Today in Hockey History: June 27

A pair of National Hockey League Entry Drafts were held on this date, with both teams from the Sunshine State getting a crack at the top pick. Also, the NHL newest rival made a huge splash on this date in 1972.

Lightning Strike First

The 27 teams of the NHL got together in Buffalo, NY, on June 27, 1998, for the annual Entry Draft. The Tampa Bay Lightning had the first overall pick of the draft and they used it to select Vincent Lecavalier out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He is the all-time franchise leader in games played with 1,037 and his second in goals (383), assists (491) and points (874). The also drafted Brad Richards in the third round (64th overall). Both players were key in the team’s 2004 Stanley Cup championship.

Vincent Lecavalier Tampa Bay Lightning
Lecavalier was the first player selected on this date in 1998. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Nashville Predators selected David Legwand with the second pick before the San Jose Sharks took Brad Stuart at number three. The top three picks combined for a total of 3,404 games played in their long NHL careers.

Some of the other first-round picks that went on to have successful careers were Manny Malhotra (7th, New York Rangers), Alex Tanguay (12th, Colorado Avalanche), Robyn Regehr (19th, Avalanche), Simone Gagne (22th, Philadelphia Flyers) and Scott Gomez (27th, New Jersey Devils).

The most notable picks after the opening round included Mike Fisher (44th, Ottawa Senators), Mike Ribeiro (45th, Montreal Canadiens), Erik Cole (71st, Carolina Hurricanes), Francois Beauchemin (75th, Canadiens), Brian Gionta (82nd, Devils), Shawn Horcoff (99th, Edmonton Oilers), Jaroslav Spacek (117th, Florida Panthers), Chris Neil (161st, Senators), Andrei Markov (162nd, Canadiens), Pavel Datsyuk (171st, Detroit Red Wings) and Michael Ryder (216th, Canadiens).

Panthers Lead the Way

On June 27, 2014, the NHL Entry Draft took place in Philadelphia and Florida’s other team, the Panthers, were first on the clock. They used their top pick to select defenseman Aaron Ekblad out of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He won the Calder Trophy for being the league’s top rooking during the 2014-15 season. He has 71 goals and 212 points with a plus-29 rating through the first 458 games of his career.

Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
Ekblad has been a mainstay in the Panthers’ lineup. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The first round produced quite a bit of talent including Sam Reinhart (2nd, Buffalo Sabres), Leon Draisaitl (3rd, Oilers), William Nylander (8th, Toronto Maple Leafs), Nikolaj Ehlers (9th, Winnipeg Jets), Dylan Larkin (15th, Red Wings), Alex Tuch (18th, Minnesota Wild), Nick Schmaltz (20th, Chicago Blackhawks) and David Pastrnak (25th, Bruins).

Other players from this draft class who have made an impact are Ivan Barbashev (33rd, St. Louis Blues), Thatcher Demko (36th, Vancouver Canucks), Brandon Montour (55th, Anaheim Ducks), Ryan Donato (56th, Bruins), Christian Dvorak (58th, Arizona Coyotes), Brayden Point (79th, Lightning), Viktor Arvidsson (112th, Predators), Oskar Lindblom (138th, Flyers), Kevin Labanc (171st, Sharks) and Ondrej Kase (205th, Ducks).

WHA Fires the First Shot

The World Hockey Association (WHA) was officially founded on Sept. 13, 1971, with the idea of capitalizing on major American and mid-level Canadian cities that did not have NHL teams. They drew interest right away as 76 NHL players jumped over to the new league for their inaugural 1972-73 season.

The rivalry between the WHA and NHL was amped all the way up, on June 27, 1972, when Bobby Hull decided to jump ship.

Bobby Hull Winnipeg Jets
Hull had a lot of success in Winnipeg. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

The Jets signed the Blackhawks star to a 10-year contract worth a record $2.75 million. He scored 303 goals and 638 points in 411 WHA games and help the Jets win league championships in 1976, 1978 and 1979. He won the Gary L. Davidson Award, for being the league’s most valuable player, twice, in 1973 and 1975.

Odds & Ends

The Hockey Hall of Fame expanded its membership by nine members on June 27, 1950. The new class included Newsy Lalonde, Joe Malone, Scotty Davidson, Mike Grant, Si Griffis, Charles Drinkwater, George Richardson and Harry Trihey. Frank Patrick also is selected in the builders category.

Lalonde had the best career out of the bunch. He scored 125 goals and 167 points in 98 games for the Canadiens, between 1917 and 1922. He scored 11 goals in just five postseason games during the 1919 playoffs.

On June 27, 1991, Ted Green was named as the new head coach of the Oilers, on June 27, 1991, replacing John Muckler. Green was just the fourth head coach in Edmonton since the team joined the NHL in 1979. He took the team the 1992 Campbell Conference Final but missed the playoffs the following season. He was fired after a 3-18-3 start to the 1993-94 season.

Paul Coffey was traded by the Flyers, on June 27, 1998, to the Blackhawks for a fifth-round draft pick. Coffey’s time in Chicago was rather forgettable as it only lasted for 10 games before he was traded to the Hurricanes for Nelson Emerson.

Pat Quinn stepped down as general manager of the Maple Leafs, on June 27, 2003, but remained on as head coach. He was their head coach for the next two seasons before getting fired after missing the playoffs in 2005-06. Quinn was eventually replaced by John Ferguson Jr.

Happy Birthday to You

There is a total of 21 current and former players who have been born on June 27. The most notable of the bunch are Eric Cairns (46), Calvin Thurkauf (23), German Rubtsov (22) and the late Don Raleigh.

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