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 Leafs really rebounded from their last two (sub-70 point) seasons, finishing with 97 points and taking the #4 seed. They beat Philadelphia and then Pittsburgh in the playoffs before bowing out against Buffalo in the conference finals.
Goalies: Doug Bonner(Gr.II – RFA), Glenn Healy, Jeff Reese
Defensemen: Kevin Dahl(Gr.II – RFA), Dallas Eakins(Gr.II – RFA), Glen Featherstone(Gr.II – RFA), Tommi Rajamaki(UE), Greg Smyth, Yannick Tremblay, Dmitri Yakushin
Forwards: Niklas Andersson(Gr.II – RFA), Lonny Bohonos(Gr.II – RFA), Aaron Brand(Gr.II – RFA), Nathan Dempsey, Mark Deyell, Tie Domi, Mikael Hakansson(UE), Derek King, Kris King, Ladislav Kohn(Gr.II – RFA), Marek Melenovsky(UE), David Nemirovsky(Gr.II – RFA), Scott Pearson(Gr.II – RFA), Garry Valk
They have twenty-four unprotected players. None of the three goalies are being looked at, and only Yannick Tremblay out of the seven defensemen will be. Tie Domi and Derek King are the only of the fourteen forwards being considered.
D Yannick Tremblay – 23-year-old defenseman, 6th-round pick of Toronto (1995)
The case for taking Tremblay – Played Canadian college hockey as an 18-year-old, then made the jump to the QMJHL and played two years with Beauport. He was a big part of Toronto’s shocking turnaround last year, with his speed, puck-carrying, and overall transition game flowing nicely with what became a fast team. Given a full season with good ice time, Tremblay could be the big offensive threat from the back end and probably get 10-12 goals and 30-35 points.
The case against taking Tremblay – There are an awful lot of “ifs”. If we have a fast team, if we have players who can put the puck in the net, if we have defensemen who can cover Tremblay’s defensive and physical flaws, if we end up getting a lot of power plays, and if someone who’s never played 40 NHL games in a season continues to develop and wasn’t just artificially bolstered by having a team that specifically catered to his strengths. Even among similar players that we can pick from, we don’t know where Tremblay falls because there’s so little to go on. It’s unlikely he becomes a first-pairing guy; he may simply top out as what he currently is, which is mostly unknown anyway.
F Tie Domi – 29-year-old forward, 2nd-round pick of Toronto (1989)
The case for taking Domi – A much-feared enforcer, Domi has actually developed a decent offensive game over the years. On a fast Pat Quinn-coached team, Domi played 72 games and had 8 goals and 22 points, all at even strength. He also dropped below 200 penalty minutes in a full season for the first time in his career. The fact that he was able to be such an important part of a contending team in multiple ways means that Domi warrants a further look.
The case against taking Domi – Sure, in the regular season he looked decent enough. When the playoffs rolled around, his ice time dropped by almost three full minutes (down to 6:58, which is skewed by overtime games anyway). He was a non-factor in a tough series against Philadelphia, and the fact that he wasn’t able to get any real ice time in a series that played to his strengths speaks to the fact that he hasn’t really developed much at all. A lot of players can bag a goal every ten games or so, as the supposedly developing Domi has done over the last three seasons; this isn’t some special reformation that’s happened. If he’d hit 20 goals in a season at any point, he’d get that extra look; as it is, there are plenty of fighters and plenty of character forwards we can choose from.
F Derek King – 32-year-old forward, 1st-round pick of NY Islanders (1985)
The case for taking King – He’s scored 71 goals and 157 points the last three seasons, with good splits between even strength and the power play. He’s got good speed and is a serious threat in all facets of the offensive game, something that there’s a serious shortage of in this expansion draft.
The case against taking King – He was also completely invisible in the playoffs, following putting up just three goals in the last sixteen games of the regular season. Toronto played sixteen playoff games, and King scored one goal and three assists. In the last 32 games, when the team needed him the most, he scored four goals. If King is in a position to use his speed as a complementary winger, he can produce, but he’s not going to lead the attack. He has to be on a line that creates that type of mismatch, and there aren’t really a lot of fast offensive players that we can choose from.