This is Ron Chpperfield. He was the number one rated player (by the Hockey News) for the 1974 Amateur Draft. Chipperfield scored 90 goals in his draft year, an awesome total in any era. He was an outstanding offensive force in the WHL but was passed over by several NHL teams (finally going 17th overall to the California Seals). Why did the projected number one selection go so long without being selected?
There were three main reasons for Chipperfield’s being selected late in round one instead of the top of the draft:
- The WHA was very aggressive in their procurement of "name" players and Chipperfield was a very famous junior. He would in fact sign with the Vancouver Blazers (photo, above) and play the heart of his career in the rival league.
- Foot speed: Chipperfield’s ability to score goals came from outstanding puck skills. Sublime passer, quick release, he was a gem in the scoring zones. However, he lacked the foot speed needed to flourish at the NHL level. In fact, the 1974 draft boasted several slow forwards (Jack Valiquette also went in the first round).
- Underage players available: For the first time, and as a result of the WHA drafting teenagers, the NHL allowed their clubs to select one underage player in 1974. These kids had to be selected in the first two rounds. Nine of the 16 names announced before Chipperfield were underage selections: Wilf Paiement, Rick Hampton, Doug Hicks, Pierre Larouche, Lee Fogolin, Mario Tremblay, Jack Valiquette, Dave Maloney, Grant Mulvey. Chipperfield was in fact the 8th "of age" pick in the 1974 amateur draft.
Back then, we didn’t know any of that. All we could do was stare at the Hockey News that told us Chipperfield was number one and compare it to the Hockey News that listed the selections. The process today doesn’t resemble the old timey draft in many ways. The most notable is that any fan with internet access and a passing interest would be more capable on draft day than some of the poorer NHL teams of 1974.
Nation Radio is back on the air at noon today. The draft will be part of the proceedings, but there will be some other interesting items. Scheduled to appear:
- Brian Sutherby. We’ll discuss a wide range of issues, including playing through an injury (ala Nathan Horton) in big playoff games and why you can never get a straight answer during playoff time.
- Craig Button will give us an idea about which prospects are making a late impression and just how much a prospect can change minds with a late burst. We’ll also ask about how important a solid combine can be for a draft eligible.
- Mario Duhamel, the coach of Drummondville (QMJHL). We’ll talk about Sean Couturier and his season and dig a little deeper to find out why he fell during the year despite a quality season.
- Ian Walker–Walker Big Talker–will give us insight into Vancouver’s Stanley frenzy and offer the latest on Manny Malhotra and how the Canucks are dealing with a long layoff.
- Ted Wyman from the Winnipeg Sun drops in to talk about the slow process that is the Thrashers sale. Wyman is following the process and to my eye is lapping the field in terms of coverage.
- Mike Speidel–best known as "speeds"–will offer insight into this year’s draft and give his opinion on the top group and where they may land.
As always, emails are a huge part of the show and you are welcome to offer questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org any time this morning. We’re also available on twitter. Wanye will be live in studio tweeting back and forth with the Nation.