1989 was an interesting draft year and since I like collecting draft stories (and haven’t done this in awhile) it might be a nice time to drift down memory lane since a few men who were drafted that year are still in the league and the center of attention.
Quebec took Mats Sundin 1st overall, the first time a European was ever taken at the top. He was a bit of a question mark because Sundin was under contract in the SEL for a season plus he supposedly had 2 years military service after that. He made his NHL debut fall 1990. Nords also took Adam Foote that season, with chief scout (at the time) Pierre Lacroix saying “there’s no doubt this kid has talent.”
The Islanders wanted Chyzowski to eventually replace Mike Bossy, whose career had been shortened by a back injury. GM Bill Torrey also selected C Travis Green and had picked up G Mark Fitzpatrick and D Wayne McBean from Los Angeles for G Kelly Hrudey. It was a bad summer.
Toronto did a dumb thing by using three first round picks on players from one team (the Belleville Bulls). To do this is complete farce, since the odds that the three players would fall to their specific spot AND be the best players available AND be from the same team is impossible mathematically (don’t even argue this with me). Scott Thornton, Rob Pearson and Steve Bancroft were not the best players available at either slot, but more on that later.
“This is like Christmas,” GM Gord Stellick said. “We were wondering if there was anything negative about picking three guys from the same team, but couldn’t come up with one reason not to.” Well, there you go, as long as you’ve thought it through.
Winnipeg drafted Stu Barnes, who was a big time scorer in the Dub. The only question about him was could he withstand the pounding administered in the NHL. I think we have our answer. New Jersey made a wise choice when they picked Bill Guerin from Springfield High in Massachusetts. NJD personnel director Marshall Johnston called him a “Cam Neely type.” The Devils had another first round pick later (18th) courtesy a trade with Edmonton. The Devils dealt Corey Foster to the Oilers and he did play in the NHL before and after but not during his time with Edmonton. Devs took Medicine Hat’s Jason Miller with the late 1st rd pick but he didn’t amount to much.
Chicago’s new GM Mike Keenan felt they needed to add size for the future so the Hawks drafted D Adam Bennett. “The teams competing for the Stanley Cup are big hockey clubs,” said Keenan. Minnesota drafted Doug Zmolek, a defenseman from the State’s strong High School program. He was rated 63rd overall by Central Scouting, so his selection at No.7 shocked other NHL management types. The North Stars GM Jack Ferreira: “We chose him because he’s an outstanding prospect not because it’s a good public relations move.” Zmolek actually did player over 400 NHL games so wasn’t a dud.
Vancouver had a beauty draft. They took Jason Herter in the first round (he had been rated top 5, they got him at #8) but the gem for them was Pavel Bure. Quoting the Hockey Yearbook 89-90: “The Canucks also found themselves in a draft day controversy when they selected Soviet winger Pavel Bure. Bure, a star of the Soviet junior team at the 1989 World Junior Championships, was chosen in the 7th round. The Entry Draft is designed to allow selection of 18-year old players in the first three rounds only. The Canucks circumvented that rule by providing statistics that Bure played two seasons in a European Elite League, thereby making him eligible to be selected throughout the draft.”
St. Louis GM Ron Caron was busy wheeling and dealing outside the draft but having a major impact anyway. He signed Goalie Curtis Joseph from the University of Wisconsin and traded for Adam Oates and Paul MacLean from Detroit. They drafted BCJHL grade Jason Marshall in the first round and he played over 500 NHL games.
Hartford took a chance in the first round, selecting Czechoslovakian Bobby Holik. Prior to the draft, rumors circulated that Holik, whose sister Andrea was a tennis pro in the U.S. having defected in 1986, had chosen the same route and would make an appearance at the draft. Holik was nowhere to be found that day but did arrive the next fall to a quality NHL career.
Detroit had a draft for the ages. Having traded away Adam Oates for the last moments of Bernie Federko, GM Jimmy Devallano selected Regina Pats C Mike Sillinger. They were concerned about his size but not his skill level. After taking D Bob Boughner in the second round, they drafted D Nik Lidstrom fro Sweden and that worked out okay. In the 4th round the Red Wings went really red, picking up Soviet center Sergei Fedorov. He was the first Soviet player taken in the draft and called “the best player in the world” available by Devallano. The Red Wings quietly selected D Vladimir Konstantinov in the 11th round.
Montreal was thrilled to get C Lindsay Vallis from Seattle (WHL) at #13. “We had him at No.13 on our list!” said Serge Savard, apparently unaware that might not be a lucky number. The Habs selected D Patrice Brisebois of Laval in the second round.
Buffalo fired Ted Sator just prior to the draft, replacing him with Rick Dudley. The Sabres were thrilled to pick D Kevin Haller from the Regina Pats. He had a nice NHL career. Edmonton selected D Jason Soules, who played on the same pairing as the star-crossed Bryan Fogarty. Soules was out of organized hockey within a few years.
Pittsburgh selected winger Jamie Heward from Regina Pats at #16, a bit of a shock in that he was rated higher. Heward had a meandering career that saw him tour around the minors until 1995 when he finally made his NHL debut. He then spent a few season in the show and then spent time in Europe before an extended coda (05-07) saw him play over 140 NHL games after age 34. Unusual career.
Washington lost free agent goalie Pete Peeters to Philadelphia and so of course drafted two more to replace him. Incredibly, they both worked out. First, they traded for veteran Bob Mason and then they drafted Olaf Kolzig from Tri-City (WHL). In the second round, they drafted Byron Dafoe. Hey, I believe drafting for need is as crazy as the next guy, but that’s a nice draft.
The Rangers were a mess and led at the draft table by Joe Bucchino, the Asst General Manager. After the NYR fired GM Phil Esposito, the team didn’t have a GM so it fell to Bucchino. He took Steve Rice (“big, strong and physical”) in the first round and Rob Zamuner in the second round.
Calgary didn’t have a first round pick, having traded it for D Brad McCrimmon after the 86-87 season. They could have cared less, since the Flames were still celebrating their only Stanley. The Flames did acquire a high 2nd rder and picked Kent Manderville. Philadelphia also had no first round pick, having dealt two #1′s to Toronto for G Ken Wregget.
And the Los Angeles Kings surrendered their top pick in the Gretzky trade. No complaints from them either.