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Red Wings' Draft: 1983-92

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
With new ownership in place and newly appointed general manager Jim Devellano, the Red Wings went to work in building an incredible foundation that helped turn a once-proud franchise into a consistent contender every single season.

Obviously, the first pick under the Ilitch ownership has been documented; after all, it is the single biggest reason for the tremendous success that followed for three decades. Besides the first-round pick of Steve Yzerman, who became the face of the franchise that won three Stanley Cups, the Wings drafted 119 prospects in the drafts held between 1983 and ’92 with eight of them eventually becoming 1,000-game players in the NHL. Together, 50 of the decades picks reached the NHL and played in a combined 26,600 games, including 1,000-game guys like Adam Graves, Mike Sillinger, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Dallas Drake, Vyacheslav Kozlov and Mike Knuble.

This weekend the NHL will conduct its 50th amateur draft when the 30 clubs convene in Pittsburgh for the annual selection of young talent from around the world.

Each day this week, will present the top five draft picks for each of the five decades since the Original Six clubs first gathered for the inaugural draft on June 5, 1963 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.

Since that June day in Montreal, the Wings have selected 438 total players, many of whom enjoyed all-star careers and a few more that were fortunate to have won multiple Stanley Cup titles like Lidstrom, Yzerman, Fedorov and Peter Mahovlich.

Today we take a look at the top top Red Wings' picks between 1983 and '92.

This week’s schedule:
Monday– 1963-72
Tuesday – 1973-82
Today – 1983-92
Thursday – 1993-2002
Friday – 2003-11

  • 1,514 Games
    Steve Yzerman
  • 692 Goals, 1,755 Points
  • Named to 10 NHL All-Star games
  • Three-time Stanley Cup champion
  • Won Conn Smythe Trophy in 1998
  • Won the Selke Trophy in 2000
  • Inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009

Hands down, the best draft pick in Red Wings’ history, and certainly the most important when it came to establishing the foundation for the Ilitch-owned era that has reached the Stanley Cup finals six times and won four championships since.

The talent in the 1983 draft was considered to be light, but when North Stars GM Lou Nanne boldly took a U.S. high school player, making Brian Lawton the first prep player ever selected with a No. 1 overall pick, the door was opened for the Wings to take Yzerman fourth. 
Whatever team records Gordie Howe still doesn’t possess from his illustrious NHL career you can be assured that Steve Yzerman holds them. He had six 100-point seasons, five 50-goal campaigns, and led the Wings in points for 11 seasons.

Yzerman became the youngest player – 18 years, 8 months, 22 days – in NHL history selected to play in All-Star Game, when he suited up for the Campbell Conference at New Jersey on Jan. 31, 1984. Two years later, he became youngest captain in Wings’ history when he was given the "C" at age 21.

  • 1,564 Games
    Nicklas Lidstrom
  • 264 Goals, 1,142 Points
  • Four-time Stanley Cup winner
  • Seven-time Norris Trophy recipient
  • 11-time NHL All-Star
  • 2002 Conn Smythe Trophy winner

For someone who wasn’t the first Swedish defenseman ever drafted by the Red Wings, Lidstrom turned out to have a pretty good NHL career. Over the course of his Hall of Fame career, Lidstrom became the first European-born NHL team captain to win the Stanley Cup, as well as the first European player to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He is also the all-time leader in games played with only one NHL team, and he never missed the postseason in any of his 20 seasons with the Wings.

So, if Lidstrom wasn’t the first Swedish defenseman selected by Detroit, who was? That distinction goes to Robert Nordmark, who was 10th round pick in 1981. The Wings allowed his draft rights to lapse after the 1983-84 season. He later played in the NHL – for the Blues and Canucks – but never matched Lidstrom’s accomplishments.

  • 483 Goals, 1,179 Points
    Sergei Fedorov
  • Three-time Stanley Cup champion
  • Six NHL All-Star Games
  • Two-time Selke Trophy recipient
  • 1994 Hart Trophy winner

It wasn’t long after he defected from the USSR that Fedorov gained fame in the NHL for his unique flair and style. Steve Yzerman ever called Fedorov the “best skater I’ve ever seen.” In his fourth season, Fedorov topped the 100-point plateau, joining an elite class of Red Wings – Marcel Dionne, John Ogrodnick and Yzerman – to accomplish the feat.

In 1996, Fedorov won the Selke Trophy after compiling his second 100-point season, and the next year he helped the Wings capture their first Stanley Cup in 55 years when he led the team in playoff scoring with eight goals and 12 assists in 20 games. Such a solid two-way player, coaches occasionally put the Russian speedster on defense where he could use his booming shot from the point on the power play. Some actually thought if a team would have moved him to defense full-time that Fedorov would have won a Norris Trophy, too.

  • 935 Games
    Bob Probert
  • 163 Goals, 384 Points
  • 3,300 Career Penalty Minutes
  • 1988 All-Star Game

Probert turned out to be the most complex player in Red Wings’ history. A solid forward by most standards, it was his pugilistic tendencies that made the Windsor, Ontario, native a fan favorite in Detroit. But it was a number of off-ice problems that concerned the Wings about their young star who made up one half of the Bruise Brothers with teammate Joey Kocur.

The 1987-88 season was far and away the best of Probert’s 16-season career. That year, he was voted on to the Campbell Conference All-Star team while compiling career-bests in goals (29), power-play goals (15), goal-winning goals (5), assists (33), points (62), plus/minus (16), and naturally, penalty minutes (398). Nearly 30 percent of his PIMs were the result of 23 fighting majors, including bouts against Marty McSorley, Ken Baumgartner, and a pair with Dave Semenko.

Probert signed a free agent contract with Chicago and played out the final seven seasons of his career in the Windy City.

  • 744 Games
    Chris Osgood
  • 401-216-95 Career Record
  • 2.49 Career Goals-Against Average
  • Three-time Stanley Cup winner
  • Two-time William Jennings Trophy recipient
  • Two NHL All-Star Games

Osgood was the third goalie selected in the 1991 draft, but only he achieved success in the NHL as a member of three Stanley Cup winners. … Eight different goalies have represented the Red Wings in NHL All-Star games, but Osgood was the first prospect turned all-star netminder in franchise history. He became just the 10th goalie in league history to record 400 wins when he lifted the Wings to a 4-3 overtime victory over Colorado in 2010. A backup for most of his early career, Osgood proved himself over and again by winning the Cup as a starter in 1998 and 2008. Then in 2009, though the Wings came up short in a Game 7 loss to Pittsburgh, Osgood was clearly the Wings’ MVP that spring, posting a 2.01 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.

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