The Top Picks from the 1979 NHL Draft

With the NHL Entry Draft just around the corner, let’s take a look back at the Top Picks from the 1979 NHL Draft

The top picks from the 1979 NHL draft

The 1979 NHL Entry Draft was the 17th NHL Entry Draft It was held at the Montreal Forum in Montreal, Quebec, on June 15, 1979. A total of 216 players were drafted.

This was the first draft where all 14 teams drafted in each of rounds 1–3, as the Cleveland Barons/Minnesota North Stars franchise had been absorbed into the league via a Dispersal Draft during the previous off-season.

As is typical with expansions drafts, most of the first overall picks were established veterans from other teams, rather than promising up-and-comers; such was not the case until later in the 1990s and 2000s expansion drafts.

The top forwards from the 1979 NHL draft

The top forwards from the 1979 NHL Draft include future Hall of Famers Mike Gartner and Michel Goulet, as well as Mark Messier, who would go on to become one of the greatest players in NHL history All three players had outstanding careers, and they were all selected in the first round of the draft.

The top defensemen from the 1979 NHL draft

The top defensemen from the 1979 NHL Draft were some of the best players in the league for many years. They included future Hall of Famers such as Ray Bourque, Glenn Anderson, and Mark Messier. These defensemen were key contributors to their teams’ success and helped lead their teams to Stanley Cup glory.

The top goaltenders from the 1979 NHL draft

The top goaltenders from the 1979 NHL Draft were:
1. Mike Liut – St. Louis Blues
2. John Vanbiesbrouck – New York Rangers
3. Bob Froese – Philadelphia Flyers
4. Andy Moog – Edmonton Oilers
5. Gilles Gratton – New York Rangers

The most successful NHL players from the 1979 draft

Today, the NHL is full of stars who were drafted in 1979. That year, many Future Hall of Famers and all-time greats were selected, including first overall pick Bobby Smith. Here are the five most successful players from that Draft Class

1. Bobby Smith
The first overall pick in 1979, Bobby Smith was a star forward for the Minnesota North Stars and later the Dallas Stars He scored more than 1,000 points in his NHL career and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.

2. Mike Gartner
A second-round pick by the Washington Capitals Mike Gartner was one of the most prolific scorers in NHL history He tallied more than 700 goals and 1,600 points in his career and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.

3. Mark Messier
A third-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers Mark Messier is widely considered one of the greatest players in NHL history He won six Stanley Cups with the Oilers and New York Rangers and is second all-time in points with 1,887. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.

4. Michel Goulet
A fourth-round pick by the Quebec Nordiques, Michel Goulet was a star forward for more than a decade. He scored over 1,000 points in his career and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998.

5. Ron Francis
A sixth-round pick by the Hartford Whalers Ron Francis is one of the greatest playmakers in NHL history He ranks fourth all-time in assists with 1,249 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.

The biggest busts from the 1979 NHL draft

Although there have been many Great players to come out of the 1979 NHL Draft there have also been a number of busts. In fact, some say that this was one of the worst drafts in NHL history Here are some of the biggest busts:

Steve Bozek – He was a high scoring forward in Junior hockey but never managed to translate that into success at the NHL level. He only played in parts of three seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks scoring just eight goals.

Brian Lawton – He was taken first overall by the Minnesota North Stars but failed to live up to expectations. He only played in parts of four seasons with the North Stars, scoring 27 goals. He later had somewhat successful stints with the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils but his career was ultimately disappointing.

Ray Miele – A second round pick by the Detroit Red Wings he never played a single game in the NHL.

The most surprising picks from the 1979 NHL draft

The NHL Draft is always full of surprises, and the 1979 edition was no different. Here are some of the most unexpected picks from that year’s draft:

#1. St. Louis Blues – Doug Gilmour, C
The Blues used the first overall pick on Gilmour, a talented but undersized center who went on to have a long and successful NHL career Gilmour was a key member of the Blues’ Stanley Cup winning team in 1999, and his number has been retired by the team.

#2. Pittsburgh Penguins – Marion Hossa, LW
Hossa was taken with the second overall pick by the Penguins, but he never played a game for the team. He was traded to the Ottawa Senators before he ever had a chance to suit up for Pittsburgh, and he went on to have a stellar career with Ottawa and other teams. Hossa is currently one of the Top Players in the NHL.

#3. Detroit Red Wings – Mike Foligno, LW
Foligno was another undersized forward who was drafted high in 1979. He had a long NHL career mostly with the Buffalo Sabres and he represented Canada at the 1984 Olympics. Foligno’s son Marcus is currently a player for the Nashville Predators

#4. Washington Capitals – Bengt Gustafsson, C
Gustafsson was one of several Swedish players drafted in 1979, and he became one of the first European stars in the NHL. He had a long career with the Capitals, and he represented Sweden at several international events including the Olympics and World Championships Gustafsson’s son Loui is also an NHL player

The best late-round picks from the 1979 NHL draft

The 1979 NHL Draft was held at the Montreal Forum in Montreal, Quebec. A total of 216 players were drafted.

In the first round, the New York Islanders drafted Bryan Trottier with the seventh overall pick. In the second round, the Boston Bruins drafted Ray Bourque with the eighth overall pick.

However, there are several late-round picks from the 1979 NHL Draft who turned out to be great players Here are some of the best:

-Mark Messier was drafted in the third round (48th overall) by the Edmonton Oilers
-Steve Yzerman was drafted in the fourth round (83rd overall) by the Detroit Red Wings
-Mike Modano was drafted in the first round (88th overall) by the Minnesota North Stars

The worst picks from the 1979 NHL draft

The 1979 NHL Draft was not a banner year for talent. In fact, many of the players drafted in that year ended up being busts. Here are some of the worst picks from that year, according to hockey experts:

-Don McAdam, defenseman, 9th overall pick by the Los Angeles Kings McAdam only played in 18 NHL games tallying just one assist.

-Mike Allison, forward, 17th overall pick by the Detroit Red Wings Allison played in just 46 NHL Games scoring seven goals and adding nine assists.

-Darcy Regier, defenseman, 20th overall pick by the Buffalo Sabres Regier went on to have a long and successful career as an NHL executive, but he never suited up for an NHL game

-Andre Savard, forward, 21st overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens Savard had a long and successful career with the Canadiens, but he was traded to the Quebec Nordiques before he ever played a game for Montreal.

The biggest draft steals from the 1979 NHL draft

Although the 1979 NHL Draft is not considered one of the best in recent history, there were a few players who managed to stand out and become significant contributors to their respective teams. Here are some of the biggest draft steals from that year:

-Bryan Trottier (5th round, 121st overall): A member of the famed “Trio Grande” line with Mike Bossy and Clark Gillies, Trottier went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the New York Islanders winning six Stanley Cups and becoming one of the greatest centers of all time.

-Ray Bourque (8th round, 210th overall): Another future Hall of Famer, Bourque was a mainstay on the Boston Bruins blue line for 21 seasons, winning five Norris Trophies as the league’s best defenseman and finally capturing a Stanley Cup in his final season with Colorado in 2001.

-Mark Messier (3rd round, 48th overall): One of the greatest leaders in hockey history, Messier had a decorated career with both Edmonton and the Rangers, winning six Stanley Cups and becoming the NHL’s all-time leader in points by a center.

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