The expansion draft is approaching quickly and it is yet to be determined what the Senators will do. Yesterday a roster freeze fell into place and teams won’t be permitted to make any further moves until later in the week. Players with fewer than two years of
experience are exempt. If two goalies are protected the team can protect three defensemen, and seven forwards. Otherwise the more common formula is one goalie, five defensemen and nine forwards. What makes this draft very important, is that with both Columbus and Minnesota entering the league, all teams will lose two players instead of just one. The Senators have recently made two moves that effect this ratio. Rich Parent was
acquired from Tampa for a 7th round pick and today Patrick Traverse was sent to Anaheim for Joel Kwiatkowski. The Traverse move lends more heed to the possibility the Sens will protect two goalies. Johnstone loves Lalime and he will be protected. Hurme’s late season play in the IHL playoffs will buy himself a few more years to prove himself as well. Each expansion team is allowed to pick 6 goalies each; three is probably the practical limit.
Traverse is a big loss. The lanky rear guard cultivated a reputation for being very reliable both defensively and offensively. The hole left on the blueline is a big one and Kwiatkowski won’t be the answer. An 8th rounder in the ’96 draft, he was originally taken by Dallas. For the past two years Kwiatkowski had been playing for Cincinnati in the
Anaheim system. Some of his accolades include winning the hardest shot competition at the WHL all-star game with a 96 mph slapper. He is a player who seems to be unable to find his niche; offensive or defensive. Grand Rapids without much hope of Ottawa is his near future.
With two goalies protected, as stated ealier the Senators can only protect three defensemen. Thankfully Sami Salo and Karel Rachunek just fall under the two year cut off and will not have to be protected. With this we can posit Redden, Phillips and York will be
hidden. This leaves Kravchuk and Grant Ledyard unprotected. It seems Kravchuk will be left dangling on a string; Ledyard will retire. Igor Kravchuk’s play was very good in the playoffs, but for the better part of two seasons he has been struggling. Over the last few
years Igor has become a whipping boy for the Ottawa fans. Kravchuk seems too valuable a player to lose in an expansion draft, yet the rules are the rules. If either Minnesota or Columbus does not select him the Senators will trade Kravchuk this summer; perhaps in the Yashin Trade.
Plain and simple three defensemen and two goalies will be protected. Traverse and York are a wash, but in the end it was the local boy who won out. York will be here next year and Traverse will be patrolling the bluelines of Southern California.
Mike Fisher is up and skating. The rookie impressed many people in his first campaign. Adding passion and feistiness to the lower lines. For this reason it was a big loss when he went down midway through the season. Fisher’s workouts have progressed to the point that he his on the ice two to three times a week. By the end of the month he hopes to be back to normal.
The day is coming soon. Sometime this month the Senators will trade Alexei Yashin their all star enter, who was in fact the first player ever drafted by the team. The page will turn and a new era will begin. A player of Yashin’s caliber should return straight up at least two first liners. The whispers are starting to swirl here in the “Cradle of Hockey” and it appears management wants to exile Yashin. Apparently San Jose and Phoenix are at the top of this gulag list.