Skip to main content

NHL Entry Draft History: 1978

All junior hockey eyes were on a 16 year old named Wayne Gretzky in 1978. He was not eligible for the NHL draft, but the phenom's greatness was already on display as he tore apart the Ontario League scoring race at such a young age.

The other player who scouts drooled about was the only player to outscore Gretzky that year - 20 year old Bobby Smith. Many scouts preferred Smith over Gretzky anyways, largely because of his big body (6'4" and 210lbs). Many were still skeptical about Gretzky's size.

Smith would go on to enjoy a fantastic career with Minnesota and Montreal, but he was just one of many solid NHL players selected in this draft.

Two-way center Ryan Walter was selected #2 by Washington. Wayne Babych went in the 3-hole to St. Louis. Big Behn Wilson, Ken "the Rat" Linseman, Willie Huber, Brad Marsh, Brent Peterson, Larry Playfair, Steve Tambellini, Al Secord and Dave Hunter were all first rounders.

Another first rounder was Danny Geoffrion, son of Boom Boom Geoffrion. In what was one of several mistakes the usually draft savvy Canadiens would make in coming years, the Habs took a chance on Danny at the 8 spot. Geoffrion never could last in the NHL.

The Habs would have been better off drafting any of Steve Payne, Joel Quenneville, Steve Christoff, Don Maloney, Tony McKegney or Al Jensen, all notable second rounders.

The 1978 Draft proved to be big and plentiful. 234 selections were made, including 31 by the St. Louis Blues alone. It is hard to miss with the third overall pick, and they didn't with future 50 goal scorer Babych. But of the other 30 players selected only Jim Nill and Paul MacLean would play in St. Louis, and both were traded away too early. The Blues also drafted Risto Siltanen and Bob Froese, though neither would play for the Blues. The other 25 draft selections were all misses.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand had only 3 selections, 2 of which played with the Penguins in the NHL, albeit for a combined total of just 5 games. The two players - Rob Garner and Mike Meeker, nephew of the legendary Howie Meeker.

Some notable mid to late round finds include Captain Canuck Stan Smyl at #40, notable US Olympian Rob McClanahan at 49, tough guy Glen Cochrane at 50, undersized defenseman Curt Giles at 54, Swedish sensation Bengt-Ake Gustafsson at 55, Louie Franceschetti at 71, stay at home defender Tom Laidlaw at 93, Mark Taylor, Cyclone Taylor's grandson, at 100, 1000+ NHL game man Keith Acton, the last helmetless player Craig MacTavish at 153, Viking Alberta's Darryl Sutter at 179 and super tough guy Chris Nilan at 231!

Two other notable late round picks would ultimately re-enter the NHL draft and one day star in the NHL, but not with the teams that originally selected them. At 198 Philadelphia took a flyer at on Anton Stastny. This was before his brother Peter Stastny had defected to North America. Anton re-entered the draft in 1979, chosen by the Quebec Nordiques. At 201 the Montreal Canadiens took a real long shot and drafted up and coming Soviet superstar Viacheslav Fetisov. He would re-enter the draft in 1983 and drafted by New Jersey, but he still didn't arrive in the NHL until the turn of the decade.


Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M