Best 4th Overall NHL Draft Pick: The 60s

So the Detroit Red Wings are drafting 4th overall. Yes it’s a joke, but as many have been quick to point out, Steve Yzerman was also drafted in that same position, and he turned out to be alright.

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With that in mind, let’s take a look at all the players who’ve been drafted 4th overall, and see if we can figure out who was the best of all time. There have been a LOT of drafts since 1963, so this week we’ll just be looking at the first decade of drafts. The Swinging 60s.

1963: Al Osborne

Drafted by: New York Rangers

0 NHL Games Played
0 Stanley Cups
0 All Star Games

Al Osborne holds the record of being the first ever #4 draft pick in the NHL entry draft. Nobody can take that away from him. The 1963 draft had five players who went on to play in the NHL, two hall of famers and one Stanley Cup winner, however Osborne wasn’t any of those. He spent a decade playing hockey after being drafted, but mostly in the OHA and OHRSr. There was a slight dabble in the AHL but Osborne never broke into the big league.

1964: Richie Bayes

Drafted by: Chicago Blackhawks

0 NHL Games Played
0 Stanley Cups
0 All Star Games

Like Osborne, Bayes never played in the NHL,

1965: Joe Bailey

Drafted by: Boston Bruins

0 NHL Games Played
0 Stanley Cups
0 All Star Games

Never played in the NHL, troubled the OHL briefly but that’s all.

1966: John Wright

Drafted by: Toronto Maple Leafs

127 NHL Games Played
0 Stanley Cups
0 All Star Games

Solid college player, Wright was drafted by Toronto in ’66, but chose to stay in school and by the time he joined the NHL, it was 1972 and he was now a Canuck. Wright played 91 games for Vancouver with a strong first season. His second season started slow and he was traded to St. Louis. In 1974 he was picked by the Kansas City Scouts in the expansion draft but spent most the 1974-75 season in the AHL before retiring and getting a proper job.

1967: Wayne Cheeseman

Drafted by: Minnesota North Stars

0 NHL Games Played
0 Stanley Cups
0 All Star Games

Never turned professional. Did coach in the OJHL for a while though.

1968: Garry Swain

Drafted by: Pittsburgh Penguins

9 NHL Games Played
0 Stanley Cups
0 All Star Games

9 games, 1 goal and 1 assist was all Swain managed in the NHL. He put up some reasonable numbers in the WHA/AHL though,

1969: Frank Spring

Drafted by: Boston Bruins

61 NHL Games Played
0 Stanley Cups
0 All Star Games

Frank Spring’s beard game was strong, but it wasn’t enough to impress the Bruins who allowed him just one game before he was buried in the AHL. St. Louis, The California Seals and Cleveland Barons all give Spring ice time too, but he yo-yo’d between the big league and the lower leagues before finishing his professional career with the Racers in the WHA.

So Who’s Best?

Who’s best is always subjective, but it’s not much of a competition really. Only three of the seven players drafted made the NHL, and just one of those played more than 100 games. Well done John Wright. You were undoubtedly the best 4th overall draft pick of the 1960s.

Let’s hope the 70s had better scouting.

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