Once upon a time when there was NHL hockey, there used to be a rule that the worst team got the first overall pick. It was almost a reward for the fans, where if they endured enough crappy hockey during the season they would have something to look forward to the next year.
The New Jersey Devils were bad for a long time, basically from their time of inception in 1974 (as the Scouts) until 1987 they made the payoffs ONCE and lost the best of three 2-0 to the Flyers. So during that time did they ever get the first overall pick? Yes, once and it was when the organization was in Colorado in 1979. Who did they pick with the ONLY first overall choice in the entire franchise....Rob Ramage, not a bad pick but with Gartner, Bourque, Messier, Goulet and Anderson all available, I can't help but feel that chance was blown.
We did almost have a chance at first overall in 1984. The Devils were in last with about 2 weeks to go and the Penguins did the unthinkable....tanked on purpose. I know people will say this and that about the 83-84 Season, but truth is, they tanked it on purpose and why would they do that you ask.....Mario Lemieux.
So after a couple more second overall picks the Devils had another shot for first overall thanks to Tom Kurvers. Tom was a decent defenseman who was wanted by the Toronto Maple Leafs so bad that they were willing to give up their 1st pick in the 1991 draft. Well luck would finally have it for NJ that 90-91 was not very kind to the Maple Leafs. At one point it was a neck and neck race between Quebec and Toronto for the race to the bottom. Knowing what was at stake, I was the biggest fan of 20 NHL teams that season and I hope for a shot at the biggest prospect since Lemieux....Eric Lindros. Who ever came second in that cellar race would have the settle for the Third overall pick because of an expansion to San Jose.
In the end, luck once again turned its back on NJ and we were faced with the third overall pick. In some ways it was a blessing because if we landed up with Falloon, we might not have had a couple Stanley Cups by now, but then again the 93 Series with Lindros against the Rangers could have ended much differently too.
This card would not have been possible if not for the help of Tom Kurvers and the Toronto Maple Leafs...so thank you!
96-97 BAP Pinnacle Scott Niedermayer Auto