1998 Team Draft Boards

It goes without saying that attempting to put together an expansion draft from the initial unprotected list of over 500 players is nearly impossible, particularly since plenty aren’t viable NHL players for one reason or another.

With this in mind, each existing NHL team’s unprotected list has been pared down dramatically.  Gone almost completely are the unsigned European prospects, although a very small handful are being considered.  Several players are planning to retire, whether because of age, injury, or ineffectiveness; they have been chopped.  Pending unrestricted free agents (Group III, V, and VI) of an extremely high caliber will be considered; all others are removed.  Marginal players, like older minor-league veterans who haven’t cracked the NHL to stay, are removed as well.  Enforcers have been removed as well, not because I have an inherent bias against them but because there are generally a ton available through various means and there’s no point in using an expansion draft pick on one.

All told, this simple process has removed close to 80% of the unprotected players from consideration.

The most important part is that I’m handling this like a GM would have in 1998.  This means no hindsight, no use of what I know today, and a knowledge and recognition of what the conditions of the game of hockey at the NHL level and what the landscape of the CBA were at the time.  This is where me being a longtime fan, and a bit of an aficionado of “the deeper game”, pay off.

The list of each team’s 1998 draft board, as determined by me, is as follows: