For the first and only time in NHL history, an NHL franchise chose not to participate in the draft. The St. Louis Blues, who were in the middle of a dispute with the NHL over the pending sale of the team and the possible move of the franchise to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, chose not to send any representatives to Montreal.
It was a good time for St. Louis to stage such a bizarre protest. The 1983 draft was supposed to be a weak draft, and St. Louis had already traded away their first and second round picks. The team would have had to have hoped for some late round diamonds in the rough. This draft did provide some of that.
The opening round was littered with undersized forwards, many of which left scouts skeptical as per their chances of success in the NHL. Believing exactly this, the Minnesota North Stars went slightly off the board with the 1st overall pick, and took the first and only U.S. high school player first overall, Brian Lawton.
Lawton was rated #1 by Central Scouting, though The Hockey News rated him #5 by their projections. Regardless, Lawton would be a remembered as a 1st overall draft bust, despite playing in 483 career games and scoring 266 points.
A major reason why Lawton would be considered a bust is because of who followed him in the draft. Sylvain Turgeon went 2nd to Hartford, another off the board pick as Central Scouting him #4 and THN had him #6. With some weak teams he quietly scored 269 goals and 495 points in 669 games.
The New York Islanders traded up to get the 3rd overall selection, and took future Hall of Famer Pat Lafontaine. The moved infuriated Detroit, owners of the 4th pick, as they wanted the hometown Lafontaine. Detroit had to settle on another Hall of Famer - Steve Yzerman.
A second high school student went in the top 5. Buffalo grabbed goalie Tom Barrasso. It may have seemed risky, but even riskier was turning him pro a couple of months later. Barrasso exceeded all expectations, turning in one of the most amazing rookie campaigns ever to start of a truly spectacular although at times volatile career.
John MacLean and Russ Courtnall, two 1000+ games NHL veterans, went 6 and 7 to New Jersey and Toronto respectively. Looking for a forward with more size, Winnipeg grabbed Andrew MacBain, a slow forward who lasted in the NHL but never really thrived. Winnipeg would have been better off taking Hall of Famer Cam Neely, who went 9th overall to Vancouver. Vancouver would have been better off if they hadn't traded him 3 years later.
Other notable first round selections included Adam Creighton, Dave Gagner, Dan Quinn, Bob Errey and Jeff Beukeboom.
The second round produced only 5 NHLers of note. Claude Lemieux and Sergio Momesso went 26 and 27, both to Montreal. Buffalo landed John Tucker, Chicago landed Wayne Presley and Philadelphia nabbed Peter Zezel.
The fifth 2nd rounder of note was Frantisek Musil, the highest drafted Eastern European pick. There was several late round picks used on Euro stars and eventually some of these panned out. Detroit took Petr Klima 88th overall, Calgary took Igor Liba 94th overall, Montreal took Vladislav Tretiak 143rd overall New Jersey took Slava Fetisov 150th overall, Chicago took Dominik Hasek 207th overall, New Jersey took Alexei Kasatonov 234th overall and Calgary took Sergei Makarov 241st overall.
Western Europeans of note included Mikko Makela, Esa Tikkanen, Pelle Eklund, Christian Ruuttu, Tommy Albelin and Uwe Krupp.
North America provided some belligerent muscle in the later rounds, notably Peter Taglianetti, Derrick Smith, Bob Probert, Marc Bergevin, John Kordic, Joe Kocur, Kevin Stevens, Dave Lowry, Rick Tocchet, and Brian Noonan. Some of the more skilled North American players found in late rounds include Brian Bradley and Garry Galley.
Goaltenders of note include Allan Bester, Frank Pietrangelo, Darren Puppa, and Chris Terreri.