Goalies a rare breed in first round of NHL Draft
Posted: Monday June 28, 1999 04:40 PM
By Ryan Hunt, CNN/SI
To this day, Michel Plasse stands alone.
Plasse was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the first pick in the 1968 Amateur Draft, becoming the first goaltender to be taken at No. 1. And 31 years later, no other goaltender has been picked No. 1.
However, since 1969, when the NHL adopted its current drafting system (from 1963-68 teams sponsored junior clubs to develop players), seeing a goaltender picked in the first round is news.
In the last 30 drafts, 619 players have been picked in the first round. Only 29 have been goaltenders, which translates to 4.7 percent.
In fact, just eight of the 29 goaltenders have been picked in the top 10. And of those, only Roberto Luongo (No. 4, Islanders, 1997) has been selected higher than fifth.
It's curious that the position that is so important to winning a Stanley Cup isn't coveted more on Draft Day. But, getting drafted in the first round doesn't guarantee the Cup.
Only four -- Michel Larocque, Tom Barrasso, Grant Fuhr and Martin Brodeur -- have hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup in the last 30 years.
Then again, being drafted high doesn't even guarantee success.
Ray Martyniuk (1970) never played in an NHL game. Terry Richardson and Gord Laxton, first-round picks in 1973 and 1975, respectively, won a combined total of seven games. Even Plasse won just 92 games over an 11-year NHL career.
Still, teams have made a more concerted effort to draft goalies higher in the '90s. Seventeen of the 29 first rounders have been taken since 1990, including a record four in 1994.
And of the original 29 first-round netminders, 13 played at least one game in the NHL last season.
In 1999, the crop of first-round goalies likely will grow with Brian Finley, Maxime Ouellet and Evgeny Konstantinov. None is expected to be drafted in the top five, leaving Plasse alone at the top for at least another year.
In this respect, Dallas' Ed Belfour, this year's Stanley Cup winning goaltender, isn't in the same class as Plasse.
Belfour, after all, wasn't even drafted.