2000 Draft Overview

By Nathan Estabrooks

In the early days of June the eyes of every true hockey fan are directed at
draft weekend. This year’s draft will take place in Calgary on June 23rd;
the day previous the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets will pick
current NHL players from the expansion draft list.

The intention of the host franchise is to have a GM and a coach by
such time. It remains to be seen if this will be completed, but the latest
word out of Cowtown is an announcement is forthcoming. Lanny Macdonald as
V.P. of hockey operations, Mike Murphy as GM and an exiled Roger Nielsen as
coach.

In the meantime other teams will be reviewing scouting reports and
interviewing prospects. An oddity, which will make this year’s draft
interesting is the large amount the prospects unable to sign contracts with
teams that drafted them in ’98. These prospects will re-enter draft as a
result. Those who weren’t ranked by CSB all season will suddenly make a
relatively shallow draft pool deeper.

Does a team take a player two years older and more experienced, or a
younger player whose potential is yet be known?

Ramzi Abid a forward from Montreal failed to come to terms
with the Colorado Avalanche. By far Abid’s best year was his draft year,
otherwise Abid has been unpredictable and unable to separate himself from
the pack. Probably an early second rounder this time out. Abid had 67 goals
this season.

Justin Papineau is small and fast with
offensive potential. Papineau possesses an ability to control the game that
Abid doesn’t. The largest knock against Papineau was his lack of success in
the corners. Apparently Papineau and his agent were bidding down, yet even
for less money Los Angeles was not willing to sign him. If there is a team
out there who thinks they can surround him with bigger players, expect
Papineau to go late first round.

Mathieu Chouinard was once Ottawa’s great goaltending hope.
Chouinard collected the Quebec league’s Defensive player award the year
after being draft. Unfortunately a sub par year and an attitude problem
dropped Chouinard a few rungs on the depth chart. There must be a team
willing to overlook this past year, and if so Chouinard should go mid first
round.

The Islanders and Michael Rupp were unable to come to terms. Rupp
was a bit of the project, great size but with the slowest feet this side of
Paul “snowshoes” Laus. Milbury decided to cut his losses. Rupp’s draft
position will fall drastically, perhaps even the third round.

The WHL player of the year Brand Moran, was not signed by the
Buffalo Sabres. Moran has been signed by the Columbus Bluejackets.

Those not returning to the draft negotiated down to the wire. The
exception is Brad Richards who signed a few days hence. The Lightning made
sure to ink Brad Richards of the Rimouski Oceanic, as he was the leading
scorer in the QMJHL this year and MVP of the Memorial Cup. Richards was
drafted in the third round of the ’98 draft. Richards, Lecavalier’s winger
with the Oceanic is perhaps the most improved of all ’98 picks. Now Tampa
has a familiar player and a matured player for Lecavalier to play with.

Michael Ryder of Newfoundland has made a name for himself as a
player who scores big goals. If you’re down by one or in overtime this is
the guy who should have the puck. Ryder was a late round pick for Montreal
in ’98. It was an eleventh hour deal but Ryder is now a salaried member of
the Habitants.

Perhaps the most perplexing hold out was Jeff Heerema. In part
because Carolina needs all the depth it can get. As of Thursday he was the
second highest ’98 draft pick (11th) `not signed. Rupp was the highest.
Jimmy Rutherford and Peter Karmanos have both vowed not to overpay for
talent. Keith Primeau found this out, but in the end necessity won over
morality and Heerema was signed to a multi-year deal.

Glen Sather’s last task as an Edmonton Oiler was to sign Michael
Henrich. Acting in an advisory capacity Sather locked up Henrich to around
900,000 dollars a year.

Jonathan Cheechoo led the Belleville Bulls in scoring with 45 goals
and 46 assists. The Sharks put him under contract

The lottery picks were pulled and the teams will pick in the following
order. Atlanta had the 25% chance of landing the first pick, but the pick
went to the newly acquired New York Islanders.

1. New York Islanders
2. Atlanta Thrashers
3. Minnesota Wild
4. Columbus Blue Jackets
5. Tampa Bay Lightning
6. Nashville Predators
7. Boston Bruins
8. New York Rangers
9. Calgary Flames
10. Chicago BlackHawks
11. Florida Panthers
12. Anaheim Mighty Ducks
13. Montreal Canadiens
14. Carolina Hurricanes
15. Buffalo Sabers
16. San Jose Sharks
17. Edmonton Oilers
18. Pittsburgh Penguins
19. Phoenix Coyotes
20. Los Angeles Kings
21. Ottawa Senators
22. New Jersey Devils
23. Vancouver Canucks
24. Toronto Maple Leafs
25. Dallas Stars
26. Washington Capitals
27. Colorado Avalanche
28. Philadelphia Flyers
29. Detroit Red Wings
30. St. Louis Blues