The 1988 NHL Entry Draft

The 1988 NHL Entry Draft was the 26th in league history. It took place at the Forum in Montreal (Canada). The first round included the likes of Rob Ray, Teemu Selanne, Mark Recchi and Trevor Linden. While there are many notable names who were drafted in the draft, this one was arguably the most controversial. The draft was largely considered a failure because of the fact that so many players walked away from the draft without making an NHL roster.

Rob Ray

Listed as the 97th overall pick by the Sabres in the 1988 NHL draft, Rob Ray was one of the most popular players in the league during his playing days. His career saw him accumulate nearly 3200 penalty minutes. He finished his career in sixth place for penalty minutes. He was also named the 1988 King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner, along with fellow Buffalo Sabre Trevor Linden.

Ray is a native of Stirling in Ontario. He played junior hockey with the Cornwall Royals in his early years before being drafted by the Buffalo Sabres during the 1988 amateur entry draft. After two seasons in AHL with Rochester Americans, Ray made his NHL debut in 1989-90 and quickly became a Sabres regular. His determination was so valuable that he was traded to Ottawa Senators for future considerations.

Teemu Selanne

The Winnipeg Jets selected Teemu Selanne 10th overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. Selanne spent three seasons at Jokerit, SM-liiga before moving to North America. He was a Jets rookie for four seasons and earned the Calder Memorial Trophy. Selanne has scored more than 50 goals three times and topped 100 points four times. The 1988 NHL Draft was his first taste of North American hockey.

The Leafs missed a lot in the 1988 NHL draft, but the future looks bright for the Finnish forward. He was a fan favorite for his speed and excellent hands. In 2003, he signed a free-agent contract with the Colorado Avalanche. He was once again joined by Kariya in Colorado. He has been out of NHL since then due to a work stoppage.

The draft in 1988 featured 252 prospects, 12 rounds and 262 players. Selanne was not the only player selected in this draft. The Boston Bruins selected Andy Moog as their first-round pick in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. This pick was traded to Edmonton Oilers by Bill Ranford. Teemu Selanne was the last player from this draft class to play in the NHL, retiring after the 2013-14 season.

Although the Leafs did not make it to the 1989 NHL Draft, they still had two solid players in Modano and Kakko. Both players were selected to the All-Rookie Team. Selanne’s 76 goals as a rookie still set a standard for first-year players. Regardless of their age, they would have been the harlem Globetrotters of the NHL. So, the Leafs would have had a similar situation to the Minnesota North Stars in 1988.

After a disappointing start to his career, Selanne went on to play more games in the NHL than any of the other top picks in that draft combined. The next year, Selanne’s career began to blossom. He was traded to the Vancouver Canucks after his first season and then later traded to the New Jersey Devils. He almost won rookie of the Year in his first season but Pavel Bure took the trophy.

Trevor Linden

The first round of the 1988 NHL Draft produced a top defenseman in Canadian ice hockey: Trevor Linden. Linden, a two-time Memorial Cup winner for Medicine Hat Tigers was instrumental in Canada’s 1988 World Junior Championships gold. He was selected by the Vancouver Canucks with the second overall pick. Linden was also named to the WHL East Second All-Star team in his final season.

He won two Stanley Cups with the Vancouver Canucks, leading them to their first division title in twelve years. He led the Canucks to their first Stanley Cup finals since 1974-75, and then led the team to the series for the third time. In the series, Linden faced Mark Messier, New York Rangers captain. The Canucks lost the series in Game 7, however Linden managed two goals and two assists. With 12 goals and 25 pts, he was second on the postseason scoring list.

After Markstrom was traded to Calgary Flames, Linden was selected by the Canucks second overall. He played nine seasons with the Canucks, and was one of the top three draft picks in 1988 NHL Draft. Linden’s career included several Stanley Cups, and he surpassed Mark Messier’s total points in eight seasons with the Canucks. He also went on to become the Canucks’ captain during the 1990s.

He wore a Montreal Canadiens jersey after the league announced his retirement on June 11, 2008. It was the 20th anniversary of his 1988 NHL draft. Vancouver’s City Council officially recognized Linden’s retirement by designating June 11 as Trevor Linden Day. There is no doubt that Linden made Vancouver proud. When he retired, his jersey was retired on that day. The Vancouver Canucks named him the city’s first round pick in the NHL Draft, making it an official Trevor Linden Day in Vancouver.

After he became a Canuck, Linden continued to set new career milestones. On Oct. 18, 1988, he scored his first NHL goal. He was assisted by Doug Lidster (and Tony Tanti). Linden eventually scored 30 goals and 59 points, and finished second in voting for the Calder trophy. His remarkable career earned him a record seven Calder Trophy nominations, one of the most prestigious in the NHL.

Mark Recchi

Pittsburgh drafted Canadian hockey player Mark Recchi 67th overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. Recchi was a junior hockey player in the Western Hockey League with the Kamloops Blazers. He retired his number 8 shortly after his NHL career. Recchi was a member of the 1988-89 playoffs with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and helped the team win 1991’s Stanley Cup. His career in the NHL began with a strong start.

Recchi signed a four-year contract after signing with the Penguins. Recchi played 15 games, scoring two points per game. He scored 67 points in 74 games (1989-1990) and 100 in 90-91 (90-1991). Recchi’s career was far from over, but he made an impression and won the respect of many hockey fans. While his first two NHL seasons were not all that special, his career lasted for over 20 years.

Recchi signed with the Flyers after which he was traded to Philadelphia Flyers. Recchi spent two seasons with them. He scored 365 points in 402 games and won his second Stanley Cup in 2005-06. After being traded to the Hurricanes, he rejoined the Pittsburgh Penguins and won the team’s third Stanley Cup in 2006.

Recchi was a member of the Flyers, Canadiens Lightning, Bruins, Hurricanes, Penguins, Flyers, Canadiens and Canadiens. Recchi was a versatile player throughout his career. His Pittsburgh years are his most prominent. He won his first Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006. The Bruins in 2011. Recchi was born in his native province. He also won two more Stanley Cups while working in the NHL’s front office.

The two rookies who were drafted after Recchi were Joel Savage and Kory Kocur. Both were considered to be top five picks, but the former was chosen one spot higher. Both were point per game plus producers, with Recchi scoring more goals and accumulating more assists in his 22-year career. Recchi is the second-highest-scoring rookie in the league and is the eighth highest overall.

The 1988 NHL Entry Draft
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