(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/NHLI)

By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff

On Sunday, Bruins Alum Barry Pederson will be celebrating his 61st birthday! Barry was drafted by the Boston Bruins during the 1980 NHL Entry Draft and was selected 18th overall. Barry would play 12 seasons in the NHL, seven with the Bruins. The 5’11” center was magnificent on offense combining for 315 points from the ’81-’82 season to the ’83-’84 season!

Since he produced such impressive numbers, Pederson was selected to play in the 1983 and 1984 NHL All-Star Game. Pederson would finish his career in 1992 with the team that drafted him, the Bruins. He finished at the end of his 12-year hockey career with 701 games played, 238 goals scored, and 416 assists accounted for. Since Barry is celebrating his 61st birthday today, let’s take a quick look back on Pederson’s NHL career.

A Sensation in Boston

Pederson broke into the NHL in the ’81-’82 season and took the league by storm. After his rookie season, Pederson set Bruins rookie records for goals (44, which still stands) and points with 92. Although the numbers were incredible, he finished runner-up to Dale Hawerchuk for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. The Bruins sure did have something going with this Pederson kid, and the pairing with Rick Middleton showed to be one of the league’s most dangerous duos for seasons to come. Pederson took another step forward and became a first-time all-star just one season later. He was standing along with all-time greats like Wayne Gretzky, Ray Bourque, Peter Stastny, etc.

At the conclusion of the ’82-’83 season, Pederson finished with 46 goals and 61 assists for 107 points, 15 more points than he scored in his rookie season. Although he led the Bruins in assists and points and finished fifth in league scoring, he is the only player in the top eight not to eventually make the Hockey Hall of Fame. As his time in Boston went on, Pederson seemed to get better. In the ’83-’84 season, Barry would make his second and final all-star game appearance, finished 12th for the Hart Trophy and 10th for the Selke Trophy. At the end of the season, his numbers tallied for 39 goals and 77 assists for 116 points (a career-high for Pederson).

At this point, despite being only 23, Pederson was on par with players such as Denis Savard and Hawerchuk, all of whom went on to be hall of famers. However, his career would take a turn in the summer of 1984 when he was diagnosed with a benign tumor in his shoulder. He returned for only 22 games in the ’84-’85 season, posting 12 points, before a second, more severe surgery had to be performed on the shoulder.

This procedure required the removal of part of his shoulder muscle and forced him to miss the remainder of the season. Pederson returned to Boston’s lineup for the ’85-’86 season but did not perform at the level he had prior to his injury. He finished the season with respectable totals of 29 goals and 76 points, good for fourth on the team but a 40-point drop from his last healthy year two seasons previous. At the conclusion of the season, Boston GM Harry Sinden traded Pederson to Vancouver Canucks for future Bruin sensation Cam Neely and Vancouver’s first-round pick in the 1987 entry draft, which the Bruins used to select Glen Wesley.

New Start in Vancouver

Pederson’s new start in Vancouver was sort of like a homecoming since Pederson was from Saskatchewan and later moved to British Columbia, where he grew up. In his first season with the Canucks, Pedersen played 79 games and accounted for 76 points. He was named Canuck MVP by both the team’s media and fans. The following season in ’87-’88, he again led the team in assists with 52 and added 19 goals for 71 points. He remains one of only four players in Canuck history (along with Andre Boudrias, Thomas Gradin, and Henrik Sedin) to record consecutive 50-assist seasons.

While Pederson seemed to be back as a scoring prowess, the injury bug found him again, and Pederson slumped during the ’88-’89 season. He finished with only 16 goals and 41 assists while missing 20 games due to injury. After playing one more season with Vancouver and being dogged with injuries, Vancouver decided to trade away Pederson to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Canucks traded Pederson, Rod Buskas, and Tony Tanti to Pittsburgh for Dave Capuano, Andrew McBain, and Dan Quinn.

A Champion with Pittsburgh/Retirement in Boston

While he was traded to Pittsburgh and it was new scenery, he still struggled. He finished the season with just six goals and 31 points in 54 games between the Canucks and Penguins. Whereas Pederson began his career as an offense sensation, he was now primarily a utility player. At the end of the ’90-’91 season, Pederson played in 46 games but only accounted for 14 points.

Even though the numbers weren’t impressive, he was a member of the Penguin team that won the Stanley Cup that year. Released by the Penguins that summer, he signed with the Whalers but was released after only five games. He would re-sign with the Bruins. At the end of the ’91-’92 season, he retired at the age of 31, thus ending his hockey career. Nowadays, you can see the former Bruin on NESN as a Bruins Studio Analyst.

It’s quite a shame that injuries riddled Pederson’s career. However, Pederson could still put up solid numbers and finish as a Stanley Cup Champion. At the end of 12 seasons, Pederson played 701 total games, scored 238 goals, assisted on 416 goals, and finished with 654 career points. He was also a Stanley Cup Champ in 1991 with Pittsburgh and made two all-star games in 1983 and 1984 while with Boston. So Barry Pederson, on behalf of myself and the entire BNG Organization, we wish you a Happy 61st Birthday!