Saturday 2 June 2012

The Best of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft

Image from wikipedia.  What a terrible logo for the event which took place at the
Minnesota North stars arena.

The biggest news in the NHL this week is the retirement of the 'classy superstar' Nicklas Lidstrom (oh and a couple of teams are trying to win some silver bowl or something....).  This morning I was reading Down Goes Brown's latest post about Lidstrom's career and it was as funny as ever.  While laughing along to the post one of the jokes got me curious, who were the 52 players selected before Lidstrom?  A quick check told me which draft it was (click here for a list of players selected in the 1989 NHL entry draft (as it is from Hockey Reference it can be sorted by various statistics)) and I have thus written this short post about who I think the top 7 players were (in order) from the 1989 NHL entry draft.

Warning: Leafs fans may not be too happy...

  1. Shockingly, I think the best player was none other than Nicklas Lidstrom.  With all the talk about him recently, I don't think I have to explain this much.  But quickly:
    • For his draft class he is
      • #3 in points
      • #1 in GP
      • #6 in goals
    • He was the first European Captain to win the cup
    • He has 7 Norris trophies
    • 10 first team all stars
    • First European to win the Conn Smythe
    • Has 4 Stanley Cups, an olympic gold, and god knows what else...
    • That's it I am done.  If you need more convincing I don't care any more...
  2. Sorry fellow Leafs fans, but I am not putting the soft spoken and hard hitting Swede we all know and love at number 2, I am putting "The Russian Rocket", Pavel Bure.  Bure doesn't have the lifetime achievements of a lot of these other guys, but that is because his career ended in his early 30s due to knee problems.  All that being said he is one of the best goal scorers of all time.  Some of his achievements:
    • In his draft class he is
      • #3 in goals scored
      • #5 in points
      • While being 23rd in GP (the other guys in top 5 of points and goals had 500+ more games than his 702)
    • He scored 60 goals twice, 58 once, and 59 once
    • In his entire career (from 20 to 31 years old) he was never below 0.40 GPG that is insane.
    • 5th in GPG in NHL history and 3rd if you only look at 1950 on (only Bossy and Lemieux are ahead of him)
    • The man was just pure talent.
  3. This man was the first European to be drafted first overall.  He was also the Captain of an original 6 team, who through his tireless, incredible play earned the respect of his teammates, competition, and fans.  He was the definition of a clutch goal (7th in game winning goals and 2nd in OT goals while being 19th in total goals).  He was the face of the Maple Leafs, the leader on the ice, the leader off the ice, and the best player I have ever seen lace 'em up for the Blue and White.  He even smiled and posed for a picture carried a goddamned bear!  I am of course talking about Mats Johan Sundin.  A quick list of his achievements:
    • 19th in total goals (highest Swede and 4th highest European)
    • 27th in total points (highest Swede and 4th highest European)
    • #1 in points in his draft class
    • #1 in goals in his draft class
    • #2 in GP in his draft class
    • Captained a team to Olympic gold
    • 17 straight (every year but his last year (which was shortened) 20 goal seasons
    • Scored less than 30 goals only 5 of 18 seasons (2 he played less than 50 GP and one was his rookie season (the other two seasons were 27 and 28 goals)
    • Scored less than 70 points 3 times (his rookie season and the two seasons he played less than 50 GP)
  4. When you have a list of hockey players and Sergei Federov is number 4 you know it is a damned good list.  I will keep this one pretty short.
    • #2 in goals in this draft
    • #2 in points in this draft
    • Most overtime points
    • Most NHL goals by a Russian
    • 3 NHL Stanley Cups
    • Only player to win the Selke and Hart in the same year
    • First European to win the Hart
    • Simply put, Federov was an incredible hockey player and would be the best player drafted in the vast majority of drafts.

      No offence meant to the next 3 players, but they are in a different league from these first 4.  IMHO these first four should all be sure-fire HHOFers (Bure has not gotten in yet, which I think is crazy).  The guys after this point were all repeat all stars and top players, but not of the calibur of the guys before.  If you want to think of them in terms of current players, the guys before this were the Crosby's and well Lidstrom's of the NHL.  The guys after are the Spezza's and Marleau's.
  5. Deciding between #5 and  #6 was tough as both are goaltenders.  But I made my decision.  At number 5 we have the goalie with my favourite nickname (because it is so simple), Olie the Goalie, Olaf Kolzig.  Why is he up here?  Here is a quick look at his career:
    • Got a Vezina trophy
    • Carried a team to the Stanley Cup Finals
    • 22nd in NHL GP by a goalie
    • 25th in wins
    • 41st in shutouts
  6. I have a bit of hatred for the following goalie as he deprived my Maple Leafs of a shot at Lord Stanley's cup 10 years ago.  Facing off against a depleted Maple Leafs roster (I remember calling them Gary Roberts, Darcy Tucker and the St. John Maple Leafs), he carried Carolina to the Cup Finals, ultimately losing to Detroit.  His career wasn't quite as long as Olie's nor quite as impressive, but he was still a good number 1 goalie and I think one of the top players in the draft, Arturs Irbe.  (Interesting piece of trivia? Both him and Kolzig lost to the same team the one time they made it to the finals, Lidstrom's Detroit Red Wings). Quick stats:
    • 44th in shutouts
    • 47th in GP
    • 61st in wins (he actually had a losing record)
  7. Choosing the last player on this list was kind of tough.  I was actually originally planning on going with ol' Billy Guerin, but when looking at the draft again a name caught my eye.  I didn't originally notice him because he didn't have special stats.  He wasn't a goal scorer or puck mover and he definitely wasn't a goalie.  What he was, was one of the best, pure shutdown defenders of his day.  A mean sonofabitch who patrolled the blue line for two cup winning teams.  The second pick by the Nordiques in this draft he played nearly his entire career for that franchise (in both of their cities), except for a brief 3 year sojourn to the Blue Jackets.  This man, who was fortunate enough to have his last name (though maybe displayed with a little excess hair) on his shoulder patch while with his cup winning teams, is Adam Foote.
Honourable mentions go to: Bill Guerin, Bobby Holik, Kris Draper (wasn't actually close to this list, but had a good, long career), Patrice Brisebois, and Robert Reichel.

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