The Vegas Golden Knights have officially made their 30 selections for the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft—now we watch to see how many of these selections actually don the VGK jersey before they’re traded away for assets.
Yes, it happened with every expansion draft throughout NHL history. An expansion team will pick a player based solely on his perceived trade value, just with the hopes that they can flip a veteran to a contender for some picks. This has already started with Vegas, as they’ve sent David Schlemko to the Montreal Canadiens for a 5th. They also sent Marc Methot to Dallas for a 2nd.
With all the hoopla surrounding the expansion picks this week, I got to thinking about past expansions. After a little research, I found there were a handful of household names who were picked up in expansion, only to be flipped elsewhere for assets, or—much to the expansion team’s chagrin—simply decided against signing with the up-and-coming franchise.
Today’s list features the top 15 NHL players who were selected by one of the late-‘90s expansion teams, only to never play a single game with the club that chose them. There are three expansion drafts included in this list (four teams), and they are the 1998, 1999, and 2000 expansion drafts. The Predators (1998), Thrashers (1999), Blue Jackets and Wild (2000) were the teams added to the league, making it a nice round 30 teams in the league.
15 Mike Sullivan (Nashville)
Most of us know Mike Sullivan as the Pittsburgh Penguins two-time Stanley Cup Champion head coach. True hockey fans will know that he’s also a veteran of over 700 NHL games, and he was a member of the Boston Bruins in 1998 when it came time for Nashville to select its team. Sullivan was left unprotected by the B’s, and as a result was plucked by the expansion Preds.
Sullivan never played a game for Nashville, and was only a member of the Predators for about four days. He was flipped by David Poile at the draft table to the Phoenix Coyotes for a 7th round pick. Sullivan would eventually finish his playing career with the Coyotes after four seasons in the desert, and then stepped right into an assistant coaching job in Boston upon his 2002 retirement.
14 Jody Hull (Atlanta)
The Atlanta Thrashers assembled their first ever roster in 1999 with bits and pieces from the league’s other 27 clubs, and Jody Hull was their selection from the Philadelphia Flyers roster. The fourth-liner never ended up playing a game in Thrasher silks, but was instead actually traded back to Philadelphia for what is officially listed as future considerations (it was cash and we all know it).
This was one of those classic “handshake deals” you see every time there is an expansion draft in the NHL (you saw many in June before Vegas picked its roster). Perhaps Philadelphia was willing to pay big bucks in order to keep its full roster intact, or perhaps Atlanta simply had no interest in any of the unprotected players on Philly’s list.
13 Frederic Chabot (Nashville and Columbus)
Frederic Chabot is by no means a household name, but I included him on here for one distinct reason: he was selected by not one, not two, but THREE expansion teams throughout his brief NHL career that saw him play in just 32 contests from 1990 to 1999. Even more shocking is that none of those 32 games were played were for any of the three expansion teams that selected him.
After Nashville selected Chabot from the Kings in 1998’s expansion draft, he was placed on waivers later that summer and was subsequently claimed by the Montreal Canadiens. By the time the Blue Jackets picked Chabot in their 2000 expansion draft, he had already played his last game in the NHL and never saw any action in Columbus.
12 Chris Terreri (Minnesota)
When the NHL welcomed a team back to Minnesota in 2000 (along with Columbus), the Wild chose veteran Chris Terreri as one of the goalie picks. Terreri had been a member of the New Jersey Devils, and he didn’t even go to bed that evening before returning to the Devils (with a 9th round pick) in a trade that sent Brad Bombardir to Minnesota
Although it’s hard to figure out just what happened here, I’d guess it was an expansion-requirement move. The Wild were forced to pick a certain number of goalies in the expansion draft, but didn’t necessarily need them all. Therefore, by adding a 9th round pick to the deal, the Wild acquired a player they actually wanted and fulfilled their minimum goalie requirements.
11 Trevor Kidd (Atlanta)
Veteran goalies sure do seem to get selected in expansion drafts. The Thrashers picked up goalie Trevor Kidd from the Carolina Hurricanes in the 1999 expansion draft, but Kidd never did end up playing a game for the Thrashers of Georgia. Primarily a backup for most of his career, Kidd was immediately flipped to Florida for Gord Murphy, Daniel Tjarnqvist, Herbert Vasiljevs, and a 6th rounder.
The Manitoba native had five more seasons of capable backup netminding in him before finishing his career in the DEL (German League). He did end up having an impact in Florida, playing backing up to Roberto Luongo in the Canadian Gold Medalist’s rookie season. Of all the expansion teams from this era, it’s safe to say Atlanta came out with the worst club of the bunch.
10 Rick Tabaracci (Columbus)
Looking back through all of these older expansion teams, there always seems to be a healthy amount of solid NHL goalies up for grabs. As a result, the expansion club comes out of the draft with a surplus of goalies, and they need to deal some. In the year 2000 the Columbus Blue Jackets plucked veteran netminder Rick Tabaracci off the Colorado Avalanche.
Tabaracci never actually signed with the Blue Jackets. He was already heading into the twilight of his career at this stage, and he actually only saw action in three more NHL games before hanging them up in 2001. He played one game with the Atlanta Thrashers that season before playing two more with the Avalanche after a December 1999 trade sent him back from whence he came.
9 Dallas Drake (Columbus)
Expansion teams always seem to have a fair contingent of “character” guys, and Dallas Drake is the poster boy for that player type. Picked up off the Phoenix Coyotes, Drake never played a game with the Jackets and instead headed to the St. Louis Blues where he spent a strong six seasons, two of which he served as captain.
Drake wasn’t under contract when the Jackets selected him, so the Blues were able to lure him as a free agent. By the time of the 2000 expansion draft, Drake had already established himself as a very capable third liner in Phoenix, but the Coyotes simply couldn’t afford to spend a protection slot on the winger. The Jackets took a chance with the hopes that he’d sign with them—which of course never paid off.
8 Mark Tinordi (Atlanta)
Mark Tinordi was already 34 years old when the Atlanta Thrashers made him their pick from the Washington Capitals roster. Tinordi was a physical defenseman and a veteran of 663 NHL games when the Thrashers picked him up, and unfortunately for Atlanta, Tinordi decided he’d had just about enough and called it a career rather than starting from scratch with an expansion squad.
I can’t tell if this was a handshake deal the Thrashers had in place with the Capitals because perhaps Tinordi was planning on retiring anyway, but that would make sense. Either way, it’s a shame the Thrashers didn’t get at least a season out of the defensemen, as Tinordi would have provided strong leadership to a young expansion franchise.
7 Joe Juneau (Minnesota)
Remember that time Joe Juneau burst onto the scene as a rookie in 1992-93 and scored 102 points? Yes, we all thought he was going to be the next big thing, but it was only seven seasons later that Juneau was left exposed by the Senators at the 2000 expansion draft, thus being plucked by the Minnesota Wild. Juneau was still a serviceable player, but needless to say he was far removed from the 102-point player he was in his rookie year.
That’s probably why the Wild were willing to flip Juneau (almost immediately) to Phoenix for the negotiating rights to Rickard Wallin. As such, Juneau goes down in history as one of the better players selected in an expansion draft who never played for the club that picked him.
6 Dwayne Roloson (Columbus)
Dwayne Roloson will be mostly remembered for his heroic performance for the Edmonton Oilers in the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs, but six years before that he was plucked off of the Buffalo Sabres roster by the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets. Roloson would have been a good bet for an expansion team at the time, but player and team never agreed to a contract and Roloson moved on before ever donning the jersey.
Roloson actually played the bulk of the following season in the AHL, but then established himself as a steady NHLer the next season in Minnesota which, coincidentally, was the expansion team from 2000 that didn’t select him. Roloson would remain with the Wild until being sent to Edmonton at the 2006 trade deadline.
5 Uwe Krupp (Nashville)
Uwe Krupp maybe doesn’t belong so high on this list, but the guy scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in 1996, so he gets a bump based on that alone. The steady German defenseman was selected by the Nashville Predators in the ’98 expansion draft, representing their pick from the Avalanche. Much like the Vegas Golden Knights, the Preds stocked up on D.
Since Nashville had the rights to more defensemen than they needed, they weren’t able to agree to terms on a new deal with Krupp, so the German ended up signing with the Red Wings. That’s all fine with Krupp, I’d imagine, because he played a depth role with Red Wings in 2002 and it earned him his second career Stanley Cup ring.
4 Al Iafrate (Nashville)
Al Iafrate will always be remembered for exactly two things: that skullet, and that wicked slapshot (in that order). He was already a veteran of 799 NHL games when he was selected by the Nashville Predators in the 1998 expansion draft. Iafrate was property of the San Jose Sharks before being picked up by the Preds.
Perhaps because he wasn’t too interested in starting from scratch with an expansion franchise, or perhaps he was simply done all together, but Iafrate chose to retire rather than signing with the Predators. Krupp has currently played the fifth most NHL games among all German nationals, so he’ll go down as a German hockey legend regardless of the fact that he shirked the Preds.
3 Mathieu Schneider (Columbus)
Mathieu Schneider retired as one of the NHL’s all-time elite offensive defensemen. He played in nearly 1,300 NHL games before finally retiring in 2010, but many people probably aren’t aware that Schneider was actually left exposed by the New York Rangers at the 2000 expansion draft, and he was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets as a result.
Like many veterans who were picked up by these four expansion clubs, Schneider never signed on with the Jackets and instead hopped over to Hollywood to sign a deal with the L.A. Kings. He would go in to enjoy some of the best seasons of his career after shirking the Jackets, so it really is too bad for Columbus that they couldn’t entice Schneider to stick around.
2 Mike Vernon (Minnesota)
It shouldn’t be a surprise at this point that a few goalies appear here at the top of the list. Mike Vernon was already in the twilight of his career when he was left exposed by the Florida Panthers in the 2000 expansion draft, and he was of course selected by the Minnesota Wild. With a resume like Vernon’s—one that includes two Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe—it’s tough to find a more accomplished player who was selected in an expansion draft.
That said, the Wild were just using Vernon so they could flip him for assets, which is exactly what they did later that very same day, The Wild sent Vernon to Calgary for Dan Cavanaugh and an 8th round pick that turned into Jake Riddle. Not exactly a bounty, but Vernon was more or less near the end of the road anyway.
1 Mike Richter (Nashville)
Mike Richter only played for one team throughout his entire NHL career, and that team is of course the New York Rangers. However, some of you may not be aware that he was technically property of the Nashville Predators for an ever-so brief period of time after the 1998 expansion draft.
Richter Was the Preds’ selection from the Rangers, and they were surely hoping they’d be able to at least get some assets out of Richter via trade (assuming he had no interest in playing in Nashville at that point in his career, which is a safe assumption). Unfortunately Richter had his heart set on staying on Broadway, so he inked a new contract with the Rangers as a free agent. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I’m sure the Preds wish they picked someone else at the time.