With the goalkeeper phase of the Expansion Draft complete, no time was wasted in beginning the highly anticipated skater portion of the draft. Minnesota North Stars have the first selection and general manager Wren Blair appears to have his mind made up, although he briefly confers with aide Jackie Gordon before making the pick.
A brief note on the claim-and-fill process that will govern the selection of skaters. On the first two occasions that an established team loses a player, it is allowed to reclaim (fill) one of their own players from the list of skaters not protected by that team. The next three times a player is taken from an established team they would not be allowed to reclaim (fill) an unprotected player. After that, established teams will be allowed to reclaim players until their protected roster was back again at 18 skaters.
The skater draft begins with Wren Blair announcing that his North Stars have selected winger Dave Balon from the Montreal Canadiens. As with the selection of Terry Sawchuk by the Kings, there is an expression of shock and surprise by the assembled throng. It’s safe to say that Dave Balon, while a fine player, would not have been the first choice of any of the expansion clubs. It’s obvious that Blair and Montreal general manager Sam Pollock struck some sort of an agreement during that pre-draft conference. Pollock, for his part, sits back on his chair with a somewhat satisfied look and a wry grin.
Pollock immediately announces that Canadiens would fill with forward Claude Larose. Larose is a player that Pollock desperately wanted to avoid losing, and it is clear that he arranged something with Blair that enabled him to accomplish that.
The rest of the selections and fills were made quickly by the general managers. Here are the results of the first couple of rounds:
1. MIN: Dave Balon, LW MTL. Age 28, played 48 games with MTL last year, 11-8-19. Came to Habs in huge 1963 trade between MTL and NYR that saw Jacques Plante and Gump Worsley exchange uniforms. Plays an abrasive style and is known as a good corner man. (Canadiens filled with Claude Larose)
2. CAL: Bob Baun, D TOR. Age 30, played 54 games with Leafs last year, 2-8-10. Won four Stanley Cups with Toronto and two Memorial Cups with Marlboros. Is regarded as one of hockey’s fiercest bodycheckers. (Toronto filled with Murray Oliver).
3. PIT: Earl Ingarfield, C NYR. Age 32, was 12-22-34 in 67 games with Rangers last year. Scored 26 goals for NY in 61-62. Regarded as a fine playmaker. (Rangers filled with Reg Fleming).
4. LAK: Gord Labossiere, C MTL. Age 27, led AHL in scoring in 66-67 with Quebec Aces (40-55-95). MVP of MJHL in 57-58.. A surprising pick, again with what seems to be a good number of more accomplished skaters available. (MTL filled with Claude Provost)
5. PHI: Ed Van Impe, D, CHI. Age 27, spent last year, his first in NHL, with Chicago, going 8-11-19. Known as a take-no-prisoners, stay-at-home type of defenceman, he might be the best rearguard who was available. Was runner-up to Bobby Orr in the rookie-of-the-year voting. (Chicago filled with Eric Nesterenko).
6. STL: Jim Roberts, RW-D, MTL. Age 27, played 63 games with MTL (3-0-0). Versatile, is an excellent defensive forward and penalty-killer. He can also take a turn on the blue line and perform very capably. A graduate of the Peterborough Petes of the OHA Junior A Series.
As we can see in the first round, Montreal lost two players early, meaning that they could not reclaim a player when Roberts was taken by St. Louis.
7. CAL: Kent Douglas, D, TOR. Age 31, played 39 games with TOR in 66-67 (2-12-14). Was NHL rookie-of-the-year in 1963 with Leafs. Good-skating, puck moving D with a mean streak. (Toronto filled with Allan Stanley)
8. PIT: Al MacNeil, D, NYR. Age 31, played 58 games with Rangers in 66-67 (0-4-4). Won two Memorial Cups with Toronto Marlboros in 1955 and 1956 (captain). Solid, stay-at-home defender, doesn’t offer much offence. (NY filled with Red Berenson)
9. LAK: Bob Wall, D, DET. Age 24. Bob split 66-67 with Pittsburgh (AHL) and Detroit (2-2-4 in 31 games). Won Memorial Cup with Hamilton in 1962 and was 1st All-star in OHA Jr A in 1963. Mobile defenceman who can fill in on the wing as well. (DET filled with Howie Young)
10. PHI: Joe Watson, D, BOS. Age 23, played 69 games for Bruins in 66-67, his first in the NHL (2-13-15). Defensive-minded blueliner, needs to improve on toughness and skating. (BOS filled with Dallas Smith).
11. STL: Noel Picard, D, MTL. Age 28, spent most of 66-67 with Seattle, WHL (3-24-27). Was fifth in WHL penalty minutes in 66-67. Picard is a fierce checker with a wide mean streak. Also seems to enjoy the pugilistic part of the game. Has a brother, Roger, who also plays pro hockey.
12. MIN: Ray Cullen, C, DET. Age 25, split 66-67 between Detroit and AHL Pittsburgh. Was 8-8-16 in 27 games with Red Wings. Brother of Brian and Barry Cullen, former NHL’ers. Won Memorial Cup with St. Catharines in 1960. (DET filled with Floyd Smith).
We’ll be back shortly, with our next post, which will cover rounds three to five.