The 2002 NHL Entry Draft, on June 22-23 at Toronto's Air Canada Centre, is the 39th anniversary of an event that has grown from a small gathering of hockey executives to a spectacle followed by hundreds of thousands of hockey fans throughout the world. As the 2002 Draft draws near, newyorkrangers.com invites you to take a look back at New York Rangers draft history over the last 39 years.
THE BEGINNING Rangers draft history began in 1963 with the selection of right winger Al Osborne from Weston, Ontario. Osborne, who was selected fourth overall in the 21-player draft, never suited up for the Blueshirts. Three years later, a young defenseman from Toronto named Brad Park (right) was selected second overall by the Rangers in the 1966 Amateur Draft. Park, a Hall of Famer who scored 95 goals and 283 assists in 465 career matches with the Blueshirts, became the first player selected by the Rangers in the Amateur Draft to don a New York sweater. Syl Apps, Jr., who was chosen two years earlier in the fourth round, did not make his Rangers debut until the 1970-71 season.
The Draft’s inception took place in 1963. In an effort to eliminate the sponsorship of amateur teams and players by its member clubs, the National Hockey League began developing a drafting system that would provide each team with an equal opportunity to acquire amateur players.
"I'm trying to work out a system whereby all amateur players who will attain their 17th birthdays before August of each year will be available for drafting by NHL teams in the reverse order of the standing," said NHL President Clarence Campbell during the 1962-63 season. "We're ultimately hopeful it will produce a uniform opportunity for each team to acquire a star player."
The end result was the establishment of the NHL's Amateur Draft. The first NHL Amateur Draft was held at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal on June 5, 1963. All amateur players, 17 years of age and older who were not already sponsored by an NHL club, were eligible to be drafted.
394 draft picks after the initial selection of Osborne in 1963, the Rangers look to build upon their future at this week’s annual event.