Sunday, December 15, 2013

1992 NHL Expansion Draft

For more about the 1992 expansion click here.

The 1992 NHL Expansion Draft was held June 18, 1992 at 6:00 pm local time at one of the ballrooms at the Gouverneur Hotel in Montreal (two days before the Entry Draft, which was held at the Forum).

The Rules

The rules for this expansion draft were set well in advance. Given the teams were announced so early—December, 1990—it was already known that there would be an expansion draft in 1991 to stock the San Jose Sharks and another in 1992 to stock the Senators and Lightning. The rules for both were set at roughly speaking the same time in the spring of 1991.

The 1992 Expansion Draft would be similar to the 1991 draft with respect to teams having to expose goalies, defencemen and forwards with minimum levels of experience. At least one goalie with 60 minutes of NHL experience, at least one defenceman with 40 or more games played in 1991-92 or 70 over 1990-91 and 1991-92, and at least one forward with 40 or more games in '91-'92 or 70 in '90-'91 and '91-'92 had to be offered by each of the existing clubs. Protected lists would be only 14 skaters and a pair of goalies (two fewer skaters than in 1991), with first and second-year professionals exempt. The idea was that this would help to give the expansion clubs some half-decent players. The 1979 draft was not particularly helpful to any of the four former WHA clubs. Of the four only the Oilers had had much success: the Whalers had missed the playoffs five out of their first six years, the Jets were atrocious in their first couple years and as of the time of this expansion draft the Nordiques had missed the playoffs for five straight seasons and finished the preceding three in last place overall. The 1974 Expansion Draft was shockingly poor for the Capitals and Kansas City Scouts. In the Scouts franchise's first 10 seasons it had relocated to another city (twice; to Denver in 1976 and to New Jersey in 1982) more often than it had made the playoffs (only once, in 1978). The Capitals weren't much better, missing the playoffs for their first eight seasons.

The San Jose Sharks, being that they would have just finished their first season, were exempt from the proceedings entirely. The Minnesota North Stars, despite participating in the 1991 Expansion Draft alongside the Sharks, were not.

The rules of the 1992 Expansion Draft were also tied to the results of the 1991 Expansion Draft in that any team that lost a goaltender in 1991 (it turned out only one did, the Islanders) would not have to expose a goaltender, and any team that lost a defenceman in 1991 would not have to expose one in 1992. Similar to the 1991 draft the 1992 draft was split into goalies, defencemen and forwards rounds. The first four selections of the draft would be reserved exclusively for the selection of goalies, the following 14 exclusively for defencemen, and the final 24 for forwards. The Lightning and Senators would each pick two goalies, seven defencemen and 12 forwards for a total of 42 players between the two new clubs. Of their 21 selections each team could pick only one player who was or was about to become a free agent.

The order of selection was determined by a coin toss. The winner, "Team A", would get the choice of having the 1st and 4th goalie selections or the 2nd and 3rd. "Team B" would get the choice of 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 12th and 14th defencemen or could cede them to 'A' and have the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 8th, 10th, 11th and 13th picks. 'A' would choose between having the 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd forwards or 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 16th, 18th, 19th, 21st and 24th forwards. The Senators ended up being "Team A" and chose to keep the first picks of goalie and forward. The Lightning ceded the choice of 1st defenceman to the Senators as well.

The Available Players

The list of players available for selection was long but not particularly deep. The rules about providing players with minimum experience levels were designed to force the existing clubs to expose at least a few worthwhile players but those existing clubs worked very hard to skirt the rules as well as they could. Several free agent signings and trades were made in the days leading up to the draft, many of them designed to work around the rule about exposing a goalie with a minimum of one game played in the NHL.

For example the Jets had three goalies who saw significant playing time in 1991-92: Bob Essensa, Rick Tabaracci and Stéphane Beauregard. Mike O'Neill also played, but only 12 minutes and 27 seconds in a 7-4 loss to the Flames on December 19, 1991. The Jets could only protect two of them, and Mike O'Neill wouldn't count as a goalie with 'experience' because he didn't play a full 60 minutes. They stood a very real chance of losing one of Essensa, Tabaracci or Beauregard, whichever they didn't protect, and they didn't want to lose any of them.

Instead of losing one of them for nothing they acquired goalie Daniel Berthiaume from the Bruins for forward Doug Evans on June 10. They didn't really want to keep Berthiaume but he would count as their 'experienced' goalie and they could then trade one of Essensa, Tabaracci or Beauregard for an asset. Five days later they traded Beauregard to the Sabres for Christian Ruutu. The Sabres protected Beauregard and the Jets protected Ruutu, and on August 7 the Sabres traded Beauregard and a fourth round pick in the 1993 Entry Draft to the Blackhawks for (drumroll please) Dominik Hasek. Three days after that the Blackhawks traded Beauregard back to the Jets for (another drumroll please) Christian Ruutu! In effect the Jets stashed Beauregard with the Sabres, the Sabres stashed Ruutu with the Jets, and the Sabres got Hasek from the Blackhawks for Christian Ruutu and a fourth round draft pick (who ended up being Eric Dazé, by the way). Berthiaume went unclaimed in the expansion draft and the Jets released him over the summer. He signed with the Senators as a free agent in December of 1992.

That's just one example of many transactions that were made in efforts to keep certain players or entice the expansion clubs to take certain others. On June 13 the Devils acquired defenceman Brad Shaw from the Whalers for future considerations and left him exposed in the draft. They left several experienced defencemen available, including Tommy Albelin and Slava Fetisov, but by having Shaw they hedged their bets. If the expansion clubs took one of their other defencemen they could keep Shaw and if Shaw was chosen they could keep the defencemen they had in the first place. As you will see in the results they lost Shaw in the draft to the Senators.

The same thing occurred between the Detroit Red Wings and Quebec Nordiques. The Nordiques acquired Dennis Vial and Doug Crossman from the Wings for cash on June 15, and Crossman was selected from the Nordiques by the Lightning in the draft.

The Maple Leafs made another such trade with the Sharks on June 15. The Leafs had three goalies who played in the NHL in '91-'92: Grant Fuhr, Rick Wamsley and rookie Felix Potvin. They didn't have to protect Potvin, nor did they have to protect Damian Rhodes (who played in the AHL for the St. John's Maple Leafs). If you have read my post about the 1991 Expansion Draft you might recall that the Leafs put Rhodes in a game in the 1990-91 season in order to expose him in the '91 Expansion Draft and protect their other goalies with NHL experience (at the time, Peter Ing and Jeff Reese). As of the end of 1991-92 Rhodes could still be automatically protected by virtue of only being a second-year pro, but the Leafs had to expose somebody. So they cut a deal with the Sharks: they acquired Jarmo Myllys for future considerations, and exposed Myllys. That way they could keep Fuhr, Wamsley, Potvin and Rhodes.

Goalies were of particular importance, as they always are, and teams went to all sorts of lengths to hang on to the ones they had rather than lose them in the draft. The Capitals had three goalies play in the '91-'92 season too: Don Beaupre, Mike Liut and Jim Hrivnak. Ordinarily they might have just protected Beaupre and Hrivnak and expose Liut, who was 36 years old at the time and very well-paid. They had a problem though: Liut retired! The only other goalie they had with NHL experience was Olaf Kolzig, who was then only 22 years old and would normally have been automatically protected being that he had just finished his second year as a professional (he played two games with the Capitals at the very start of the 1989-1990 as a 19-year-old, but that didn't count as a 'pro' season; he was sent back to the Tri-City Americans of the WHL). They didn't want to lose Kolzig, Beaupre or Hrivnak, so Caps GM David Poile came up with a cunning, devious plan. He signed former Capitals goalie Bernie Wolfe to a contract on June 15.

"Bernie Wolfe?" you say. Bernie Wolfe played four seasons for the Capitals in the 1970s. By the time he signed a contract in 1992 he was 40 years old and hadn't played hockey in 13 years, but the NHL's rules didn't say when a goalie exposed in the expansion draft had to have played in the NHL, just they he had to have played at least one game.

The NHL wouldn't let that fly. President John Ziegler refused to allow the contract with Wolfe to be registered. It was clear in his eyes that the Capitals were deliberately trying to skirt the rules of the draft. Poile signed goalie Steve Weeks to a contract on the 16th instead; Weeks was 33 and had been a regular NHLer since 1981. (Weeks was not claimed in the draft and was traded to the Senators on August 13, 1992 for future considerations.)

Other teams didn't go to such lengths, instead electing to play a farmhand goalie for a single game in the 1991-92 season as the Leafs had done with Rhodes the year before. The Blackhawks didn't want to lose one of their three top goalies: Eddie Belfour, Jimmy Waite and Dominik Hasek. Hasek didn't have to be exposed—he had just finished his second pro year (in North America)—but they had to expose at least one goalie with one game of NHL experience. Enter Ray LeBlanc.

LeBlanc was a minor-league goalie who was never drafted and up until 1991-92 had spent almost his entire pro career in the IHL. He played in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France and that's when his profile rose considerably. In Albertville he finished 4-0-1 with two shutouts in the round robin, and was named the top goalie in the tournament despite Team USA's loss to the Czechoslovak team in the bronze medal game. Not long after the tournament ended he was called up from the Blackhawks' IHL affiliate. Ray LeBlanc played his one and only NHL game on March 10, 1992. The Hawks beat the Sharks 5-1, and LeBlanc's career stats in the NHL are 21 saves on 22 shots and a 1.00 GAA. LeBlanc, having played a complete 60 minutes, was exposed in the expansion draft as the Hawks' 'experienced' goalie and as a result they were able to protect Belfour and Waite and didn't have to expose Hasek.

The Flames did the same thing. On April 16, 1992—the Flames' last game of the season— Scott Sharples played in his only NHL game, a 4-4 tie versus the Canucks (36 saves on 40 shots, a 3.69 GAA). The Flames exposed Sharples, protected Mike Vernon and Jeff Reese, and didn't have to expose Trevor Kidd.

Boston BruinsBuffalo SabresCalgary Flames
Matt DelGuidiceClint MalarchukScott Sharples
Mike Parson  
noneDale DeGraynone
 Randy Hillier 
 Bill Houlder 
 Grant Ledyard 
 Brad Miller 
 Mike Ramsey 
 Dirk Rueter 
 Hannu Virta 
Peter DourisGord DonnellyRich Chernomaz
Doug EvansJody GageKerry Clark
Jeff LazaroFrançois GuayBryan Deasley
Ted MiskolcziJeff HamiltonMarc Habscheid
Shayne StevensonDarcy LoewenTim Hunter
Jim VeseyGates OrlandoChris Lindberg
 Colin PattersonTodd Strueby
 Joel SavageTim Sweeney
 Rick VaiveCarey Wilson
Chicago BlackhawksDetroit Red WingsEdmonton Oilers
Ray LeBlancAllan BesterNorm Foster
noneGord Kruppkenone
 Bob McGill 
 Bob Wilkie 
Shawn ByramTroy CrowderNick Beaulieu
Greg GilbertKory KocurDan Currie
Michel GouletLonnie LoachDavid Haas
Stu GrimsonBrian MacLellanFabian Joseph
Tony HoracekMax MiddendorfTomas Kapusta
Tony HrkacKen QuinneyMarc Laforge
Brad Lauer Mark Lamb
Mike Peluso Tommy Lehmann
Dan Vincelette David Maley
Bill Watson Bill McDougall
Sean Williams Anatoli Semenov
  Shaun Van Allen
  Mike Ware
Hartford WhalersLos Angeles KingsMinnesota North Stars
Mario GosselinDarryl GilmourSteve Guenette
Peter SidorkiewiczRobb Stauber 
noneJohn MinerDavid Jensen
 John Van KesselPaul Jerrard
 Tim WattersRoy Mitchell
  Dave Moylan
  Rob Ramage
  Ville Siren
Blair AtcheynumScott BjugstadTodd Bergen
Paul CyrSylvain CouturierNeal Broten
Scott DanielsMal DavisStewart Gavin
Lane MacDonaldKyosti KarjalainenAlan Haworth
Mike McHughJay MillerTim Lenardon
Daniel ShankDave TaylorBasil McRae
Mike TomlakJim ThomsonMitch Messier
Terry YakeDarryl WilliamsBrian Propp
  Scott Robinson
  Warren Rychel
  George Servinis
  Derrick Smith
  Bobby Smith
Montreal CanadiensNew Jersey DevilsNew York Islanders
Frédéric ChabotDoug Dadswellnone
noneTommy AlbelinDean Chynoweth
 Viacheslav FetisovJeff Finley
 Brent SeverynTom Kurvers
 Jeff SharplesGary Nylund
 Brad ShawJoe Reekie
Todd EwenDave BarrBill Berg
John Ferguson Jr.Laurie BoschmanBrad Dalgarno
Mats NaslundNeil BradyRob DiMaio
Mario RobergeDoug BrownDean Ewen
Sylvain TurgeonPat ConacherTom Fitzgerald
 Jon MorrisPaul Gagne
 Kent NilssonRich Kromm
 Peter StastnySean Lebrun
 Claude VilgrainClaude Loiselle
  Hubie McDonough
  Graeme Townshend
  Mick Vukota
New York RangersPhiladelphia FlyersPittsburgh Penguins
Mark LaForestBruce HoffortBruce Racine
  Wendell Young
Jeff BloembergDave FenyvesGilbert Delorme
Peter FiorentinoCorey FosterBryan Fogarty
John MokosakWillie HuberGrant Jennings
Normand RochefortMoe ManthaPeter Taglianetti
 Darren Rumble 
Rick BennettMark FreerPeter Lee
Don BiggsChris JensenTroy Mick
Jan ErixonBrad JonesJoe Mullen
Lee GiffinDale KushnerKen Priestlay
Randy Gilhen  
Jody Hull  
Tim Kerr  
Dan Lacroix  
John Ogrodnick  
Mario Thyer  
Quebec NordiquesSt. Louis BluesToronto Maple Leafs
Scott GordonDarrell MayJarmo Myllys
Doug CrossmanCurt Gilesnone
Mario DoyonDominic Lavoie 
Stéphane GuérardRob Robinson 
Tony TwistBruce Shoebottom 
 Tom Tilley 
 Alain Vigneault 
Gino CavalliniKelly ChaseBrad Aitken
Kevin KaminskiRon HooverNormand Aubin
Steve MaltaisDarin KimbleBrian Bradley
Everett SanipassDave LowryMike Bullard
Wayne Van DorpDave MackeyMike Foligno
Mark VermetteKevin MiehmTodd Hawkins
 Michel MongeauGreg Johnston
 Richard PionKevin Maguire
 Rich SutterKevin McClelland
 Steve TuttleKeith Osborne
Vancouver CanucksWashinton CapitalsWinnipeg Jets
Bob MasonSteve WeeksDaniel Berthiaume
  Mike O'Neill
Brian BladShawn AndersonRandy Carlyle
Ken HammondBob BabcockDallas Eakins
Risto SiltanenShawn ChambersMario Marois
Behn WilsonChris FelixRoger Ohman
 Rod LangwayKent Paynter
 Ken Sabourin 
Robin BawaTim BerglandDanton Cole
Dave CapuanoJohn ByceMike Hartman
Paul GuayCraig DuncansonBob Joyce
Jay MazurJeff GreenlawJohn Leblanc
Rob MurphyMark HunterRob Murray
Ryan WalterJohn PurvesRudy Poeschek
 Mike Richard 
 Steve Seftel 
 Tim Taylor 
 Alfie Turcotte 

The Draft

Ovr.PlayerPicked fromPicked by
1Peter SidorkiewiczHartford WhalersOttawa Senators
2Wendell YoungPittsburgh PenguinsTampa Bay Lightning
3Frédéric ChabotMontreal CanadiensTampa Bay Lightning
4Mark LaForestNew York RangersOttawa Senators
5Brad ShawNew Jersey DevilsOttawa Senators
6Joe ReekieNew York IslandersTampa Bay Lightning
7Shawn ChambersWashington CapitalsTampa Bay Lightning
8Darren RumblePhiladelphia FlyersOttawa Senators
9Peter TaglianettiPittsburgh PenguinsTampa Bay Lightning
10Dominic LavoieSt. Louis BluesOttawa Senators
11Brad MillerBuffalo SabresOttawa Senators
12Bob McGillDetroit Red WingsTampa Bay Lightning
13Ken HammondVancouver CanucksOttawa Senators
14Jeff BloembergNew York RangersTampa Bay Lightning
15Doug CrossmanQuebec NordiquesTampa Bay Lightning
16Kent PaynterWinnipeg JetsOttawa Senators
17Rob RamageMinnesota North StarsTampa Bay Lightning
18John Van KesselLos Angeles KingsOttawa Senators
19Sylvain TurgeonMontreal CanadiensOttawa Senators
20Michel MongeauSt. Louis BluesTampa Bay Lightning
21Anatoli SemenovEdmonton OilersTampa Bay Lightning
22Mike PelusoChicago BlackhawksOttawa Senators
23Mike HartmanWinnipeg JetsTampa Bay Lightning
24Rob MurphyVancouver CanucksOttawa Senators
25Mark LambEdmonton OilersOttawa Senators
26Basil McRaeMinnesota North StarsTampa Bay Lightning
27Laurie BoschmanNew Jersey DevilsOttawa Senators
28Rob DiMaioNew York IslandersTampa Bay Lightning
29Steve MaltaisQuebec NordiquesTampa Bay Lightning
30Jim ThomsonLos Angeles KingsOttawa Senators
31Dan VinceletteChicago BlackhawksTampa Bay Lightning
32Lonnie LoachDetroit Red WingsOttawa Senators
33Mark FreerPhiladelphia FlyersOttawa Senators
34Tim BerglandWashington CapitalsTampa Bay Lightning
35Chris LindbergCalgary FlamesOttawa Senators
36Brian BradleyToronto Maple LeafsTampa Bay Lightning
37Keith OsborneToronto Maple LeafsTampa Bay Lightning
38Jeff LazaroBoston BruinsOttawa Senators
39Shayne StevensonBoston BruinsTampa Bay Lightning
40Darcy LoewenBuffalo SabresOttawa Senators
41Blair AtcheynumHartford WhalersOttawa Senators
42Tim HunterCalgary FlamesTampa Bay Lightning

Poor Mel Bridgman. This day and this draft were the auspicious start of the expansion Ottawa Senators' absolutely miserable first few seasons. Bridgman was a former player who retired in 1989 and went back to school, earning a business degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. By all accounts he was a bright guy, but he did not have a good day on June 18, 1992.

It all started with the Senators staff having brought all of the research they had done for the expansion draft on a laptop computer. It just so happened that when they got to the table at the draft meeting the computer's batteries were dead. They had no backup, and nothing to plug into to charge it. All of their prep work was stuck on a useless laptop. They had to make do with paper and select from memory, which proved to be very difficult.

With the 33rd overall pick they tried to select Todd Ewen from the Canadiens. The Senators had already selected Sylvain Turgeon from the Canadiens and they thought that Ewen was still available and eligible. They neglected to cross Frédéric Chabot's name off their lists when the Lightning chose him with the 3rd overall pick. The Habs had already lost the maximum of two players. Bridgman was told that Ewen was ineligible for selection and he had to walk back to his staff's table and figure out who they could take.

After a few minutes he walked back up to the stage and sheepishly apologized. They took Mark Freer from the Flyers instead.

Seven picks later and it was the Senators' turn again. Bridgman walked up to the mic and announced they would select Todd Hawkins from the Maple Leafs… except that the Lightning had selected Brian Bradley and Keith Osborne with the 36th and 37th picks. Another apology proffered and back he went to the conference table to discuss what to do next. He returned to the mic and called out C.J. Young's name. Young's rights were held by the Flames and the Flames hadn't lost two players yet.

But Young wasn't eligible for selection! He had just finished his second year of professional hockey. His name was mistakenly printed on the Senators' list of eligible players. The Senators (eventually) chose Darcy Loewen from the Sabres.

By contrast Phil Esposito and his crew sailed through the expansion draft proceedings. Esposito had no illusions about the quality of the players available though. He was asked by a reporter if he believed he had chosen any potential superstars; apocryphal stories say he turned to the board with the Lightning's list of players on it, pointed and asked the reporter "Are you blind?"

It didn't take Esposito long to start wheeling-and-dealing. The very next day he pulled the trigger on four trades: he traded goalie Chabot back to the Canadiens for goalie Jean-Claude Bergeron, he traded Tim Hunter to the Nordiques for future considerations, he acquired Danton Cole from the Jets for future considerations and acquired Darin Kimble, Rob Robinson, Steve Tuttle and goalie Pat Jablonski from the Blues for future considerations (which ended up being a fourth round entry draft pick in '94, a fifth round pick in '95 and a sixth round pick in '96).

Mel Bridgman made trades of his own over the summer. On June 22 he traded Chris Lindberg back to the Flames for Mark Osiecki. On July 20 he acquired Brad Marsh from the Leafs for future considerations. He also acquired Jody Hull from the Rangers, Steve Weeks from the Capitals and Neil Brady from the Devils for future considerations on July 28, August 13 and September 3 respectively.

The 1992-93 Season

The '92 Expansion Draft gave the Lightning and Senators a start to their franchises and for the briefest of moments it looked like it might have been a decent start. The Lightning opened their season at the Expo Hall in Tampa on October 7 in a game against the Blackhawks. Chris Kontos, a veteran winger who had experience in the NHL with the Rangers, Penguins and Kings but had been playing for the Canadian national team at the time, scored four goals (still a franchise record) to lead the team to a 7-3 victory. The next night the Senators opened their inaugural season at the Ottawa Civic Centre against the Canadiens and beat them 5-3.

The Lightning's record stayed respectable for the first couple months of the season but the Senators became a laughingstock. They won that first game but went on a 21-game winless streak after that. Their second victory didn't come until November 25. The Lightning finished 22nd out of 24 teams with 53 points, five points behind the Whalers. The Senators finished dead last with a 10-70-4 record good for only 24 points. They were only three points shy of tying the modern-day record of futility set by the expansion Capitals in '74-'75, but the Senators had the benefit of playing an 84-game schedule whereas the Capitals only played 80. The Sharks also finished the season with 24 points but finished ahead of the Senators by virtue of having one more win. At least the Senators didn't finish with the record for most losses in a season; the '92-'93 Sharks still own that record with an alarmingly terrible 71.

The Senators' corporate parent, Terrace Investments, was slowly taken over by CEO Rod Bryden over the course of the team's first season. Bryden became CEO of the Senators in January, 1993 and on April 15 he fired Mel Bridgman. The team's COO, Randy Sexton, took over as GM. Bruce Firestone sold his shares in Terrace to Bryden in August of 1993 and walked away.


  1. The best player to come out of this Expansion Draft is Brian Bradley hands down. Rod Langway, even if 92-93 was his last season, would've been an excellent captain & still solid defender. Joe Mullen would've been a great pick too as he could still score, play (retired in 97), and be a leader (3 cup rings). Michel Goulet & Neal Broten would've also been solid choices if age & salary were not of concern but I digress.

    1. I assume Mullen wasn't picked since the Pens lost two players even before the forwards round started, so Mullen was safe.
      It's also shocking how much these expansion teams valued toughness.

  2. Bill Houlder would have been the steal of the draft had anyone taken him. Ten very solid years and 750 NHL games ahead of him, and much better post-1992 analytics than Bradley, Mullen or anyone else available.



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