In the first 1999 re-draft, I produced a decent enough team. It wouldn’t make the playoffs in the first year, but wouldn’t exactly be blown out on a nightly basis.
However, let’s try a different scenario. In the first one, a lot of trades that were actually made by the Thrashers were rejected by me for being nonsensical. So there’s going to be a different challenge completely here: all actual trades from 1999 must take place. No picking and choosing, every single one of them must be made.
So here’s the second draft, using this guideline. The first handful of picks are done in a third-person perspective, the rest are in the usual first-person.
1st – Trevor Kidd from Carolina – TRADED. I really, really hate this trade for more reasons than I can fully expound upon. I’m actually thinking of doing a separate analysis for it in order to devote more space to it.
Anyway, the move is to draft Kidd, then trade him to Florida for Gord Murphy, Herberts Vasiljevs, Daniel Tjarnqvist, and a 6th-round draft pick.
2nd – Johan Garpenlov from Florida – ASSOCIATED WITH A TRADE. It’s very likely that an additional condition of the Kidd trade was that Atlanta had to take Garpenlov. Florida had tried to move him or get him drafted in the 1998 expansion draft as well, and succeeded in 1999.
3rd – Darryl Shannon from Buffalo – ASSOCIATED WITH A TRADE. The deal involved Atlanta taking Shannon and then receiving minor league forward Dean Sylvester; I believe this was to force Atlanta to pass on taking Geoff Sanderson.
4th – Phil Crowe from Ottawa – TRADED. I believe this was a part of the three-team deal involving Ottawa, Atlanta, and Nashville. Ottawa sends goalie Damian Rhodes to Atlanta in exchange for them taking Crowe in the expansion draft; Atlanta then traded Crowe to Nashville for future considerations; Nashville had already traded Andrew Brunette to Atlanta for future considerations, so I believe this seals that deal up.
5th – Peter Ferraro from Boston – TRADED. This is pretty simple: Atlanta takes Ferraro from Boston, then trades him right back for Randy Robitaille.
6th – Norm Maracle from Detroit – ASSOCIATED WITH A TRADE. Detroit sent Ulf Samuelsson to Atlanta for future considerations, believed to be for simply not taking Igor Larionov. Maracle is regarded as a long-term NHL goalie, so it’s not a bad deal.
7th – Kevin Dean from New Jersey – ASSOCIATED WITH A TRADE. In exchange for either taking Dean or passing on certain players (most likely Sergei Brylin and/or Vadim Sharifijanov), New Jersey is sending Sergei Vyshedkevich to Atlanta.
8th – Steve Staios from Vancouver – ASSOCIATED WITH A TRADE. I’m not 100% on this one. We know that Vancouver sent a 4th- and 9th-rounder to Atlanta for future considerations. This may have been to pass on a certain player (Garth Snow, most likely), or to take a specific player. If it’s the former, it’s never really been made public. If it’s the latter, Atlanta actually took Staios so we’ll just have to assume that he was the condition.
9th – Ed Ward from Calgary – ASSOCIATED WITH A TRADE. Calgary sent Andreas Karlsson to Atlanta for future considerations. I don’t know whether this was to force them to take Ward specifically or to simply pass on others. Ward was the actual pick, so I’ll assume it was to take him.
10th – Mike Stapleton from Phoenix – ASSOCIATED WITH A TRADE. Phoenix sent goalie Scott Langkow to Atlanta, although whether that was to pass on someone else or to specifically take Stapleton is unknown.
ASSESSMENT AFTER TRADES – Right now things aren’t terrible. 10 selections have been made, only one of them (Staios) burning one of the six free agent spots. And these 10 selections have netted a total of 17 players. The roster as of this moment is:
Goalies – Damian Rhodes, Norm Maracle, Scott Langkow
Defensemen – Gord Murphy, Daniel Tjarnqvist (UE), Darryl Shannon, Kevin Dean, Sergei Vyshedkevich, Steve Staios*, Ulf Samuelsson**
Forwards – Herberts Vasiljevs, Johan Garpenlov, Randy Robitaille, Andrew Brunette, Ed Ward, Andreas Karlsson, Mike Stapleton, Dean Sylvester
(UE) – unsigned European
*Staios was drafted as a defenseman and had played that position to this point, but would become a forward after being picked by Atlanta.
**Samuelsson was a pending UFA and was going to be allowed to walk in the hopes of getting a compensatory draft pick.
Compared to my own draft (#1) that I’ve already done, there’s not necessarily a ton of difference. Five of the picks are exactly the same with the trade being made, and one pick (Kidd) is the same but the trade being rejected.
Of the four that are remaining, I’m not sure that two of them aren’t actually better than what I did. I went with the assumption that the draft picks from Vancouver were to pass on Snow, and took defenseman Murray Baron while the actual pick was Steve Staios. Staios was fairly middling at that point, and would end up playing 1,000 games in the NHL. The other one is Calgary sending Andreas Karlsson in exchange (possibly) for taking on Ed Ward; I reject this trade and have them take Marty Murray, who was playing in Austria that year. Both of these trades, which Atlanta actually made, ended up better than what mine would have been.
The other two I’d have rejected quickly. Even at the time, Darryl Shannon plus Dean Sylvester does not equal a 27-year-old Geoff Sanderson, who I have as the top overall forward available. And Trevor Kidd plus Florida’s pick, as an asset, does not equal Gord Murphy (who was in a group of similar defensemen), Daniel Tjarnqvist, Johan Garpenlov, Herberts Vasiljevs, and a 6th-rounder.
So although this team still has five free agent picks available to use, and although there are 17 players on the roster and in the system, the top forward is off the board completely and no longer an option. Two of the top three goalies are gone, and we only have one of them.
So far there’s a decent starting goalie in Rhodes and a good backup who could be the starter in Maracle; Langkow is going to the IHL. Among defensemen, Dean and Vyshedkevich are third-pairing caliber, and Shannon and Murphy second-pairing. And we have no first-line or second-line forwards at all; Brunette may be the closest, but he fell apart the second half of this past season with Nashville and is a bigger wild card than we’d hoped.
And now, the rest of the 1999 Second (Re-)Draft.
11th – Manny Fernandez from Dallas. The top three goalies I have available in the expansion draft – at least among those who aren’t protected by a trade like Ron Tugnutt – are Trevor Kidd, Norm Maracle, and Fernadez. Maracle is in the fold, and Kidd was drafted and traded. We need another goalie badly.
Passing on Petr Buzek is tough, as he has a ton of upside, but it’s a bit easier to swallow being down a defenseman than down a goalie. This also means that we’ve hit the minimum requirement of drafting three goalies.
This takes out one of our remaining five free agent spots, and our only goalie spot available.
12th – Dave Manson from Chicago. The top five defensemen I have in this entire expansion draft are Manson, Curtis Leschyshyn, Gord Murphy, Bill Houlder, and Garry Galley; Manson is my top guy of them all. He’s the initial first-pairing caliber defenseman that we’ll have.
13th – Garry Galley from Los Angeles. I’d prefer Philippe Boucher on upside or several forwards on skill since there’s such a shortage of it in this draft, but we quite simply need actual NHL defensemen on the roster. We’ll get two, maybe three years of high-end play out of Galley, and he’ll be a terrific example for our young players of how a professional is supposed to play and prepare.
14th – Bill Houlder from San Jose. Houlder will be the seventh defenseman that we’ve acquired, and suddenly it looks like we have an actual NHL-caliber blueline. Right now it’s Manson and Galley, both of whom are first-pairing caliber; Houlder and Murphy, both of whom are second-pairing caliber; Dean and Shannon, both of whom are third-pairing caliber; Vyshedkevich is the seventh guy currently. This obviously doesn’t take chemistry or pairings into account at all, but simply reflects their current skill levels.
Why was Atlanta so bad off the bat? A big part is that, although Murphy, Dean, Shannon, and Vyshedkevich were all acquired, none of the other four best available (Manson, Galley, Houlder, Leschyshyn) were. Whether this was because of an aversion to taking older players or for budgetary reasons is unknown. What is known is that a lot of young defensemen were taken whose maximum upside may have been what several of the older defensemen already were.
15th – Nolan Baumgartner from Washington. We’ll simply keep bolstering the back end with the big smart defenseman. He’ll get a lot of guidance from all these veterans, and we could get a solid decade of play out of him if he’s able to come all the way back from his injuries.
16th – Brett Clark from Montreal. I took Sergei Zholtok in the first one, but Clark (who was the actual pick) will get a lot of ice time and guidance with this group of defensemen.
We have ten picks remaining; eight of them have to be forwards, none have to be goalies, none have to be defenseman. The two remaining spots can be used on any position. We’ve drafted three goalies, eight defensemen (Staios listed as a defenseman), and five forwards.
To this point, our roster is:
Goalies – Damian Rhodes, Norm Maracle, Manny Fernandez, Scott Langkow
Defensemen – Dave Manson, Bill Houlder, Garry Galley, Gord Murphy, Brett Clark, Nolan Baumgartner, Darryl Shannon, Kevin Dean, Sergei Vyshedkevich, Daniel Tjarnqvist (UE), Steve Staios*, Ulf Samuelsson**
Forwards – Herberts Vasiljevs, Johan Garpenlov, Randy Robitaille, Andrew Brunette, Ed Ward, Andreas Karlsson, Mike Stapleton, Dean Sylvester
Up to four of our draft picks can be used on pending free agents.
Not to pat myself on the back, but this blueline corps above is better than any that the Thrashers actually had at any point in their 12-year existence. The trade-off is that the forwards to take are going to be brutal, which means that we’ll have to start looking ahead into free agency for bargains.
Back to the draft, with eight forwards left to take:
17th – Jamie Pushor from Anaheim. Hey, that’s not a forward!
This will continue to bolster our defensive group, and there are a lot of teams looking to reinforce their own groups that would love to trade for someone that we have. We’re now in a position where Pushor, Clark, and Baumgartner are our 7th, 8th, and 9th defensemen right now; any one of them will carry serious value.
This does take up one of our remaining free agent spots; we’ve now used our only goalie spot and two defensemen. We can take one more pending free agent defenseman, or three forwards.
18th – Derek King from Toronto. There’s a forward!
There’s very little offense remaining to choose from. Taking King, who’s good for 20-25 goals year in and year out, will address some of this.
19th – Rob Brown from Pittsburgh. Here’s a guy that seriously knows how to put the puck in the net. Generally he’s produced when he’s in a team’s top six, and hasn’t in the bottom six. We can afford to give him top-six minutes right away, and he’ll score plenty.
20th – Tomi Kallio from Colorado. An unsigned European forward, Kallio is also the only Colorado forward we’re looking at who isn’t a free agent. We have three such spots left to go.
21st – Chris Tamer from the NY Rangers. As a defenseman, this will be the last of our free spots and the last of our defenseman free agent spots. Our last five picks will have to be forwards, of which only two can be free agents.
Tamer will bring a nasty physical presence to our blueline, if we decide to keep him of course. A PK of Manson and Tamer would certainly make opponents think twice about driving to the net, or getting within 20′ of the crease at all.
22nd – Terry Yake from St. Louis. Like Rob Brown, he can produce offense in a top-six role and will have plenty of ice time to make it work.
23rd – Alexandre Daigle from Tampa Bay. No pressure on him to be a franchise savior here; Daigle will be given every opportunity to find his game and his scoring touch. He went #1 overall and was universally regarded as a franchise player six years ago for a reason.
24th – Steve Webb from the NY Islanders. A fourth-line buzzsaw, Webb will go right into the lineup as an energy and defensive player.
Two picks left to go, and both of them can be free agents. Or neither of them. It doesn’t matter.
25th – Rem Murray from Edmonton. One of the most versatile forwards in the draft, Murray can fill into any role or any situation.
26th – Richard Park from Philadelphia. A blazing fast, hard-working forward with a scoring touch and a refined defensive game, Park will finally get the NHL ice time that he so desperately needs. Even if he ends up as nothing more than a utility guy, we’ll love to have him.
The final roster in this scenario is:
- Damian Rhodes
- Norm Maracle
- Manny Fernandez
- Scott Langkow
- Dave Manson
- Bill Houlder
- Garry Galley
- Gord Murphy
- Brett Clark
- Nolan Baumgartner
- Darryl Shannon
- Kevin Dean
- Jamie Pushor
- Chris Tamer
- Sergei Vyshedkevich
- Daniel Tjarnqvist (UE)
- Steve Staios*
- Ulf Samuelsson**
- Andrew Brunette
- Derek King
- Johan Garpenlov
- Rob Brown
- Alexandre Daigle
- Dean Sylvester
- Tomi Kallio (UE)
- Steve Webb
- Ed Ward
- Herberts Vasiljevs
- Randy Robitaille
- Mike Stapleton
- Terry Yake
- Rem Murray
- Richard Park
- Andreas Karlsson
If nothing else, this is a fascinating roster. It’s a legitimate group in net, and the defensive corps is in the upper half of the NHL right now and has several young defensemen who could really emerge. The biggest weakness by far is up the middle, where we have two guys who might be second-line caliber (Rem Murray and Terry Yake), and a lot of guys below that.
There’s not a need to be particularly active in free agency. We can target Andrew Cassels from Calgary and Ray Ferraro from Los Angeles; either would be an offensively-gifted first-line center who can really help our lines come together. There are a lot of valuable trade pieces to work with.
Total payroll of the current roster is roughly $21.6 million. This is compared to the approximately $20.8 million in the first draft posted.