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.
One year after making the Stanley Cup Final, the aging Capitals fell clear out of the playoffs. And then they left us little to choose from.
Goalies: Stephane Beauregard, Martin Brochu(Gr.VI – UFA), Michael Rosati(Gr.II – RFA), Rick Tabaracci(Gr.II – RFA)
Defensemen: Nolan Baumgartner, Patrick Boileau(Gr.II – RFA), Enrico Ciccone(Gr.II – RFA), Stewart Malgunas(Gr.II – RFA), Dmitri Mironov, Steve Poapst, Mark Tinordi(Gr.III – UFA)
Forwards: Patrik Augusta(Gr.VI – UFA), Brian Bellows(Gr.III – UFA), Mike Eagles, Miika Elomo, Trevor Halverson, Mark Major(Gr.VI – UFA), Kelly Miller(Gr.III – UFA), Barrie Moore, Jeff Nelson, Michal Pivonka, Jeff Toms(Gr.II – RFA), Stefon Ustorf
None of the four goalies or twelve forwards are being considered, and only two of the seven defensemen (Nolan Baumgartner and Mark Tinordi) will be looked at.
D Nolan Baumgartner – 23-year-old defenseman, 1st-round pick of Washington (1994)
The case for taking Baumgartner – Anchored the back end of some of the great Kamloops Blazers teams in the WHL, but has battled injuries off and on ever since. Captained Canada’s gold-winning team in the 1996 WJC and was named to the all-tournament first team. Baumgartner can do a bit of everything; he can shoot, pass, shut down, and keep the crease clear. With the time he’s missed, he’s still a work in progress but does have a very high ceiling.
The case against taking Baumgartner – Played just 8 games in 1996-97 and just 43 games last year and doesn’t seem to have fully recovered from that, whether mentally or in terms of skill. Yes, he possesses the ability to shoot, but often doesn’t. He can clear the crease, but often doesn’t. He can fight, but often doesn’t. Whether this is residual from the injuries or not is irrelevant; there’s a good possibility that he becomes just another big-bodied bust of a defenseman, another relic of a time when size could trump skill at the draft table.
D Mark Tinordi – 33-year-old defenseman, undrafted
The case for taking Tinordi – The unquestioned best defenseman available in the expansion draft, Tinordi can do a bit of everything except generate offense. He can play suffocating defense, he can be extremely physical, he can fight a bit if needed. He’s either worn an A or a C for the last decade, and could play on the top pairing on almost any team in the NHL.
The case against taking Tinordi – There are two huge reasons for passing on Tinordi. The first is that he’s a pending UFA, and teams have shown a reluctance this year toward taking on expensive contracts. It’s unlikely that Tinordi will take much of a pay cut from the almost $3 million he made last year, meaning that we’re looking at tying up a ton of our initial payroll in one guy. And if he hits free agency, it’s unlikely he’ll get a huge offer, meaning that simply taking him to collect a compensatory pick is a bad move.
The second reason, which ties back into the first, is that he’s constantly injured. He played 48 games out of 82 last year, 47 the year before, 56 the year before. All told, he’s played 70 games in a season one time in his long career. Since 1992-93, he’s played in 394 games out of a possible 544, which is 72%. The last three years, it’s 61%. That’s a ton of time missed, and it negatively impacts the bottom line, it negatively impacts the team on the ice, and it negatively impacts the free agent market for him.
I think we need to take a very long look at what happened last year with Nashville, when they drafted Al Iafrate from San Jose for the same reason. He’d played 59 games the previous two seasons, yet for some reason thought they’d either get the old Iafrate or a nice compensatory pick; they ended up with neither and got nothing. It also cost them a chance to get a productive player like Murray Craven, so they lost every which way.
If Tinordi were healthy, then he’s someone that you take and never look back from. That’s not the case. We can go after him in free agency if we really want him.