The Last Team With Three Consecutive First Overall Picks

With their draft lottery win last night, the Oilers became the second team in NHL history to secure three consecutive first overall draft picks. The last team to do so, the Quebec Nordiques, picked first overall in 1989, 1990 and 1991. While none of those picks would go on to play for championship teams, many of the players acquired for them did.

The following post traces the impact of the trades made with those three first overall picks.

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Quebec would eventually move to Colorado, and the Avalanche would win two Stanley Cups there. Ten players on that first Cup team and nine players on the second could trace their roots back to those three first overall picks. Three current members of the team are part of the legacy of those selections more than 20 years ago.

It all started with Eric Lindros. Regarded in the same sort of reverence in his draft year as Sidney Crosby was, Lindros steadfastly refused to play in Quebec, forcing the Nordiques to trade him. They sent him to Philadelphia for players, picks and cash, and those players and picks would form the backbone of the first championship team in Colorado.

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Coming back for Lindros were three members of that first championship team: Chris Simon, Mike Ricci and Peter Forsberg. Jocelyn Thibault and Ron Hextall were also part of the package; Thibault was sent away as part of a deal for Patrick Roy and Mike Keane, while Hextall was dealt for Adam Deadmarsh, all members of that first Cup team. Steve Duchesne was also acquired; he’d be flipped for Ron Sutter and Garth Butcher. Sutter was in turn dealt away for Uwe Krupp and Wade Belak; Krupp would score the Cup-winning goal for Colorado that first year.

Mats Sundin was another one of those first overall picks; he’d be packaged along with Nolan Baumgartner (part of the Lindros return) and Garth Butcher (part of the Lindros return via Steve Duchesne) in exchange for Wendel Clark, Landon Wilson and Sylvain Lefebvre. Lefebvre would play on the first cup-winning team; Clark would be sent away for Claude Lemieux who would play there as well.

First overall pick Owen Nolan was sent to San Jose for defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh. Ozolinsh would score 19 points in 22 games for that first championship team.

In all, the three first overall picks (Lindros, Sundin and Nolan) brought back 10 players for the 1995-96 Stanley Cup Champions: Peter Forsberg, Sandis Ozolinsh, Mike Ricci, Adam Deadmarsh, Uwe Krupp, Claude Lemieux,Sylvain Lefebvre, Mike Keane, Chris Simon and Patrick Roy.

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Of that group of 10, just two – Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy – would still be around when the Avalanche won their next Stanley Cup, in 2001. Many of the others would bring in help via trade.

Chris Simon was dealt for Keith Jones, who brought back two members of that team: Shjon Podein and Scott Parker. Mike Ricci brought in Alex Tanguay. Landon Wilson, who was part of the original Sundin trade, was shipped away for Robyn Regehr; Regehr and Wade Belak (who came over along with Uwe Krupp for Ron Sutter) would move to Calgary with Chris Dingman coming the other way; Dingman would win the Cup in 2001. Claude Lemieux was dealt for Brian Rolston; Rolston in turn was dealt to Boston as part of package for Ray Bourque, who would win in 2001. Ozolinsh was dealt for one of the next generation of Cup winners (Nolan Pratt) as well as Jared Aulin; Aulin and Adam Deadmarsh brought in two more members of the team – Rob Blake and Steven Reinprecht.

Those three first overall picks, then, contributed to the acquisition of nine members of that second cup team: Alex Tanguay, Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg, Ray Bourque, Steven Reinprecht, Shjon Podein, Chris Dingman, Scott Parker and Patrick Roy.

At this point, it becomes impossible to trace back any players on the roster to the Mats Sundin trade; Ray Bourque would retire while Chris Dingman was sent away for a draft pick that never panned out. Retirement and free agency would knock off most of the players that came back from the Lindros and Nolan trades, but one from each deal would be sent away in trade, eventually leading to members of the current team.

One of the players coming back in the Lindros deal was Mike Ricci. Ricci, as was mentioned earlier, was sent away for Alex Tanguay. Tanguay would be dealt to Calgary for a bunch of assets, one of which was Jordan Leopold. Leopold would eventually be dealt back to Calgary for a journeyman defenseman named Lawrence Nycholat, now playing in Germany, a second round pick and a prospect. The pick and prospect turned out to be Stefan Elliott and Ryan Wilson – both members of the Avalanche blue line this season.

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The other player on the Avs roster is a long-term product of both the Lindros and Nolan deals. Paul Stastny was the 44th overall pick in 2005, a pick that should have belonged to Phoenix. The Avalanche acquired it in a trade that sent (among others) Keith Ballard the other way. Ballard had been acquired from Buffalo for Steve Reinprecht. Reinprecht originally joined Colorado from L.A. (along with Rob Blake); the price for those two players included winger Adam Deadmarsh and prospect Jared Aulin. Deadmarsh was a product of the original Lindros trade (via Ron Hextall) while Aulin came from the original Nolan trade (via Sandis Ozolinsh).

The long-term impact of those picks was enormous (though of course here we’re omitting throw-ins along the way). Two decades later the Avs are still benefitting. They also won two Stanley Cups. The latter didn’t happen right away – Lindros, the last of those three picks, was drafted in 1991; the Avalanche wouldn’t hoist the Cup (or win a playoff round, for that matter) until 1996. For the sake of comparison, if the Oilers were to follow the same timeline, with this as their last first overall pick, that would mean a Cup victory in 2017.

  • yakupov is a beast. skates like bure, and has a one timer like stamkos. Imagine that to add to our top 6! sign harding and court suter explaining how he could be top dog and live the new glory days in edmonton!

  • …….and what a tangled web the Nords weaved from parlaying their 3 FIRST overall picks into Holy Grail in Denver.

    Poor Scott Howson thought he hit rock bottom and finished 30th with the chance to instill some energy in the BJacket market with the First Overall Pick for 2012. And at the end there he sat like his heart got torn out of his chest…is the silver lining though that they dont have to make a decision to take a Russian.

    Should be an interesting summer…and does ST and the braintrust take a run for 30th place next year to get Nathan MacKinnon.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Yesterday went as planned. Now how can we wipe out next season (work stoppage) and be in the same spot in 2013.

    To heck with equalling that record, lets break it.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I wonder what would have happened if they kept all their picks? Seems to be more of the trend in the last decade or so.

    As we live in a different era than 21 years ago, I would suspect we try to keep our picks long term. That being said, this #1 overall pick seems to be more in play by the Oilers than the last 2. It is an embarassment of riches having this many #1 overall picks, and we could become the next super high scoring team.

    That being said – offense wins titles, defense wins championships. So I would suggest the Oilers at least TRY to get a couple extra assets along with a top 10 pick out of one of Columbus, Montreal, NYI, Leafs, Ducks, Wild, Hurricane, Jets or Lightning…the farther back the first round pick, the better the asset we would need to get…(example: for the Leafs to move up we might need Jake Gardiner, but for the Jets we’d need Bogosian and a 2nd round pick)…I’m just throwing out these names for theory.

    …but if the prospect isn’t good enough, then we take Yakupov and we never get shut out again. Once we get Yakuopov, which I think is the most likely scenario, we could then trade Hemsky with a prospect (as we have a few too many) for a dman we need.

    Then all we need is a coach.

  • Ya know just talking out my ass but I wonder if he could have chipped the puck back around to the Dmen and quickly cut the other way and let that Dickass slam himself into the boards. I have a feeling that what Ebs and Nuge would have done, just sayin. I know easier said than done eh?

  • Clyde Frog

    I just don’t believe you can make trades like back in the Nordiques/Avs day…

    With the Cap “Have” teams cannot stack salary anything like they used to, nor can you pay in “futures” for proven paid talent as teams have the salary floor to manage as well.

    But maybe Tambellini will prove me wrong, or he’ll just take Yakupov and lock in some serious scoring depth for this team.

  • Gitagrip

    One can chase elite skill or be thankful it suddenly drops in your lap. This is a no brainer. Our power play next season will be the nuclear deterrent. All Hail Nail!

  • D


    The one trade that I thought was a mistake was Sundin for Clark. Do you think that with Sakic, Forsberg and Sundin, the Avs would have won more Stanley Cups, fewer, or the same number?

  • Just heard an interesting trade suggestion.

    Oilers first overall and Ganger to the Ducks for the 6th overall and Ryan. That addresses 2 needs for the Oil. A top 6 fwd with size and we can still draft a d man. Lets see Tambo pull that one off…

    All in all I’d still love to have Nail though.

    • Gitagrip

      I think the trade would make sense for both teams however not with gagner. basically your trading yakupov for Ryan. I think yakupov could have a little more value than Ryan.

      If it was including the rights to Omark and Peckham + someone like Belanger Eager then it would make sense. ANA could use some small highly skilled guys on their top six and also need guy in the bottom six to replace cogs. They have a good track record with guys like Belanger.

      Edmonton would add size to their top six and still pick either a good defenseman or possible a good center depending on how the drafting falls. Maybe Grigor drops to 6th due to the Russian factor and such. And they could still use gagner to get another Dman.

  • Also. If the Oilers choose to keep the pick and take the obvious choice, does anyone think that Paajarvi will still be an Oiler in October?

    To me, Magnus would be the Oilers most tradable asset. 1 bad season isnt enough to knock his trade value to nothing. He still has size, speed, and pedigree

    • Gitagrip

      An improving Paajarvi draws in with Hemsky , and Gagner goes. Oilers may take a stab at another big forward like Iginla or Nash to round out top 6 . Smyth plays for a lot less or he will also be gone . Belanger stays because his contract is not exhorbitant . Horcoff stays despite his exhorbitant contract, like Hemsky . I believe we may even see two rookie defencemen on team for next season . Ie: Klefbom and Marincin or Musil .

    • Gitagrip

      IMO no. All the TV pundits were unanimous in their assessment that playoff success hinges on goaltending. We’re not there yet. Maybe soon, but still no cigar.

  • Old Soldier

    I have followed this site and most of the posters on it with a fair amount of admiration and respect, impressed with the knowledge most of the people on here have shown as fans. But I seriously have to question that on the issue of trading the #1 pick.

    Lindros aside (everyone knows that was an one time event), are we really ready to follow the Isles and Panthers and the history of trading top/#1 picks. We have needs, that is why we are 29th, but like them or hate them, management has done its best to fill the system with plugs for those, especially on D and in goal. Most rate our system as one of, if not the best as far as depth, but other than the top 3 we have now, there is little offensive depth in our system.

    To me there is a simple logic to things, which scenario is the least likely to fail. Drafting a player who is recognized as the hands down best player in the draft, or taking the risk of trading a great player, for a couple good players. We in Edmonton, above all other teams, historically should know that you can never have enough offensive weapons.

    I do hope we draft Yakupov, look into seeing if Hall is a possibility at center(take some of the risk out of his game) to play with Yakupov, keep Ebs and RNH together, and then find two mean ass wingers to play with those two lines. I dont see how that can fail.

    If that were to work out, we now have Gagner, Hemsky, Omark, MPS, Belanger, Eager, Peckham, and others to package into deals to fill those holes.

  • ubermiguel

    Great review Willis.

    Damn the Avs were a good team back then. They got a little lucky that Roy was even available, he’s the greatest playoff goalie ever.