Sunday, December 1, 2013

1992 NHL Waiver Draft

The 1992 Waiver Draft was held on October 4. The rules were the same as they were in 1990, except that only one player could be lost by any given team (because this was an expansion year). The new expansion teams, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators, were allowed to participate in the first round of selections with the non-playoff clubs.

PlayerPicked byPicked fromPlayer dropped
from protected list
Cash or claim?
Round 1
Adam CreightonTampa Bay LightningNew York Islanders???cash
Norm MaciverOttawa SenatorsEdmonton Oilers???cash
Yvon CorriveauSan Jose SharksWashington Capitals???cash
Chris DahlquistCalgary FlamesMinnesota North Stars???cash
Shawn CroninPhiladelphia FlyersQuebec Nordiques???cash
Round 2
Igor LarionovSan Jose SharksVancouver Canucks???cash
Doug EvansPhiladelphia FlyersQuebec Nordiques???cash
Dave ChristianChicago BlackhawksSt. Louis Blues???cash

Adam Creighton was selected first by the Lightning in a pre-arranged deal with the Islanders. In exchange for the Islanders leaving Creighton unprotected the Lightning traded their fifth round pick in the 1994 Entry Draft to the Islanders (which the Isles used to select goalie Mark McArthur, who never appeared in an NHL game).

Norm Maciver would go on to be the first-year Senators' highest-scoring player.

Igor Larionov was the most high-profile pick this year, although at the time the reaction from the press was muted. Larionov had come over from the Soviet Union in 1989 (with permission mind you; he didn't defect) and played for the Canucks with Vladimir Krutov, one of his former linemates from CSKA Moscow. Krutov only played one year for the Canucks before being cut from the team. Apocryphal tales of Krutov being cut because he was overweight and out-of-shape aren't entirely untrue, but the underlying reason is that Krutov's contract was not registered properly with the league.

Soviet players like Krutov, Larionov, Sergei Makarov, Slava Fetisov, Alexei Kasatonov and Sergei Priakhin were given permission to leave the USSR and play hockey in the NHL by Sovintersport, a Soviet government agency that managed Soviet sports internationally. The contracts for the players were with Sovintersport, who would receive a percentage of the players' salaries as "transfer payments" from the NHL clubs, and they also insisted that the typical clauses in the Standard Player's Contract regarding assignment to a minor league team be rescinded. The Soviets did not want their best hockey players to play in the North American minor leagues; it would have been seen as tarnishing the image of Soviet sport. Striking out these clauses made the contracts ineligible for registration with the league because they were seen to be in violation of the league's by-laws and constitution, as well as the collective bargaining agreement with the NHLPA. While Larionov, Makarov and others signed revised contracts Krutov refused. It is for this reason that—legally speaking—he was only allowed to play a year with the Canucks.

Larionov continued playing for the Canucks for the rest of his three-year contract (which paid him and Sovintersport $375,000 per year, the same as Krutov's contract). When his contract expired and he sought to sign another he still had to do so through the Russian sports agency, who would continue to draw a portion of his salary from him. Rather than allow this to go on he signed a smaller contract with Lugano Hockey Club of the Swiss league, thumbing his nose at the Russian government.

The Sharks, who finished last in the 1991-92 season (their first) were hoping to sign Larionov and Sergei Makarov to contracts in order to dramatically improve the team. Makarov's contract with the Flames also expired in 1992 and the Sharks made him an offer in July. Makarov was considered a Group III free agent, which meant at the time that the Flames were not entitled to any compensation should Makarov sign a contract with another team but they still had the right to match any other team's offer. The Flames elected to match the Sharks' offer and Makarov would remain a Flame for the foreseeable future. Despite this setback the Sharks continued to pursue Larionov and picked him from the Canucks in the waiver draft.

It took almost a year but after the 1992-93 season the Russian government relented and allowed Larionov to sign an NHL contract without any interference. Larionov signed on the dotted line on June 5, 1993.

Makarov had had enough of playing in Calgary and had a particularly acrimonious relationship with Flames coach Dave King. (Makarov never got along with any of the Flames coaches. In his first year in Calgary he told Terry Crisp: "[Viktor] Tikhonov? Bad guy, good coach. You? Good guy, bad coach.") At the end of the season, just days before the 1993 Expansion Draft, Makarov was traded to the Hartford Whalers. The Whalers intended on drafting Viktor Kozlov in the 1993 Entry Draft and hoped that Makarov would mentor him and Andrei Nikolishin, their first-round pick in 1992 who was still playing in Russia for Dynamo Moscow. Makarov was not keen on the idea: he wanted to play for the Sharks and with Larionov. The Sharks in turn made a deal with the Whalers: the Whalers would get the Sharks' #2 overall pick in exchange for the Whalers' #6 overall pick, their second and third round picks, and Sergei Makarov. With the #2 pick the Whalers selected Chris Pronger. With the #6 pick the Sharks selected Kozlov.

Larionov and Makarov were teammates again for the first time since they had left the Soviet Union in 1989. They would lead the Sharks to the single greatest turnaround season in NHL history (a gain of 58 points over their record in 1992-93) and their first playoff birth, where they famously upset the heavily favoured Detroit Red Wings in the first round.

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