Pittsburgh Penguins History: Revisiting the 1997 Draft Class

Pittsburgh Penguins, Andrew Ference. Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT
Pittsburgh Penguins, Andrew Ference. Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT /

A look back at the players the Pittsburgh Penguins took in the 1997 Draft.

This is the next installment in our series “Pens Draft Class Rehash” where we profile the Pittsburgh Penguins draft choices by draft year that made the NHL.

We will be looking at the player’s time with Pittsburgh and try to dig up interesting facts and stats on the picks and recount interesting events that they may have been a part of.

Here is our rehash of the Pittsburgh Penguins 1997 Draft Class.

First the specifics of the picks.

The Penguins took nine players in the draft, three forwards, and six defensemen, with three of nine players selected (33 percent) playing for the Penguins.

Andrew Ference

Ference was the Penguins eighth pick the draft at 208th overall and his journey to the draft was quite interesting. Ference was not ranked by central scouting, so he sent a package to every GM in the league that contained a highlight reel, medical testing results, and a letter expressing his interest to play in the NHL.

Ference made his NHL debut on Oct. 1, 1999, collected his first point on Oct. 16, 1999, and scored his career goal on Nov. 13, 1999. Ference finished his rookie season with two goals and four points in 30 games played (GP).

On Feb. 9, 2003, Ference was traded to the Calgary Flames for a third-round pick in the 2004 draft and finished his time with the Penguins with 11 goals and 36 points in 163 regular-season GP and three goals and 10 points in 18 post-season GP.

Josef Melichar

The Penguins took Melichar with 71st pick in the draft, and when he joined Pittsburgh for his rookie season, he became one of 11 Czech players on the roster at the time.

Melichar made his NHL debut on Oct. 7, 2000, and scored two points in 18 GP, in his first season with Pittsburgh. The next few seasons saw Melichar dealing with shoulder injuries that impacted his ability to see any significant ice time.

In 2003-04, Melichar appeared in all 82 games which marked the only time in his career that he played a complete season. On July 2, 2008, Melichar signed with the Carolina hurricanes and finished his time with Pittsburgh scoring seven goals and 40 points in 310 regular-season games, and zero points in five postseason games.

Robert Dome

Dome was the Penguins top draft pick in the draft (17th) and he joined the club for the 1997-98 season and made his NHL debut on Oct. 1, 1997. Dome scored his first career goal on Dec. 12, 1997, and registered his first multi-point game on Jan. 3, 1998.

Dome scored seven goals and 14 points in 52 GP with the Penguins from 1997-2000.

Here is a look at few other players selected at the draft that would find themselves a member of the Penguins at some point during their careers: Partick Marleau (2nd), Marian Hossa (12th), Brendan Morrow (25th), Rick Berry (55th), Petr Sykora (76th), Ville Nieminen (78th), Matt Cooke (144th), Niklas Nordgren (195th).