This is the first in a series of articles where I’ll revisit a significant trade the Vancouver Canucks made during their 48 NHL seasons to date.
The Canucks were awarded an expansion team for the 1970-71 season and inaugural general manager Bud Poile set forth to build the team. Six players from the old professional Western Hockey League Canucks were on the NHL roster during its first season, while the rest was made up of players selected in the 1970 Expansion and Entry Drafts, along with players acquired via trade.
The Expansion and Entry Draft lotteries were held on June 9, 1970, between the Canucks and the Buffalo Sabres, with the Sabres winning the right to select first in each. However, it was a trade made on June 10, 1970 – the day of the Expansion Draft – that would be the first significant deal in Canucks franchise history.
Poile made two incredibly shrewd moves that day. First, he selected veteran netminder Charlie Hodge from the Oakland Seals and second, he traded an undisclosed amount of cash along with the Canucks’ seventh and ninth round picks in the 1970 NHL Entry Draft to the St. Louis Blues for center Andre Boudrias.
Andre Boudrias – Superpest
In the early 1960s, Boudrias was a star player for the Montreal Junior Canadiens, putting up 190 points in 105 games from 1962-64. He looked destined to be one of the next great French-Canadian players, following in the footsteps of Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau and Bernie Geoffrion.
He spent five seasons in the Canadiens’ farm system and even had decent NHL numbers with six points in seven games over that time. However, Boudrias never played more than four NHL games in a season and was a relatively unknown commodity when he was traded by the Canadiens to the Minnesota North Stars on the day of the 1967 Expansion Draft.
He spent two seasons with the North Stars, was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1968-89 season, and then moved to the Blues later that summer. After spending the 1969-70 season split between the Blues and their farm team, Boudrias was picked up by the Canucks and became one of the franchise’s top players.
In the Canucks’ first season, Boudrias led the expansion team with 66 points in 77 games, which was the most he’d scored since his rookie season three years earlier. He earned the nickname “Superpest” because of his speed, and tenacity on the forecheck. His offensive totals and work ethic made him a fan favorite in Vancouver, and Boudrias led the Canucks in scoring in four of their first five seasons.
Happy 74th b'day to playmaker André Boudrias who led the Canucks in points in 4 of the franchise's first 5 seasons. pic.twitter.com/d50U8ghgHM
— O-Pee-Chee Stars (@opeecheestars) September 20, 2017
During his six-year stint with the Canucks, Boudrias set franchise records for assists and points in a season. His 62 helpers in 1974-75 remained a team record until Henrik Sedin broke it with 71 assists in 2006-07. Boudrias played a more defensive role with the Canucks during the 1975-76 season and saw his totals dip to just 38 points in 71 games. He signed with the rival WHA after that season, joining the Quebec Nordiques to close out his career in his home province.
Overall, Boudrias scored 388 points in 458 games for the Canucks, which puts him 13th in all-time franchise scoring, ahead of other notables like Alex Burrows, Cliff Ronning, Alex Mogilny, and Greg Adams.
The Draft Picks
In exchange for Boudrias, the Blues got the Canucks’ seventh and ninth round picks in the 1970 NHL
Entry Draft and an undisclosed amount of cash.
The low pick the Blues got in the trade was 85th overall and
they used it to select defenceman Jack Taggart. In his draft year, Taggart was coming off his first season at the University of Denver, where he had 11 points in 27 games.
A seventh-round pick is a longshot to be sure, and after turning pro in the 1970-71 season for the Blues’ farm team in the Central Hockey League, Taggart spent the following two seasons with the Cincinnati Swords of the American Hockey League. The Swords weren’t the Blues’ affiliate, so just one year after the trade, the Blues didn’t have anything to show for the seventh-round pick they received from the Canucks.
The other pick the Blues got in the trade west was a ninth-rounder which they used to select defenceman Bob Winograd. Much like Taggart, Winograd was chosen in the draft after his first year of college. He skated for Colorado College during his draft year, posting 22 points in 30 games. Over the years, the later rounds of the NHL Entry Draft have turned up quality players like Luc Robitaille, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Lundqvist, but often, a pick that late doesn’t end up becoming an impactful player in the NHL. That’s the case with Winograd.
After being drafted by the Blues, he played one more year of college and then bounced between six teams in five leagues before wrapping up his professional career with one game for the World Hockey Association’s San Diego Mariners during the 1976-77 season.
Because of the trade, Andre Boudrias would end up being one of the team’s most exciting and entertaining players during its early years – along with team captain. He is one of the Canucks’ all-time greats and still stands among the franchise’s top scoring players. The Blues wound up with two players in Jack Taggart and Bob Winograd, who looked like good prospects coming out of college, but like many late round draft picks, just didn’t pan out as everyday NHL players.
The Canucks have had their share of good and bad trades since their inception in 1970, but a deal with the St. Louis Blues during the summer prior to their inaugural season which brought them Boudrias stands to this day as one of the best trades in franchise history.