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A Look Back At The Other Minnesota Draft

Wednesday, 06.01.2011 / 4:06 PM / Minnesota Wild | Features
By Dan Myers  - Special to Wild.com
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A Look Back At The Other Minnesota Draft

With the National Hockey League's Entry Draft scheduled for Xcel Energy Center later this month, the State of Hockey will host the league's annual selection meeting for just the second time in history. The North Stars and Met Center were the hosts, back when the draft was just a single day in length -- June 17, 1989.

While the hometown team did little to boost their hopes with that draft (Minnesota drafted a single player that would play in an All Star game, Arturs Irbe, who never played a game for the North Stars). Overall, the draft wasn't overly prolific. Only 12 of the 252 players selected were named to an All-Star team at some point in their career.

Quite often, analysts decide the "winners" and "losers" in each Draft immediately following the final selection. It's a lot easier to look at a Draft 22 years later and decide who the clear winner was: the Detroit Red Wings.

Detroit's '89 Draft is arguably the most successful in NHL history. Of the nine players selected by the Wings that night, four became All Stars, including Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov and Vladimir Konstantinov.

In all, 1989 Red Wings draft picks have gone on to play almost 6,000 NHL games between them. They did much of their damage late -- selecting Hall of Famers Nicklas Lidstrom (third round, 53rd overall) and Sergei Fedorov (fourth round, 74th overall) in the middle rounds before snapping up Vladimir Konstantinov in the 11th round with the 221st pick.

The Red Wings weren't the only team to come away as winners that year. The Quebec Nordiques smacked a home run with the first overall pick, selecting Mats Sundin.

Sundin retired in 2009 after playing 1,346 games, scoring 564 goals and 785 assists, although most of those came as a member and captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. By the end of his career in Toronto, Sundin had become the longest serving captain in NHL history not born in North America. He finished his career with one final season in Vancouver in 2008-09 before retiring.

The Nordiques did well again with the first pick in the second round, selecting defenseman Adam Foote. He's spent all but three years of his career with the team that drafted him, as the Nordiques moved to Colorado and became the Avalanche in 1995. He won a pair of Cups in Colorado before spending three years with the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2005-08. At the 2008 trading deadline, Foote was dealt back to the Avalanche, where he still plays.

Every Draft will have hits and misses, and the New York Islanders whiffed when they selected winger Dave Chyzowski second overall in what was the worst pick in the top five. The Isles could have had future NHL stars like Bill Guerin, Bobby Holik and Mike Sillinger, but instead ended up with Chyzowski, who played just 126 games in the NHL, scoring 15 goals and 16 assists.

Toronto selected Scott Thornton third and Winnipeg took Stu Barnes fourth -- both of which were solid selections before Guerin was picked fifth by the New Jersey Devils. Guerin led New Jersey to the Stanley Cup in 1995 and won a second with Pittsburgh in 2009 before retiring following the 2009-10 season with 856 career points.

Holik and Sillinger were drafted 10th and 11th by Hartford and Detroit. Holik won a pair of Cups with New Jersey and played in a pair of All Star games while Sillinger carved out a niche as a solid journeyman player. He was traded nine times over his career and played in over 1,000 NHL games for 12 NHL teams.

The only goalie of note taken early in the draft was Washington's pick of Olaf Kolzig at 19th overall. Olie the Goalie won 303 games over the course of his NHL career -- 301 of which came with the team that drafted him. Kolzig will be best remembered for leading the Caps in their impressive run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998, when Washington was swept by the Red Wings. Kolzig retired in 2009 after a short stint with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

No other round produced more than one All Star.

The Lidstrom and Fedorov picks stand out as the two best picks in the Draft, but there was another diamond in the rough that landed with the Vancouver Canucks in the sixth round. That player was Pavel Bure, one of the most exciting players of the modern era who finished his career with 779 points over 12 seasons with the Canucks, Florida Panthers and New York Rangers.

The Wild will look to have better luck than the hosts in 1989. Much of the North Stars draft class was later selected by San Jose in the 1991 Dispersal Draft, including Irbe and Rochester's Doug Zmolek, picked seventh overall that year. The John Marshall high school grad played in 467 career games, scoring 11 goals and adding 53 assists. The lone contributor for the North Stars came in the form of second round pick Mike Craig, who scored 71 goals and 97 assists in chunks of nine NHL seasons, four of which came with the Stars organization.




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