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What Scouts Said About the 1987 Draft Class

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Sometimes, when you're farting around on the web you unearth a gem. This is one of those times.

A number of you might know I was snooping around for old pre-draft rankings for years before 1998. After a couple hundred clicks (and the good fortune of working at a university with access to a Lexis Nexus database) I was able to unearth truncated versions of the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau's scouting reports for the top 21 prospects in the 1987 NHL Draft, as reported in The Globe & Mail June 6th, 1987 (Saturday edition). That draft class featured a triumvirate of 500-goal scorers in the 1st round (Pierre Turgeon, Brendan Shanahan, Joe Sakic) as well as two defencemen who went on to play more than 1,400 games (Glen Wesley, Luke Richardson). No 1st round before or since can make that claim.

For each of the selections, I want to cherry-pick the quotes a bit and focus on the negative comments on players I consider a "success" (500+ games in the NHL), as well as the positive comments on those who played less than 500 games. I'll keep them in the order that CSB placed them.

1. Pierre Turgeon, C (actual pick: BUF, 1st overall - 1,294 career NHL regular season games)

  • "He has been criticized for being inconsistent and an under-achiever...'What everybody questions is his ability to perform every game,' a scout said. 'Some nights, he's just not interested in playing.' Said another, 'In the playoffs, he didn't pick up the challenge.'"
  • "He didn't play particularly well in the last half of the season and was a disappointment in the playoffs. Nor does he seem to be a leader."

2. Brendan Shanahan, LW (NJD, 2nd overall - 1,524 NHL games)

  • "His skating could be a problem and some scouts worry that he will amount to little more than an NHL role player. 'He has no spark,' said a scout. 'He does his job, but you don't notice him.'"
  • "Said another, 'He might turn out to be a role player, but he's such a strong-willed kid, you have to overlook that. He won't score over 40 goals a season in the NHL, but he has the character and leadership to be another Terry O'Reilly.'"

3. Dave Archibald, RW (MNS, 6th overall - 323 NHL games)

  • "Archibald is a slick and multi-talented prospect, effective at both ends of the ice."
  • "Scouts say he anticipates well, has quickness, good hands and a great shot. 'He has more color and is a nicer hockey player to watch than Shanahan,' said one."

4. Glen Wesley, D (BOS, 3rd overall - 1,457 NHL games)

  • "...some think he should have been more dominant in 1986-87."
  • "Others argue that he is not physical and sometimes avoids rough play."
  • "There are those who worry about the 'Portland syndrome' - the theory that former star defencemen from Portland, such as Gary Nylund and Dave Babych, never play up to expectations in the NHL."

5. Chris Joseph, D (PIT, 5th overall - 510 NHL games)

  • "Joseph was on a poor team in 1986-87 and some scouts don't think he learned much, despite playing 40 minutes a game (editor's note: HOLY SH*%!!!). He has defensive weaknesses and is not a good positional player."
  • "Said a scout, 'I don't think anybody's ever taught him what the game is all about. He goes all over the ice, but he has plenty of raw talent.'"

6. Wayne McBean, D (LAK, 4th overall - 211 NHL games)

  • "A terrific skater, McBean might be the fastest player in the draft."
  • "He has strong offensive skills - a fine passer, and playmaker, with a good shot from the point."
  • "He also is fairly aggressive, tougher than Wesley."
  • "Playing 40 minutes a game (editor's note: HOLY SH*% AGAIN!!!), he helped lead the [Medicine Hat] Tigers to the Memorial Cup championship."

7. Luke Richardson, D (TOR, 7th overall - 1,417 NHL games)

  • "Defensively, he has problems. 'He makes some real bone-head plays,' said one. 'He gives the puck away in situations he shouldn't.'"

8. Bryan Fogarty, D (QUE, 9th overall - 156 NHL games)

  • "Another skilled offensive defenceman, Fogarty has an accurate point shot, moves the puck well and plays within his capabilities."

Note: Fogarty had a serious drinking problem (that was likely a coping mechanism for his severe social anxiety) that drastically undermined his ability to stay healthy and fulfill his potential. As noted in the report: "NHL clubs...are worried about rumors of an undisciplined off-ice lifestyle, although some say that is no longer a problem." Tragically, close friend John Kordic's drug-related death in 1992 weighed heavily on his continued attempts at sobriety, and Fogarty himself died of an enlarged heart (a frequent consequence of alcohol abuse) in 2002.

9. Jody Hull, RW (HTD, 18th overall - 831 NHL games)

  • "Some say he lacks intensity, but others describe him as a character player who works hard."

10. Joe Sakic, C (QUE, 15th overall - 1,378 NHL games)

  • "'He doesn't have much quickness...'"
  • "Usually, a player of this calibre would be certain to go in the top five. The reason he probably won't is his size and average skating ability."

11. Stephane Quintal, D (BOS, 14th overall - 1,037 NHL games)

  • "Criticisms include inability to make use of teammates, for example, passing off when rushing the puck. One scout said he is a bit of a floater."
  • "Said another, 'He's not that smart a player.'"

12. Adam Burt, D (HTD, 39th overall - 737 NHL games)

  • "He has few offensive skills and one scout believes he attempts to do too much in his zone."

13. Darren Rumble, D (PHI, 20th overall - 193 NHL games)

  • "One of the best skaters in the draft, Rumble is an immensely talented player, with all of the required offensive skills."

14. Peter Soberlak, LW (EDM, 21st overall - 0 NHL games)

  • "He is a good skater, has a great shot and is described as a dependable and good positional player."
  • "...strong..."

15. Rob Murphy, C (VAN, 24th overall - 125 NHL games)

  • "...good playmaker with excellent acceleration."
  • "Passes well to both sides."

16. Gord Kruppke, D (DET, 32nd overall - 23 NHL games)

  • "He is a big, tough kid, who 'knows no way but to go straight through you,' according to one scout."
  • " fairly strong defensively."

17. Keith Osborne, RW (STL, 12th overall - 16 NHL games)

  • "Osborne is (Editor's note: grammar mistake is not my own) solid all-round winger, has a good shot and skates well."
  • "He improved steadily during the season."

18. Jeff Ballantyne, D (WSH, 36th overall - 0 NHL games)

  • "One scout calls Ballantyne, 'a model of stability and consistency.'"
  • "...he is a strong positional player."

19. John McIntyre, C (TOR, 49th overall - 351 NHL games)

  • "...hard-working, aggressive player. Though more of a checker than a scorer, he's a good skater."
  • "Was the OHL's scholastic player of the year."

20. Bryan Marchment, D (WPG, 16th overall - 926 NHL games)

  • "He takes bad penalties..."

Yeah, I'd say that was a pretty good assessment. One of the not-entirely negative comments: "Probably the toughest player in the first round, as well as the dirtiest."

21. Bryan Deasley, LW (CGY, 19th overall - 0 NHL games)

  • "Scouts describe Deasley, who is from Toronto, as a 'talented grinder,' which will be music to the ears of NHL general managers."
  • "Said one scout, 'He's a big, strong mucker, who's effective in the corners and along the boards.'"

There's also a nifty little addendum, essentially telling us that centre Andrew Cassels (1,015 NHL games) and defenceman Yves Racine (508 NHL games) are talented but too small to be top prospects. Incidentally, both were 6 feet tall, and Racine went 11th to the Detroit Red Wings while Cassels went 17th to the Montreal Canadiens. Other tasty tidbits in the notes:

  • "Mark Fitzpatrick...A possible first-rounder, scouts say he plays big in big games."

I would've added, "A Marc-Andre Fleury-type goaltender..."

  • "Watch for Medicine Hat defenceman Dean Chynoweth, son of WHL president Ed Chynoweth, to go late in the first round. Chynoweth is described as a 'character player' and extremely tough. The Philadelphia Fyers are rumored to be interested."

They sure were, but dammit if the New York Islanders didn't beat them to the punch by selecting Chynoweth with the 13th pick. In 147 games for Long Island, no doubt executed with the utmost character, he notched 2 goals, 10 assists, and 408 PIM (probably for being too tough for conventional hockey).

This is definitely something to keep in mind when you pore through the hundreds of scouting reports leading up to the draft. And do keep an eye out for those "strong skaters."