The 1989 NHL Draft was something else. The Quebec Nordiques picked Mats Sundin as the number one pick, but if there was one team that made some great calls, it was the Detroit Red Wings.
The team, with GM Jim Devollano, picked Nicklas Lidstrom in the 3rd round, Sergei Fedorov in the 4th and Vladimir Konstantinov as late as in the 11th round.
The Detroit added pieces that would change everything about the franchise, winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1955 six years later.
However, they could have had an ever better draft in 1989 with getting Pavel Bure.
Edmonton Oilers’ GM Ken Holland was a Red Wings scout at the time. He saw Fedorov and Bure play for the first time at the Junior World Championships in 1986, where they won the gold medal. At that time, he already knew what the two of them would be able to do in the NHL.
On Sportsnet podcast 31 Thoughts, he tells the story of how close they were to getting Bure. Since the Cold War was still active, it surely was a different time when it came to drafting players from the Soviet Union.
“We were gonna take bure on our 5th pick,” Holland said. “We took someone else and Christer Rockstrom, who was our European scout, spent the next 45 minutes convincing Jim Devollano and chief scout Neil Smith to take Bure, because he had to have played I think seven or nine games in the Russian men’s league to be eligible for any round, so if he played any less he was only in the three first rounds”.
The Red Wings ended up picking Shawn McCosh in the 5th round. The draft continued and now, with their 6th pick, it was time to get Bure to Detroit.
“Two picks before we picked, Vancouver took him and proved what Christer Rockstrom was convincing us that we could. So it would’ve been something else to have Fedorov and Bure, but we did take Konstantinov in the 11th round,” Holland said.
Pavel Bure ended up in Vancouver, winning the Calder in his first season in 1991-92. But it’s crazy to think about the fact that the Detroit Red Wings could’ve had both Bure and Fedorov.
“That 1989 draft for the Red Wings getting Konstantinov, Lidstrom, Fedorov all in the same draft adding them to Yzerman really changed the fortune in the history of hockey and Detroit for 20 years. It would’ve been nice to have the two of them together but I feel fortunate with all the players we did get,” Holland said on the 31 Thoughts Podcast.
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