Washington Capitals Expansion Draft Preview

By Jeff Charlesworth

Due to the depth throughout the Washington Capitals organization, they will most likely lose a
talented player in the upcoming expansion draft. However, because the Caps have quite a few
Free Agents, the players that Columbus and Minnesota may be interested in will not necessarily
be under contract for next season. In this latest round of expansion, the Capitals have lost a
young player with potential (Andrew Brunette – Nashville ’98) and an unsigned veteran (Mark
Tinordi – Atlanta ’99). Although both players were missed in DC, they were not irreplaceable;
this season is very similar in that the Caps will not be crippled by any selection the Wild and
Blue Jackets make.

Let’s get the eligibility criteria out of the way first, and all first and second year pros
are exempt. That means that twelve players in the Capitals organization do not have to be
protected: Forwards Jeff Halpern, Matt Herr, Mike Peluso and Trent Whitfield, Defensemen
Michael Farrell, J.F. Fortin, Steve Shirreffs, Mike Siklenka, Dean Stork, Scott Swanson and
Alexei Tezikov, and Goaltender Curtis Cruickshank. The Capitals also have thirteen Unrestricted and Minor League Free Agents, and since unsigned players are of little value to the expansion clubs, they will
all probably be left unprotected. They include: Forwards Mike Eagles, Trevor Halverson, Jim
McKenzie, Barrie Moore, Ryan Mulhern, Joe Murphy, Joe Sacco, and Jeff Toms, Defensemen Patrick
Boileau and Rob Zettler, as well as Goaltenders Craig Billington, Martin Brochu and Sebastien
Charpentier. None of them will garner high compensatory draft picks and therefore will not be
selected unless Minnesota or Columbus plan on signing them.

The Capitals will most likely protect all of their Restricted Free Agents (Forwards Jan Bulis,
Andrei Nikolishin and Chris Simon as well as Defensemen Sergei Gonchar, Ken Klee and Brendan
Witt), while most of the other spots are no-brainers: Forwards Peter Bondra, Steve Konowalchuk,
Adam Oates and Richard Zednik, Defensemen Calle Johansson and Joe Reekie and Goaltender Olaf
Kolzig. With thirteen of the fifteen spots locked away, and the entire core of the team
protected, I believe the Caps will take care of the future with the last two spots by
protecting Forwards Miika Elomo and Glen Metropolit.

Although Glen Metropolit is in his first season playing for an NHL organization, he played
several years of minor pro and is not exempt. The only real decision I see George McPhee having
to make is Miika Elomo versus James Black. Black missed the last half of the season with a leg
injury that he still has not recovered from. He has a year left on his contract, and Elomo
could move into his spot in the lineup next season. If the Caps left Elomo exposed, he would
probably get picked up quickly.

This leaves eight players under contract available to the expansion clubs. Forwards James
Black, Ulf Dahlen, Jeff Nelson, Jason Shmyr and Terry Yake, as well as Defensemen Nolan
Baumgartner, Jamie Huscroft and Dimtri Mironov. The Capitals would probably be happy if someone
was willing to take Mironov’s large contract off their hands, but it won’t happen. Dahlen and
Yake have club options on their contracts for next season, so they are as good as signed.

After being passed over by Atlanta last year, it may be time for Baumgartner to move on. He is
ready to prove himself at the NHL level, and the pressure-free environment of an expansion team
could give him the chance he needs. Although the unsigned Martin Brochu will get some
consideration, there will be several other goaltenders available and Brochu can be signed as a
Free Agent by any club. I believe that Baumgartner and James Black will be this year’s
expansion draft selections, as Black is still relatively young and could provide veteran
leadership for the Wild or Blue Jackets. Baumgartner could become a part of the future for
either team, and be a decent starter for them right away.

QUICK GUIDE TO EXPANSION DRAFT LISTS:

EXEMPT:

F: Jeff Halpern, Matt Herr, Mike Peluso, Trent Whitfield.

D: Michael Farrell, J.F. Fortin, Steve Shirreffs, Mike Siklenka, Dean Stork, Scott Swanson,
Alexei Tezikov.

G: Curtis Cruickshank.

PROTECTED:

F: Peter Bondra, Jan Bulis, Miika Elomo, Steve Konowalchuk, Glen Metropolit, Andrei Nikolishin,
Adam Oates, Chris Simon, Richard Zednik.

D: Sergei Gonchar, Calle Johansson, Ken Klee, Joe Reekie, Brendan Witt.

G: Olaf Kolzig.

Unrestricted and Minor League Free Agents:

F: Mike Eagles, Trevor Halverson, Jim McKenzie, Barrie Moore, Ryan Mulhern, Joe Murphy, Joe
Sacco, Jeff Toms.

D: Patrick Boileau, Rob Zettler.

G: Craig Billington, Martin Brochu, Sebastien Charpentier.

AVAILABLE:

F: James Black, Ulf Dahlen, Jeff Nelson, Jason Shmyr, Terry Yake.

D: Nolan Baumgartner, Jamie Huscroft, Dimitri Mironov.

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