I remember well the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft. The Hockey News told me Ron Chipperfield was the number one overall prospect in the entire draft and on the strength of a 90-goal season in the Western Junior League it seemed reasonable. I wasn’t sure he’d go No. 1, the OHA had some good players too, but 90 goals had to be top-10 overall. Right?
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of The Athletic, check it out here.
- New Lowetide: Why the Oilers should extend Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as soon as possible
- New Lowetide: Oilers farmhand Josh Currie’s small window of opportunity
- Lowetide: Oilers coach Dave Tippett’s track record in developing young players
- Jonathan Willis: Misguided priorities helped turn the Oilers’ 2010 rebuild into a debacle
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘It’s what’s best for the league’: Oilers accept challenge of play-in series
- Lowetide: Oilers greatest areas of need for the 2020 draft
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Six bold (and not so bold) predictions as the Oilers prepare for the Blackhawks
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers facing a bonus penalty for 2020-21 but the news isn’t all bad
- Jonathan Willis: Multiple choice: What might an Oilers trade at the 2020 NHL Draft look like?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers return to play guide: How the NHL’s 24-team format impacts Edmonton
- Lowetide: Mike Green’s playoff role and possible future with the Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers’ most likely recalls from Bakersfield for the playoff run
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘We rallied and regrouped’: How the Oilers won the 1990 Stanley Cup
- Lowetide: Why Kailer Yamamoto represents ‘Money Puck’ value for NHL teams
- Lowetide: Exploring hidden-gem draft options for the Edmonton Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘He set his place in history’: On Bill Ranford’s Conn Smythe run, 30 years later
- Jonathan Willis: Why NHL teams should gamble on defencemen over forwards later in the draft
- Lowetide: Oilers GM Ken Holland should shop for picks at the draft
Back then, you didn’t get television coverage of the draft. The radio would tell you who went number one and the players the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs had taken with their first picks, but after that you had to wait for July’s The Hockey News. The Saskatoon radio would tell you Bob Bourne (Saskatoon Blades) was chosen by the new Kansas City Scouts expansion club, but it wasn’t a major sports story across the land or locally. If you suggested a five-hour television show live covering the draft in 1974, they would (as my father used to say) send you to Essondale.
Why was the 1974 draft so memorable? Well the NHL was in a war with the WHA over players, so conducted the draft by phone (which took forever) and tried to sign players before the list was released. Crazy stuff. Here’s an example of the kind of story you’d find in your local newspaper.
Eventually enough information would be made available, but I was always curious about why Chipperfield fell so far in that draft. Was it because he’d already told everyone he was going to sign with a WHA club? That would make sense, as Mark Howe didn’t go until the middle of round two because of the rival league (where he had played one season in 1973-74 so was drafted from the Houston Aeros by the Boston Bruins).
Eventually Chipperfield did play in the NHL and of course is a part of Edmonton Oiler history (Chipperfield was named captain of the team October 1, 1979). Had the NHL drafted straight up–without the WHA, without the underage eligbility rule that allowed one selection of an underage player per team in the first two rounds–Chipperfield would have been drafted inside the top 10 in 1974, but not close to his No. 1 ranking. Why?
There was no one who would tell me why in 1974 summer. I know now (speed) but it would have been nice to know back then.
Fast forward to today and we can track the entry draft extremely well. The attention paid to the sport of hockey, the business and procurement side along with the actual game itself is mind boggling to 1974. Everything is sped up, information is readily available and comes in waves; I’m certain a rabid hockey fan today could produce a better draft list than the California Seals did in 1974.
How did that happen? The internet, more leisure time, the news cycle needing more and more content to keep its audience, and of course, money. In 1974, the Seals GM was Garry Young and their scouting director was Ed Reigle. I knew that because of a man named Jim Proudfoot who should have his own wing of the HHOF but that’s for another day. Suffice to say he was the patron saint of nerdy kids on the Canadian prairies.
Today, we have so much access to the draft it’s ridiculous. We can reasonably assume that the Edmonton Oilers will select someone inside Bob McKenzie’s top 30. In 1974? Here’s the first round, with the ranking alongside.
We’re halfway through the first round and you’re probably wondering what the hell is going on. Why didn’t the No. 1 ranked player going in the first half of round 1? What’s with the not ranked underagers getting drafted? Remember, this is THN ranking, NHL teams have their own scouts and there is no Central Scouting at this time. Paiement and Gillies were the best selections, Larouche a dandy pick and Pollock’s Habs didn’t get as much as they should have. Now the second half of the first round, 1974.
More jocularity, as ‘underage, not ranked’ rules the day. We get the No. 40 ranked player before the No. 1 man (Chipperfield) mercifully comes off the board at No. 17. He was the No. 8 man off the board if we exclude underagers. I for one am glad Central Scouting brought in some clarity for the weaker teams. One final note: Clumsy effort by Montreal despite an extraordinary five picks in the first round. Islanders would grab Bryan Trottier in the second round, he was the best player in the draft.
If we’re trying to drill down on what Ken Holland’s list is going to look like on draft day, we should start with a list of players who boast the skills Holland values.
Speedsters who might be available to the Oilers at No. 20 include Seth Jarvis, Rodion Amirov, Marat Khusnutdinov, Kaiden Guhle, Dylan Holloway, Vasiliy Ponomarev.
Later round speed demons include Yevgeni Oksentyuk, Alexander Pashin, Jakub Konecny, Wyatt Kaiser. On draft day, when you’re staring at all the players we’ve discussed at No. 20, if the Oilers choose Marat Khusnutdinov, speed will be the reason.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN 1260. We check in with Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal, talking Oilers-‘Hawks and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Joe Osborne from OddsShark will pop in at 11 to talk UFC250, Nascar prop bets and NHL Eastern Conference Play-In Series. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. A reminder I’ll be part of the sandwich draft at 9 this morning, TSN1260. You gotta go with what you know.