June 13, 2007

NHL Entry Draft History: 1972

Though the 1972 Entry Draft produced two Hall of Famer forwards, this draft really lacked any star quality. However it did have quantity, as there were many notable long term pros drafted.

The NHL welcomed the expansion N.Y. Islanders and Atlanta, and granted them the right to make the first two picks. The Islanders got the No. 1 pick, based on a mutual agreement with Atlanta that had enabled the Flames to select Phil Myre first overall in the 1972 NHL Expansion Draft. The rest of the teams drafted in reverse order of their 1971-72 finish.

The Islanders selected future captain Billy Harris of the Toronto Marlies 1st overall. He'd go onto play nearly 900 games, but was far from the most memorable 1st overall pick.

Atlanta didn't do a lot better with Quebec's Jacques Richard. There was no denying Richard's immense talent, as he demonstrated particularly in the WHA, but his hard drinking ways messed with his career and eventually cost him his life.

Vancouver drafted 3rd overall, and selected the popular Don Lever. Lever would go onto play the most NHL games of anyone in the draft, but though he was a solid NHL citizen he wasn't the most prolific. The Canucks passed over Hall of Famers Steve Shutt (4th to Montreal) and Bill Barber (7th to Philadelphia). Other notable 1st round picks include #5 Jim Schoenfeld, #6 Bunny Larocque, #9 Wayne Merrick, #13 Phil Russell, #14 John Van Boxmeer and #15 Bob MacMillan.

The 1st round had 3 busts. The Rangers chose LW Albert Blanchard 10th overall, but he never played a NHL game. Blanchard never found his game without his Kitchener center Bill Barber. Jerry Byers, the third member of the Barber-Blanchard line in Kitchener, was drafted by Minnesota 12th overall, but he only found his way into 43 NHL contests. Boston's first round draft pick problems continued at #16, selecting winger Mike Bloom, who failed to blossom in the NHL.

The second round featured useful players Lorne Henning, Tom Bladon and Stan Weir, and there was some real finds late in the 1972 draft. Bob Nystrom, Jimmy Watson, Denis Herron, Jean Hamel, Al MacAdam, Bill Nyrop, Peter McNab, Richard Brodeur, Pat Boutette and Garry Howatt were all salvaged in the late rounds.

In total 152 players were selected, 67 making at least a one game appearance in the NHL. 141 of the players taken were Canadian and 11 were Americans. No Europeans were selected, unless you consider Nystrom to be European. He was raised in Canada, but born in Sweden. Similarly Gordie Clark was raised in New Brunswick but born in Great Britain. He was a Boston pick who never made the cut.

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