The 1983 NHL Entry Draft was particularly strong and produced many great players as well as some of the game's all-time tough guys. Steve Yzerman proved to be the greatest of the 1983 picks but the draft also produced the likes of Pat Lafontaine, Cam Neely and Bob Probert.
The 1983 NHL Entry Draft was strong, to say the least. The list of players that would prove to be NHL worthy went deep and some memorable hockey careers were born. What follows are some fun and amazing facts about that 1983 draft.
In all, there were eight players drafted in 1983 that went on to play over 1,000 games in the National Hockey League. Steve Yzerman was the highest drafted 1,000 game man, going fourth overall to the Detroit Red Wings out of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. Rick Tocchet was the lowest drafted player, going in the sixth round, 121st overall to the Philadelphia Flyers. The others included John MacLean, Russ Courtnall, Claude Lemieux, Marc Bergevin, Garry Galley and Dave Lowry.
In fact, three of the first seven overall picks played over 1,000 NHL games. Following Yzerman was John MacLean in the sixth spot, going to the New Jersey Devils and Russ Courtnall going seventh overall to the Toronto Maple Leafs. A sign of the depth at the 1983 NHL Entry Draft is the Rick Tocchet was not the only sixth rounder to have a 1,000 plus game NHL career. Dave Lowry was taken 110th overall by the Vancouver Canucks.
The 1983 draft brought toughness to the league, as well. Four players drafted went on to accumulate over 2,000 minutes in penalties. Interestingly, three of the four were drafted by the Detroit Red Wings. Bob Probert led the way with 3,300 PIM, followed by Rick Tocchet (2,972), Joey Kocur (2,519) and Stu Grimson (2,113). Combined, these four players accumulated 10,904 PIM which equates to over 181 hours or seven and a half full days.
A testament to the true strength of the draft, the first 34 players chosen went on to play at least one game in the National Hockey League. Combined, the 21 players chosen in the first round played 13,963 regular season NHL games.
The lowest drafted player in 1983 to go on to play in the NHL was Bo Berglund. Berglund was taken in the 12th and final round by the Quebec Nordiques, 232nd overall. The Swede was 28 years old at the time and had previously been drafted in 1975 by the Boston Bruins. He played a total of 130 NHL games with the Nordiques, Minnesota North Stars and Philadelphia Flyers. The last player picked in the draft was Greg Murphy, going 242nd overall to the Boston Bruins.
Tom Barrasso was the only goaltender chosen in the first and second rounds. Barrasso went fifth overall, a rarity for a goalie, to the Buffalo Sabres. Tom appeared in 777 regular season NHL games over his career.
The draft produced just two career 1,000 point men. Steve Yzerman, the fourth overall pick, totaled 1,755 over a lengthy career spent entirely with the Detroit Red Wings. One slot above him in the draft was Pat Lafontaine. Pat contributed 1,013 points over a career that was cut short due to injury.
Of the 21 picks in the first round, 17 were from the Canadian Hockey League (OHL-9, WHL-5, QMJHL-3) and four were from either United States high school or college programs. At the time, there were 21 teams in the NHL. 16 teams had picks in the first round. The Buffalo Sabres had three picks while the Winnipeg Jets, New York Islanders and Hartford Whalers each chose twice. The Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings, Quebec Nordiques, and St. Louis Blues did not have picks in the first round.