Monday, July 19, 2021

What if the Senators and Lightning had the same expansion draft rules as Seattle and Vegas?

The Ottawa Senators’ missteps at the 1992 expansion draft are well documented in hockey lore.

In their first big moment on the NHL stage, the expansion club made multiple selections that were deemed ineligible.

With the 33rd selection, they tried to draft forward Todd Ewen from the Montreal Canadiens. The Senators, however, didn’t realize that Montreal had already lost the maximum of two players, making Ewen ineligible for selection.

Seven picks later, the Senators made the same mistake again by trying to take Todd Hawkins from the Maple Leafs after Toronto had already lost two players in the draft.

Somewhat flustered, Ottawa general manager Mel Bridgman returned to the podium and announced they would be selecting C.J. Young from the Calgary Flames. The only problem was that Young was a second-year pro and thus exempt from the draft proceedings.

The Senators’ draft prep work was done on a laptop, but when club officials rolled into the ballroom of the Gouverneur Hotel in Montreal on June 18, 1992, they discovered the battery on the computer was dead. They could not find a plug to charge their computer, leaving all of their research stuck on a useless laptop. Bridgman and his team were forced to work off memory and a few pieces of paper, resulting in some chaotic moments.

But truth be told, it’s not like the Senators missed out on some talented players because of their technical glitch. The 1992 expansion draft class was thin, stocked only with fringe NHLers and minor leaguers. And because Ottawa was drafting at the same time as the Tampa Bay Lightning, it further diluted the pool.

So it got us thinking: What if we applied the current expansion draft rules — the ones that the Seattle Kraken will use on Wednesday night — to the 1992 proceedings? Would the Senators and Lightning have vastly superior teams to the ones they iced in their inaugural seasons?

Remember, the 1992-93 Senators were one of the worst teams in modern NHL history. They managed to win only 10 games in their 84-game season, for a woeful .143 winning percentage. The Lightning were significantly better, but they still finished in last place in the Norris Division with 53 points — exactly half the total of the division champion Chicago Blackhawks.

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