The 1982 NHL Entry Draft was known as "Brian Bellows Sweepstakes" for most of the year. The talented Kitchener right winger was the clear favorite to be the 1st overall pick but ironically he ended up as 2nd pick, behind hulking defenseman Gord Kluzak.
The Boston Bruins owned the 1st overall choice, but Minnesota wanted Bellows desperately. The North Stars traded Brad Palmer and Dave Donnelly to Boston in exchange for a promise that the Bruins would not take Bellows with the pick, thereby letting Minnesota select him with its No. 2 overall pick.
History suggests the North Stars made a wise move. Palmer and Donnelly never amounted to much in the NHL, and Kluzak's serious knee injuries derailed him. Bellows went on to a very solid career, scoring 485 goals in nearly 1200 career games, but somehow the superstar label slipped him by.
Kluzak was the first of many very solid and very physical defensemen to come out of this draft. The best of which was Scott Stevens grabbed by Washington at the 5 spot. Others included Gary Nylund, Michel Petit, Jim Kyte, David Shaw and Ken Daneyko. Super-skilled defender Phil Housley may not have been notably physical, after Stevens ranks as the best defense graduate. Later rounds also produced blue line talent such as Ulf Samuelsson, Dave Ellett, Bob Rouse, and Brad Shaw.
The draft did not produce a lot of high end talent, but some solid two way players were in abundance. The best forwards of the first round were probably Ron Sutter, Dave Andreychuk, Murray Craven and Pat Flatley. 2nd round pick Gary Leeman was converted to forward from defense in the NHL, and would once score 50 goals. Tomas Sandstrom and Pat Verbeek were offensive threats drafted 36th and 43rd, respectively.
The draft's best offensive player was an undersized pivot who was overlooked until the 134th selection. The St. Louis Blues took a chance on Doug Gilmour. It paid off handsomely, as Gilmour embarked on 1474 game career that included 450 goals, 964 assists and 1414 points. Other late round finds include Kevin Dineen, Dave Reid, Ray Ferraro, Tony Granato, Bob Sweeney, Dave Brown, Mike Hough, and Kelly Miller.
It was a very weak class for goaltenders. There was a couple of goalies who would go onto star in the NHL. Ken Wregget was the highest drafted goalie at 45. Mario Gosselin came in at 55, but by far the best graduate was Philadelphia's 119th overall pick, Ron Hextall.
An interesting rule change created a run on older players from Eastern Europe. From this point on all Europeans entering the league are required to do so via the draft, rather than as free agents. As a result of this rule, NHL teams began drafting Czechs and Soviets in the hope that they would own their rights if they either defected or were released to other leagues by their national federations. Notable European stars drafted included Czechs Milan Novy, Jaroslav Pouzar and Miroslav Dvorak, all of whom had already been given permission to join the NHL in 1981-82, and Soviets Sergei Kapustin and Viktor Zhluktov, neither of whom were ever released to play in North America.
A third drafted Soviet, Viktor Nechaev, did reach the NHL, but his arrival was certain since he had already left his native Russia to join his American wife in Boston.