It is with incredible irony that from the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, two of the NHL’s longest serving players, Czech forward Jaromir Jagr and Canadian goaltending legend Martin Brodeur, are not only still playing, but are going to be teammates with the New Jersey Devils in the 2013-14 season, some twenty-three years later. (Jagr signed with New Jersey on a one-year $2 million contract, plus a $2 million incentive if he plays at least 40 games.)
Both Jagr and Brodeur began their NHL careers on the same day at the 1990 Entry Draft. It was held at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, which ironically will host the upcoming NHL Heritage Classic between the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators later next season.
Here is some footage from the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. Since that draft, their careers have intertwined in one way or another. These two men remain the only active players left in the first round. Besides Jagr (picked 5th overall) and Brodeur (picked 20th), there will be some other names you may be familiar with:
1990 Picks 1-4
1. Quebec Nordiques > Owen Nolan – A superb career which didn’t start out well. After a 3-goal rookie season with the Quebec Nordiques, Nolan exploded in his sophomore season with 42 and hasn’t looked back since. Despite being traded away from the Colorado Avalanche prior to their first Stanley Cup victory, Nolan enjoyed great success with the San Jose Sharks. He played briefly with Toronto, Phoenix and Calgary before finishing his distinguished career with the Minnesota Wild. [422 goals, 885 points, 1 Gold Medal with Team Canada – 2002 Winter Olympics]
2. Vancouver Canucks > Petr Nedved – the Canuck fanbase was thrilled when GM Pat Quinn selected Nedved 2nd overall. However that feeling was short lived. Nedved didn’t live up to expectations in Vancouver, lasting only three seasons. He participated in the 1994 Winter Olympics representing Team Canada. After a brief successful stint with Lemieux, Jagr and the Penguins in the mid-90s, again Nedved was an enigma jumping from team to team. He currently plays for Liberec in the Czech Republic – ironically the same homeland he defected from to play in the NHL. [310 goals, 717 points, 1 Silver Medal with Team Canada – 1994 Winter Olympics]
3. Detroit Red Wings > Keith Primeau – It wasn’t until Primeau left Detroit and Hartford/Carolina that he really excelled his game with the Philadelphia Flyers. A dependable two-way center with some grit, Primeau gained notoriety in the 2004 Playoffs, when he was one win short of advancing to the Finals. However his concussion issues surfaced in 2005-06 and his career was cut short. [266 goals, 619 points]
4. Philadelphia Flyers > Mike Ricci – According to NHL Central Scouting, Ricci was ranked first overall over Nolan and Primeau. However he ended up being picked fourth by the Flyers. As luck would have it, Ricci was part of the mega-trade that sent Eric Lindros to Philly. Ricci fit in well in Quebec and Colorado, winning the Stanley Cup in 1996. Not a bad trade for Ricci after all. [243 goals, 605 points, 1 Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche]
Enter the Czech Mullet
5. Pittsburgh Penguins > Jaromir Jagr – Unlike Nedved who defected from Czechoslovakia, Jagr was made available for NHL play. Less than a year into his new job as GM, Craig Patrick saw the young Czech’s potential and plucked him fifth overall. “Mario Jr.” as he was affectionately called, Jagr made an immediate impact in the 1990-91 season. When Mario went down with injuries for most of that season, it was Jagr, Kevin Stevens, Mark Recchi and John Cullen who stepped up their game. Jagr helped Pittsburgh win their first Stanley Cup. Jagr followed up his stellar play next season with some razzle-dazzle, such as this memorable one against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game One of the 1992 Cup Final:
After a long reign in Pittsburgh where he collected two Cups, Jagr bounced around the NHL, Czech League & the KHL, playing for Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Omsk, Kladno, Dallas and Boston. With each team, he gave them everything he had – a chance to win. In his last playoff run with the Bruins however, he didn’t score a single goal and was a non-factor in the Bruins’ loss to the Blackhawks. When he retires from hockey, Jagr should easily enter the Hockey Hall of Fame. [681 goals, 1688 points, 2 Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, Gold Medal with Team Czech Republic – 1998 Winter Olympics, Bronze – 2006 Winter Olympics, and other medals on the World stage]
1990 Picks 6-19
You would have to wonder how or why Brodeur was passed over by other clubs. Some of the following teams picked well. Others didn’t…
6. NY Islanders > Scott Scissons – Played only two games.
7. Los Angeles > Darryl Sydor – A dependable defenceman who has been in the Stanley Cup Final five times, winning with Dallas in 1999 and Tampa Bay in 2004.
8. Minnesota North Stars > Derian Hatcher – A tough, hard-hitting defenceman who captained the Dallas Stars to their first Stanley Cup in 1999.
9. Washington Capitals > John Slaney – Had a short NHL career, but was known for scoring the game winning goal against the Soviet Union in the 1991 IIHF World Junior Championships in Saskatoon.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs > Drake Berehowsky – Journeyman defenceman, played on six NHL teams.
11. Calgary Flames > Trevor Kidd – Succeeded Mike Vernon in Calgary but didn’t immediately live up to expectations. Bounced around with four teams and always had his starting role challenged.
12. Montreal Canadiens > Turner Stevenson – A late bloomer in Montreal, Stevenson won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003.
13. NY Rangers > Michael Stewart – Didn’t play one NHL game.
14. Buffalo Sabres > Brad May – A tough guy with a long career filled with some ups (game winner against Boston in 1993 aptly named “May-Day”) and some downs (participant in the Bertuzzi/Moore Incident in 2004), May was finally rewarded in 2007 when he won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks. He now works as a hockey analyst on Rogers Sportsnet.
15. Hartford Whalers > Mark Greig – Played only 125 games with four teams.
16. Chicago Blackhawks > Karl Dykhuis – Another journeyman defenceman that played 644 NHL games.
17. Edmonton Oilers > Scott Allison – Despite a fine career in the WHL, he didn’t play a single game in the pros.
18. Vancouver Canucks > Shawn Antoski – The Canucks’ second pick in the first round only lasted 183 games and scored just three goals.
19. Winnipeg Jets > Keith Tkachuk – This American proved to be a great late pick for Jets GM Mike Smith. Tkachuk was known for his hard-hitting & feisty play in Winnipeg/Phoenix, and made an immediate impact after becoming the team captain in just his third season. He was later traded to St. Louis, Atlanta and back to St. Louis where he finished his distinguished NHL career, becoming one of only four Americans to score 500 goals or more. [538 goals, 1065 points, Gold Medal with Team USA – 1996 World Cup, Silver Medal – 2002 Winter Olympics]
A Diamond in the Rough
20. New Jersey Devils > Martin Brodeur – What did Lou Lamoriello, in only his fourth year as Devils GM, saw in Brodeur that the first 20 GMs didn’t? While other teams sought young offensive and d-man talent, Lamoriello wanted someone to help backstop Sean Burke and Chris Terreri someday. No one except Lou knew that Marty would make an immediate impact. After winning his first NHL game as an emergency starter in 1992, Brodeur saw his stock quickly rise from the get-go, winning the Calder Trophy as top rookie in 1993-94, followed by backstopping the Devils to their first Stanley Cup just one year later.
Since then, Brodeur has won two more Cups (2000, 2003), Gold Medals for Team Canada in 2002, 2004 (under the World Cup of Hockey) and 2010, four Vezina trophies, five William M. Jennings awards, and countless number of other hardware. Brodeur has solidified himself as one of the best goaltenders, perhaps even better than Patrick Roy. He has owned the most regular season wins with 669 (in fact, the only goalie to reach 600), shutouts at 121 and counting, most overtime victories, and countless other achievements including scoring 3 goals, more than most players who didn’t hack it in the big leagues.
Furthermore, Marty Brodeur is the perfect example of exhibiting team loyalty. He could have gone to other teams, signed lucrative contracts and could have made a lot more money than he’s worth because of his accomplishments. Instead, he remains in New Jersey, and will likely stay with the Devils once his career comes to an end. For Lamoriello, picking Marty back in 1990 was an easy decision.
Last But Not Forgotten
21. Boston Bruins > Bryan Smolinski – He had a respectable career playing in over 1000 games for eight different clubs. [274 goals, 651 points]
A former novice/atom player, timekeeper and fan of the game, Peter has lived and breathed hockey throughout his life, covering hockey happenings in Edmonton, Vancouver, and currently in Saskatchewan. He is now a contributing writer for the Hockey Writers.