The draft board pages include every player who was left unprotected in the 1999 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 second consecutive year, the first time that’s happened since 1956-57 and 1957-58.
Goalies: Kirk Daubenpseck(Gr.II – RFA), Mark Fitzpatrick(Gr.II – RFA), Marc Lamothe(Gr.VI – UFA)
Defensemen: Radim Bicanek(Gr.II – RFA), Dave Manson, Doug Zmolek
Forwards: Frank Bialowas, Sylvain Cloutier, Chris Herperger(Gr.VI – UFA), Mark Janssens, David Ling, Craig Mills(Gr.II – RFA), Ed Olczyk(Gr.III – UFA), Bob Probert, Ryan Vandenbussche
None of their three goalies will move on, and just one defenseman (Dave Manson) of three and one forward (David Ling) of nine will move to our draft board.
D Dave Manson – 32-year-old physical defenseman, a 1st-round pick by Chicago (1985)
The case for taking Manson – At worst, Manson is one of three best defensemen we can possibly choose from; with Mark Tinordi’s health a major question mark, he’s more realistically the best one available (depending on how you feel about Curtis Leschyshyn). Manson can do a lot of things at a high level; he’s extremely physical and punishing, he’s not bad offensively, and he has an absolute cannon of a shot and a willingness to use it. He’s a defensive factor even if he’s not scoring, and although the fighting isn’t a part of his game the way it once was, he’s still a very intimidating presence out there. His play nosedived in the middle of this past season, explained by the fact that Chicago was bumbling along with a first-year coach and every player they had looked like garbage except Tony Amonte. When Lorne Molleken took over, both Manson and the team returned back to their normal levels.
Manson is signed for one more year at a cost of less than $1.7 million, which compared to the marketplace is a tremendous bargain.
The case against taking Manson – Hold on. We’re an expansion team, probably not exactly contending material right off the bat, and you’re suggesting that we take a defenseman about whom there were questions just last year about his effort level on a team that wasn’t competing? Surely nothing could possibly go wrong with that.
Sure, Manson has a cannon of a shot. And he’s scored more than five goals in a season twice since 1992-93, topping out at seven. His last playoff goal was scored in Winnipeg, and his offensive playoff contributions in Montreal amounted to one assist in fifteen games.
F David Ling – 24-year-old forward, a 7th-round pick by Quebec (1993)
The case for taking Ling – He gets a nice bump from the Scott Walker effect, which saw a minor league and fourth-line roughneck pot 15 goals and 40 points in Nashville’s first year. Ling will hit anything that moves, drop the gloves with anyone who wants a piece of him, and generally create havoc. In the IHL and AHL, he’s put up solid but unspectacular numbers. He’s only gotten three NHL games to this point, but has scored 30 goals each of the last two years in the minors. Even if his scoring can’t carry over, he’ll be a tough part of our fourth line for years.
The case against taking Ling – “…in the minors”. The entire case for Ling is built around what he’s done so far in the minors, which really isn’t much. The last two years, he’s been outscored on his own team by Eric Houde and Jason Cirone, neither of whom are exactly prime NHL prospects. Scott Walker was a defenseman in the minors before becoming a winger with around 200 games of NHL experience by the time Nashville took him; Ling has always been a forward and hasn’t done enough to warrant anything more than an emergency callup that he failed to turn into anything. Ling and Walker aren’t comparable by any stretch. Ling was traded at the 1995 draft to move up eight spots…in the 9th round. He was traded the next year with a 6th-rounder for Scott Fraser, and he was traded last year even up for Martin Gendron, a vastly superior prospect who the ineptly-run Blackhawks couldn’t wait to be rid of.
Sure, Ling could suddenly emerge as something. If he doesn’t, we’re passing on a real good defenseman in Dave Manson to find out, and we’ll have no way to recoup what we passed on.