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02-10-2012, 09:25 PM
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Wayne Hillman, D

At the end of the 1973 seaon, when Hillman left the NHL with his brother Larry, Wayne Hillman was 27th all-time in games played by defensemen with 691. In fact, all of the top 101 players on this list are already drafted (375+ games). In fact, if you go back even just to 1967, before the number of NHL jobs doubled, Hillman was 83rd all-time with 321 games (still the highest among undrafteds), and not just for bad teams, either: he had 18 playoff games by the time expansion hit, and his teams averaged 71 points in 70 games in his four full seasons, including two years as a regular with the 2nd-place Hawks.

Lasting in the NHL this long is an indication that Wayne Hillman was a very strong and valuable player. With 691 NHL games, Hillman would be one of the available leaders in this category even among post-expansion guys. That he did it in the uber competitive O6 NHL and then after expansion as a 30-something is even more impressive.
If you ignore brother Larry's massive contribution to the Leafs' 1967 Cup win, Wayne's NHL career isn't too far off from his. However, Larry's AHL accomplishments when buried in the minors by the deep Leafs easily trump Wayne's single 2nd team all-star nod there.

Wayne was not a great point producer from the blueline at his best, but did once place 9th in the NHL among defensemen with 20 points. Just over half his career was post-expansion for the Rangers, North Stars and Flyers, and during that time he was a PK beast, playing 38% of penalty kills, and averagd 20.37 minutes per game over 370 games. With Hillman playing all these minutes, these teams were just 6% below average at even strength, and just 1% below average on the PK. In 1970, Philadelphia was just a 58-point team but Hillman was far and away their icetime leader, playing an estimated 29.18 minutes, good for 7th in the NHL.

Hillman established himself in the AHL prior to becoming an NHL regular, and closed out his career with two full WHA seasons as a veteran presence for Cleveland. When it was all said and done, he had played 1085 pro games.

Originally Posted by 1962 hockey card
Wayne developed fast as a defenseman under the tutelage of the late Frank Eddolls, and he has the size and speed to fit in with the present-day demands for a backliner.
Originally Posted by 1970 Hockey Card
a robust checker... the Flyers plan to use him as a defensive forward to take advantage of his bodychecking.
Originally Posted by 1972 Hockey Card
Wayne has always been a hard-nosed defensive defenseman.. a steadying influence on young Flyers defensemen.
Post-expansion TOI rankings: 5, 5, 1, 3, 6, 6.

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