The draft board pages include every player who was left unprotected in the 1998 Expansion Draft. The overwhelming majority of players who do not carry over are either old, unproductive, injured, primarily used for fighting, marginal players, minor league veterans, or unsigned European prospects. The majority of pending UFAs (Group III, Group V, and Group VI) will not carry over. Exceptions to these rules are provided if the incumbent team left almost nothing of value available to choose from, in which case everyone gets at least a closer look.
As we are capped by league restrictions to selecting no more than six pending free agents, we must be judicious with our choices.
The Hurricanes had 74 points in their first season in North Carolina, which put them dead last in the Northeast Division.
Goalies: Mike Fountain, Pat Jablonski, Manny Legace
Defensemen: Joacim Esbjors(UE), Sean Hill, Marek Malik, Jason McBain(Gr.II – RFA)
Forwards: Kevin Brown(Gr.II – RFA), Jeff Daniels, Kevin Dineen, Dmitri Gorenko(UE), Steve Leach, Kent Manderville, Paul Ranheim, Steven Rice, Brian Secord(Gr.II – RFA), Kevin Smyth
Of seventeen unprotected players, we’re looking at goalie Manny Legace, defensemen Sean Hill, Jason McBain, and Marek Malik, and forwards Paul Ranheim and Kevin Dineen
G Manny Legace – 25-year-old goalie, originally an 8th-round pick of Hartford (1993)
The case for taking Legace – The diminutive Legace has had to scrap and claw every step of his career. He was passed over in the entry draft twice,only being selected after towering over the rest of the league (OHL Goalie of the Year and overall CHL Second-Team All-Star) and backstopping Canada to gold in the WJC. He then went to the Canadian National Team in 1993-94, picking up a silver medal in the Olympics while backing up Corey Hirsch.
In the four years since, he’s spent every game in the minors. He was the AHL’s best goalie in 1995-96, picking up several accolades along the way. He was terrific this past year with the IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder, turning in some very good performances on a sub-.500 team on which he thoroughly outplayed veteran NHL goalie Tim Cheveldae.
Carolina isn’t likely to give him much of a chance. We can afford to, and even if he doesn’t make our roster he’ll be one of the best in the league for our top affiliate.
The case against taking Legace – He’s 25 and hasn’t played one minute of NHL action to this point. His resume consists of what he did before his 21st birthday, and one stellar AHL season three years ago.
If we’re in such dire need of a top-flight goalie in the minors, why not just pick up Frederic Chabot? He’ll be the best in the league for sure, and he’s never been able to turn that into NHL success.
D Sean Hill – 28-year-old defenseman, originally an 8th-round pick of Montreal (1988)
The case for taking Hill – A steady, unspectacular defenseman, Hill can do some of everything at a high level. Anaheim used him on the power play and to kill penalties, and Ottawa did the same upon acquiring him. He’s also recovered from a serious knee injury suffered in 1996-97 and doesn’t appear to have suffered any ill effects.
The case against taking Hill – He lost 77 of 82 games in 1996-97 with a knee injury, and played poorly enough upon coming back that Ottawa traded him straight-up for Chris Murray. Although he did look good for Carolina upon being traded there, was it a short-term bump based on playing almost entirely even strength and getting no special teams time at all? We’ll count on him for more than just 15 minutes a night at even strength if we take him, and the question of whether he can handle the heavier workload at this point has yet to be answered.
D Jason McBain – 24-year-old defenseman, originally a 4th-round pick of Hartford (1992)
The case for taking McBain – He played for Team USA at the WJC, and also in the World Championships a couple weeks after his 21st birthday. McBain is poised and has some offensive skill, but has only had 9 NHL games so far to try to show anything. We can be patient with him.
The case against taking McBain -Hartford and now Carolina have had a revolving door of defensemen, including 14 different ones in 1996-97, and McBain hasn’t warranted a further look. That they’re ready to move on from him is hardly a favorable sign.
He’s also a pending Group II free agent, and would count against our limit.
D Marek Malik – 23-year-old defenseman, originally a 3rd-round pick of Hartford (1993)
The case for taking Malik – The towering Malik (6’5″, 225 pounds) plays a steady and mostly unspectacular game. His offensive game consists primarily of moving the puck out of danger; he won’t score or set up offense directly. Defensively, he’s able to use his mobility and obscenely large reach to be able to divert opponents away from danger. He played three years here, then last year in Sweden, where he logged big minutes
The case against taking Malik – Despite his size, Malik isn’t really a physical player, and if faced with an opposing forward barreling down on him he’ll try to steer him away or pokecheck the puck.
More troublesome is that he decided to head back to Europe after the 1996-97 season. Is he going to come back overseas? And if he does, will he bail out if he’s not getting whatever ice time or opportunity he thinks he’s earned?
F Kevin Dineen – 34-year-old forward, originally a 3rd-round pick of Hartford (1982)
The case for taking Dineen – One of hockey’s most skilled warriors, Dineen is heading toward the end of his decorated career. Along the way he’s played in four World Championships, one Olympics, one Canada Cup, and the 1987 Rendezvous series. Two seasons ago he had 19 goals and 48 points, placing him 4th on the Whalers in scoring. He missed extended time this past year, causing a drop in production.
Dineen will do whatever it takes. He’s captained two different NHL teams, and as his scoring has diminished he’s become a physical guy who can also kill penalties in a pinch. He’ll block shots, he’ll fight, he’ll score.
The case against taking Dineen – He’ll turn 35 three weeks into our first season, and we need to seriously consider the possibility that this past season is less an aberration and more what we can expect going forward. No one can challenge Dineen’s heart or tenacity, or his accolades during his career, but it’s possible that he’s reached the end of the line.
F Paul Ranheim – 32-year-old forward, originally a 2nd-round pick of Calgary (1984)
The case for taking Ranheim – He entered the league as a scoring forward, putting up 84 goals in his first four seasons (one of which he missed half of). This is even more impressive considering that he got almost no power play time at all in those seasons. Over time, he’s become more of a bottom six guy who still has some skill. He’s solid in his own zone and on the penalty kill, but the offense is not likely to be significant.
The case against taking Ranheim – He’s likely to produce even less than the older Dineen, and we have several other options if we’re looking for a bottom-six checking winger. Ranheim can do a lot of things in his own zone, but the lack of offense in recent years may have to push us in another direction.