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.
It seems like just yesterday that the Rangers were exorcising the last vestiges of 1940, and now they’ve finished behind even their dismal crosstown brothers (the Islanders).
Goalies: Jeff Heil, Mike Richter(Gr.III – UFA), Vitali Yeremeyev(UE)
Defensemen: Sylvain Blouin, Richard Brennan, Bruce Driver(Gr.III – UFA), Jeff Finley, Kim Johnsson(UE), Alexander Korobolin(UE), Doug Lidster(Gr.III – UFA), Geoff Smith, Lee Sorochan(Gr.II – RFA), Brent Thompson
Forwards: Bill Berg, Shane Churla(Gr.III – UFA), Bob Errey, Sergei Kondrashakin(UE), Radoslav Kropac(UE), Andrei Lazarenko(UE), Yuri Litvinov(UE), Pierre Sevigny(Gr.II – RFA), Tim Sweeney(Gr.III – UFA), Rudolf Vercik(UE)
There are 23 players available to choose from, and the only two who will be considered at all are goalie Mike Richter and forward Bill Berg.
G Mike Richter – 32-year-old goalie, originally a 2nd-round pick of the Rangers (1985)
The case for taking Richter – Although it would be wonderful to start off our franchise with one of the best goalies in the game in the prime of his career, he’s about to hit free agency and we have no chance of signing him. The only reason that we would consider him is because he’s likely to get a large enough contract that we’ll get a compensatory 2nd-round pick out of it.
The case against taking Richter – Again, picking a goalie from among the Richter/Joseph/Vanbiesbrouck group is going to come down to a combination of the highest compensatory pick and what we get elsewhere. The other main options from Edmonton are a couple of players who can’t be counted on, with Curtis Joseph likely to return the highest draft pick. By taking Richter instead of Joseph, we could be giving away 10-20 draft spots to pursue a pipe dream while passing on a serviceable Bill Berg from the Rangers.
F Bill Berg – 30-year-old forward, originally a 3rd-round pick of the Islanders (1986)
The case for taking Berg – A defensive winger, Berg can go into our bottom six and provide energy and a physical presence. He doesn’t produce offense, but his defense and penalty killing ability is good enough to keep him in the lineup on some good teams.
The case against taking Berg – Put simply, he’s not in the lineup enough to really say he’s been kept in the lineup at all. Since 1994-95, he’s missed 16, 41, 15, and 15 games. He’s never scored 10 goals in the NHL, and since he’s been more on the second PK unit than the first, that’s asking a lot as a tradeoff. We’d be better served to take Richter and then grab one of the 30-goal scorers from Edmonton.