On Saturday, Teemu Selanne will be making his triumphant return to Winnipeg since being traded during the 1995-1996 season. As a tribute to Teemu, Anaheim Calling will be spending the days leading up to his homecoming in the 'Peg taking a look back at what got him to this point in his career. First up is Teemu and the 1988 NHL Entry Draft.
It's easy to look back and ask yourself: how was Teemu Selanne not drafted higher than 10th in the 1988 draft? Perhaps it was because the NHL didn't value Selanne's time in Finnish junior hockey with Jokerit as much the number one draft pick's time in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders. In 33 games played, young Teemu scored 43 goals and had 26 assists. In comparison, the number one pick had 70 games played, 43 goals and 80 assists. Who was the number one pick that year?
...some American kid named Mike Modano.
Between Modano and Selanne, the top 10 of the 1988 draft class laid out as such:
|Minnesota North Stars||Mike Modano|
|Vancouver Canucks||Trevor Linden|
|Quebec Nordiques||Curtis Leschyshyn|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Darrin Shannon|
|Quebec Nordiques||Daniel Dore|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||Scott Pearson|
|Los Angeles Kings||Martin Gelinas|
|Chicago Blackhawks||Jeremy Roenick|
|St. Louis Blues||Rod Brind'Amour|
|Winnipeg Jets||Teemu Selanne|
Following the draft, Teemu didn't join the Jets right away. Instead, he opted to return to Finland to serve his required military service. (Some believe this obligation led to his drop in the draft class.) While serving, Selanne found time to be a kindergarten teacher (awesome) while tearing it up with Jokerit again, bouncing between what I believe is juniors and the Finnish elite league. When not playing with his Jokerit club team, serving in the military, or inspiring the youth of Finland, he was representing Finland in the Canada Cup, World Junior Championships, World Championships, and the Olympics, etc.
|Jokerit Helsinki Jr.-FIN-Jr.||73||64||45|
|Pvuk Lahti JR.-FIN-JR.||3||3||1|
Teemu played a hell of a lot of pro-level hockey before even hitting the NHL ice, which makes his current performance at 41 years old even more remarkable. How the Jets waited until the 1992, four years after he was drafted, to get him in the lineup is beyond me, but was their greatest mistake yet to come?
Coming up tomorrow, Teemu finally arrives in the NHL.