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1980 NHL Draft Evaluation

The 1980 NHL Draft was one of the deeper talent pools of that decade. There were several Hall of Fame level players as well as an abundance of role players who would fill out NHL rosters for the coming years. The depth of this draft is demonstrated by the fact that even the very worst performing teams still found some role players who contributed over the years. In weaker draft years it is not uncommon to see the bottom teams come away with no significant players. (For more on the methods used to create this draft series read this post.)

Three teams sit atop this draft. The Kings found two stars in Larry Murphy and Bernie Nichollscomplementary guys. Unfortunately for the Kings their two players would accumulate much of their NHL value playing for other franchises.

The Oilers also found three star players in Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri and Andy Moog as well as Walt Poddubny who put up some good numbers in his career. The Oilers draft would add crucial pieces to the 1980s dynasty team that won multiple Stanley Cups. If you are a NHL GM or Director of Scouting your dream is to replicate the Oilers draft day and subsequent playoff success.

The third team with an outstanding day was the Blackhawks who landed two stars (Savard and Larmer) who would serve as the foundation of the team's offense for years to come.

Sometimes teams find a key star player and not much else in a draft or they find a lot of depth but lack star power. Quebec and Montreal in particular were able to locate players who would prove useful in filling our their rosters. One team that probably should rank higher is Calgary. Hakan Loob chose to return to playing in Europe and if he had stayed he would have accumulated more NHL value for the Flames.

The teams that participated in the 1980 NHL Draft are ranked from top to bottom based upon the total career NHL value those drafted players amassed up through today or the end of their career. The "value" column displays the total adjusted GVT value of all players drafted by that team in that draft. Draftees who went on to play 400 or more games (fewer for goalies) are listed to the right so you can see for yourself the successes of each team. The division of those players into "impact" and "role" players is determined by looking at their value to games played ratio. Rather than just using my own opinion I decided to divide the adjusted GVT by game played and use that as a guideline.

Team GVT Value Impact Player Role Players
LAK 2097 L.Murphy B.Nicholls J.Fox S.Bozek G.Terrion
EDM 2023 P.Coffey J.Kurri A.Moog W.Poddubny
CHI 1952 D. Savard S.Larmer T. Murray C.Wilson S.Ludzik
MON 1275 C. Ludwig M.McPhee D.Wickenheiser J. Chabot
NYI 1225 Brent Sutter K.Hrudey G.Gilbert
BOS 1141 B.Pederson T.Fergus S.Kasper R.Hillier
WIN 1030 D.Babych Br.Mullen M.Mantha
VAN 928 D.Lidster P.Sundstrom R.Lanz
TOR 746
C.Muni S.Gavin B.McGill
CAL 697 H.Loob S.Konroyd
BUF 648
R.Cunneyworth S.McKenna
PIT 591 M.Bullard D.Shedden
QUE 580
N.Rochefort B.McRae J.Miller
MIN 580 D.Beapre R.Velischek
NYR 495 R.Ruotsalainen M.Allison
WAS 487
D.Veitch T.Robertson
STL 465
B.Brooke P.Anderson
COL 423
A.Broten P.Gagne
DET 418
HAR 260
PHI 163

Of course, not every team has the same opportunities in a given draft year because of where they pick in the draft order. In order to take this into account I have calculated a draft opportunity cost average. Think of it as something like a batting average. If you took the best available player at your spot in the draft order your team receives a perfect score of 1.000 for that pick. If you drafted a total bust a score of zero. If you landed a NHL player but not the best available player your team score is determined by how close you were to the most valuable player left on the draft board (for more on this read this post).

In the 1980 NHL Draft the Oilers simply dominated in terms of making the best of their opportunities. A score of .430 is simply amazing. It may end up being the single best team score of any team draft all time when I am finished. So far I have yet to find a team that can beat it.

Anything over .200 is a very good score and we see that the Canuks, Kings, Bruins, Blackhawks and Islanders (if we round up) all join the Oilers in reaching the excellent level. Because this was a deep draft with numbers high value players available, six teams were able to find high value hockey players with their picks that day.

At the top of the draft both the Kings and Oilers scored home runs with their 1st round selections (L. Murphy, P. Coffey) and both teams found star players in the 4th round (B. Nicholls, J. Kurri) put the Oiler pick of Moog at #132 overall puts them ahead of everyone. The Oilers had three perfect score picks in one draft which may be unmatched in NHL history.

Team Pick Average Average Rank Draft GM
EDM .430 1 Sather
VAN .282 2 Milford
LAK .270 3 G.Maguire
BOS .254 4 Sinden
CHI .223 5 Pulford
NYI .197 6 Torrey
MON .191 7 Grundman
CGY .162 8 Fletcher
WIN .160 9 Ferguson
BUF .148 10 Bowman
TOR .133 11 Imlach
QUE .131 12 Fillion
PIT .129 13 Bastien
WAS .129 14 McNab
MIN .126 15 Nanne
NYR .104 16 F.Shero
STL .097 17 E.Francis
COL .089 18 Miron
DET .084 19 Skinner
PHI .065 20 K.Allen
HAR .046 21 Kelley

A couple of noteworthy things about this draft. We see that Montreal scored well which will be a continuing theme as we go through the 1980s. On the other hand the Oilers mega draft of 1980 marks the beginning of a steep decline in their draft day fortunes. The Oilers will go on to experience great success on the ice but the pipeline of young star talent will cease to be restocked on a regular basis.