloon had a pretty good rookie year where he would finish fourth in Calder voting and 13th in Lady Byng voting and had his career-high in goals, assists, and points in a season, 25 goals and 34 assists for 59 points in 79 games, which led the Sharks. Falloon would spend 258 games of his first five seasons with the Sharks where he would score 76 goals and 86 assists for 162 points. He would be traded to the Flyers, where he would play with the player selected above him, before playing for Edmonton, Ottawa, and Pittsburgh to finish out his career.

At first, it looked like a hit, but I’m gonna say the Sharks missed on this pick, especially considering the next pick was Scott Niedermayer and Peter Forsberg was taken four picks later.

Seattle Kraken

Matty Beniers- 2nd overall (2021)

Beniers hasn’t played a full season with the Kraken yet, as he decided to go back to Michigan for his sophomore year, and then joined the Kraken after Michigan was eliminated from the Frozen Four. In his first six games in the NHL, he has 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points. He has looked pretty good so far, but it seems like the Kraken will have a good foundation for the future with Beniers and another Shane Wright being taken in 2022.

Definitely too early to give a grade on, but it does look promising for the first Kraken.

St Louis Blues

Gary Edwards- 6th overall (1968)

The St Louis Blues are the only team not to select a player in the first NHL Draft they were able to. The Blues did not select any of the 18 players taken in 1967, and I don’t blame them. Though, they didn’t fare much better in the 1968 Draft. They chose goaltender Gary Edwards. He played in two games for the Blues, one game was coming in as support and the other he started in his first stint with the Blues. He went 0-1-0 for the Blues. Edwards would serve mainly as a backup for the rest of his career as he would only play 30 or more games twice in his 13 years in the league. He spent time with LA, then went to Cleveland and stayed with them when they merged with Minnesota, then played a season in Edmonton before splitting his final season with the Blues and Penguins. In his second stint with the Blues, he went 1-5-1 in 10 games played and had a GAA of 5.63 and a .819 sv%. His career with the Blues as a whole consisted of playing in 12 games and going 1-6-1 with a 5.41 GAA and a .846 sv%.

Really not a hit at all for the Blues who waited a year to make their first draft pick.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Roman Hamrlik- 1st overall (1992)

One of the most fun names in NHL history belongs to the defenseman that was selected as the first draft pick in Lightning history. Hamrlik was the first Czech player to be selected with the first overall pick. He would have a decent start to his career patrolling the blue line of the new NHL team in Florida. He played in 377 games for Tampa Bay scoring 52 goals and 133 assists for 185 points. 1995-96 would be his best season as he would have a career-high 65 points that year in 82 games and would finish seventh in Norris voting and would represent the Lightning at the 1996 All-Star Game. Hamrlik would become somewhat of a journeyman in the NHL playing in Edmonton, Long Island, Calgary, Montreal, Washington, and New York. He would go to two more All-Star Games, 1999 for the Oilers and 2003 for the Islanders.

Hamrlik was an alright selection, he is still one of the best defensemen in Tampa Bay’s history but wouldn’t help with the team’s success like later draft picks would.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Walt McKechnie- 6th overall (1963)

The first-ever round in the NHL Draft ended with somewhat of a bang. Toronto took center, Walt McKechnie. McKechnie would start his career with the expansion Minnesota North Stars. He would be a decent secondary scoring option for most of his career. In his first full season with Detroit, he had 82 points in 80 games, the highest of his career. McKechnie would play for the team that drafted him in 1978, 15 years after he was drafted. He would play one full season and then 54 games the next season with Toronto. In total, he played 133 games scoring 32 goals and 72 assists for 104 points. In his only full season with the team, he would put up his second-best season with 61 points in 79 games and finished 22nd in Lady Byng voting.

Toronto really did miss on their first-ever draft pick. Again, not a surprise considering the draft was not where they were expecting to get their young talent, but not as much of a miss as most other teams’ picks at this time.

Vegas Golden Knights

Cody Glass- 6th overall (2017)

The NHL expanded to Las Vegas for the 100th anniversary of the NHL and it would be electric and lead to the best beginning of an NHL franchise ever. The Knights had a solid roster from the start and had three picks in the first round. Their first was sixth overall and used to select center Cody Glass. With how good Vegas was early on, and having three prospects that were selected in the top 15 of the draft made Vegas look like they would be loaded for a long time. The two other first-round picks made by Vegas that year, Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom, were both traded pretty quickly, but they kept Cody Glass with the organization for several years. Cody Glass would only get 66 games worth of NHL experience with the Knights, scoring 9 goals and 13 assists for 22 points, before being traded to Nashville in exchange for Nolan Patrick, who had just been dealt by the Flyers to Nashville. Glass has only played in 8 games with Nashville putting up one assist.

Vegas really did just miss with their first pick, it seems. Glass has been the worst of the three first-round picks made by Vegas in 2017, and hasn’t really contributed much to the team, even in what they got in return for him.

Vancouver Canucks

Dale Tallon- 2nd overall (1970)

Expansion-mates with the Buffalo Sabres, the Canucks would get the second pick in the 1970 draft, which they would use to select defenseman Dale Tallon. Tallon would have a good rookie year that would see him score 56 points in 78 games and would finish fifth in Calder voting. That would be his best season as a Canuck, and the second-best season of his career. Over three seasons with the Canucks, Tallon would play in 222 games and score 44 goals and 93 assists for 137 points. He would finish out his career with the Black Hawks and Penguins before retiring in 1980. He is better known as being the commentator for the Blackhawks for 16 years before moving into management and then being the GM for the Florida Panthers.

The Canucks really didn’t hit on their first-ever draft pick, he played fine, but was only a member for three years and wasn’t a marquee name.

Washington Capitals

Greg Joly- 1st overall (1974)

Coming into the league with the Kansas City Scouts, it seemed like the Washington Capitals would have a leg up with them having the first pick in the 1974 NHL Draft. Defenseman Greg Joly was picked by Washington and would be a sign of how troubling the Washington Capitals were. Can’t blame the guy for playing poorly on the absolute worst NHL season ever. Joly would only get two seasons in Washington, playing in 98 games and scoring 9 goals and 24 assists for 33 points. He would spend the next seven years as a member of the Detroit Red Wings before retiring at the age of 28.

The Washington Capitals definitely missed on this pick and the awfulness that was the Capitals’ first season just started with this pick. Joly is widely considered one of the worst first-overall picks ever.

Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers

Patrik Stefan- 1st overall (1999)

Would you believe me if I said that the 1999 NHL Draft was once considered to be one of the deepest drafts ever? After getting the second pick in the draft lottery, Vancouver would finesse the entire draft and walk out like CHAMPS. But we’re here to talk about the Thrashers, who would end up getting the first pick in exchange for the second pick and the promise that they would not take either of the Sedin twins. They complied with Jim Benning’s wishes and took Patrik Stefan with their first pick. Stefan really is the poster boy for how the 1999 Draft went. He played seven seasons in the NHL, six of which were with the Atlanta Flames. He played in 414 games with the Thrashers, scoring 59 goals and 118 assists for 177 points. He would never have more than 40 points in a season and would finish 44th in Lady Byng voting in 2002-03. Of course, Stefan is best known for what he did with the Stars in his one season outside of Atlanta. In a game against the Edmonton Oilers, Stefan had the puck on a breakaway on an empty net when the puck flipped over his stick and he wiped out and didn’t score which led to the Oilers going down the other way and tying up the game, though Dallas would win in OT.

Considering Patrik Stefan’s biggest highlight, or I guess lowlight, is with another team, Atlanta did really miss on their first pick.

By Noah Caplan (@Phlyers24)
photo credit: @SeattleKraken


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