Tom Draper

Tom Draper was born in Outremont, Quebec. He came from a good athletic family. His father was a former junior long jump champion in Quebec during the 1950s.

Tom, a very studious man who would continue to take courses during the summers of his hockey career, opted to go to an American university rather than the Quebec junior leagues. He attended the University of Vermont from 1983-84 through 1986-87. Vermont was definitely not a hockey power back then. Draper would be the only player to play in the NHL, and to enjoy a professional career of note.

The Winnipeg Jets saw something in Tom however, and drafted him 165th overall in the 1985 amateur draft. Draper, who played one season in Finland after graduating, would see 2 NHL games in his rookie professional season, after tearing up the minor leagues. In his first professional season Tom was a Second Team All Star has he went 27-17-5 in a league leading 54 games played. With the Jets Tom picked up his first NHL victory.

Draper continued to impress at the AHL level in 1989-90, and got another shot with the Jets. In total he participated in 6 games, winning 2 of them.

1990-91 was a tough year for Tom, as he bounced around between three minor league teams, But in the summer of 1991 he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, drastically changing his personal fortunes.

Tom emerged as an NHL goaltender during the 1991-92 season while playing with the Sabres. With Darren Puppa struggling through injury problems, Draper assumed the number one job for part of the season. In total he participated in 26 games, helping the Sabres get into the playoffs with a 10-9-5 record, including his first NHL shutout and two stopped penalty shots. And in the playoffs Draper played every minute of a grueling series with the Boston Bruins. He played fantastically in that series, even posting a shutout. Unfortunately the Sabres fell just short, losing in the decisive game 7.

Tom became a backup in 1992-93 thanks to a goalie glut. The Sabres had three very good goaltenders play for them that season - Dominik Hasek, Darren Puppa and Grant Fuhr. Draper was relegated to not only backup, but number 3. He would practice hard, but wouldn't always dress as even the backup, never mind play. He got into only 11 contests.

Just prior to the 1993-94 season the Sabres relieved themselves of the goalie glut by moving Draper to the New York Islanders in exchange for a low draft pick. Tom would play in 7 games with the Isles, but otherwise spent the year in the minor leagues.

Draper seemingly fell off the face of the NHL hockey map after that. Until the end of the decade Tom kept himself employed by signing minor league contracts directly with IHL or AHL teams, including the Rochester Americans in 1998-99. He did resurface for one NHL game in 1995-96. The Winnipeg Jets, somewhat ironically, signed him to a brief contract as they ran into injury problems mid-way through the season.

At the turn of the century Tom returned to where his professional career all began - Finland. He established himself as top goalie with a team called Lukko Rauma.

Tom's NHL numbers feature 19 wins in 53 games with a career 3.70 goals against average..


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