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The Florida Panthers and the 2000 Expansion Draft

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A look back at the last time the Cats’ roster was poached by a newbie

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Florida Panthers Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

With the expansion draft to stock the new Vegas Golden Knights rapidly approaching, let’s take a look back at the last of the three previous occasions the Florida Panthers lost players to NHL newcomers.

The Panthers were born in 1993 and enjoyed a successful five-season run before the league decided to add members 27-30 in a staggered fashion over a three-year span.

After getting off easy and losing prospect defenseman Chris Armstrong to Nashville Predators in 1998, the Cats lost veteran forward Johan Garpenlov to the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999.

The year 2000 would see two teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild, enter the league at the same time.

Like Nashville and Atlanta, the Blue Jackets and Wild were required to select thirteen forwards, eight defensemen, and three goaltenders from the “Original 26.” The other two players taken could be of any position.

As new teams, the rosters of the Predators and Thrashers were exempt from the proceedings.

The existing clubs were able to protect either nine forwards, five defensemen and one goaltender or seven forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders.

Teams that choose to protect two goalies had to expose one that had appeared in either 10 NHL games in the 1999–2000 season or 25 games in the 1998–99 season and 1999–2000 seasons combined. Each team had to offer at least one defenseman and two forwards with 40 games played in the 1999-2000 season or 70 games in 1998-99 and 1999-2000 combined.

Columbus GM Doug MacLean and Minnesota GM Doug Risebrough would alternate selections in a “snaking” pattern and take two players from each of the 26 existing clubs participating in the draft which was held on June 23, 2000.

For a third time, the Cats elected to go with the 9-5-1 protection option.

The Panthers protected the following players:

Forwards: Pavel Bure, Viktor Kozlov, Oleg Kvasha, Paul Laus, Scott Mellanby, Rob Niedermayer, Mike Sillinger, Ray Whitney, Peter Worrell

Defensemen: Bret Hedican, John Jakopin, Todd Simpson, Robert Svehla, Mike Wilson

Goalie: Trevor Kidd

The Panthers exposed the following players:

Forwards: Len Barrie, Paul Brousseau, Chad Cabana, Dave Duerden, Alex Hicks, Craig Reichert, Ray Sheppard, Cam Stewart

Defensemen: Lance Pitlick, Brent Thompson, Jeff Ware

Goalies: Ryan Bach, Sean Gauthier, Denis Khlopotnov, Mikhail Shtalenkov, Mikhail Shtalenkov, Rich Shulmistra, Mike Vernon

The Panthers lost: Mike Vernon and Cam Stewart

Minnesota’s Doug Risebrough selected goaltender Mike Vernon and forward Cam Stewart from Florida’s list of exposed players. Vernon was the second of four goalies that the Wild took, while Stewart was the last player Minnesota chose in the expansion draft.

The Panthers acquired Vernon from the San Jose Sharks for Radek Dvorak on December 30, 1999. Vernon became Florida’s starting goalie and led the team back to the playoffs after a two-year absence. In 34 regular season games with the Cats, Vernon posted a 18-13-2 record and a 2.47 GAA. Vernon and the Panthers were swept by the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the postseason. Despite a solid first season in Sunrise, the Cats decided to protect the younger Trevor Kidd.

Vernon didn’t stay with Minnesota long. Immediately after the draft, the Wild sent the veteran stopper to the Calgary Flames, the team he started his career with, for center Dan Cavanaugh and an 8th round pick (LW Jake Riddle) in the 2001 Entry Draft. Vernon played the final two seasons of his long career in Calgary before calling it quits prior to the 2002-03 season.

Like Vernon, Cam Stewart’s stint in Florida lasted just one season. Signed as a free agent after two solid years with the IHL’s Houston Aeros, the gritty forward scored 9 goals and added 7 assists in 65 games for the Panthers. Stewart did not suit up for any of the playoff loss to the Devils.

Stewart played 54 games for the Wild during its inaugural season, totaling 4 goals and 9 assists to along with a -3 rating. Unfortunately, Stewart’s career was cut short due to concussion-related issues.

The Vernon trade was one of four deals that Minnesota made that day. Dallas traded Aaron Gavey, Pavel Patera, an 8th round pick in 2000 (Eric Johansson) and the Wild's 4th round pick in 2002 to the Wild for defenseman Brad Lukowich, a 3rd round pick in 2001 (Yared Hagos) and a 9th round pick in 2001 (Dale Sullivan). The Wild had acquired Lukowich and goaltender Manny Fernandez from the Stars earlier in June for two draft picks. New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello traded defenseman Brad Bombardir to the Wild to get Chris Terreri (and and a 9th round pick in 2000) back. Phoenix traded the rights to forward Rickard Wallin to the Wild for Joe Juneau.

Columbus also made three trades immediately following the expansion draft, all for future considerations. Buffalo traded Matt Davidson, Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, San Jose’s 5th round pick in 2000 (Tyler Kolarik) and a 5th round pick in 2001 to the Blue Jackets. Montreal sent Columbus a 2nd round pick in 2001 (Kiel MacLeod). Boston traded a 5th round pick in 2000 (Scott Heffernan).

The Blue Jackets acquired the package from the Sabres for taking the expendable Dwayne Roloson and Geoff Sanderson, who wasn’t fitting in in Buffalo in the expansion draft. The pick from the Habs was for taking spare parts goaltender Frederic Chabot off their hands.

Look for a bevy of these type of deals to happen after Vegas announces its selections in a few weeks.

The Blue Jackets selected:

Forwards: Geoff Sanderson (Buffalo), Turner Stevenson (Montreal), Robert Kron (Carolina), Steve Heinze (Boston), Tyler Wright (Pittsburgh), Kevyn Adams (Toronto), Dmitri Subbotin (NY Rangers), Dallas Drake (Phoenix), Bruce Gardiner (Tampa Bay), Barrie Moore (Washington), Martin Streit (Philadelphia), Kevin Dineen (Ottawa), Jeff Williams (New Jersey), Sergei Luchinkin (Dallas), Ted Drury (NY Islanders)

Defensemen: Mattias Timander (Boston), Jamie Pushor (Dallas), Bert Robertsson (Edmonton), Tommi Rajamaki (Toronto), Lyle Odelein (Phoenix), Radim Bicanek (Chicago), Mathieu Schneider (NY Rangers), Jonas Junkka (Pittsburgh)

Goalies: Rick Tabaracci (Colorado), Frederic Chabot (Montreal), Dwayne Roloson (Buffalo)

The Wild selected:

Forwards: Stacy Roest (Detroit), Darryl Laplante (Detroit), Scott Pellerin (St. Louis), Jim Dowd (Edmonton), Sergei Krivokrasov (Calgary), Jeff Nielsen (Anaheim), Jeff Odgers (Colorado), Steve McKenna (Los Angeles), Michal Bros (San Jose), Joe Juneau (Ottawa), Darby Hendrickson (Vancouver), Jeff Daw (Chicago), Stefan Nilsson (Vancouver), Cam Stewart (Florida)

Defensemen: Sean O'Donnell (Los Angeles), Curtis Leschyshyn (Carolina), Ladislav Benysek (Anaheim), Chris Armstrong (San Jose), Filip Kuba (Calgary), Oleg Orekhovsky (Washington), Ian Herbers (NY Islanders), Artem Anisimov (Philadelphia)

Goalies: Jamie McLennan (St. Louis), Mike Vernon (Florida), Chris Terreri (New Jersey), Zac Bierk (Tampa Bay)