2021 NHL Entry Draft: A Look at the History of the 13th Overall Pick


The Philadelphia Flyers will pick 13th overall for the first time in their history in the upcoming 2021 NHL Entry Draft. With this year’s draft taking place in late July, there’s no better time to dig deep into the history of the 13th overall selection. 

13th selection by team 

The Buffalo Sabres hold the first overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. However, they’ve drawn the 13th pick more times than any other team. 

Buffalo has drafted in the lucky number 13 slot six times, selecting Larry Playfair (1978), Joel Savage (1988), Philippe Boucher (1991), Drew Stafford (2004), Marek Zagrapan (2005), and Zack Kassian (2009)

The Sabres are one of just three teams in NHL history to pick at No. 13 two seasons in a row (2004-05), joining the Chicago Blackhawks (1972-73) and the Edmonton Oilers (1998-99). 

Heading into this year’s draft, only eight NHL teams are yet to hold pick No. 13. When Flyers General Manager Chuck Fletcher makes this year’s selection, Philadelphia will be the final expansion-era NHL team to make a pick at 13. 

The Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, and Tampa Bay Lightning are the only other teams to never pick at 13. 

13th overall pick by country

Since 1963, 57 players have been chosen with No. 13 picks, representing 7 different countries. 

Unsurprisingly, Canadian-born players lead the pack with 38 players being selected from the Great White North. 

The United States (8), Czech Republic (6), and Sweden (2) follow, with Finland, Russia, and Denmark all having 1 player drafted at No. 13. 

13th overall pick by position  

Defensemen are picked most often in the 13th position. Overall, 20 defensemen have been drafted there, six more than the second-most chosen position, center. 

Goaltenders have been drafted the least amount of times at 13. Gord Laxton (Pittsburgh) in 1975 was the first goalie ever selected with the 13th pick, Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Hartford) was next in 1995, and the most recent netminder picked was Florida’s Spencer Knight in 2019

Stanley Cup winners picked 13th overall

Out of the 57 players drafted with the 13th pick in NHL history, 8 players have hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup. 

The first, Garnet “Ace” Bailey, won the Cup with the Boston Bruins in 1972. Bailey played 568 NHL games for the Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, and Washington Capitals. 

Bailey worked as a scout for the Los Angeles Kings after his playing career. During a scouting trip in 2001, Bailey was on the ill-fated United Airlines Flight 175, one of the planes that were flown into the World Trade Center in New York City on 9/11.

Current Los Angeles Kings forward, Dustin Brown, has won the most Stanley Cups among 13th overall picks. Brown has won it twice with the Kings in 2012 and 2014. 

Other 13th overall selections to win the Cup include, Philippe Boucher (1991), Jean-Sebastsien Giguere (1995), Dan Cleary (1997), Ron Hainsey (2000), Lars Eller (2007), and Jakub Vrana (2014)

A Dubious Honor: 13th overall picks who never played an NHL game

Not counting active players – 7 players selected at No. 13 never suited up for an NHL game. 

Four players, Roy Pugh (Montreal), Ralph Buchanan (Detroit), Larry Mick (Minnesota), and Doug Smith (Oakland), were all drafted in the 1960s. 

Since 1968, only 3 No. 13 picks have failed to play an NHL game. They include Michael Stewart (New York Rangers, 1990), now-former New York Rangers’ head coach David Quinn (Minnesota, 1984), and Michael Henrich (Edmonton, 1998). Henrich has the distinction as the first Jewish player in NHL history to be drafted in the first round. 

Draft Anomalies at 13  

The 1965 NHL Draft featured only 11 draft picks; there was no 13th selection. Player eligibility rules changed for the first time as the minimum age for draft-eligible players increased from 16 to 18, cutting the talent pool significantly.

J.P. Bordeleau became the first 13th overall pick selected in the first round in 1969, drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks. The 1969 draft was the first to have more than 12 selections in the opening round. 

13th overall selections in back-to-back years, Dan Quinn (Calgary, 1983) and David Quinn (Minnesota, 1984), shared the same last name. Not only are the two not related but they were both born in different countries. Dan was born in Canada and played 805 career NHL games. Meanwhile, David was born in the United States and played a grand total of zero NHL games. 

Lindsay Vallis, drafted in 1989 by Montreal, is the only 13th overall selection to play just one game in the NHL. 

Giguere played 597 games between the pipes in the NHL. Drafted 13th overall in 1995 by Hartford, he was the last active NHL player to have played for the Whalers. 

Hainsey, drafted 13th overall by the Canadiens, manned the blue-line for over 1,000 NHL games. Though, he played 907 NHL games before being a member of a playoff team, the longest such streak in NHL history. 

13th overall picks who played for the Flyers

While the Flyers have never selected a player at No. 13, several players drafted at that spot have played for the Orange and Black. 

The first was Doug Sulliman, originally drafted by the New York Rangers in 1979. Sulliman played 631 games in the NHL, but just 80 of those came with the Flyers. 

Meanwhile, the only other 13th overall pick to play for Philadelphia was the aforementioned Dan Quinn. Quinn played 805 NHL games and 102 total games for the Flyers in two separate stints in Philly.

Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre