The 1979 NHL Expansion Draft was held on June 13, 1979. The draft took place to fill the rosters of the league's new teams for the 1979–80 season: the Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets. These four teams had joined the NHL after a merger agreement was reached with the World Hockey Association.

As many WHA players also had their rights held by NHL teams, those NHL teams were allowed to reclaim their players. In order to keep the NHL teams from plundering all the talent from the WHA-turned-NHL teams, each incoming franchise was allowed to protect up to two goaltenders and two skaters. These were designated as "priority selections" in the Expansion Draft.


Reclaiming of players: The 17 existing NHL teams were allowed to reclaim any rights to former WHA players they held. The four incoming franchises, however, were allowed to protect up to two goaltenders and two skaters, voiding their NHL rights. These players were considered "priority selections" in the expansion draft. Numerous deals were cut by the incoming teams to retain some of their players. For instance, Quebec retained star forward Real Cloutier by trading a first round draft choice to the Chicago Black Hawks, which held Cloutier's rights; that pick was used to select perennial superstar Denis Savard.

Wayne Gretzky was a special case as, although no team held his NHL rights, under existing rules he would have been removed from the Oilers and placed into the NHL Entry Draft. After deliberation, the Oilers were allowed to keep Gretzky as one of their priority selections, and were forced to choose last in each round of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft as further compensation. Gordie Howe was a second special case, as a gentlemen's agreement between the Hartford Whalers and the Detroit Red Wings, which held his rights, led to the Wings declining to reclaim Howe.

Expansion draft: Each of the 17 existing NHL teams were allowed to protect 15 skaters and two veteran goalies.

Reclaimed players

These are players whose NHL rights were reclaimed when the WHA merged with the NHL. This list is incomplete.

# Player Reclaimed from Reclaimed by
1. Doug Berry (C) Edmonton Oilers Colorado Rockies
2. Alan Hangsleben (D) Hartford Whalers Montreal Canadiens
3. John Hughes (D) Edmonton Oilers Vancouver Canucks
4. Bobby Hull (LW) Winnipeg Jets Chicago Black Hawks
5. Kim Clackson (D) Winnipeg Jets Pittsburgh Penguins
6. Rich Preston (RW) Winnipeg Jets Chicago Black Hawks
7. Rick Ley (D) Hartford Whalers Toronto Maple Leafs
8. Mike Liut (G) Cincinnati Stingers St. Louis Blues
9. George Lyle (LW) Hartford Whalers Detroit Red Wings
10. Warren Miller (RW) Hartford Whalers New York Rangers
11. Kent Nilsson (LW) Winnipeg Jets Atlanta Flames
12. Terry Ruskowski (C) Winnipeg Jets Chicago Black Hawks
13. Paul MacKinnon (D) Winnipeg Jets Washington Capitals
14. Dennis Sobchuk (LW) Edmonton Oilers Philadelphia Flyers
15. Paul Shmyr (D) Edmonton Oilers Minnesota North Stars
16. Dave Langevin (D) Edmonton Oilers New York Islanders
17. Risto Siltanen (D) Edmonton Oilers St. Louis Blues
18. Dan Geoffrion (RW) Quebec Nordiques Montreal Canadiens
19. Barry Long (D) Winnipeg Jets Detroit Red Wings
20. Glen Hicks (LW) Winnipeg Jets Detroit Red Wings
21. Alain Cote (LW) Quebec Nordiques Montreal Canadiens

Expansion draft results

Priority selecions

These players were "priority selections" in the 1979 NHL Expansion Draft.

# Player Rights denied Rights kept
1. Dave Dryden (G) Buffalo Sabres Edmonton Oilers
2. Wayne Gretzky (C) -- Edmonton Oilers
3. Bengt-Åke Gustafsson1 (RW) Washington Capitals Edmonton Oilers
4. Eddie Mio (G) Minnesota North Stars Edmonton Oilers
5. Jordy Douglas (F) Toronto Maple Leafs Hartford Whalers
6. John Garrett (G) St. Louis Blues Hartford Whalers
7. Mark Howe (D) Boston Bruins Hartford Whalers
8. Paul Baxter (D) Pittsburgh Penguins Quebec Nordiques
9. Richard Brodeur (G) New York Islanders Quebec Nordiques
10. Garry Lariviere (D) Buffalo Sabres Quebec Nordiques
11. Scott Campbell (D) St. Louis Blues Winnipeg Jets
12. Morris Lukowich (LW) Pittsburgh Penguins Winnipeg Jets
13. Markus Mattsson (G) New York Islanders Winnipeg Jets

1 The NHL denied the Oilers' claim of Bengt Gustafsson. The Capitals' rights to Gustafsson were granted instead.

These are players selected in the 1979 NHL Expansion Draft. The players were not chosen in this particular order. This list is incomplete.

Edmonton Oilers selections

# Player Drafted from
1. Pete LoPresti (G) Minnesota North Stars
2. Doug Favell (G) Colorado Rockies
3. Cam Connor (RW) Montreal Canadiens
4. Lee Fogolin (D) Buffalo Sabres
5. Pat Price (D) New York Islanders
6. Colin Campbell (D) Pittsburgh Penguins
7. Larry Brown (D) Los Angeles Kings
8. Ron Areshenkoff (C) Buffalo Sabres
9. Inge Hammarström (D) St. Louis Blues
10. John Gould (RW) Atlanta Flames
11. Doug Hicks (D) Chicago Black Hawks
12. Tom Edur (D) Pittsburgh Penguins
13. Wayne Bianchin (LW) Pittsburgh Penguins
14. Mike Forbes (D) Boston Bruins
15. Doug Patey (RW) Washington Capitals
16. Bob Kelly (LW) Chicago Black Hawks
17. Reg Thomas (C) Chicago Black Hawks
18. Dave Hunter (LW) Montreal Canadiens

Hartford Whalers selections

# Player Drafted from
1. Rick Ley (D) Toronto Maple Leafs
2. Nick Fotiu (LW) New York Rangers
3. Al Sims (D) Boston Bruins
4. Bernie Johnston (C/LW) Philadelphia Flyers
5. Brian Hill (RW) Atlanta Flames
6. M. F. Schurman (LW) Philadelphia Flyers
7. Rick Hodgson (D) Atlanta Flames
8. Kevin Kemp (D) Toronto Maple Leafs
9. Jean Savard (C) Chicago Black Hawks
10. Alan Hangsleben (D) Montreal Canadiens
11. Ralph Klassen (F) Colorado Rockies
12. Bill Bennett (LW) Boston Bruins
13. Dave Given (F) Buffalo Sabres
14. Nick Beverley (D) Colorado Rockies
15. Norm Lapointe (G) Vancouver Canucks
16. Don Kozak (LW) Vancouver Canucks

Quebec Nordiques selections

# Player Drafted from
1. Blair Stewart (F) Washington Capitals
2. Terry Martin (F) Buffalo Sabres
3. Ron Low (G) Detroit Red Wings
4. John Smrke (LW) St. Louis Blues
5. Jamie Masters (D) St. Louis Blues
6. Dave Farrish (D) New York Rangers
7. Gerry Hart (D) New York Islanders
8. Pierre Plante (RW) New York Rangers
9. John Baby (D) Minnesota North Stars
10. Dave Parro (G) Boston Bruins
11. Ken Kuzyk (RW) Minnesota North Stars
12. Roland Cloutier (C) Detroit Red Wings
13. Jamie Masters (D) St. Louis Blues
14. Hartland Monahan (F) Los Angeles Kings
15. Ron Andruff (C) Colorado Rockies
16. Alain Cote (LW) Montreal Canadiens
17. Lars Zetterström (D) Vancouver Canucks

Winnipeg Jets selections

# Player Drafted from
1. Peter Marsh (LW) Montreal Canadiens
2. Lindsay Middlebrook (G) New York Rangers
3. Bobby Hull (LW) Chicago Black Hawks
4. Al Cameron (D) Detroit Red Wings
5. Dave Hoyda (LW) Philadelphia Flyers
6. Jim Roberts (LW) Minnesota North Stars
7. Lorne Stamler (LW) Toronto Maple Leafs
8. Mark Heaslip (RW) Los Angeles Kings
9. Pierre Hamel (G) Toronto Maple Leafss
10. Gord McTavish (F) St. Louis Blues
11. Gord Smith (D) Washington Capitals
12. Clark Hamilton (C) Detroit Red Wings
13. Jim Cunningham (LW) Philadelphia Flyers
14. Dennis Abgrall (RW) Los Angeles Kings
15. Bill Riley (W) Washington Capitals
16. Gene Carr (C) Atlanta Flames
17. Hilliard Graves (RW) Vancouver Canucks


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