1979: The best draft in NHL history

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1979: The best draft in NHL history

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.

Sweden beats Canada to win 2017 IIHF World Championships

Sweden beats Canada to win 2017 IIHF World Championships

COLOGNE, Germany -- Sweden won the ice hockey world championship with a 2-1 victory on penalties over two-time defending champion Canada on Sunday.

Sweden goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped three penalties and Ryan O'Reilly hit the post for Canada, as Nicklas Backstrom and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored shootout goals for the Swedes to win their first title since 2013.

The game ended 1-1 after overtime when both sides came close to ending the contest with a "sudden death" goal only to be denied by outstanding goalkeeping.

Lundqvist and Canada counterpart Calvin Pickard, who saved William Nylander's first penalty for Sweden, were named best players by their respective teams after a game in which the Canadians narrowly outshot their opponents 43-42.

"This is how close it should be when you get to the final game," Sweden head coach Rikard Gronborg said. "It's a huge win for Swedish hockey."

Lundqvist's twin brother Joel, who captained Sweden, claimed his third worlds gold, one of only two Swedes ever to do so after Sven Tumba in 1953, 1957 and 1962.

"They're both really good guys," Swedish forward Joakim Nordstrom said of the Lundqvist brothers. "On the ice, they really bring a lot to our team but off it too, their presence in the locker room, it's been huge for our team. Joel is a terrific captain."

Sweden claimed its first win over Canada in the final after defeats in 1997, 2003, and 2004.

"It feels like the curse is broken," said Marcus Kruger, who had lost worlds and Olympic finals with Sweden before.

The respect between the sides was evident from the off as defenses held firm in the opening two periods.

The breakthrough came against the odds, with Backstrom penalized for slashing, when Victor Hedman scored short-handed with 20.8 seconds left in the second period.

It was a strange goal from distance as the defenseman just lifted the puck and it somehow bounced in through Pickard's legs. Joel Lundqvist's presence may have distracted the Canadian goaltender.

"It was a fluke goal," Kruger said.

Canada had twice as many shots in the second period.

O'Reilly equalized when he scrambled the puck in off a rebound from Mitch Marner.

It was tense, and fans were left gasping as the action swung from end to end.

Nate MacKinnon missed a good chance to clinch the win for Canada on a power play before overtime when both goaltenders maintained their exceptional form.

Henrik Lundqvist, who was a late addition to Gronborg's roster after the New York Rangers' elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs, ultimately proved the hero.

"He's been great since he came in here. We know what his track record is like. He's a winner and he really showed that today, overall in the game and especially in the shootout, too," Kruger said.

MacKinnon, Brayden Point, O'Reilly and Mitch Marner all missed their shots.

Canada coach Jon Cooper, who said he was immensely proud of his team's effort, was gracious in defeat.

"I want to congratulate Sweden. They were an exceptional team, it was a lot of fun to play them," Cooper said.

"If we were going to lose to somebody, I'm glad those guys won."

Earlier, Nikita Kucherov sealed a 5-3 win for Russia in the bronze medal match against Finland.

"It's not the medal we wanted," Russia head coach Oleg Znarok said.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins pounce on Senators to move 1 win away from Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins pounce on Senators to move 1 win away from Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan calls it "getting to our game."

It means he wants his team to attack opponents with speed, aggression and a dash of responsibility.

Physically translated, it looks like the 60 minutes the defending Stanley Cup champions put together Sunday in a 7-0 demolition of the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Dominant from the opening faceoff to the final whistle, the Penguins moved within one game of a return trip to the Cup final by overwhelming the Senators with wave after wave of pressure, the kind that became the club's trademark during its sprint to a fourth championship last spring.

Seven players scored and 11 finished with at least one point to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 on Tuesday in Ottawa. Seemingly on the ropes after getting pummeled 5-1 in Game 3, the Penguins have outscored the Senators 10-2 over the last six periods to gain control.

"When we play the type of game we play tonight it allows us to dictate the terms and play the style and the identity of this Penguins team," Sullivan said.

One well aware that despite how easy it looked during its most lopsided playoff victory in five years, much work remains to be done.

"They have a good ability to respond, so we're going to be challenged here in Game 6," said Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who scored for the third straight and became the 22nd player in NHL history to reach 100 career playoff assists when he sent a slick backhand no-look pass to Phil Kessel early in the third period. "We know that and we've got to be at our best."

The Penguins might already be there. The power play went 3 for 3. The penalty kill turned the Senators away four times and extended Ottawa's power play drought to 0 for 29. Matt Murray stopped 21 shots for his first playoff shutout in Pittsburgh's most complete performance of the postseason.

"I think that was a big part of our success last year was that we had all four lines going and chipping in offensively," forward Matt Cullen said. "But more than that, spending time in the offensive zone and grinding and playing some good hockey and I think the last couple games, especially, that's been key."

The Senators quieted the Penguins early in the series, holding them to three goals through three games by playing disciplined hockey. It collapsed in the first period on Sunday, as turnover after turnover kept giving Pittsburgh the kind of chances that makes it such a difficult out this time of year.

The Penguins chased Ottawa's Craig Anderson by beating him four times in the first period, the last a "why not" flip from behind the goal line by fourth-line forward Scott Wilson that banked in off the goalie.

Replacement Mike Condon didn't fare much better. When Cullen beat him 1:54 into the second to make it 5-0, the competitive portion of the afternoon over. As if to raise the white flag, Ottawa coach Guy Boucher held defenseman Erik Karlsson, forward Derick Brassard and defenseman Cody Ceci out of the final 20 minutes to help them get rested up for Game 6.

Karlsson, who is playing with two hairline fractures in his left heel, said he will "absolutely" be ready for Game 6. The rest of the Senators insist they'll be ready too. They became the third team this postseason to lose by at least six goals. The other two -- Edmonton in the first round against San Jose and Anaheim in the second round against the Oilers -- came back to win the next game and eventually the series.

"Just like a plumber wakes up one day, is having a great day, the other day he's not having a good day," Boucher said. "Just one of those bad days."

Notes
Bryan Rust had a goal and an assist in his return from a concussion that sidelined him for Games 3 and 4. ... Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley also scored for Pittsburgh. ... The margin of victory was the largest in a conference final since Detroit beat Colorado 7-0 in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. ... Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin played in his 141st postseason game, surpassing Jaromir Jagr for the most in franchise history. ... The Penguins scratched D Justin Schultz (upper body) and F Patric Hornqvist (upper body). F Conor Sheary was a healthy scratch. ... Carter Rowney had three assists for Pittsburgh. ... Boucher said Anderson will start Game 6. ... Pittsburgh F Nick Bonino had two assists. His truck broke down on the way to the rink. Kessel picked him up by the side of the road and brought him to the arena.