The 1971-972 regular season was one worth forgetting for the young Philadelphia Flyers franchise finishing fifth in the West Division with 66 points. General Manager Keith Allen and Head Coach Fred Shero would look to the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft for a player that would help get this team move in the right direction. The Flyers would not only draft a player capable of making the team better; they would select one of best players ever to pull an orange and white sweater over his head.
With the seventh-overall pick in the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers chose forward, Bill Barber, from the OHA’s Kitchener Rangers. In his three years with Kitchener, Barber was already showing signs of being an elite goal-scorer, recording 127 goals in 177 games.
How Did it Work Out?
Barber’s impact on the Flyers was felt immediately, recording 30 goals and 34 assists in his rookie season. His 64 point effort was enough to have Barber in the Calder Memorial Trophy discussion, finishing in second place to Steve Vickers of the New York Rangers. Ironically enough, Barber would wind up have the better career of the two.
The next year, Barber would team up with center Bobby Clarke and help lead the Flyers to their only two Stanley Cup Championships in franchise history. He would finish with 34 goals in both Stanley Cup seasons and post two more assists in 1974-75 than 1973-74. His best offensive season came in 1975-76 when he scored 50 goals and added 62 assists. Additionally, Barber would score 40 or more goals four more times before his career came to an end.
To this day, Barber remains Philadelphia’s all-time leading scorer with 420 goals and is ranked second in points with 883, only behind Clarke’s 1210.
In 1990, Barber not only had his number seven jersey retired by the Flyers but was also inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Draft Grade: A+
There is genuinely no first round draft pick that has accomplished more for the Philadelphia Flyers than Bill Barber, making him the organization’s greatest first-round draft pick of all time. Unfortunately, it is difficult to crown him the franchise’s most significant draft pick in any round because of his old linemate Bobby Clarke.
There is no denying that the early to mid 70’s were the heyday for the Flyers, as it is when the team won their only two Stanley Cups. Barber played an intricate role on both of those teams and Philadelphia may not have won either without him. The Flyers absolutely right choosing Barber in 1972.