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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

Star Rookies and the 1989 draft

Editors note: As part of Series 1 for 1991-92 Upper Deck, 23 'Star Rookie' cards were released. The eponymous Young Guns set was released in Series 2.

The 1989 NHL entry draft saw 252 total selections made over 12 rounds. The first overall pick went to the Quebec Nordiques, who selected Mats Sundin from Sweden, making him the first European player to be selected first overall. Sundin went on to justify his first overall selection through a Hall of Fame career, spent entirely in Canada with the Nordiques, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks. He scored 564 goals and 1349 points in 1346 career games, although he never did win a Stanley Cup or advance to a Finals.

The last overall pick aka Mr. Irrelevant was Kenneth Kennholt, a Swedish defenceman selected by Calgary. He never did play in the NHL, but carved a decade-long career in his home country, winning four Elitserien titles and back-to-back World Championships in 1991 and 1992.

The draft was held approximately 2.5 years before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which meant many teams were still leery about selecting Soviet players as there was still a need for players to ‘defect’ to come play in the NHL. Many players did defect, while some came over more legally after the fall of communism. The list below gives you an idea of some of the benefit that those teams that took the risk reaped:

Sergei Fedorov - 74th (Detroit)

  • Vladimir Malahkov - 191st (NY Islanders)

  • Pavel Bure - 113th (Vancouver)

  • Arturs Irbe - 196th (Minnesota)

  • Vladimir Konstantiov - 221st (Detroit)

  • Anatoli Semenov - 120th (Edmonton)

Speaking of Vladimir Konstantinov, he easily takes the award for best value pick. Becoming one of the most feared defenders in the NHL in the mid 1990s, he won two Stanley Cups and a plus 185 in 446 career games. In the season before his career was cut short by a tragic accident, Konstantinov was a Norris Trophy runner up and second team all-star.

In contrast to Konstantinov is Jason Soules, a defenceman selected 15th overall by Edmonton. He played one season of pro hockey in 1991-92 before calling it quits. Drafted as a prototypical big, tough defenceman, he struck a portrait of a young man who didn’t know what he wanted to do for a career. He was selected before future stars Adam Foote, Patrice Brisebois and Nicklas LIdstrom.

Overall the 1989 draft was very unspectacular, but Detroit’s scouting staff did a fantastic job, selecting four players who played over 1,000 NHL games: Mike Sillinger (11th overall, 1049 games), Nicklas LIdstrom (53rd overall, 1564 games), Sergei Fedorov (74th overall, 1248 games) and Dallas Drake (116th overall, 1009 games). They likely would have had a 5th if not for Vlad Konstantinov’s accident. Only 7 other players drafted in 1989 played over 1000 NHL games in their career.

Card 441 - Steven Rice

A right winger, Rice was drafted 20th overall by the New York Rangers in 1989. He spent the two seasons following the draft with the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL, captaining the team in 1990-91. Rice also made his NHL debut that season, scoring two points in 11 regular season games. During the 1991 playoffs he played Games 5 & 6 of the Patrick Division Semi-Finals, scoring two goals.

October 1991 saw Rice moved to the Edmonton Oilers in the package that landed the Rangers Mark Messier. In his first two seasons in Edmonton Rice played in 31 games, playing primarily with Cape Breton in the AHL. During the 1992-93 season Cape Breton won the Calder Cup and Rice was named a second team league all-star. 1993-94 would be Rice’s first full NHL season, scoring 17 goals and 32 points. He parlayed a breakout season into a free agent contract with Hartford, where his production and playing time increased over three seasons, capped in 1996-97 with 78 games played, scoring 21 goals and 35 points, all career-highs.

Rice’s final NHL seasons came with Carolina in 1997-98, scoring 6 points in 47 games. In eight NHL seasons he played in 329 games, scoring 64 goals and 125 points. Rice continued to play hockey from 2002 to 2008, playing for Cambridge and Brantford in men’s senior hockey in Ontario, winning an Allan Cup in 2008. Since 2014 Rice has owned a masonry company in Carolina, and has also dabbled in coaching AAA hockey (2019-2021) and spent a year scouting for Mississauga in the OHL (2021-22).

YouTube clip: tagging Randy Cunneyworth in a fight.

Card 442 - Patrice Brisebois

A defenceman, Brisebois was drafted 30th overall by his hometown Montreal Canadiens in 1989. In his draft year he was named the best prospect in the QMJHL; following the draft he returned to Laval, where he scored 18 goals and 88 points in 56 games. Additional accolades were bestowed on Brisebois that season, where he won QMJHL and CHL defenceman of the year, was named a first team league and Memorial Cup all-star.

By the 1992-93 season Brisebois was a regular with the Habs, played in 70 games, scoring 10 goals and 31 points. The Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 1993, with Brisebois contributing four assists in 20 games.

Over the next 11 seasons in Montreal Brisebois developed into an offensive-minded defenceman, scoring 30+ points six times and 10+ goals three times. In 2000-01 he recorded a then career-high 10 goals and 36 points. In August 2005 he signed with Colorado as a free agent, where in his first season he matched his career-high 10 goals and reached a new height for points with 38.

Injury plagued throughout his career (his name literally translates to ‘broken wood’ in English), Brisebois played only 33 games for Colorado in 2006-07, returning to Montreal for the 2007-08 season. In his final two seasons as a pro he played in 43 and 62 games respectively, retiring after the 2008-09 season.

In 18 NHL seasons, Brisebois played in 1009 games, scoring 98 goals and 420 points. More notably he played in 98 playoff games, contributing nine goals and 32 points.

From 2012 to 2014 he worked as a development coach for Montreal. Since that time he has raced cars in the NASCAR Canadian Tire series and worked as a hockey analyst for TVA.

YouTube clip: scoring the overtime winner against Devils in Game 4 of 1997 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals.

Card 443 - Jimmy Waite

A goaltender, Waite was drafted eighth overall by Chicago in 1987. Following the draft he played one additional season with Chicoutimi in the QMJHL, a notably represented Canada at the 1988 World Juniors. During that tournament Waite was named best goalie and a tournament all-star as Canada won gold, turning in one of the best goaltending performances in tournament history for Canada.

Waite turned pro in the 1988-89 season, playing in 11 games with the Blackhawks, posting a 0-7-1 record. In his first full pro season with Indianapolis in the IHL Waite won 34 games lead the IHL in goals against average and was named a first team all-star, winning 26 games the following (1990-91). Stuck behind veterans Darren Pang, Jacques Cloutier and Greg Millen his first few seasons in Chicago, things didn’t get better with the emergence of Ed Belfour and a long-shot prospect from Czechoslovakia named Dominik Hasek.

In 1991-92 Waite played in 17 games with Chicago, moving up to 20 games the following season, posting a 6-7-1 record with two shutouts. In the summer of 1993, with Ed Belfour as the established starter, Waite was traded to San Jose for a player to be named later (Neil Wilkinson). His first season in San Jose Waite posted a 3-7-0 record in 15 games.

February 1995 saw Waite traded back to Chicago for a draft pick. Over the next three seasons he played in five games for the Hawks, playing primarily with Indianapolis. Claimed off waivers by Phoenix in 1997, Waite played in 33 games for the Coyotes over two seasons, posting a 11-11-5 record and two shutouts. He also played in his first three playoff games in 1998, losing all three to Detroit in the Western Conference Quarter-Finals.

Waite signed with Toronto in August 1999, playing two seasons for St. John’s in the AHL. In 2001 he left for Germany, where he played the next decade, twice playing in the German league all-star game. In 11 NHL seasons Waite posted a 28-41-12 record, 3.35 goals against and .871 save percentage. From 2011 to 2014 he was the goalie coach for his former junior team Chicoutimi before being hired by Chicago to be their goalie coach, a role he still holds today.

YouTube clip: chopping Brendan Shanahan for invading the crease during his time with San Jose.

Card 444 - Doug Weight

A centre, Weight was drafted 34th overall by the New York Rangers in 1990 after his freshman year at Lake Superior State. He played one additional season with the Lakers, and made his NHL debut in the 1991 playoffs, appearing in one game. In his rookie NHL season, Weight played in 53 games, scoring eight goals and 30 points. The following season he racked up 40 points in 65 games with the Rangers before being traded to Edmonton for Esa Tikkanen.

In Weight’s first two seasons with the Oilers he scored at just under a point-per-game pace before his breakout in the 1995-96. That season he finished 11th in the league in scoring, with 25 goals and 104 points. Weight continued at a point-per-game pace for the next two seasons, and was promoted from assistant captain to captain at the start of the 1998-99 season. After playing only 43 games in the 1998-99 season, Weight returned to score 21 goals and 72 points in 1999-2000, followed by scoring 25 goals and 90 points in 2000-01; that season he finished third in all-star voting and sixth in Hart Trophy voting. It was also his final season in Edmonton, after being a part of underdog teams that had first round playoff upsets in 1997 (Dallas) and 1998 (Colorado).

In July 2001 Weight was traded to St. Louis with Michel Riesen for Jochen Hecht, Marty Reasoner and Jan Horacek. In four seasons with the Blues, Weight eclipse the 60 point mark three times. in January 2006 he was traded to Carolina for three players and three draft picks. He proved to be an integral additional the Hurricanes, scoring 16 points in 23 playoff games as Carolina captured their first Stanley Cup, defeating Weight’s former team, Edmonton, in the Finals.

Weight signed back with St. Louis the following seasons, playing another one and a half seasons with the Blues before a trade in late 2007 to Anaheim for Andy McDonald. Weight played 38 regular season and five playoff games for the Ducks before signing as a free agent with the New York Islanders. Weight played 107 games over three seasons on Long Island, including the final two seasons as captain, before retiring at the end of the 2010-11 season.

In 19 NHL seasons Weight played in 1238 games, scoring 278 goals, 755 assists (44th all-time) and 1033 points. He played in four all-star games (1996, 1998, 2001 and 2003) and won the King Clancy Trophy in 2011. Upon retirement Weight became the assistant GM and assistant coach with the Isles before being promoted to head coach in 2016-17, taking over for Jack Capuano. His final season with the Islanders organization came in 2018-19 as a senior advisor. Weight was named to the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.

YouTube clip: scoring a ridiculous goal against Calgary during a 1997 game. This clip was memorialized in the introduction for the NHL 99 video game.

Card 445 - Nelson Emerson

A right winger, Emerson was drafted 44th overall by St. Louis in 1985 out of junior B hockey in Ontario. He played four years of college hockey with Bowling Green, scoring 82 points in his senior season and earning three Hobey Baker finalist nominations in his collegiate career.

Emerson turned pro in 1990-91, scoring 36 goals and 115 points with Peoria in the IHL, winning rookie of the year and earning a first team all-star berth. He also played in four games with the Blues, scoring three assists. Emerson made the Blues full-time the following season, scoring 23 goals and 59 points, then in his third season scored 73 points, with a career-high 51 assists.

September 1993 saw Emerson traded to Winnipeg with Stephane Quintal for Phil Housley. His first season as a Jet was memorable, scoring a career-high 33 goals (5 short-handed, second in the league) and 74 points. He also recorded the league’s worst plus/minus rating (-38) for a player not on the Ottawa Senators. After a second season in Winnipeg, Emerson was traded to Hartford for Darren Turcotte. With the Whalers/Hurricanes franchise he scored 20+ goals in two of his first three seasons.

Into his second season in Carolina, Emerson was traded to Chicago for Paul Coffey. He played 27 games with the Hawks, scoring 14 points before a trade deadline move to Ottawa for Chris Murray. Emerson played three regular and four playoff games for the Sens, leading the team in playoff scoring (4 points) as division winning Senators were swept by rival Buffalo in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals.

Emerson signed as free agent with Atlanta for the 1999-2000 season, scoring 33 points in 58 games before a trade to Los Angeles with Kelly Buchberger for Donald Audette and Frantisek Kaberle. He played his final two pro seasons with the Kings, retiring after the 2001-02 season.

In 12 NHL seasons, Emerson played in 771 games, scoring 195 goals and 488 points. In 2006 he rejoined the Kings as an assistant coach, before becoming director of player development in 2008 then director of player personnel in 2018. Emerson was named assistant general manager in 2022, a position he still holds.

YouTube clip: his infamous overtime winner versus Chicago in 1993 where he clearly catches the puck and throws it in the net.. Fast forward to the four minute mark and watch the Hawks lose it, which I feel is entirely appropriate.

Card 446 - Jarrod Skalde

A centre, Skalde was drafted 26th overall by New Jersey in 1989. Following the draft he played two seasons in the OHL, scoring 104 points in 55 games during the 1990-91 season, where he also made his NHL debut, playing in one game with the Devils.

Turning pro, Skalde played the next two seasons with Utica in the AHL, appearing in 26 games with the Devils during that time, scoring two goals and eight points. In 1993 he was selected by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the expansion draft, and in the franchise’s first season Skalde would score a career-high five goals and nine points. He played the entire 1994-95 season with Las Vegas in the IHL, scoring at a point-per-game pace.

Beginning in October 1995, Skalde would bounce between several NHL franchise, beginning with a trade to Calgary for Bobby Marshall. After one game in the NHL during his time in Calgary, Skalde signed with San Jose in August 1997. Between January and March 1998 he would be claimed off waivers five separate times, going from Chicago to San Jose to Dallas to Chicago and finally landing in San Jose. During this time he played in 30 NHL games for the three franchises, scoring four goals and 11 points.

17 games with the Sharks in 1998-99 would be Skalde’s final NHL action until he signed with Atlanta for the 2000-01 season. He played 19 games for the Thrashers before being traded to Philadelphia for Joe DiPenta. Skalde played his final NHL game in 2001-02 with the Flyers, but played pro hockey for another six seasons in the AHL & IHL, as well as in Switzerland, Sweden, Japan and Slovenia.

Over nine NHL seasons, SKalde played in 115 games, scoring 13 goals and 34 points. He played for eight separate franchises, playing only a single game for three of them (Calgary, Dallas and Philadelphia). In retirement he has continued his vagabond ways, working in coaching or management roles in Bloomington (IHL), Cincinnati (ECHL), Norfolk (AHL), Guelph (OHL), Pittsburgh (NHL), Wilkes-Barre (AHL), Wales and Slovakia, where he is currently head coach of a second-tier pro team.

Skalde was most recently in the news regarding a lawsuit he had filed alleging the Penguins had retained a coaching staff member (former Wilkes-Barre Penguins head coach John Donatelli) who sexually assaulted his wife, and then retaliated against Skalde when the assault was reported.

YouTube clip: getting thumped in a fight by Trevor Linden (playing on the Habs) during Skalde’s time with Atlanta.

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