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Islanders: Lou Lamoriello’s expansion draft record

Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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This will be Lou Lamoriello’s first expansion draft as GM and President of the New York Islanders, but it won’t be his first over his Hall of Fame career. In fact, Lou has gone through a number of these expansion drafts.

Since he became GM of the New Jersey Devils all the way back in 1987, Lou has gone through seven expansion drafts. The Seattle Expansion Draft will be his eighth as an NHL GM.

So going over those seven expansion drafts, how has Lou done. Has he given off a bunch of quality away for free? Does he do side deals to have the expansion club look the other way? What can Islanders fans expect when looking at Lou’s expansion draft resume?

New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello and his expansion draft resumé

1991 Minnesota – San Jose
Player lost: Jeff Madill

Even with two teams joining the league each franchise would lose a single player to expansion. That’s because of the dispersal draft from the Minnesota North Stars. The ’91 expansion was a whole thing with the owners of the North Stars. I suggest you read about the history and drama of the whole thing.

Lou’s Devils would lose Jeff Madill to the Sharks. The rules for this draft allowed the 20 existing NHL clubs to protect 16 skaters and two goalies. So you could imagine there wasn’t much quality for the Sharks and North Stars to pick from.

Madill never played at the NHL (after the expansion draft) level but was a great IHL player.

1992 Ottawa Senators – Tampa Bay Lightning
Players lost: Brad Shaw, Laurie Boschman

A year later things changed (a bit) when it came to protection. Teams could protect two goalies and fourteen skaters. Again, that’s a lot of players, meaning Ottawa and Tampa were not getting any quality.

But from the Devils, the Senators picked two players that would serve them well. They picked Brad Shaw and Laurie Boschman.

Boschman would be the team’s first captain in 1992-93 while Shaw would occupy the position the following year (along with Gord Dineen and Mark Lamb).

1993 Florida Panthers – Anaheim Ducks
Players lost: Alexei Kasatonov, Jarrod Skalde

Another year another expansion draft! And again, protection requirements changed a bit…kind of. This time teams could protect two goalies, five defensemen, and nine forwards. That’s still 14 skaters but with a slight wrinkle.

Kasatonov would be a solid depth piece for Anaheim while Skalde would put up great AHL numbers but could never turn that into a steady NHL career.

1998 Nashville Predators
Player lost: Mike Dunham

By 1998 you can start seeing the NHL take a step towards restricting existing NHL teams from essentially protecting their entire team. They wanted to make these expansion franchises competitive. So in ’98 when Nashville joined the fray teams had the choice of protection formats:

  1. One goalie, five defenders, nine forwards
  2. two goalies, three defenders, seven forwards

The Devils, who won the Cup in 95 were still competing for a Cup so protecting as many players as possible was key. The Devils went with option one, leaving goalie Mike Dunham exposed. Dunham put up a 5-5-3 record with a 2.25GAA and 0.913SV% the previous year with the Devils.

In five years with the Predators, Dunham held an 81-104-24 record while averaging a respectable 2.74GAA and 0.910 SV%.

The Devils had Martin Brodeur in nets and would win another Cup two years after the ’98 expansion.

1999 Atlanta Thrashers
Player lost: Kevin Dean

The format stayed the same in 1999. I guess the fact that Nashville wasn’t the worst team in the league in their first year was a success? (The Isles were one of three teams worse than Nashville).

Lou made his first (and only…sorta) expansion day trade. He sent Sergei Vyshedkevich to Atlanta for them to select Kevin Dean. Vyshedkevich played 30 games for Atlanta before returning to Russia for the 2001-02 season.

Dean played 23 games for the Thrashers and was sent to Dallas in December of 99 for future considerations. Lou gave up absolutely nothing in the draft and would win the Cup that year. Legend.

2000 Columbus Blue Jackets – Minnesota Wild
Players lost: Chris Terreri, Jeff Willliams

Again, the format stayed the same as it was in 1998 and 1999. Lou, coming off a Stanley Cup win wanted to keep his Devils team intact. But didn’t make a trade to keep either Columbus or Minnesota away from some of his unprotected players.

Minnesota took goalie Chris Terreri while Columbus picked winger Jeff Williams. Williams never played at the NHL level. Good AHL player though.

Things get a bit weird with Terreri. On the day of the expansion draft, the Wild traded him back to New Jersey along with a ninth-round pick in 2000 for Brad Bombardir.

I guess this was Lou’s way of protecting his team by saying: “Take Chris and we’ll take him back for Brad.” Right? Lou would later trade Terreri to the Islanders for John Vanbiesbrouck.

2017 Vegas Golden Knights
Player lost: Brendan Leipsic

The Vegas expansion draft format would change from the 2000 rules. Teams could protect fewer players in one of the two following formats:

  1. 1 goalie, three defenders, seven forwards
  2. 1 goalie and eight skaters

The year prior to the expansion draft the Leafs had just made their return to the playoffs. It was the first time in three years. Lou wanted to keep some of this talent protected, and thankfully most of his top players (guys like Matthews and Marner) were exempt for the draft.

He went with protecting ten guys (3 D and 7 F). Leo Komarov and Matt Martin were both part of those ten skaters protected by the Leafs. The Knights would take forward Brendan Leipsic.

Leipsic bounced around the NHL with stops in Vegas, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Washington. He’s in Russia now after his misogynist chats were leaked to the public.

Takeaway

Lou has done well in every single expansion draft he’s taken part in. Looking at this resumé, I wouldn’t expect the Isles to “fail” the expansion draft like Florida did in 2017.

But this year is different. It’s only the second time he’s going through an expansion draft in the cap era, and he doesn’t have the benefit of hiding his top players under non-exempt status.

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