Pittsburgh Penguins: The 1997 Draft Revisted


With the Stanley Cup Finals over and the 2012 NHL Draft only a little over a week away, lets take a look at the last time the National Hockey League draft was held in Pittsburgh.

Fifteen years ago was the last time Pittsburgh held this honor. On June 21, 1997, 26 teams combined to take 246 players in nine rounds. Eighteen of the 246 players became all-stars.

All eyes were on the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders, as they each had two picks in the top ten selections. The Bruins had the first overall selection and the eighth overall, while the Islanders had back to back selections at four and five.

With the first overall selection the Bruins selected Joe Thornton. The Bruins were right on with their selection of Thornton as he is the lone player from the draft to eclipse the 1,000 point mark. Thornton has 1,078 points in 1,077 games. The Bruins didn’t do too bad of a job with their next selection selecting Sergei Samsonov. Samsonov captured the Calder Trophy, a trophy given to the rookie of the year, with 25 goals and 51 points in 79 games.

The Islanders made great picks with their selections, selecting defenseman Eric Brewer and goaltender Roberto Luongo. Brewer has appeared in 840 regular season games totaling 231 career points. On the other hand Luongo is only 61 wins shy of becoming the 11th goaltender in history of reaching 400 wins. Luongo also holds an Olympic Gold Medal back in 2010 with team Canada.

While the Islanders made good selections, they were unable to hang on to the two players. The duo only appeared in a 113 games together before they were traded away.

Rounding out the top five was Patrick Marleau at number two to the San Jose Sharks and Olli Jokinen at number three to the Los Angles Kings. Marleau has spent his entire career with the Sharks totaling 831 points in 1117 career games. Jokinen on the other hand has switched from team to team. He is currently with his second stint with the Calgary Flames.

Some other notable players to be drafted was Marian Hossa at No. 12 to the Ottawa Senators and Brenden Morrow No. 25 to the Dallas Stars.

With all of the Pittsburgh Penguins success in the draft it is hard to imagine the 1997 draft was very uneventful for them. With the 17th overall selection the Penguins selected Robert Dome. Dome appeared in 52 games for the Penguins only totaling 14 points.

The only player the Penguins got of value in the draft was defenseman Andrew Ference. Ference was drafted in the eighth round and played four seasons with the Penguins. He has evolved in shut down defender since leaving Pittsburgh including winning a Stanley Cup with the 2011 Boston Bruins.

We will see if the 2012 crop of youngsters can do better than this bunch but only time will tell.