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 Flyers finished second in the Atlantic and third overall in the East, then were taken out in round one by Buffalo.
Goalies: Sean Burke(Gr.III – UFA), Neil Little, Dominic Roussel(Gr.II – RFA)
Defensemen: Artem Anisimov(UE), Paul Coffey, Chris Joseph, Kjell Samuelsson(Gr.III – UFA), Jeff Staples(Gr.II – RFA), John Stevens, Roman Zolotov(UE)
Forwards: Frank Bialowas, Bruce Coles, Craig Darby, John Druce, Paul Healey(Gr.II – RFA), Patrik Juhlin, Dan Kordic, Dan Lacroix(Gr.II – RFA), Jan Lipianski, Shawn McCosh, Jim Montgomery, Brant Myhres(Gr.II – RFA), Joel Otto(Gr.III – UFA)
There are 23 unprotected Flyers, of which we’re looking at goalie Sean Burke, defenseman Paul Coffey, and forward Craig Darby.
G Sean Burke – 31-year-old goalie, originally a 2nd-round pick of New Jersey (1985)
The case for taking Burke – A large goalie who for several years was the only bright spot on the Hartford Whalers (outside of the Sanderson/Cassels/Verbeek line), Burke is looking to rebound after a 1997-98 season that saw him play for three different teams. The skill is absolutely still there, and with a little bit of stability instead of being jerked in and out of the lineup and off to new cities, he could regain his borderline-Vezina form in a hurry.
The case against taking Burke – That Burke has had a fine career isn’t really the point, or that he may rebound is not the point either. The only point that matters is that we can take one free agent goalie, we have three to choose from who will most likely bring us a 2nd-round compensatory pick in next year’s draft, and Burke is a pending Group III free agent. We’re not using our Philadelphia pick on Burke; he’s unlikely to sign with us, and also unlikely to sign a large enough deal to get us a worthwhile compensatory pick compared to the others.
D Paul Coffey – 37-year-old defenseman, originally a 1st-round pick of Edmonton (1980)
The case for taking Coffey – A first-ballot Hall of Famer almost the instant he retires, Coffey bring historically good offensive skill from the blue line. He’s 37 and slowing a bit, but he’s still one of the few players who can break open a game in a flash. Any power play opportunity becomes a legitimate scoring chance when he’s on the ice, and his ability to advance the puck out of his own zone at even strength is still among the best in the game.
And imagine what he could do if we use our first-rounder on an offensive defenseman; I can’t think of a better on-ice coach than the legend.
The case against taking Coffey – He’s slowing down in the sense that he’s missed 50 games the last two seasons, and had just 2 goals in the 57 games he played last year. He’s slowed down to the point that he’s not killing penalties any more, which he used to do frequently. He’s slowed down in the sense that he’s shooting barely half as much as what he was just three or four years ago. And since he’s 37, he won’t be getting any faster.
Coffey has had a phenomenal career without question and is an all-time great, but I don’t think that we get much out of picking him up.
F Craig Darby – 26-year-old forward, originally a 2nd-round pick of Montreal (1991)
The case for taking Darby – Even if we can’t get him on the NHL roster to start, he’ll be able to hit 40 goals and 80 points with our IHL affiliate. Darby was a scorer in high school, in college, and has been around a point a game in each of the last five seasons in the minor leagues.
He does have defensive skill, and has been used to kill penalties as well. And he’s coming off a stellar season in the AHL, with 42 goals and 87 points and then another 15 points in 20 playoff games. He may be ready to finally break through in the NHL, and we can give him that chance.
The case against taking Darby – He’s played NHL games in each of the last four seasons, 35 of them in fact. And in them, he’s had 2 goals and 10 points despite being given opportunities throughout the lineup of his respective teams. There are plenty of minor league scoring forwards out there who we can pick up without burning an expansion draft pick on.