JUNE 23, 1999
ALSO THIS MONTH
MARC CIAMPA, a native of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada is the staff sports writer for Renaissance Online Magazine. A student at the University of Alberta, Ciampa is the public relations coordinator for the St. Albert Saints and writes a weekly article in the Edmonton Sun on junior hockey during the winter. During the summer he runs the official Calgary Cannons website.
The building of the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers starts from the ground up this Friday.
The expansion draft will be on June 25 and I thought I'd clear up some confusion for our readers as well as play General Manager as the Thrashers prep for the draft.
First, the rules. Each existing NHL club (except Nashville) has submitted a protected list of players to the NHL. Each team can protect only one goaltender, five defensemen and nine forwards. There was a second option, but nobody chose to exercise it.
Of the players that each team had to leave available, they were required to expose to Atlanta at least one defenseman who had played either 40 NHL games played - playoffs and regular season - in the 1998-99 season or 70 NHL games played over the last two seasons (1997-98 and 1998-99)
Also, the team had to leave available two forwards who met that same criteria.
The only players who did not have to be made available, or protected were all first and second-year pros and all unsigned draft choices from 1996 on.
A full protected list from each NHL team can be found at the NHL's website (www.nhl.com)
Now that Atlanta has a list in their hands of all the players that they are able to pick, the league regulates how many players at each position they may draft. They must pick at least three goalies, eight defensemen and 13 forwards. There are also two extra spots from which they can choose from any position. Atlanta GM Don Waddell has indicated that he will use both to select two more goaltenders - likely for trade bait. Only six of the players they select from the draft can be free agents this summer. Each team besides Nashville will lose one and only one player and teams that lost a goalie in last year's draft (Anaheim, Los Angeles, Montreal, New Jersey and NY Rangers) can't lose one this year.
And now, without further ado, here are your 1999-2000 Atlanta Thrashers as portrayed by yours truly...
LW - Kirk Muller (33) 6-0, 205 from Kingston, Ontario
Why I chose him: Kirk Muller has gone downhill in a big way since his 30 goal days with Montreal and New Jersey but one thing he still has - and has always had - is a great attitude. I think he would be an outstanding captain for the Thrashers even if he never does regain that scoring touch he once had.
LW - Rem Murray (26) 6-2, 196 from Stratford, Ontario
Why I chose him: I cannot believe the Oilers left him available. Playing spot duty on the top two lines but mostly on lines three and four, Rem Murray scored over 20 goals last season. This season he'll play on the top line in Atlanta and get a ton of ice. I think he can score 30 easy.
LW - Gino Odjick (28) 6-3, 210 from Maniwaki, Quebec
Why I chose him: There's basically nothing of interest on the Islanders roster, so I selected Gino Odjick. Gino can be the token tough guy on the Atlanta club or trade bait to the Florida Panthers who might want to reunite Gino and good buddy Pavel Bure.
LW - Geoff Sanderson (27) 6-0, 185 from St. Albert, Alberta
Why I chose him: The Thrashers might have a plan here if they get Sanderson and then sign his former linemate from Hartford who is an unrestricted free agent this summer, Andrew Cassels. With Cassels in the past Sanderson scored 40 goals and he just might be able to do it again. The two would be given a ton of ice time as well.
C - Sergei Brylin (34) 5-10, 190 from Moscow, Russia
Why I chose him: Brylin has never really had the chance to shine in New Jersey with both limited ice time and being trapped in the trap. As a top line guy with Atlanta I think he's easily capable of 20 goals and maybe more.
C - Alexandre Daigle (24) 6-0, 202 from Montreal, Quebec
Why I chose him: There's a chance that he could still reach his potential when he was drafted first overall in 1992... aw who am I kidding? There was nobody better to pick on this sad Tampa squad.
C - Christian Dube (21) 5-11, 176 from Sherbrooke, Quebec
Why I chose him: Dube is one of the Rangers' best prospects and why they left him available for the taking is beyond me. Dube has outstanding speed and if given enough ice time he could really make the Rangers regret letting him go.
C - Dave Gagner (34) 5-10, 180 from Chatham, Ontario
Why I chose him: Like Muller, his career went downhill when he went to Florida. Perhaps a change of scenery to a location where he's once again the go-to guy will do him some good. He's capable of 60+ points.
C - Mark Janssens (31) 6-3, 212 from Surrey, British Columbia
Why I chose him: Mark Janssens is exactly the type of player Atlanta needs to start building their team from the ground up. He'll be a positive influence on the younger players, his toughness should rub off on everyone and he'll win his fair share of face-offs at critical moments.
C - Andreas Johansson (26) 6-2, 209 from Hofors, Sweden
Why I chose him: Something is up in the Senators camp. The Sens left goaltender Ron Tugnutt available but Atlanta won't take him because of the deal earlier this week that landed the Thrashers Damien Rhodes. Johansson was outstanding last year with the Senators and he would be the obvious second choice - unless the Rhodes deal involved Atlanta not taking HIM as well.
RW - Lonny Bohonos (26) 5-11, 190 from Winnipeg, Manitoba
Why I chose him: Lonny Bohonos has never gotten the chance to show what he's got in the NHL. Oddly enough, in his brief chances he often shines - most recent example being the 1999 Stanley Cup Playoffs on a line with Mats Sundin. Atlanta should take a chance on him.
RW - Rob Brown (31) 5-11, 185 from Edmonton, Alberta
Why I chose him: He can still get 40 to 50 points a season - and maybe more if given the ice time - and besides, the Penguins didn't have much else worth looking at. Rob Brown is a worthwhile gamble.
RW - Jonas Hglund (26) 6-3, 213 from Hammaro, Sweden
Why I chose him: I still think that he can score 30 goals in the NHL given the right circumstances. Take his former linemate from Calgary, Dave Gagner, and pair them together and see what happens. He scored 19 goals in his rookie year with Gagner and could score that and more given the proper motivation.
Nolan Baumgartner (23) 6-1, 198 from Calgary, Alberta
Why I chose him: Still a very young defenseman that definitely has the ability to step in and play in the NHL next season. He's due for a breakthrough year. Never got the opportunity to shine in Washington.
Shawn Chambers (32) 6-2, 200 from Stirling Heights, Michigan
Why I chose him: He didn't quite live up to his hype as an unrestricted free agent signing in Dallas but I don't think he's done just yet. He's very solid defensively, being a by-product of the Devils trap in its early years, and is a very good 3-4 defenseman on a contending team. On Atlanta? He would fit in as their #2 guy at least in their first season.
Yan Golubovsky (23) 6-3, 183 from Novosibirsk, Russia
Why I chose him: Ideally, Don Waddell would probably have wanted Norm Maracle but word is that the Wings have cut a deal and Maracle won't be taken. This leaves the next-best thing - Yan Golubovsky - and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I project Gulobovsky to be one of the Thrashers' 1-2 defensemen in the future and he'll get a ton of ice time to prove me right or wrong next season.
Garry Galley (36) 6-0, 205 from Montreal, Quebec
Why I chose him: Galley's getting on in years, but Atlanta has let it be known that they want to win right away. The key to success in today's NHL I believe starts at the blueline and if the Thrashers are going to work a guy like Golubovsky in they'll need players like the aforementioned Chambers and Galley to provide the veteran leadership.
Jamie Pushor (26) 6-3, 225 from Lethbridge, Alberta
Why I chose him: Jamie Pushor is a tough defenseman that would be a seasoned vet by now if he didn't spend the early part of his career behind the Detroit defense. He'll definitely be part of Atlanta's top four if they choose to pick him.
Luke Richardson (30) 6-3, 210 from Ottawa, Ontario
Why I chose him: As I stated before, solid veteran defensemen are key to victory and they don't come more solid than Luke Richardson. His price tag might be a little high, but he will be an invaluable addition to the Thrasher defense corps. His last couple years with Philly have been disastrous, but he's only 30 and should be able to regain his Edmonton Oiler form.
Jamie Rivers (24) 6-0, 200 from Halifax, Nova Scotia
Why I chose him: Jamie Rivers had a breakthrough season last year. He showed that he is responsible defensively but also a bit creative offensively. If Atlanta takes him - and I think they will - he'd be able to show that creative side a little bit more often as he gets first unit powerplay time. He's capable of 35 points if given the time and patience to make his mistakes as he develops.
Cam Russell (30) 6-4, 200 from Halifax, Nova Scotia
Why I chose him: Cam Russell is a big defenseman who is not afraid to back down from a challenge. Also, he's used to being a role player and would be the perfect choice as Atlanta's 7th/8th depth defenseman.
Trevor Kidd (27) 6-2, 190 from Winnipeg, Manitoba
Why I chose him: Trevor Kidd had an outstanding year in 97-98 with Carolina and all of a sudden they give up on him? I think that was a huge mistake and I also believe that if given the chance Kidd will emerge as the number one goalie on this club next season despite the club already giving that title to Damien Rhodes.
Scott Langkow (23) 5-11, 190 from Edmonton, Alberta
Why I chose him: The Thrashers can pick five goalies, and since they already have Rhodes that makes it six goaltenders that they will have at the conclusion of the expansion draft. What I think their plan will be is to select several veterans - one to put in tandem with Rhodes and the rest become trade bait for depth players, prospects and draft picks. They'll also need to get some goalies for their farm team in Orlando and Langkow would be ideal. The Hockey News rated Langkow as Phoenix's number one prospect.
Tyler Moss (23) 6-0, 184 from Ottawa, Ontario
Why I chose him: It was a toss-up between him and Jan Hlavac - a virtually unknown European who shone overseas last season and caught Atlanta's eye. The clincher for me that made Moss Atlanta's selection from Calgary instead of Hlavac was the reports out of Detroit that a deal was made between the Wings and Atlanta GM Don Waddell so they didn't take Maracle. Since Moss played with Atlanta's farm team (Orlando) for part of last season, he seems to me a natural choice as goalie of the future with the Thrashers. Hopefully for him he gets some time in Atlanta next year. Moss also played in Atlanta earlier on in his career and might be a familiar name to the fans.
Rob Tallas (26) 6-0, 163 from Edmonton, Alberta
Why I chose him: Picking Tallas puts Boston between a rock and a hard place. They have nobody to fill Tallas' role. What I would do if I was Atlanta is draft Tallas, then trade him back to Boston the next day for a 2nd or 3rd round pick. If the Bruins decline, Tallas is a very good goalie that would be good insurance next season and Boston is forced to make a trade elsewhere for their backup.
Mike Vernon (36) 5-9, 170 from Calgary, Alberta
Why I chose him: He doesn't fit into Atlanta's plans on the ice, but off the ice he's perfect. Many teams are looking for quality backups (or will be after the Thrashers raid them) and a few are even looking for starters. Mike Vernon is outstanding trade bait and will be a sought-after commodity this summer.
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