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Gretzky and the Draft

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Old
05-11-2010, 06:37 PM
  #1
Wet Sprocket
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Gretzky and the Draft

Something I've thought about lately. Say the NHL during the 70's allowed players under the age of 20 to be drafted. Would Wayne Gretzky have been the first pick of the 1978 draft? It was clear in juniors he was a prodigy, but he didn't seem to have the tangibles that GMs love (size, speed, shot, etc). Do you think GM's already knew he was a generational talent or did Gretzky's early pro success come as somewhat of a surprise?

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05-11-2010, 06:48 PM
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eastcoaster
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18 year olds were already eligible for the draft at that time. Gretzky signed with Indianapolis as a 17 year old in 1978. He wouldn't have been eligible for the NHL draft until 1979 anyway.

I seem to recall there was a lot of debate as to whether he would make it big in the pros at that time but he fooled the doubters. I also remember him being featured on a national sports show as a hockey prodigy when he was about 9 or 10.

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05-11-2010, 07:56 PM
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lextune
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There is no question that Gretzky would have been the number one pick.

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05-12-2010, 01:04 AM
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Heat McManus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lextune View Post
There is no question that Gretzky would have been the number one pick.
+1

180 pts as a 17 yr old in the OHA and 104 pts as an 18 yr old in the WHA.

Even if there was another guy breathing down his neck it would have been a situation similar to the 09 Tavares selection where nobody would have been the GM to pass on Gretzky. He had been national news since he was barely out of diapers. Passing up on him would have been a terrible decision both on the ice and in the box office.

Here's his competition numbers wise, as 18yr olds (the NEXT year)

#1 - Ramage D - 64 pts OHA
#2 - Turnbull F - 118 pts WHL
#3 - Foligno F - 150 pts OHA
#4 - Gartner F - 52 pts WHA (90 pts in 77-78 in the OHA)
#5 - Vaive F - 59 pts WHA (155 pts in 77-78 in the QMJHL)

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05-12-2010, 01:47 AM
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bruinsfan46
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Wayne Gretzky was never a first overall pick in a draft, the only time he was ever drafted he went third in the '77 OHL draft behind Tom McCarthy and Steve Peters. I wonder how Oshawa and Niagara felt watching the kid they passed up score 182 points as a rookie, I believe it's the second most points ever in a single OHL season, didn't win the scoring title though because of Bobby Smith's record 192 points.

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05-12-2010, 12:57 PM
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seventieslord
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How do junior teams draft players, anyway? Do they try to take the player who is the best pro prospect, or do they take the player who will help them the most at the junior level? (For example, the countless offensive forwards over the years who scored in junior but were too small, slow or lazy to excel in the NHL)

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05-12-2010, 01:04 PM
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jkrx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
How do junior teams draft players, anyway? Do they try to take the player who is the best pro prospect, or do they take the player who will help them the most at the junior level? (For example, the countless offensive forwards over the years who scored in junior but were too small, slow or lazy to excel in the NHL)
Probably a bit of both.

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05-12-2010, 01:45 PM
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seventieslord
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Originally Posted by jkrx View Post
Probably a bit of both.
It probably is a bit of both. On one hand, you want to win, but on the other hand, you want to be seen as the team that develops lots of NHL players.

Often the two go hand in hand, but often they don't.

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05-12-2010, 02:12 PM
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bruinsfan46
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
It probably is a bit of both. On one hand, you want to win, but on the other hand, you want to be seen as the team that develops lots of NHL players.

Often the two go hand in hand, but often they don't.
They draft first and foremost based off who they think is going to help their OHL team win the most games. They obviously want their players to succeed at the pros but the league is still a business itself and OHL teams want wins and deep playoff runs for revenue. In the '95 OHL draft the Barrie Colts passed up on Joe Thornton first overall because he was so good they thought he'd be in the NHL for sure as an 18 year old and they picked Daniel Tkaczuk instead. It worked out for them because they got four good years from Tkaczuk, Thornton was indeed playing in the NHL after two.

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05-12-2010, 02:19 PM
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tarheelhockey
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How was the draft order determined in the first entry draft?

(purpose: wondering who would have had Gretzky)

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05-12-2010, 02:55 PM
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lextune
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
How was the draft order determined in the first entry draft?

(purpose: wondering who would have had Gretzky)
The draft goes back to '63. Gretzky's draft would not have been "the first".

Gretzky wasn't drafted into the NHL because he signed with the WHA.

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05-12-2010, 02:59 PM
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jkrx
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Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
How was the draft order determined in the first entry draft?

(purpose: wondering who would have had Gretzky)
The draft order was determined by giving the teams choice of their place in the six-team order based on a reverse order of the standings, i.e., as the Boston Bruins finished last in the 196263 season they were given first choice of pick in the order. The final draft order was chosen to be Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Chicago Black Hawks and Toronto Maple Leafs. The order would rotate in the next draft such that each team moved up one spot in the order, and the first pick Canadiens would move to sixth.

If you are wondering who wouldve picked Gretzky then the rockies had the first choice in 79 which I believe were the draft Gretzky was eligble for.

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05-12-2010, 03:00 PM
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tarheelhockey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lextune View Post
The draft goes back to '63. Gretzky's draft would not have been "the first".

Gretzky wasn't drafted into the NHL because he signed with the WHA.
Ah right, I was thinking of the entry drafts that started the next year.

So I guess he would have gone to the North Stars. My, how history might have changed.

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05-12-2010, 03:03 PM
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tarheelhockey
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and then I mess up the draft year again. 79 not 78.

So he would have been a Rockie(?)... weird.

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05-12-2010, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
and then I mess up the draft year again. 79 not 78.

So he would have been a Rockie(?)... weird.
Yes and Imagine the trade from Rockies

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05-12-2010, 03:28 PM
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tarheelhockey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkrx View Post
Yes and Imagine the trade from Rockies
This is a really weird alternate reality to imagine. Just think...

- Gretzky would have been a rookie under... get ready for this... head coach Don Cherry.

- He would easily have shattered Wilf Paiment's team records of 41g, 56a and 87p.

- Given that the Rockies were attempting to move to Jersey as early as 1978, it's likely that the relocation would still have happened. Nevertheless, having Gretzky on the team would surely have attracted more local attention and perhaps created some second thoughts.

- Assuming the move went through, Wayne Gretzky would have played for that "Mickey Mouse organization" in Jersey!

- There would have likely been no Oiler dynasty in the 1980s. Perhaps the Isles would have won their 5th straight Cup to tie the all-time record.

- The legacies of guys like Kirk Muller and John MacLean would be considerably greater. Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr would probably not be in the HoF. Jari Kurri and Mark Messier would be seen quite differently.

- That great playoff-qualifier goal in '88 would never have happened, because the Devils likely wouldn't have languished in the basement all through the 1980s.

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05-12-2010, 03:38 PM
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seventieslord
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- Assuming the move went through, Wayne Gretzky would have played for that "Mickey Mouse organization" in Jersey!
You beat me to it!

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05-12-2010, 05:38 PM
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or Cherry wouldve shattered his confidence trying to make him a physical player and Lemieux would have a NHL record with 199 pts.

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05-12-2010, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by jkrx View Post
or Cherry wouldve shattered his confidence trying to make him a physical player and Lemieux would have a NHL record with 199 pts.
Cherry would have benched him for not wanting to get his nose dirty and then forced his trade.

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05-12-2010, 06:33 PM
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jkrx
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Originally Posted by charliolemieux View Post
Cherry would have benched him for not wanting to get his nose dirty and then forced his trade.
Traded him to Blues for Sutter, Staniowski (to replace the swedish sieve) and Turnbull

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05-14-2010, 09:57 AM
  #21
Dump and Chase
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lextune View Post
The draft goes back to '63. Gretzky's draft would not have been "the first".

Gretzky wasn't drafted into the NHL because he signed with the WHA.

Just adding to this.


Gretzky signed a personal services contract with Pocklington. He belonged to Pocklington, not the Oilers.


IIRC PP did this by design because when the expansion took place all of the WHA players went into an expansion draft in order to be re-distributed around the NHL. Gretzky did not become part of that draft because of his contract with PP and stayed in Edmonton.


As soon as his retention in Edmonton was assured PP dropped the personal services contract and Gretzky signed a standard NHL contract

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05-14-2010, 06:55 PM
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kaiser matias
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dump and Chase View Post
Just adding to this.


Gretzky signed a personal services contract with Pocklington. He belonged to Pocklington, not the Oilers.


IIRC PP did this by design because when the expansion took place all of the WHA players went into an expansion draft in order to be re-distributed around the NHL. Gretzky did not become part of that draft because of his contract with PP and stayed in Edmonton.


As soon as his retention in Edmonton was assured PP dropped the personal services contract and Gretzky signed a standard NHL contract
Not all of that is true. When the WHA teams joined the NHL, any players who were "owned" by NHL teams (drafted by them, left them at one point, etc) were allowed to be claimed back by their NHL team. I'm also certain NHL teams were then allowed to just pillage the remaining players as they pleased. Only exception to this was that each WHA team was allowed to protect 2 skaters and 1 goalie. Obviously Gretzky was one of the skaters protected by the Oilers.

And I also think his contract never actually changed. It was a 21 year personal services contract, which would expire in 2000. However, it was originally a 10 year contract, with an option for another 10 years, worth a total of $3 million (Canadian dollars). However Gretzky managed to renegotiate at least once, as there's a CBC video online from the mid-80's talking about it. But that contract was set to first expire in 1989, thats why Pocklington got rid of Gretzky when he did; the raise Gretzky would have wanted/deserved would have been astronomical.

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05-14-2010, 07:25 PM
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jkrx
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The expansion draft were basically a **** by the NHL on the old WHA teams trying to make them weaker and ultimately trying to make NHL look superiour.

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