Wednesday, 11 April 2012

With all the draft talk going on in Montréal Canadiens fandom, there was some discussion about the poor quality of the players picked in the 1968 NHL draft, the last time the Canadiens got to pick 3rd overall.
What we need to remember is these guys were the leftovers after most of the talented teens in Canada were already signed to contracts by NHL teams and playing in their farm system. For example, the Bruins signed Bobby Orr at the age of fourteen, winning out against the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens, among others.
The universal draft came later, at which point players played until they were twenty years old in junior before being drafted, with the oddball U.S. college guy or European player thrown in. This practice was a great advantage to owners, who with the advent of player agents, were having to pay ever higher signing bonuses to players and their parents to reserve their rights. With the draft, a player’s rights were owned by one team only, there no longer were any bidding wars.
Until the WHA came along, but that’s another story.

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