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December 11, 2017
The 2002 NHL Entry Draft In A Nutshell
by Jim Iovino, Ace Reporter
The 2002 NHL Entry Draft brought a little bit of intrigue, a little bit of hype, and a bunch of trades that might or might not be a big deal, depending on how players develop.
Here's a rundown on some of the big happenings from the draft weekend in Toronto. Enjoy.
Blue Jackets Trade For No. 1 Pick
The Blue Jackets flipped draft spots with the Florida Panthers, and the Panthers have the option of switching No. 1 picks with Columbus again next season. Columbus took Nash, who is considered a Brendan Shanahan-type player. The Panthers still was able to select high-flyin' defenseman Bouwmeester, although it took a little more dealing to do it.
The Panthers got assurance from the Thrashers that they wouldn't take Bouwmeester at No. 2. To make sure, the Panthers had to give Atlanta a third-round pick in this year's draft and a fourth-rounder next year.
Atlanta considered trading the No. 2 pick. The Thrashers were looking to acquire a top-notch center to play with Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatley. Islanders' GM Mike Milbury reportedly offered Mariusz Czerkawski. The Edmonton Oilers also were in the mix, perhaps offering Jochen Hecht and Todd Marchant for a chance to draft Bouwmeester. Instead, Atlanta kept the pick and selected goaltender Kari Lehtonen. They found their center in Buffalo. They acquired Slava Kozlov and plan on putting him on a line with Kovalchuk and Heatley.
So the Panthers entered the weekend with the No. 1 pick, but ended up with the third spot. They also lost a third-rounder and fourth-rounder in the process. Is this a sign of too much time spent at the hotel bar? Dropping down in the draft without getting much in return isn't very smart, is it?
Here's what the Panthers are thinking: They hope, and pray, that they will finish ahead of the Blue Jackets next season, and that Columbus, playing in front of goalie Marc Denis, will be terrible. If that's the case, the Blue Jackets will have a good chance to win the draft lottery, and the Panthers will be happy to take the No. 1 pick off of their hands.
If the Blue Jackets somehow manage to play their way out of the draft lottery by not finishing in the bottom five, Panthers GM Rick Dudley will look very silly.
No. 4 Pick Up For Grabs
Bolts GM Jay Feaster said repeatedly that his organization had done enough building for the future. The team needed help now. So he planned on using the No. 4 pick to get that help.
To the surprise of many, the help turned out to be Ruslan Fedotenko. Yes, Ruslan Fedotenko.
There's no hiding the fact that Feaster likes big, tough players. Skill oftentimes comes second. While Fedotenko has the potential to be a solid NHL player, was he worth giving up a top five draft pick?
By the time Philadelphia Flyers' GM Bobby Clarke hung up the phone after stealing the fourth pick, it must have looked like he was guest starring on an episode of Crank Yankers. The trade, which sent Fedotenko and two second-round picks to Tampa, was just what Clarke needed after the Adam Oates trade debacle. Bobby saved a little face by picking up Joni Pitkanen, who is considered a Brian Leetch-type defenseman. Top-notch defensive prospects are hard to come by. The Flyers should be counting their blessings that they were able to draft one instead of picking him up via the expensive free-agent market.
Meanwhile, Ralph Wiggum, err, Jay Feaster, took the two picks acquired in the deal and did some more trading. He sent the 34th pick to the Stars for Brad Lukowich and a seventh-round pick next season. He then sent the 52nd pick to the Sharks for Nos. 60 and 162.
Feaster was happy with Fedotenko, who he said can play the power play in Tampa and score more than 17 goals he tallied this past year, and Lukowich, who should be a solid defensive defenseman.
But could Feaster have gotten more for the No. 4 pick? At least five other teams were reported to be negotiations with Tampa for the pick - Edmonton, Phoenix, Vancouver, the Islanders and Rangers. Blueshirts GM Glen Sather said "a lot of people were surprised" at the trade Feaster accepted, but he wasn't going to be critical of the Tampa GM. Milbury reportedly offered Czerkawski. The Oilers were said to have offered Hecht and their first-round pick (No. 14).
Wanna Buy A Monkey?
Milbury's peddling of Czerkawski must have been humorous to watch. After pitching a trade to both Atlanta and Tampa, Milbury finally found a taker for the offensive-minded winger, shipping him to Montreal for Arron Asham and a fifth-round pick.
Apparently Milbury and Isles coach Peter Laviolette expected more heart out of Czerkawski, especially in the playoffs. They also expected more points. After scoring 70 points three seasons ago, his production dropped to 62 points in 2000-01 and 51 points last year. And when Czerkawski isn't scoring, he's a big liability in his own end. Milbury restrained himself by calling Czerkawski "one-dimensional." Czerkawski has a career plus-minus rating of -50.
The Canadiens, however, will work with the defensive lapses as long as he scores goals. The offensively challenged Habs scored just 207 goals last season. Putting Czerkawski with a playmaker like Saku Koivu could do wonders.
Milbury wasn't done dealing, however. He said he wanted to pick up a reliable defenseman and did when he acquired Mattias Timander from Columbus. Timander is expected to play alongside Eric Cairns.
The Islanders GM didn't, however, pick up a high-scoring winger to play with Alexei Yashin. That move probably will have to be made via free agency. Billy Guerin and Tony Amonte are still out there. And what about Theo Fleury? He could be a long shot, since Wayne Gretzky is courting him in Phoenix. Imagine Claude Lemieux and Theo Fleury on the same team... Yee-haw!
Milbury also didn't address his goaltending situation. The Islanders have three goaltenders and only two slots in the bigs. One of the goalies will be Chris Osgood. Garth Snow is penciled in as the backup. But Rick DiPietro is knocking on the door and wants a chance to be the No. 1 man on Long Island.
DiPietro reportedly was offered to the Bruins for Sergei Samsonov. There is no telling when the trade was offered (perhaps when Milbury still had a shot at the No. 2 pick and Lehtonen?), but rumor has it the Bruins and Isles will continue talks about a bigger transaction.
Other Minor Deals
More Draft Stuff Did you ever wonder what it would be like to watch the draft on TV, and then write down your thoughts as they occur? Wonder no longer, my friends. Check out Sean Leahy's draft diary.