The 1 and only … Ranger to be selected No. 1 overall in the NHL Draft: Andre Veilleux
The Time: 1965
The Background: According to Liam Maguire of the Society for International Hockey Research, NHL players were secured by teams to one of three contracts, an A, B or C contract — or Form as they were usually called — for several decades. The most common were C contracts, which linked a player to that respective NHL team for as long as said team desired. Contracts at the time could be signed at any age — most notably, Bobby Orr signed with the Bruins at age 14 in 1962. And with a surplus of young players still eligible, the NHL decided to move to a draft of teenagers who had yet to sign a Form contract. All Original Six teams in 1963 agreed they would select the first-overall pick on a rotating basis.
The Skinny: In 1965, it was the Rangers’ turn and they selected Veilleux. It was the third year of the teenage-version of the draft, but the minimum age was moved from 16 to 18. Therefore, the Rangers had slim pickings. The 1965 draft produced 11 picks, the lowest number of draftees ever, and only two made it to the NHL. Veilleux was not one of them.
The Others Who Came Closest: In 1966, the Rangers used the No. 2 pick to take defenseman Brad Park, who played in nine All-Star games and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. Last year, the Rangers selected Kaapo Kakko with the second-overall pick.
The Quote: “Veilleux played in what was then regarded as the strongest Jr. B program in the province of Quebec, as you would assume given the sheer population. He also had two teammates who would go on to significant renown, André “Moose” Dupont, who won two Stanley Cups with the Philadelphia Flyers and René Robert.” — Liam Maguire
The Aftermath: At the time, there wasn’t much acclaim for being selected first overall and there weren’t any signing bonuses or guarantees. Veilleux made attempts to play for a Junior A team in Kitchener, Ontario and the Trois-Rivières Reds in the Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey, but he was unable to stick with either team.
The Legacy: Veilleux later turned up playing senior hockey in Verdun, a suburb in Montreal. It’s unknown how long he remained in that league, per Maguire.
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