|1976 DRAFT QUICK FACTS|
|DATE: JUNE 1, 1976|
The 14th NHL Amateur Draft was expected to be a disappointment
because financial concerns again dominated the event. By June of 1976, at least
two NHL teams, the Kansas City Scouts and California Golden Seals were in an
economic shambles, and both would eventually relocate to new cities in the weeks
following the draft. With so many problems facing the league, it was generally agreed that
money could be saved by cutting down the number of draft choices and limiting
pre-training camp contract offers to first-round draft picks, while forcing all
other picks to earn their contracts in training camp.|
Kansas City's problems were
especially severe on draft day. The 2-year-old Scouts had failed to attract a
local buyer and were essentially out of cash until another ownership group was
willing to purchase the team. As a result, Kansas City had little organization
in its front office on draft day, and was clearly the poster child for financial
Once again, the draft was conducted via conference call from the NHL's
Montreal office in order to preserve its secrecy and save money. This time, the
new Central Scouting Service, directed by former Pittsburgh general manager Jack
Button, took some extra pressure off NHL teams. The CSS, which
would become one of the NHL's most important institutions, rated the top
prospects from each of the Canadian major-junior leagues and U.S. colleges. This
helped save on scouting expenses, while also creating a much-needed
consensus in the scouting ranks. As a result, the 1976 draft's early rounds
produced a far better crop than what had come out of the 1975 draft even though
both drafts had lost several of their best prospects when the NHL had
allowed the one-time selection of 18- and 19-year-olds in 1974.
Despite vows of fiscal responsibility, NHL teams could not make good
on all their promises. While they did limit the total number of draft picks to
135 -- a big drop from 217 in 1975 -- they continued the off-season practice of
offering contracts to all levels of draftees. These contracts
were generally not as inflated as they had been in past years, enabling teams to
show more off-season control over expenses.
Within three weeks of the draft, nine of the 18 first-round picks, as well as
several picks from other rounds, had signed NHL contracts. More signings
trickled in over the summer as the NHL clearly won its annual battle with the WHA in signing the vast majority of the top talent.
The draft's most notable selection came when California made history by taking
Swedish defenseman Bjorn Johansson with the No. 5 overall pick. Johansson became
the first European-trained player to be picked in the first round of an NHL
draft. A total of eight European players were drafted, with four of them
eventually making it to the NHL. This group included future NHL All-Stars Kent
Nilsson and Thomas Gradin.
While there were no big winners at the 1976 draft due to its limitations, the
big loser was the WHA, which continued to suffer in its bid for survival and
credibility. The WHA had scrambled to move the first five rounds of its 1976
draft up to May 17 in order to have more lead time for enticing players before
the NHL draft, but the earlier draft, which conflicted with its own playoff
championship round, was a complete failure. Even Randy Carlyle, a first-rounder
that the WHA thought it had locked up for
the 1976-77 season, turned his back on the league after being picked by Toronto
in the NHL draft's second round. The handwriting was already on the wall for the
rival league, which would survive for just another three seasons before merging
with the NHL.
|Eligible For Draft: All amateur players born before
January 1, 1957.|
Order: Teams drafted in reverse order of their 1975-76 finish.
There was no set number of rounds. Teams had the right to pass in any round, and
the draft continued until all teams were done selecting. Toronto passed on its
option to use Pittsburgh's first-round pick, instead saving it for the 1977
draft. Kansas City, California, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, N.Y.
Islanders, Buffalo and Boston passed in Round 7. Minnesota, N.Y. Rangers,
Chicago, Toronto and Philadelphia passed in Round 8. Washington, Detroit and
Vancouver passed in Round 9. Montreal passed in Round 14, leaving only St.
Louis to pick in Rounds 14 and 15.
Rotation: Washington, Kansas
City, Minnesota, Detroit, California, N.Y. Rangers, St. Louis, Vancouver,
Chicago, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Los Angeles, N.Y. Islanders, Buffalo,
Boston, Philadelphia, Montreal.
Total Rounds: Fifteen
Cost to Draft:
The NHL paid the CMJHL $1,000 for each major-junior player selected, plus
another $4,000 for each player who signed an NHL contract. Every time a
drafted player completed a set of 40 NHL games (up to 120 games), his NHL team
would pay $5,000 to his last major-junior team. No NHL team was required to
pay more than $15,000 of this "developmental" money for any single player.
Team could offer player contract at any time after draft.
|No. 1 pick: Rick Green (by Washington)|
NHL: 73 players (54.1 percent)
Won Stanley Cup: 8 players
Most NHL Games: Randy Carlyle (1,055 games)
Playoff Games: Ken Morrow (127 games)
Highest Pick to Miss:
No. 18 (Bruce Baker)
Lowest Pick to Reach: No. 134 (Anders Hakansson)
135 (83 forwards, 39 defense, 13 goalies)
|Won Stanley Cup:
|Hall of Fame: