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The 1979 NHL Expansion Draft was held on June 13, 1979. The draft took place to fill the rosters of the league's new teams for the 1979–80 season: the Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets. These four teams had joined the NHL after a merger agreement was reached with the World Hockey Association.

1979 NHL Expansion Draft
General information
Date(s)June 13, 1979
Expansion teamsEdmonton Oilers
Hartford Whalers
Quebec Nordiques
Winnipeg Jets
← 1978
1991 →

As many WHA players also had their rights held by NHL teams, those NHL teams were allowed to reclaim their players. In order to keep the NHL teams from plundering all the talent from the WHA-turned-NHL teams, each incoming franchise was allowed to protect up to two goaltenders and two skaters. These were designated as "priority selections" in the Expansion Draft.



Reclaiming of players: The 17 existing NHL teams were allowed to reclaim any rights to former WHA players they held. The four incoming franchises, however, were allowed to protect up to two goaltenders and two skaters, voiding their NHL rights. These players were considered "priority selections" in the expansion draft. Numerous deals were cut by the incoming teams to retain some of their players. For instance, Quebec retained star forward Real Cloutier by trading a first-round draft choice to the Chicago Black Hawks, which held Cloutier's rights; that pick was used to select perennial superstar Denis Savard.

Wayne Gretzky was a special case - although no team held his NHL rights, under existing rules he would have been removed from the Oilers and placed into the NHL Entry Draft. However, Gretzky had been signed by Oilers owner Peter Pocklington to a personal services contract instead of a standard player contract. Confronted with the probability of being drafted first overall by the last place Colorado Rockies, Gretzky refused to void his contract with Pocklington. After deliberation, the Oilers were allowed to keep Gretzky as one of their priority selections, and agreed to choose last in each round of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft as further compensation.

Gordie Howe was a second special case - as a gentlemen's agreement between the Hartford Whalers and the Detroit Red Wings, which held his NHL rights, the Red Wings declined to reclaim the 51-year-old Howe.

Bobby Hull was a third special case - although he was formally reclaimed by the Chicago Black Hawks, the Black Hawks quickly released the 40-year-old Hull, allowing him to return to the Winnipeg Jets.

Expansion draft: Each of the 17 existing NHL teams were allowed to protect 15 skaters and two veteran goalies.

Compensation: The 17 existing NHL teams received $125,000 for each player drafted, these payments being funded by the $6 million in franchise fees each of the former WHA teams paid to join the NHL.

Reclaimed playersEdit

These are players whose NHL rights were reclaimed when the WHA merged with the NHL.[1]

NO. Player Reclaimed from Reclaimed by
1. Kent Nilsson (LW) Winnipeg Jets Atlanta Flames
2. Bobby Hull (LW) Chicago Black Hawks
3. Terry Ruskowski (RW)
4. Doug Berry (C) Edmonton Oilers Colorado Rockies
5. Wes George (LW) Detroit Red Wings
6. Glenn Hicks (LW) Winnipeg Jets
7. Barry Long (D)
8. George Lyle (LW) Hartford Whalers
9. Steve Carlson (RW) Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings
10. Cal Sandbeck (D) Minnesota North Stars
11. Dave Semenko (LW)
12. Paul Shmyr (D)
13. Greg Tebbutt (D) Quebec Nordiques
14. Alain Cote (LW) Montreal Canadiens
15. Dan Geoffrion (RW)
16. Alan Hangsleben (D) Hartford Whalers
17. Peter Marsh (RW) Winnipeg Jets
18. Kelly Davis (D) Edmonton Oilers New York Islanders
19. Dave Langevin (D)
20. Warren Miller (RW) Hartford Whalers New York Rangers
21. Jim Mayer (C) Edmonton Oilers
22. Dennis Sobchuk (LW) Philadelphia Flyers
23. Kim Clackson (D) Winnipeg Jets Pittsburgh Penguins
24. Mike Liut (G) Cincinnati Stingers St. Louis Blues
25. Christian Bordeleau (C) Quebec Nordiques
26. Risto Siltanen (D) Edmonton Oilers
27. Rick Ley (D) Hartford Whalers Toronto Maple Leafs
28. Stan Weir (D) Edmonton Oilers
29. John Hughes (D) Vancouver Canucks
30. Paul MacKinnon (D) Winnipeg Jets Washington Capitals
  • Twelve additional players were reclaimed, but were chosen as 'Priority Selections' by the four merging franchises

Expansion draft resultsEdit

Priority selectionsEdit

These players were "priority selections" in the 1979 NHL Expansion Draft.

No. Player Rights Denied Rights Kept
1. Dave Dryden (G) Buffalo Sabres Edmonton Oilers
2. Wayne Gretzky (C) --
3. Bengt-Ake Gustafsson1 (RW) Washington Capitals
4. Eddie Mio (G) Minnesota North Stars
5. Jordy Douglas (F) Toronto Maple Leafs Hartford Whalers
6. John Garrett (G) St. Louis Blues
7. Mark Howe (D) Boston Bruins
8. Paul Baxter (D) Pittsburgh Penguins Quebec Nordiques
9. Richard Brodeur (G) New York Islanders
10. Garry Lariviere (D) Buffalo Sabres
11. Scott Campbell (D) St. Louis Blues Winnipeg Jets
12. Morris Lukowich (LW) Pittsburgh Penguins
13. Markus Mattsson (G) New York Islanders

1 The NHL denied the Oilers' claim of Bengt Gustafsson. League president John Ziegler ruled that the Oilers violated WHA rules when they attempted to add Gustafsson to their team during the 1979 playoffs, so they voided any claim on him.[2]

These are players selected in the 1979 NHL Expansion Draft.

Edmonton Oilers selections[1]Edit

# Player Drafted from
1. Cam Connor (RW) Montreal Canadiens
2. Lee Fogolin (D) Buffalo Sabres
3. Pat Price (D) New York Islanders
4. Colin Campbell (D) Pittsburgh Penguins
5. Larry Brown (D) Los Angeles Kings
6. Pete LoPresti (G) Minnesota North Stars
7. Ron Areshenkoff (C) Buffalo Sabres
8. Inge Hammarstrom (D) St. Louis Blues
9. John Gould (RW) Atlanta Flames
10. Doug Hicks (D) Chicago Black Hawks
11. Tom Edur (D) Pittsburgh Penguins
12. Wayne Bianchin (LW)
13. Mike Forbes (D) Boston Bruins
14. Doug Favell (G) Colorado Rockies
15. Doug Patey (RW) Washington Capitals
16. Bob Kelly (LW) Chicago Black Hawks
  • Both Reg Thomas and Dave Hunter are described as being taken in this draft,[3] however in Greig's detailed lists they are both part of the "Pre–draft Roster."

Hartford Whalers selections[1]Edit

# Player Drafted from
1. Alan Hangsleben (D) Montreal Canadiens
2. Nick Fotiu (LW) New York Rangers
3. Rick Ley (D) Toronto Maple Leafs
4. Al Sims (D) Boston Bruins
5. Jean Savard (C) Chicago Black Hawks
6. Ralph Klassen (F) Colorado Rockies
7. Rick Hodgson (D) Atlanta Flames
8. Kevin Kemp (D) Toronto Maple Leafs
9. Bill Bennett (LW) Boston Bruins
10. Bernie Johnston (C/LW) Philadelphia Flyers
11. Brian Hill (RW) Atlanta Flames
12. Dave Given (F) Buffalo Sabres
13. M. F. Schurman (LW) Philadelphia Flyers
14. Nick Beverley (D) Colorado Rockies
15. Norm Lapointe (G) Vancouver Canucks
16. Don Kozak (LW)

Quebec Nordiques selections[1]Edit

# Player Drafted from
1. Dave Farrish (D) New York Rangers
2. Gerry Hart (D) New York Islanders
3. Ron Low (G) Detroit Red Wings
4. Pierre Plante (RW) New York Rangers
5. Blair Stewart (F) Washington Capitals
6. John Baby (D) Minnesota North Stars
7. John Smrke (LW) St. Louis Blues
8. Dave Parro (G) Boston Bruins
9. Ken Kuzyk (RW) Minnesota North Stars
10. Roland Cloutier (C) Detroit Red Wings
11. Terry Martin (F) Buffalo Sabres
12. Jamie Masters (D) St. Louis Blues
13. Hartland Monahan (F) Los Angeles Kings
14. Ron Andruff (C) Colorado Rockies
15. Alain Cote (LW) Montreal Canadiens
16. Lars Zetterstrom (D) Vancouver Canucks

Winnipeg Jets selections[1]Edit

# Player Drafted from
1. Peter Marsh (LW) Montreal Canadiens
2. Lindsay Middlebrook (G) New York Rangers
3. Bobby Hull (LW) Chicago Black Hawks
4. Al Cameron (D) Detroit Red Wings
5. Dave Hoyda (LW) Philadelphia Flyers
6. Jim Roberts (LW) Minnesota North Stars
7. Lorne Stamler (LW) Toronto Maple Leafs
8. Mark Heaslip (RW) Los Angeles Kings
9. Pierre Hamel (G) Toronto Maple Leafs
10. Gord McTavish (F) St. Louis Blues
11. Gord Smith (D) Washington Capitals
12. Clark Hamilton (C) Detroit Red Wings
13. Jim Cunningham (LW) Philadelphia Flyers
14. Dennis Abgrall (RW) Los Angeles Kings
15. Bill Riley (W) Washington Capitals
16. Gene Carr (C) Atlanta Flames
17. Hilliard Graves (RW) Vancouver Canucks

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Greig p.217
  2. ^ Capitals claim on Gustafsson
  3. ^ Duplacey pp. 1130–1, 1529–30.


  • Hartford/New England Whalers All-Time Roster
  • WHA Oilers Page - 1979 Expansion Draft ( 29 November 2003)
  • Washington Capitals History 1979-1980[permanent dead link]
  • St. Louis Blues Team Records
  • Foundation Begins with Goaltending by Al Morganti @
  • Greig, Murray (1997). Big Bucks and Blue Pucks. Macmillan Canada. pp. 216–7. ISBN 978-0771574238.
  • Duplacey, James (1998). Total Hockey: The official encyclopedia of the National Hockey League. Total Sports. pp. 498–528. ISBN 0-8362-7114-9.