A Vegas-Style Redraft: Expansion in 1974

1
1249

This will be the first installment of a three-part series over the next couple of weeks. The first part will focus on the expansion draft itself, while the next two parts will focus on the fates of the two clubs involved following the re-worked draft.


June 12th, 1974

MONTREAL, QUEBEC

The Expansion Draft had become a recent staple in the world of hockey, thanks to the growth of the National Hockey League, which had added ten teams over the course of the past seven years. Once confined to the “Original Six”, the league now hosted teams across North America, with places like California, British Columbia, and Pennsylvania each having one or more NHL clubs to call their own. 1974-95 was set to introduce two new teams to the NHL landscape, with the Washington Capitals and Kansas City Scouts set to begin play. Both of those teams would take part in the 1974 Expansion Draft to complete their rosters, a couple of weeks after taking part in their first Amateur Draft. (In recent years, the Expansion Draft would be conducted a day or two prior to the Entry Draft. In this case, however, the timing was changed to late May so as to give the NHL an advantage at signing young players compared to their new rival league, the World Hockey Association.)

The Scouts and the Capitals were handicapped from the get-go, not just by the restrictive expansion draft rules of the time, but also by the presence of the WHA, who would lure some high-profile players over to their league early on in their existence. Because of the WHA’s signing tactics, less talent was available for the Scouts and Caps to grab. The result was disastrous for both clubs; the Scouts would finish with only 41 points on the season, only ahead of the Capitals, whose total of 21 points still stands as the NHL record for the worst single season. The poor starts did damage to both teams, but while the Capitals could weather the storm, the Scouts could not, as after another poor season in 75-76, they would be moved to Colorado to become the Rockies.

But let’s say the rules changed, if only for a year. Let’s say that Kansas City and Washington had the drafting rules that the Vegas Golden Knights had in 2017. Could the Capitals and Scouts have become playoff teams, or even Stanley Cup contenders right off the bat? Could the Caps avoid being the doormat of the league for their first few years of existence? And could the Scouts be good enough to draw fans early on, thus securing their place in Kansas City?

A VEGAS STYLE RE-DRAFT: EXPANSION IN 1974

WHAT WERE THE RULES, AND HOW DO THEY CHANGE? The rules for the expansion draft of 1974 were pretty similar to the ones that had taken place over the past few years. Teams are allowed to protect fifteen skaters and two goalies, with first-year pros being exempt from selection. Four teams – Boston, Chicago, Montreal, and Los Angeles – had lost goalies in the 1972 Expansion Draft, and thus were exempt from losing another one this time around. Also, every time someone from a team was picked by an expansion club, the team that had just lost a player was allowed to add one player to their protected list.

Now, the first rule change is the biggest one. Rather than protecting fifteen skaters and a pair of goalies, teams are now given a choice; they can either protect eight skaters and a goalie, or seven forwards, three defenders, and a netminder. This drastically raises the talent level of available players, as now, the Scouts and Capitals have a chance to pick up some solid depth players instead of having to settle for fourth-line scraps that even the WHA didn’t want. Normally, both first-year and second-year professionals would be exempt, but with the minimum entry age to the NHL being 20 years, the first-year rule will stay for now. Also, since there was no option in the 2000 Expansion Draft (the last one with more than one team) to add players to the protected list, there will be no such rule here.

In the 2017 Expansion Draft, teams had to leave two forwards and one D-man with 40 games played in the 2016-17 season (or 75 games in the past two seasons) unprotected. This rule will be introduced into the new 1974 Expansion Draft, so as to allow the Scouts and Capitals to have some established NHL talent available for the taking. Since there were no known players with a no-trade clause or no-movement clause at the time, any rules from the 2017 Expansion Draft regarding those clauses are irrelevant, and do not need to be included.

Finally, this is not a rule change, but addressing a reality of the game at the time. The World Hockey Association was beginning to poach more and more players from NHL teams, and some players were left unprotected because of this. Anyone who has gone to the WHA at any point between the end of the 73-74 season and the Expansion Draft will not be selected; they still join their respective WHA clubs. An example of this – and probably the most important example – was Montreal’s Frank Mahovlich, who would leave the Habs to join the rival league’s Toronto Toros.

At the beginning of the 73-74 season, when the new expansion rules are announced, teams across the league grumble, regardless of their age. The first few expansion franchises are especially miffed due to the fact that they had much harsher rules when they entered the NHL. The reasoning given by the league is that they want to make sure that Kansas City and Washington are immediately attractive destinations for players who may be lost in the shuffle at their previous clubs, but there is another reason; the NHL wants to make sure that those players don’t defect to the ever-growing WHA, which is beginning to lure more and more players over.


TEAM-BY-TEAM PROTECTION LISTS

Note: For each team’s protection list, I used the lists from this site, and made changes as I saw fit.

ATLANTA FLAMES: The Flames were part of the last expansion class with the New York Islanders, and had already earned a playoff spot in just their second season of play. Defenders were much more key to the Flames’ success, with the duo of Randy Manery and Pat Quinn taking the bulk of the ice time. In goal, the Flames had a solid one-two punch of Dan Bouchard and Phil Myre, both of them still pretty young. Having played 46 games in the previous year, Bouchard is the lucky one to get protected. Myre, the 1st Pick in the 1972 Expansion Draft, is likely to be a #1 Pick again.

Protected: F Bobby Leiter, F Larry Romancych, F Jacques Richard, F Curt Bennett, F Buster Harvey, F John Stewart, F Rey Comeau, D Randy Manery, D Pat Quinn, D Jean Lemieux, G Dan Bouchard

BOSTON BRUINS: The early 70s belong to the Boston Bruins. They have the best forward in the game at the time, Phil Esposito, and the best defenseman at the time (and likely all-time), Bobby Orr, both at the height of their powers. They also have incredible depth, which is both a blessing and a curse, as they now have to deal with losing a solid player or two in the expansion draft. Terry O’Reilly is left exposed, as is the ever-troubled Derek Sanderson. One advantage Boston has over other teams is the fact that they are exempt from losing a goalie, which saves them some work.

Protected: F Phil Esposito, F Ken Hodge, F Wayne Cashman, F John Bucyk, F Don Marcotte, F Gregg Shepherd, F Bobby Schmautz, D Bobby Orr, D Carol Vadnais, D Dallas Smith

BUFFALO SABRES: The Sabres were a team ready to strike soon. They had the French Connection, the line of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, and Rene Robert, all of them yet to truly hit their prime. In fact, every Sabre forward that would be protected in this draft was well under 30, giving Buffalo a chance to be competitive for next year. Most of the team’s problems would come in securing their blue line, with Paul Terbenche headed for the WHA, Tracy Pratt traded mid-season to Vancouver, and 44-year-old Tim Horton losing his life in a February car accident.

Protected: F Rick Martin, F Don Luce, F Rene Robert, F Gilbert Perreault, F Craig Ramsay, F Gerry Meehan, F Jim Lorentz, D Larry Carriere, D Mike Robitaille, D Jerry Korab, G Gary Bromley

CALIFORNIA GOLDEN SEALS: After a couple of playoff appearances in their first three seasons, the Golden Seals have gone back to being one of the league’s bottom-feeders. The team was seemingly in a permanent re-building mode, and had made two trades in the off-season to send good young players elsewhere. Ivan Boldirev, who had yet to turn 25, was sent to the Chicago Black Hawks, while Reggie Leach was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers. Very little top-end talent remained on the Seals, and it would be slim pickings for the two expansion clubs.

Protected: F Joey Johnston, F Stan Gilbertson, F Hilliard Graves, F Craig Patrick, F Ron Huston, F Stan Weir, F Al MacAdam, D Ted McAneeley, D Len Frig, D Jim Neilson, G Gilles Meloche

CHICAGO BLACK HAWKS: The Chicago Blackhawks may have been near the top of the league, but they were on the way down. Many of their top players were on the wrong side of thirty years old, among them the likes of Jim Pappin, Bill White, and Stan Mikita. They did make a trade to get Ivan Boldirev from the Golden Seals, and would immediately protect him, as he would likely be a key piece of the team for the next few years. Chicago was exempt from losing a goalie, having given Gerry Desjardins to the New York Islanders in 1972.

Protected: F Ivan Boldirev, F Stan Mikita, F Pit Martin, F Jim Pappin, F Dennis Hull, F Cliff Koroll, F Dale Tallon, D Dick Redmond, D Phil Russell, D Bill White

DETROIT RED WINGS: The Red Wings got off to a horrible start, and never recovered. After going 2-8-1, head coach Ted Garvin was fired, and Alex Delvecchio would hang up his gear to take the reins. While the team had a star in Marcel Dionne, they also had defensive woes of their own. Their best D-man, Ron Stackhouse, had been traded to Pittsburgh, and the next best blue-liner, Brent Hughes, had the worst plus-minus of any defenseman on the team. He would be left unprotected, while younger defenders like Jack Lynch and Jean Hamel would be held on to.

Protected: F Mickey Redmond, F Marcel Dionne, F Red Berenson, F Guy Charron, F Bill Hogaboam, F Nick Libett, F Pierre Jarry, D Jack Lynch, D Bryan Watson, D Jean Hamel, G Jim Rutherford

LOS ANGELES KINGS: The Kings were going to have a few decisions to make regarding who to protect among their forwards. Their top five scorers each cracked fifty points, and were sure to be held on to, but they also had a number of forwards with anywhere from twenty to fourty points. Somebody was going to have to be exposed, and Kansas City and Washington could likely grab a decent depth piece. Los Angeles would not lose a goalie, having lost Billy Smith to the Islanders in ’72; in the OTL, they waived their 1974 exemption, but faced with the prospect of losing a decent back-up in Gary Edwards, they would not waive it this time around.

Protected: F Butch Goring, F Juha Widing, F Bob Berry, F Frank St. Marseille, F Don Kozak, F Mike Murphy, F Tom Williams, D Terry Harper, D Bob Murdoch, D Sheldon Kannegiesser

MINNESOTA NORTH STARS: After a stretch of four years with playoff appearances, the North Stars missed out in 73-74, with Jack Gordon being relieved as head coach in favour of Parker MacDonald. They were unlikely to lose a goalie, as Cesare Maniago would be protected, and back-up Gump Worsley would hang up the skates at 45 years of age. They would, however, have to lose a solid centreman; because of the 40/75 rule being brought into this draft, Fred Stanfield would have to be exposed in favour of young Alain Langlais, who had only played in 14 games the previous year.

Protected: F Bill Goldsworthy, F Dennis Hextall, F Danny Grant, F J.P. Parise, F Jude Drouin, F Alain Langlais, F Lou Nanne, D Barry Gibbs, D Dennis O’Brien, D Tom Reid, G Cesare Maniago

MONTREAL CANADIENS: Montreal was near the top of the league, and likely not going anywhere. With the likes of Guy Lafleur and Larry Robinson still very young by standards of the day, and already becoming key players for the Habs, Montreal was clearly set to be Cup contenders for a while. They could even afford to let go of their highest scorer, Frank Mahovlich, who would sign with the WHA’s Toronto Toros. In the OTL, Montreal chose to waive their goalie exemption, knowing they could protect both Wayne Thomas and the returning Ken Dryden, who had taken a year off to finish his law degree. Faced with the possibility of losing one of them, they use their exemption in this timeline.

Protected: F Peter Mahovlich, F Yvan Cournoyer, F Jacques Lemaire, F Guy Lafleur, F Chuck Lefley, F Henri Richard, F Steve Shutt, D Guy Lapointe, D Larry Robinson, D Serge Savard

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: As expected, the Islanders were still pretty close to the bottom of the table, having only completed their second season in the NHL. They were lacking premium talent, but they did have a pretty decent star player in Denis Potvin, who had not only led the team in points as a defenseman, but did so in his rookie year, making him exempt from selection. The last forward slot proves a tough choice for New York, with enforcer Garry Howatt making the cut.

Protected: F Billy Harris, F Ralph Stewart, F Ed Westfall, F Bob Nystrom, F Lorne Henning, F Craig Cameron, F Garry Howatt, D Jean Potvin, D Bert Marshall, D Gerry Hart, G Billy Smith

NEW YORK RANGERS: The Rangers had forwards aplenty. So many, in fact, that they were at risk of losing somebody with serious talent. They didn’t help matters by claiming Walt McKechnie in the Intra-League Draft just a couple of days before the Expansion Draft was to be held. McKechnie, a few days shy of 27, had put up 52 points in 63 games for the lowly Golden Seals, and was a sure bet to be protected. The likes of Ted Irvine and Bobby Rousseau would find themselves on the outs, exposed for the expansion teams to claim. The defence is less complicated, with Brad Park and Rod Seiling unlikely to go anywhere.

Protected: F Rod Gilbert, F Jean Ratelle, F Pete Stemkowski, F Steve Vickers, F Walt Tkaczuk, F Bill Fairbairn, F Walt McKechnie, D Brad Park, D Rod Seiling, D Gilles Marotte, G Eddie Giacomin

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: The good news for Philadelphia was that they had just won the Stanley Cup, the first expansion team to do so. The bad news was, they were destined to lose a very good player or two thanks to the new rules. If they used the “7 forwards, 3 defenders” option, they risked exposing the solid defensive duo of Ed Van Impe and Joe Watson, but if they used the “8 skater” option, they put a set of talented forwards up for grabs. In the end, the Flyers would use the 7/3 option, knowing that Van Impe and Watson were likely to be the first two skaters taken.

Protected: F Bobby Clarke, F Bill Barber, F Rick MacLeish, F Ross Lonsberry, F Gary Dornhoefer, F Dave Schultz, F Reggie Leach, D Tom Bladon, D Andre Dupont, D Jimmy Watson, G Bernie Parent

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: Of all the teams set to lose players in the new-look 1974 Expansion Draft, only two would choose the eight-skater option, with the first of those being the Pittsburgh Penguins. The reason for this is due to the blue line, as the Pens boasted four players under 27 who were getting regular playing time late in the season, and contributing at all ends of the ice. This would allow the team to trade Nick Beverley to the New York Rangers prior to the Expansion Draft, getting veteran forward Vic Hadfield in return.

Protected: F Lowell MacDonald, F Syl Apps, Jr., F Jean Pronovost, F Vic Hadfield, D Dave Burrows, D Steve Durbano, D Ron Stackhouse, D Ab DeMarco, G Andy Brown

ST. LOUIS BLUES: For the first time in their history, the Blues have failed to make the playoffs. They actually started their existence with three straight Stanley Cup appearances; it should be noted, though, that the Blues were in the “West” Division, which was made up entirely of the expansion teams from 1967. Now, faced with Original Six teams in the West, the Blues were starting to get exposed, and now sat on the outside of the post-season.

Of note, Larry Giroux is left unprotected, both in real life and in this timeline. I can’t imagine why, as he was not technically a rookie pro, having signed with St. Louis in 1972. I guess they just had a policy against huge fuck-off afros.

Protected: F Garry Unger, F Pierre Plante, F Wayne Merrick, F Glen Sather, F Greg Polis, F Garnet “Ace” Bailey, F Dave Gardner, D Barclay Plager, D Don Awrey, D Bob Plager, G Wayne Stephenson

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: The Leafs were no longer a force in the NHL, and hadn’t been since the Original Six. And now, they had Harold Ballard out of prison, ready to shake the team up. For the time being, however, there was hope. They had some key pieces including Darryl Sittler, Dave Keon, and Jim McKenny under protection, and younger players like Lanny McDonald, Borje Salming, and Ian Turnbull were exempt. Toronto, however, were likely to lose their back-up goalie, Dunc Wilson, who had played 24 games in 1973-74.

Protected: F Darryl Sittler, F Norm Ullman, F Dave Keon, F Ron Ellis, F Rick Kehoe, F Bill Flett, F Gary Sabourin, D Jim McKenny, D Mike Pelyk, D Brian Glennie, G Doug Favell

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: Much like Pittsburgh, Vancouver is blessed with a plethora of good, young blue-liners, one of whom (Bob Dailey) is draft exempt. In addition to their defensive depth, however, the Canucks were extremely thin up front, and only getting thinner. Bobby Schmautz had been traded mid-season, Don Tannahill was headed to the WHA, and veteran Orland Kurtenbach was ready to call it a career. The eight-skater option is a no-brainer for the Canucks, who elect to protect FIVE defensemen.

Protected: F Andre Boudrias, F Gerry O’Flaherty, F Don Lever, D Dennis Kearns, D Greg Boddy, D Dave Dunn, D Jocelyn Guevremont, D Barry Wilkins, G Gary Smith


THE DRAFT

The first two rounds of the draft would be reserved for goalies, while the rest of the draft was for skaters. Unlike in the previous Expansion Draft in 1972, the Scouts would pick first, then alternating picks with the Washington Capitals. There was no serpentine order as there was with Atlanta and the Islanders. Each NHL team was to give up three players, and when they had done so, the rest of their players would be declared exempt.

  1. Kansas City Scouts – G DUNC WILSON (Toronto Maple Leafs)
  2. Washington Capitals – G PHIL MYRE (Atlanta Flames)
  3. Kansas City Scouts – G EDDIE JOHNSTON (St. Louis Blues)
  4. Washington Capitals – G ROCKY FARR (Buffalo Sabres)
  5. Kansas City Scouts – D ED VAN IMPE (Philadelphia Flyers)
  6. Washington Capitals – D JOE WATSON (Philadelphia Flyers)
  7. Kansas City Scouts – F TED IRVINE (New York Rangers)
  8. Washington Capitals – D DOUG JARRETT (Chicago Black Hawks)
  9. Kansas City Scouts – D KEITH MAGNUSON (Chicago Black Hawks)
  10. Washington Capitals – D/F JIMMY ROBERTS (Montreal Canadiens)
  11. Kansas City Scouts – D GARY BERGMAN (Minnesota North Stars)
  12. Washington Capitals – D LARRY GIROUX (St. Louis Blues)
  13. Kansas City Scouts – F BOBBY ROUSSEAU (New York Rangers)
  14. Washington Capitals – F TERRY O’REILLY (Boston Bruins)
  15. Kansas City Scouts – F FRED STANFIELD (Minnesota North Stars)
  16. Washington Capitals – F DON SALESKI (Philadelphia Flyers)
  17. Kansas City Scouts – F GERMAIN GAGNON (Chicago Black Hawks)
  18. Washington Capitals – F KEITH McCREARY (Atlanta Flames)
  19. Kansas City Scouts – D DALE ROLFE (New York Rangers)
  20. Washington Capitals – F MIKE CORRIGAN (Los Angeles Kings)
  21. Kansas City Scouts – F CLAUDE LAROSE (Montreal Canadiens)
  22. Washington Capitals – F DAN MALONEY (Los Angeles Kings)
  23. Kansas City Scouts – F DOUG ROBERTS (Detroit Red Wings)
  24. Washington Capitals – F BOB KELLY (Pittsburgh Penguins)
  25. Kansas City Scouts – F CHUCK ARNASON (Pittsburgh Penguins)
  26. Washington Capitals – D NOEL PRICE (Atlanta Flames)
  27. Kansas City Scouts – D PIERRE BOUCHARD (Montreal Canadiens)
  28. Washington Capitals – D DARRYL EDESTRAND (Boston Bruins)
  29. Kansas City Scouts – F MURRAY OLIVER (Minnesota North Stars)
  30. Washington Capitals – D NEIL KOMADOSKI (Los Angeles Kings)
  31. Kansas City Scouts – D TED HARRIS (St. Louis Blues)
  32. Washington Capitals – F HENRY BOUCHA (Detroit Red Wings)
  33. Kansas City Scouts – D BOB PARADISE (Pittsburgh Penguins)
  34. Washington Capitals – D BRENT HUGHES (Detroit Red Wings)
  35. Kansas City Scouts – F DEREK SANDERSON (Boston Bruins)***
  36. Washington Capitals – F RICK DUDLEY (Buffalo Sabres)
  37. Kansas City Scouts – D TRACY PRATT (Vancouver Canucks)
  38. Washington Capitals – F JOHN GOULD (Vancouver Canucks)
  39. Kansas City Scouts – F DOUG ROMBOUGH (New York Islanders)
  40. Washington Capitals – F NORM GRATTON (Buffalo Sabres)
  41. Kansas City Scouts – F GEORGE FERGUSON (Toronto Maple Leafs)
  42. Washington Capitals – F BRYAN McSHEFFREY (Vancouver Canucks)
  43. Kansas City Scouts – F PETE LAFRAMBOISE (California Golden Seals)
  44. Washington Capitals – D TERRY MURRAY (California Golden Seals)
  45. Kansas City Scouts – F DENIS DUPERE (Toronto Maple Leafs)
  46. Washington Capitals – F GARY CROTEAU (California Golden Seals)
  47. Kansas City Scouts – D NEIL NICHOLSON (New York Islanders)
  48. Washington Capitals – F BOB COOK (New York Islanders)

Upon being informed that he was drafted by the Scouts, Derek Sanderson immediately asks for a trade. The Scouts oblige, trading him to the New York Rangers for Walt McKechnie.


Hmm… guess I’m going to have to get used to this new posting system.

Anyway, next week will be Part II of this series, as I look at how the Kansas City Scouts would fare with their new roster. In the meantime, enjoy your holidays!

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY