By Dan Canavan
General Manager Jim Rutherford recently stockpiled draft picks at this year’s trade deadline. As a disappointing season winds down in the Triangle, let’s look back at Carolina’s top 10 first round draft picks. Here is our take on the franchise’s best picks in the first round:
10. Jeff O’Neill – In 1994, Jeff O’Neill was drafted by Hartford in Hartford before a standing ovation from Whaler faithful. Going 5th overall that year, O’Neill went on to play in 673 games for the Carolina franchise, before ending his career after two seasons in Toronto. His best season for the franchise came in 2000-01, when he played in all 82 contests and posted 67 points.
9. Dana Murzyn – The Calgary native was selected 5th overall in the 1985 draft. After playing parts of three seasons in Hartford, he was traded to Calgary as part of a 3 player deal. Murzyn is likely best recognized for his long time play in Vancouver and their long run to the Stanley Cup finals against New York in 1993. By the time he retired after the 1998-99 campaign, Murzyn had posted 204 points and 1571 PIM in 838 NHL contests.
8. Sylvain Cote – After two very solid years with the Quebec Remparts, this offensive minded defensemen was selected 11th overall in 1984. After playing parts of 7 seasons with the Whalers, he was traded to Washington in 1991 for a second round draft pick which would become Andrei Nikolishin. Cote would go on to play for Toronto, Chicago, and Dallas, losing in the Stanley Cup finals to New Jersey in 1999-2000. He would finish his career with 435 points in 1171 NHL games.
7. Jean Sebastian Giguere – This Montreal native was selected 13th overall in 1995 while Brian Burke was at the helm of the Hartford Whalers’ draft table. Although he played only 8 games for the franchise in the 1996-1997 season, Giguere has had a monster career. Currently, Giguere can be found between the pipes in Toronto, but has previously played for Calgary, and Anaheim, hoisting the Stanley Cup in Southern California in 2008. Through 487 NHL regular season matches, Giguere has a record of 218-182-62 and a GAA of 2.52. In the playoffs, he has posted a record of 33-17 and a GAA of 2.08.
6. Scott Young – Drafted in the 11th round in 1986 out of Boston University, Scott Young has had a quiet, yet substantial NHL career. After playing parts of 4 season in a Whalers uniform, Young was traded to Pittsburgh, where he would win his first Stanley Cup. He would later win a second Cup with Colorado in 1996. Young would also go on to play for St. Louis and Dallas before retiring after the 2003-04 season with 757 points in 1181 NHL games.
In Part II of From the Draft Table: Carolina’s Top Ten First Round Picks, we will rank the team’s top 5 first round daft picks.
Dan Canavan is an attorney in Hartford, Connecticut. Dan regularly covers business and legal issues facing the hockey industry for ctsportslaw.com. He has appeared as an on-air guest with regard to the NHL and the Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy proceedings on CBC Radio’s World Report. His analysis and commentary have also been published in various media outlets including The National Post, The Windsor Star, The Star Phoenix, The Montreal Gazette, The Edmonton Journal, The Ottawa Citizen, The Vancouver Sun, The Province, Faceoff.com, and the Sports Litigation Alert. You can follow Dan on Twitter at twitter.com/DanielRCanavan. Dan can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.