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 Coyotes had 90 points last year to make the playoffs, and then followed up with their annual ritual of losing in the first round. This franchise hasn’t won a playoff series since Dale Hawerchuk was leading the way.
Goalies: Scott Langkow(Gr.II – RFA), Mikhail Shtalenkov, Henrik Smangs(UE), Jimmy Waite
Defensemen: JJ Daigneault, Gerald Diduck(Gr.III – UFA), Jamie Huscroft(Gr.III – UFA), Sean McCann, Stanislav Neckar(Gr.II – RFA), Michel Petit(Gr.III – UFA), Brad Tiley
Forwards: Mika Alatalo(UE), Bob Corkum(Gr.III – UFA), Jim Cummins, Louie DeBrusk, Joe Dziedzic(Gr.II – RFA), Steve Leach(Gr.III – UFA), Jocelyn Lemieux(Gr.III – UFA), Fredrik Loven(UE), Rob Murray, Barry Nieckar(Gr.VI – UFA), Brian Noonan(Gr.III – UFA), Mike Stapleton, Mike Sullivan(Gr.III – UFA), Andrei Vasiliev(Gr.VI – UFA)
With a ton of pending UFAs among their twenty-five unprotected players, we’re only looking more closely at goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov and forward Mike Stapleton.
G Mikhail Shtalenkov – 33-year-old goalie, originally a 5th-round pick of Anaheim (1993)
The case for taking Shtalenkov – Just like last year when Nashville was considering him, Shtalenkov is a serviceable backup who can also take over as the starter for extended periods of time in the event of injury or ineffectiveness from the regular starter. He looked poor most of this past season with a brutal Edmonton team, then played nicely with the Coyotes when he was traded there. It wasn’t made easy for him in those four games, as he faced Detroit, Dallas, St. Louis, and Vancouver.
The case against taking Shtalenkov – He’s a year older than he was last year when he played his way out of Nashville in the preseason despite being penciled in before camp as the backup. Edmonton wasn’t actually as bad as the perception, and I’ll also point out that as a first-year expansion team, we’re likely going to be worse than that Edmonton team and a lot worse than this Phoenix team.
Whether we take Shtalenkov is going to be a matter of asset management more than anything. He’s certainly serviceable, but I question whether he’s one of the five best goalies we can take, or seven best, or ten best. We can’t count on him to be on our roster from the beginning, and his trade value isn’t exactly stellar at this point.
F Mike Stapleton – 33-year-old forward, originally a 7th-round pick of Chicago (1984)
The case for taking Stapleton – There are two big reasons to strongly consider taking Stapleton. The first is that he’s an ideal bottom-six forward, a speedy defensive and penalty killing center who can do all sorts of little things that don’t appear in the stat lines but are vital to winning games. He hasn’t scored in the NHL
The second reason is that, to be blunt, Phoenix has left us absolutely nothing to choose from. Every other forward available is either a pending free agent, an enforcer, or an unsigned European player who doesn’t exactly look like the next Milan Hejduk. The defensemen are the same, although there are also a couple of longtime minor league veterans who are unlikely to play for us at any point. And we already have their one worthwhile goalie on our list.
The case against taking Stapleton – Outside of the fact that he doesn’t produce anything in the way of offense, the decision of whether to take Stapleton or Shtalenkov is going to be a matter of simple asset management.