By Budd Bailey
Phil Housley of the Sabres
Taken in Round 1 in 1982
The next pick: It’s fair to say the Blackhawks were hoping Housley slipped a pick. They took center Ken Yaremchuk, who had scored an astonishing 157 points in junior the year before. He was even better in 1982-83 (160 points), but his scoring touch didn’t carry over to the pros. Yaremcchuk did have some good years in Europe in the 1990s.
Other picks in that round: The Sabres also took Paul Cyr and Dave Andreychuk in that first round, so they dominated the conversation that summer. Gord Kluzak went first to the Bruins, but injuries prevented him for realizing his potential. It was a big round for brothers, as Rocky Trottier (New Jersey at No. 8), Rich Sutter (Pittsburgh at No. 10), and Jim Playfair (Edmonton at No. 20) had famous relatives in the NHL.
The details: Housley was a member of an exclusive club: a defenseman who could score. Phil’s skating ability was second to none, to the point where he even saw a little duty at center early in his career. Housley scored at least 15 goals in his eight seasons in Buffalo. Then he was traded to Winnipeg for Dale Hawerchuk, the start of a trend that led him to seven other teams. Housley is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Other 6s: The Bills and Sabres have been otherwise blanked at No. 6 over the years. However, the Braves contribute Adrian Dantley (1976) to our list. He was the NBA’s rookie of the year in 1976-77 before he was traded to Indiana for Billy Knight. A.J. Shannon (2003) spent four years with the Bandits. Lynn Williams (2015) was picked by soccer’s WNY Flash, and was named the league’s MVP in 2016. Lynn is still scoring goals for the North Carolina Courage. Adrianna Franch (2013) also was taken by the Flash – the team’s first-ever draft choice. She only played in one season for the Flash, as a severe knee injury prevented her from playing in 2014.
They got away: The Bandits took Tom Marachek at No. 6 in 1992. He took a year off and signed with Philadelphia. Marachek had five 40-goal seasons and is in the NLL Hall of Fame. Gil Nieuwendyk was taken sixth by the Bandits in 1993 … even though he had retired from the game five years before that. He is in the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Brother Joe is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)