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1983 Draft Evaluation

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The 1983 draft was loaded with talent. One team that completely missed out was the St. Louis Blues who did not participate in this draft. Apparently there was a lot of instability with the franchise including some talk that the team would be moved to Saskatoon, SS. I'm still not sure exactly why they didn't draft unless the league thought they were going to cease to exist like the Cleveland Barons.

The big winners on draft day were the Red Wings, Sabres, Blackhawks, Flyers and Devils. The North Stars and Whalers missed out on the true stars of the first round allowing Steve Yzerman to fall to Detroit and Pat LaFontaine to go to the Islanders and Barraso to the Sabres.

After drafting the face of the franchise for the next two decades the Wings went on to add Petr Klima (who would win a Cup with the last Oilers championship) along with feared tough guys Bob Probert and Joe Kocur. The Wings also drafted Stu Grimson but didn't sign him and he went back into the draft 2 years later. Yzerman would win three cups and finish near the top of the NHL record books. Probert was a feared player until drinking and drugs made him a shadow of himself. Kocur would win Cups with both Detroit and the Rangers.

The Sabres landed Barasso who would beat out Yzerman for rookie of the year. Barasso would win the Cup with the Penguins and be remembered for being both great in the net and being a jerk everywhere else. Buffalo GM Scotty Bowman drafted a huge German Uwe Krupp who later won a Cup with the Avalanche. In addition they found three role players (Adam Creighton, John Tucker and Christian Ruuttu) who each would go to have 600+ game careers. Darren Puppa would later help the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning reach the playoffs for the first time with some stellar play. The Sabres really had some great drafts in the early 1980s and in retrospect it seems surprising that it didn't translate into more on-ice success.

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 Total Value Impact Player Role Player
DET 1907 S.Yzerman P.Klima B.Probert J.Kocur S.Grimson
BUF 1780 T.Barrasso U.Krupp C.Ruuttu J.Tucker D.Puppa A.Creighton
CHI 1525 D.Hasek M.Bergevin W.Presley B.Noonan
PHI 1244 R.Tocchet P.Zezel P.Eklund D.Smith
NJD 1097 J.MacLean V.Fetisov A.Kasatonov C.Terreri
NYI 954 P.LaFontaine G.Diduck M.Makela
LAK 918 G.Galley K.Stevens
WIN 876 B.Essensa B.Dollas A.McBain P.Taglianetti
CGY 854 B.Bradley S.Makarov D.Quinn P.Berezan
MON 803 C.Lemieux S.Momesso
VAN 793 C.Neely D.Lowry
HAR 716 S.Turgeon J.Reekie
TOR 677 R.Courtnall A.Bester
EDM 657 E.Tikkanen J.Beukeboom
QUE 518
MIN 449
F.Musil B.Lawton
NYR 436 D.Gagner
PIT 348
BOS 274
WAS 53


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).

Both the Bowman led Sabres and the Devellano led Wings had great drafts but the Sabres edge out Detroit because of the amazing depth of their selections. Most draft picks fail to play a single game but 11 of the 15 Sabres picks in 1983 NHL Draft went on to see some action in the league. In addition to the five players I discussed earlier, the Sabres also picked up Normand Lacombe and tough defensemen Mark Ferner in that one draft. The Wings found Yzerman, Klima, Probert, Kocur, Grimson and Lane Lambert who played nearly 300 NHL games.

In third place we find the Devils who took two solid North Americas in John MacLean and goaltender Chris Terreri. Those two players alone made it a decent draft but what puts the Devils near the top of the draft efficiency ranking are two gambles they took on two Soviet players Fetisov and Kasatonov. Fetisov was a true superstar level player, but both players struggled a bit as they were not always accepted by their teammates. Fetisov would win two Cups with Detroit in 1997 and 1998. He also returned to the ice after the terrible limo crash that ended Vladimir Konstantinov's career.

The Blackhawks are credited with having a good draft but their score is high because they got a perfect score for taking Hasek with the 199th pick and a bunch of role players (Presley, Noonan, Bergevin). The Blackhawks never did realize what they had in Hasek and traded him away to Buffalo where he played and dominated the league with his unpredictable style.

The Flyers had 10 picks in this draft but none in the 1st round. Still they managed to turn those picks into a decent scoring center (Peter Zezel) a tough two way star forward (Rick Tocchet) and Pelle Eklund. That is a nice draft day haul considering that their highest pick was at #41 in the draft order.

Team Pick Average Rank GM
BUF .211 1 Bowman
DET .199 2 Devellano
NJD .194 3 McNab
CHI .186 4 Pulford
PHI .165 5 B.McCammon
CGY .116 6 Fletcher
LAK .112 7 G.Maguire
WAS .100 8 Poile
VAN .099 9 H.Neale
TOR .098 10 McNamara
WIN .098 11 Ferguson
NYI .092 12 Torrey
EDM .088 13 Sather
MON .084 14 S.Savard
QUE .077 15 Fillion
HAR .070 16 E.Francis
NYR .053 17 C.Patrick
PIT .051 18 R.Caron
MIN .047 19 Nanne
BOS .034 20 Sinden

This was a pretty solid draft year but the first round still had almost 1/3 busts busts by my count (6 out of 20). The North Stars had the 1st overall pick and ended up with very little to show for it--which continues their trend of poor drafting during this time period. One notable trend in this draft is that several teams (New Jersey and Chicago) took chances on Eastern European players in communist bloc countries who were not free to come to the NHL at the time they were drafted. As we move forward into the late 1980s we will see these sort of gambles pay off richly for a number of teams who reap the benefit of the fall of communism.