Most NHL draft historians rank the 1979 draft as having the all-time best class in league history.
The ’79 draft, which lasted six rounds, had the benefit of being one which included teams being merged from the WHA into the NHL. Plus, the draft age was lowered from 20 to 18 that year, enriching the selection process by two years. The very first league draft had been in 1963 in Montreal.
The players selected in the first round included three future Hockey Hall of Famers -- Mike Gartner (fourth overall); Ray Bourque (eighth) and Michel Goulet (20th).
Eleven players would go on to play more than 1,000 NHL games. Seven would score 200 or more goals. Four would score 1,000 points. One would register 1,000 assists and 1,500 points: Bourque.
Every player selected in the first round played at least 235 NHL games.
Six of the 21 players selected in that first round would play for the Flyers at some point in their careers: Rob Ramage, who was the No. 1 overall pick by Colorado; Doug Sulliman (13th); Brian Propp (14th), the Flyers’ own pick that round, Brad McCrimmon (15th); Jay Wells (16th); and Ray Allison (18th).
That draft also included future Hall of Famer Mark Messier (third round); Pelle Lindbergh and Dale Hunter (both second round); and Guy Carboneau (third round), who would win three Stanley Cups in Montreal and Dallas; plus Glenn Anderson (fourth round).
Messier, Lowe and Anderson would be part of five Cup-winning teams with the Oilers.
Tim Kerr was draft eligible in 1979 but left untaken. The Flyers signed him as a free agent the following year. Kerr became a four-time 50-goal scorer.
From the standpoint of today’s “modern” NHL draft, most would say that the 2003 draft is the standard of elite measurement.
It’s also considered one of the deepest drafts for defensemen in modern times.
All 30 players selected in the first round played or are still playing in the NHL while 15 have logged more than 600 games.
The first round includes nine players who have won at least one Stanley Cup.
Some of the names that round: Marc-Andre Fleury, taken No. 1 overall, as well as Eric Staal, Nathan Horton, Ryan Suter, Braydon Coburn, Dion Phaneuf, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards and Corey Perry.
Taken in later rounds were Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber, Joe Pavelski and Dustin Byfuglien.