Hockey Prospectus's Rob Vollman came out with an intriguing piece today on the 1971 Draft, where the Montreal Canadiens made trades and trickery to get access to the hottest prospect available that year, Guy Lafleur. To accomplish this, the Canadiens gave the California Golden Seals their 1st round pick in 1970 and future NHL/AHL/CHL journeyman Ernie Hicke in return for the second-to-last-place Seals' 1st round selection in 1971. To ensure that their acquired pick was indeed #1, the Habs sent steady-if-unspectacular center Ralph Backstrom to the last-place Los Angeles Kings to make sure the Kings were just good enough to stay out of the basement.
The plan worked: the Kings actually played well enough to move down to the 6th pick (which, incidentally had already been traded as part of a package to the Boston Bruins for Eddie Shack and Ross Lonsberry), and the Seals sucked. Thus, the Seals' pick went from #2 to #1, and the Habs didn't hesitate to take local QMJHL legend Guy Lafleur first overall (seriously, look at those video game stats). Though less revered at the time, OHA prospect and #2 Detroit Red Wings' pick Marcel Dionne was no slouch himself. So, for the poll: take a look at Rob's article (I'll link it here again), which takes a deeper look at the career statistics of Lafleur and Dionne, and give us your opinion. With the advantage of hindsight, would you have pushed for that #1 pick, or been content with #2 and Dionne?
A couple of things I added to the discussion (visible in the comments on the article):
Two distinct differences you didn't mention, which might have influenced the Montreal decision: Lafleur played in the QMJHL, Dionne in the OHA. Also, Marcel Dionne = French name; Guy Lafleur = Super-French name.
Okay, maybe one thing...
Using the benefit of hindsight, who would you have rather drafted in 1971?
Guy Lafleur (42 votes)
Marcel Dionne (15 votes)
Dionne, but only if it meant keeping Backstrom (10 votes)
Might as well flip a coin, it's a toss-up (8 votes)
Any player not on the California Golden Seals cheatsheet (1 vote)
76 total votes