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 and Trevor Linden, and as there’re 7 days to go until Christmas, here’s #97 in the 4th Line Podcast’s top 12 2nd Overall Picks.
7. Kirk Muller
Drafted 1984, New Jersey Devils
Games Played 1349
The 1984 Entry Draft gave us 18 players who played at least 1000 games, although it was first overall pick Mario Lemieux who was the star of the draft. While the Pittsburgh Penguins chose well with their first pick, when it was the Devils’ time on the stand, Muller was the obvious choice. Having already played for Team Canada in the World Juniors and at the Olympics, it was a no-brainer. In his first season with the Devils Muller played all 80 games and tallied 54 points, and that was his worst performing season in a Devils jersey.
In seven seasons Muller was a superstar in New Jersey, in 1987/88 he almost had a 100 point season and helps the Devils to their first playoffs in 10 straight seasons. That was also his first of four seasons as team captain. In 556 games in New Jersey Muller scored 520 points and almost finished his tenure as a point-per-game player.
Where is Muller now? While Lemieux played his whole 16 season career with the team that drafted him, Muller’s story was a little different. The Penguins went from strength to strength and in 1991 won their first Stanley Cup. At the same time the Montreal Canadiens were trying to bring back the cup winning magic from the late seventies.
As seen above, that magic was restored and after struggling with the Devils, Muller was able to get his hands, and name, on Lord Stanley’s Cup in 1993. Just one season later though, Muller wasn’t the prospect he once was and in the NHL anyone can be traded. After his third season in Montreal, Muller was traded to the New York Islanders, where he played, when he decided to report, for two seasons. There were also stints with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and finally four seasons with the Dallas Stars.
Since retiring with the Stars in 2003, Muller transitioned in coaching at both domestic and international level. He’s currently an associate coach with the Canadiens.
Muller may have played more NHL games than Lemieux but even with the Devils, he was always in Mario’s shadow. That’s not to say either team drafted the wrong person. Lemieux is a generational talent, Muller is a great player whose career started well and just got better. Without the stability of playing for one consistent team, Muller’s initial bright light fizzled out somewhat. His numbers are still respectably solid and that’s why he’s made #7 on this list. Had things turned out differently? He could have been much higher.
Tomorrow… number six!