With all the hype that swallows up the NHL’s Entry Draft, it’s easy to forget the player who wasn’t quite good enough, in the scouts’ eyes at least, to be chosen first overall. This short series will be looking that the other guy; the fella who went second. We’ve already looked at Eric Staal, Tom Lysiak, Jason Spezza, Dave Babych, Trevor Linden and Kirk Muller; and as there’re just 6 days to go until Christmas, here’s #6 in the 4th Line Podcast’s top 12 2nd Overall Picks.
6. Brad Park, D
Drafted 1966, New York Rangers
Games Played 1113
The 1966 Entry Draft was only the fourth such draft in the NHL. The New York Rangers had a point to prove as none of their prior first round picks ever played a game in the NHL. The Rangers hadn’t made the playoffs since 1962 and were desperate for a change in fortune. While, and spoiler alert here, Park wasn’t able to bring the fabled silverware back to Madison Square Garden, the ‘Broadway Blueshirts’ didn’t miss the playoffs while he was on the roster, including one trip to the final.
Most of the players in this list so far joined their teams immediately. Park, however didn’t join the Rangers until the 1968/69 season. The impact he made was felt immediately. 26 points in his first season had Park considered for the Calder Trophy. Aside from his rookie season, Park was a regular in the All Star game, and comparisons were often made with Bobby Orr. A brilliant two-way player, Park rejuvenated the Rangers.
As the 60s turned into the 70s, Park was give the A, and then the C, then was made the highest paid player in the NHL. Then the Rangers fell apart.
Where is Park now? The Rangers carried too many big contracts into the 1975/76 season and Park was one of several players traded to the Boston Bruins. Park’s style changed in Boston to be much more defensively focused. This drove the Bruins to the Playoff Finals more than once although he could not help bring home the trophy and injury was never far away.
Free agency in 1983 led Park to the Detroit Red Wings where he played 147 games across two seasons. In 1985 Park retired after 1113 NHL games and 896 points. In 1988 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and was named as one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players. Deservedly so.
What happened to the first overall pick? Barry Gibbs (not a member of the Bee Gees) played just a handful of games for the Bruins. He did have a better time of it with the Minnesota North Stars but mostly ended up bouncing around the league for a while. It would be unfair to call Gibbs a draft bust, but the Rangers definitely got the better end of this deal though.
Tomorrow we’re into the top five!