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Best pick at No. 15: Mike Bossy, Islanders

Sunday, 06.16.2013 / 3:02 PM / 2013 Islanders Draft Central
By Adam Kimelman
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Best pick at No. 15: Mike Bossy, Islanders
Best pick at No. 15: Mike Bossy, New York Islanders.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first NHL Draft, NHL.com assembled a 13-member panel to select the best first-round picks of all time, based on selection number. NHL.com will feature one of the top first-round picks each day, beginning with the best No. 30 pick on June 1 and culminating with the all-time No. 1 pick on June 30, the day of the 2013 NHL Draft.

Today: The best No. 15 pick: Mike Bossy, New York Islanders, 1977

When asked about Mike Bossy, NHL Network analyst Craig Button relayed a story told to him by his father, legendary scout Jack Button, regarding a discussion about the 1977 NHL Draft between New York Islanders general manager Bill Torrey and coach Al Arbour.

"Bill Torrey went back to Al Arbour and said, 'Here's our choice,'" Craig Button said. "'We can take this guy, he's a really good two-way player, more of a defensive player, really knows how to check. Or we can get this guy, he might be a prolific scorer at the NHL level, but his defense isn't good.' Al Arbour said to Bill Torrey, 'Let's take the scorer, I can teach him to check. I can't teach the checker how to score.'"

Mike Bossy
Mike Bossy
CAREER STATISTICS
GOALS: 573 | AST: 553 | PTS: 1,126
S: 2,705 | +/-: 381

Arbour made a pretty good choice. Mike Bossy became one of the game's greatest goal-scorers and was voted the best No. 15 first-round pick by NHL.com's Dream Draft panel.

With the Laval Nationale of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Bossy scored at least 70 goals in four straight seasons.

He was inserted into the Islanders' lineup after being drafted, and in 1977-78 showed that his scoring abilities from junior hockey would translate to the NHL. Playing on a line with fellow young players Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies, Bossy set a League rookie record with 53 goals, which also were second-most in the League. He was sixth with 91 points and won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year.

He was even better the following season, leading the League with 69 goals -- including a League-best 27 on the power play -- and posting a plus-63 rating that was third, behind teammates Trottier and Denis Potvin.

In 1979-80, Bossy had 51 goals in the regular season, then had 10 goals in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games as the Islanders won the first of four straight Stanley Cup championships. His 23 playoff points were second to Trottier's 29.

The 1980-81 season saw Bossy accomplish something done once previously in League history: score 50 goals in 50 games. Bossy had 48 going into his 50th game, then scored twice in the final five minutes of his 50th game, against the Quebec Nordiques, to match Maurice Richard's mark from 1945. Bossy finished with a League-best 68 goals that season. In the playoffs, he led the League in goals (17), assists (18) and points (35), and his nine power-play goals set a League record that has been matched once since (Cam Neely, Boston Bruins, 1991).

In 1981-82, Bossy set a League record for right wings with 147 points, a mark that stood until the 1995-96 season (Jaromir Jagr, Pittsburgh Penguins, 149). He followed that with a League-best 17 goals in 19 playoff games and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Islanders won their third straight Stanley Cup. He had 60 goals again in 1982-83, and added the first of three Lady Byng trophies as well as his fourth Stanley Cup.

A chronic back injury finally got to be too much for Bossy to deal with in the 1986-87 season, when he had 38 goals in 63 games -- the first time he failed to score at least 50. He sat out the 1987-88 season hoping his back would get better, but when it didn't, he retired in the summer of 1988 at age 31.

Bossy's scoring numbers are incredible. With 573 goals in 752 games, his average of 0.762 goals per game is the best all-time. His nine consecutive 50-goal seasons are the most in League history, and his total of five 60-goal seasons is tied for the most all-time (Wayne Gretzky). He skated in seven NHL All-Star Games, was a five-time NHL First-Team All-Star, and won a Canada Cup championship. He was inducted to Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.

It took those kind of accolades to earn nine votes from NHL.com's 13-member Dream Draft panel, finishing ahead of two-time Stanley Cup champion and fellow Hall of Fame member Joe Sakic.

"Joe Sakic is a great player, a no-question Hall of Famer," NHL.com columnist John Kreiser said. "But Mike Bossy is arguably the greatest shooter of all time. No player in our lifetime will average 57 goals over a 10-year span. Add his role in a team that won four consecutive Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe Trophy, and you have an immortal -- a player who was better than great."

Voting: Mike Bossy, New York Islanders (1977) 9; Joe Sakic, Quebec (1987) 4

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYI 63 41 20 2 202 174 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
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16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

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2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
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J. Tavares 63 29 35 4 64
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 63 14 26 21 40
B. Nelson 63 17 19 6 36
F. Nielsen 63 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 57 20 12 12 32
J. Bailey 51 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 53 7 22 15 29
N. Leddy 63 8 17 14 25
T. Hamonic 53 4 20 16 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 7 1 .890 2.95

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