Penguins Believed That They Had Franchise Savior In Mario Lemieux

Published on March 12th, 2024 6:03 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

The untouchable prospect.  Mario Lemieux. The 1984 NHL Draft took place in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

In 1981, the Montreal Canadiens swapped 1984 first-round picks with the Hartford Whalers (along with other assets).

The Canadiens had a very clear reason for doing this - they wanted a chance at drafting Mario Lemieux in 1984.

In an alternate universe, the consistently bad Hartford Whalers would have finished last in the 1983-84 season (there was no lottery back then), and the Canadiens would have selected Mario Lemieux with the #1 overall pick in their own building.

It wasn't meant to be, as the Penguins finished as the worst team in the NHL in 1983-84.

The Canadiens still picked up the phone and tried to trade for Mario Lemieux, but the Penguins weren't going for it.


To their credit, the Penguins organization realized what they had in Mario Lemieux.

After all, Lemieux had finished his final season with Laval of the QMJHL with 133 goals and 149 assists - a ridiculous single season point total that hasn't been matched since.

Eddie Johnston, however, still had to fend all of the trade calls for Lemieux, as he served as the General Manager of the team at that time.

According to Johnston, the offers were borderline ridiculous.

The Minnesota North Stars reportedly offered ALL of their picks in the 1984 NHL Draft for Lemieux. This didn't appeal to the Penguins, as the North Stars had the #13 overall pick - not nearly enough for a player of Lemieux's stature.

The Quebec Nordiques reportedly made the BOLDEST offer for Lemieux, as they offered all three of the Stastny brothers, PLUS their first-round pick in the 1984 NHL Draft.

This was a significant offer, as Peter Stastny was a 27 year-old superstar, having just notched a 46 goal, 73 assist season.

The other two Stastny brothers were no slouches either, as they notched 62 and 52 points in the 1983-84 season.


Johnston informed the owner of the Penguins at the time, Edward DeBartolo, that they would not be trading away the pick, regardless of the offer.

Lemieux, according to Johnston, was a once-in-a-lifetime player, and there was no way that the Penguins were going to give him up.

A smart move, to be sure.

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