The fledgling WHA had some trouble stocking their teams, with many of the players drafted by WHA teams never reporting, preferring instead to play in the long established National Hockey League. In 1975, only three of the fifteen first-round picks ever played a game in the new league. Other players would only be lured with extravagant paycheques, such as the $1.3 million ($6.8 million today) contract Pat Price signed with the Vancouver Blazers in 1974.
The WHA held a secretive, short draft in February of 1978 without releasing the names of the drafted players with the expectation of having their regular amateur draft in June of that year. The June draft was never held.
First overall picks
List of first overall picks:
Of the five first overall draft picks selected in the WHA Amateur Draft, Bob Neely and Blair Chapman never reported to the league. Pat Price, drafted after a 95-point season as a defenceman in junior hockey, was considered an expensive flop, though he was drafted by the New York Islanders after only one year in Vancouver and went on to a 13-year career in the NHL. Only Scott Campbell and Claude Larose had reasonably active and prosperous WHA careers.
The WHA draft was abandoned in 1978 when merger talks with the NHL broke down. The league instead encouraged teams to negotiate with junior players as free agents, including underage players.
- "WHA-junior hassle revived". Winnipeg Free Press. Winnipeg, Manitoba. February 2, 1978. p. 140.
- Greig p. 215