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 Blackhawks missed the playoffs for the first time since 1969, and just the second time since the 1957-58 season.
Goalies: Marc Lamothe(Gr.II – RFA), Chris Terreri, Andrei Trefilov(Gr.II – RFA)
Defensemen: Roger Johansson, Alain Nasreddine(Gr.II – RFA), Jeff Ricciardi, Trent Yawney
Forwards: Greg Johnson, David Ling(Gr.II – RFA), Reid Simpson
They provide just ten players to choose from, and the only ones we’re considering are forwards David Ling and Greg Johnson.
F David Ling – 23-year-old forward, a 7th-round pick by Quebec (1993)
The case for taking Ling – A buzzsaw of a player, Ling has also put up solid numbers in juniors and in the minors. His last year in juniors saw him put up 61 goals and 135 points, then another 7 goals and 15 points in 6 playoff games. He’s scored 79 goals in three minor league seasons, then had four more in five playoff games this past season. It looks like he’s breaking through, and even if he can’t discover an NHL scoring touch, he can be an energy player on the bottom six with his frantic energy.
The case against taking Ling – To this point, everything is about what Ling has done in the minors and juniors. He’s also listed as 5’9″, and the game is getting bigger and larger. Willingness to hit or be hit is a fine theory, but quite another story when the puck is in the neutral zone against Eric Lindros. And despite his gaudy scoring numbers in the minors, neither Montreal nor Chicago have thought highly enough of him to give him anything more than a cup of coffee in the NHL. Why not?
F Greg Johnson – 28-year-old forward, originally a 2nd-round pick of Philadelphia (1989)
The case for taking Johnson – Although he’s not the biggest guy out there, Johnson possesses speed, an offensive touch, and so far an ability to escape major injury. He has enough offensive prowess to have featured on Detroit’s lethal power play as they emerged as a dynastic franchise, and produced and stuck tough in a miserable 1997-98 season with Chicago. He can go right into our top-six and our first power play unit right from the beginning.
The case against taking Johnson – 11 goals and 33 points in 69 games while getting a lot of ice time on the top two lines is producing? Interesting. Johnson has been traded twice in the last two seasons, once returning a past-his-prime Tomas Sandstrom and once returning a disappointing prospect in Tuomas Gronman. Where’s the payoff for us likely to come from?