The Florida Panthers and the 1998 Expansion Draft

A look back at the first time the Cats were poached

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

The Panthers were born in 1993 and had a pretty successful first five seasons before the league decided to add members 27-30 in a staggered fashion over a three-year span.

By virtue of having the ready and waiting Gaylord Entertainment Center to play in, the Nashville Predators were the first of the four new teams to enter the league. Predators GM David Poile laid down the foundation of the new franchise by selecting twenty-six players, one from each existing club, on June 26, 1998.

Nashville was required to select thirteen forwards, eight defensemen, and three goaltenders. The other two players taken could be of any position.

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

Like the vast majority of the “Original 26”, the Cats elected to go with the 9-5-1 protection scheme.

The Panthers protected the following players:

Forwards: Dino Ciccarelli, Radek Dvorak, Viktor Kozlov, Bill Lindsay, Scott Mellanby, Rob Niedermayer, Steve Washburn, Chris Wells, Ray Whitney

Defensemen: Ed Jovanovski, Paul Laus, Gord Murphy, Robert Svehla, Rhett Warrener

Goalie: Kevin Weekes

The Panthers exposed the following players:

Forwards: Ashley Buckberger, Chad Cabana, Dave Gagner, Johan Garpenlov, Kirk Muller

Defensemen: Chris Armstrong, Terry Carkner, Trevor Doyle, Dallas Eakins, Jeff Norton, Wes Swinson

Goalies: Todd MacDonald, Kirk McLean, John Vanbiesbrouck

The Panthers lost: Chris Armstrong

When Poile selected Mike Richter, a pending unrestricted free agent from the New York Rangers, that automatically took fellow pending UFA John Vanbiesbrouck (and Todd MacDonald) off the board, as Nashville could only take one free agent (among their goalies choices (and six overall). Vanbiesbrouck ended up signing a two-year, $7.25M deal with the Philadelphia Flyers later that summer.

The Predators decided to take prospect defenseman Chris Armstrong from Florida, mainly because he was a low-priced player already under contract, and passed on older, higher-priced veterans like Kirk Muller, Johan Garpenlov and Terry Carkner, players that could have perhaps helped the franchise more in it’s inaugural campaign.  Armstrong was Florida’s third round selection (57th overall) in 1993. He never played a game for the Panthers or Predators, but did end up playing professionally for fifteen seasons, including seven NHL games.

The Predators selected:

Forwards: Mike Sullivan (Boston), Jeff Daniels (Carolina), Greg Johnson (Chicago), Patrick Cote (Dallas), Doug Brown (Detroit), Doug Friedman (Edmonton), Denny Lambert (Ottawa), Craig Darby (Philadelphia), Tony Hrkac (St. Louis), Blair Atcheynum (Pittsburgh), Paul Brousseau (Tampa Bay), Scott Walker (Vancouver), Andrew Brunette (Washington)

Defensemen: Bob Boughner (Buffalo), Joel Bouchard (Calgary), Uwe Krupp (Colorado), Chris Armstrong (Florida), J.J. Daigneault (NY Islanders), John Slaney (Phoenix), Al Iafrate (San Jose), Rob Zettler (Toronto)

Goalies: Mikhail Shtalenkov (Anaheim), Frederic Chabot (Los Angeles), Tomas Vokoun (Montreal), Mike Dunham (New Jersey), Mike Richter (NY Rangers)