This is Fred Williams. He was a high draft pick by Detroit in the mid-’70s. I’m absolutely certain he was picked so high (4th overall, 1976) because the GM in Motown (former NHL great Alex Delvecchio) saw a lot of himself in the young Williams.
Fred Williams was not a gifted scorer and in fact was not the top center on his team (Saskatoon Blades). That honor belonged to Bernie Federko (in 75-76, Federko outscored Williams 187-118) and the reasoning (I have the old Hockey News to prove it) was that Williams was a better fit for the Red Wings because of his two-way play.
Detroit took Williams 4th overall in 1976, St. Louis settled for Federko at number 7 the same year.
Fred Williams played 44 NHL games before everyone realized that (despite the checking) he was never going to score enough to make the grade. Federko also played in 44 NHL games, and then added a few (he played in 1000 NHL regular season games) after it.
Drafts have always held my interest because of little things like the battle between Williams and Federko 40 years ago. You can find them in every NHL draft going back forever although teams are much better now (an organization surely has more checks and balances on the overall scouting than just allowing the GM to make the pick) at picking the right players in the top 50 each season.
Every once in awhile someone will post here or pm me at HF and ask how I follow each season’s draft. If you’re interested, here’s how I do it:
- I start about this time of year, probably because of the World Juniors (although most of the kids at the tournament are already drafted so the actual games don’t matter much in this regard).
- I read posts on HF by Blue Bullet, speeds, Seachd, Mr Bugg and a few others. You can get a real feel for a season following BB’s posts. Excellent writer, too. speeds doesn’t post much at IOF but when he does it’s usually prospect or draft related and supplies good info. Mr Bugg seems to be writing a lot for outside publications lately and is an interesting source.
- There’s a scout on HF who posts on the prospect/draft board. I’m not going to tell you his nick at HF but if you guess it I’ll confirm. This fellow has supplied outstanding info for several years (and under different names) at HF.
- I read Redline report at USA Today. Grumpy as anything and they are wrong at times (didn’t like Hemsky) but they also don’t sugar coat things. They called Schremp better than anyone else.
- I look at the stats and use logic. If a 17-year old is lighting it up in junior but is also listed at 5-5, 170 then he has issues as a pro prospect. Ask Al Hillier how that goes. On the other hand, if a 6-8 defenseman had 40 points in a full junior season he’s a fellow that you should pay attention to as the draft nears.
- I avoid “saw him good” scouting reports, even from experts. Reason? Scouts aren’t going to give out real info before a draft unless it’s obvious and no one in the media is a scout. The closest you can get are Redline and the guy at HF.
- I read Guy’s blog every day.
- I watch the top prospects game. I don’t tape it and play it back because I have zero idea about what to look for. I can tell you who I like but that’s probably not terribly valuable.
- I pay attention to players who improve markedly (stats-wise) after Christmas.
- I use Bob McKenzie’s top 30 as a draft guideline. Buddy’s connected.
I’ve been following this year’s crop for about three weeks now (since the weather turned) and can tell you there’s one guy I’d target at #3 after Tavares and Hedman (Evander Kane) and another I’d like to see drafted by the Oilers later in the first round (Scott Glennie).
More to come.