Nashville Makes Goalies a Priority

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Goaltending was the key to the successful debuts of the Mighty Ducks and Florida Panthers, who each won 33 games when they joined the NHL in 1993-94.

The Nashville Predators hope it works that way when they begin play next fall. By the looks of it, they don't have much else.

Nashville selected 26 players--one from each of the existing teams--in Friday's expansion draft at Marine Midland Arena.

As expected, the Predators drafted goalies Mikhail Shtalenkov of the Ducks and Mike Dunham of New Jersey. Nashville also took goalie Mike Richter of the New York Rangers, who will become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday.

Predator General Manager David Poile indicated he gladly would accept compensation in the form of a draft pick if Richter decided to sign with another team.

Taking goalie Frederic Chabot from the Kings was a bit of a surprise, considering defenseman Garry Galley was on the unprotected list. But the Kings sent two prospects to the Predators earlier this month in exchange for Nashville selecting Chabot.

The Kings sweetened the deal by sending defenseman Jan Vopat and the rights to unsigned defenseman Kimmo Timonen to Nashville.

When it came to selecting skaters, the pickings went downhill quickly for the Predators.

Next to Richter, the biggest name selected is that of defenseman Uwe Krupp from Colorado. But Krupp also is an unrestricted free agent, and Poile isn't expected to hang on to him either.

"Maybe there are some players who do not make it to Nashville," Poile said. "I think the Rangers are going to re-sign Richter. Krupp is in the same situation."

Expect to see the likes of left wing Craig Darby (Philadelphia), center Mike Sullivan (Boston), right wing Doug Brown (Detroit) and defensemen Bob Boughner (Buffalo) and Al Iafrate (San Jose) playing in front of Dunham when Nashville takes the ice in October.

"I'm really looking forward to it," said Dunham, who spent the last two seasons with New Jersey as Martin Brodeur's seldom-used backup. "I've just been waiting for my opportunity. It's something I've been waiting for."

Duck General Manager Jack Ferreira expects Dunham and Shtalenkov to split the goaltending duties, just as Guy Hebert and Ron Tugnutt did in 1993-94 for Anaheim.

Shtalenkov's availability was sealed when the Ducks acquired Patrick Lalime in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 24.

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Expansion Draft

Players selected by the Nashville Predators at the NHL expansion draft:

Defensemen: Chris Armstrong, Florida; Joel Bouchard, Calgary; Bob Boughner, Buffalo; Al Iafrate, San Jose; J.J. Daigneault, N.Y. Islanders; Uwe Krupp, Colorado; John Slaney, Phoenix; Rob Zettler, Toronto. Wings: Blair Atcheynum, St. Louis; Paul Brousseau, Tampa Bay; Doug Brown, Detroit; Andrew Brunette, Washington; Patrick Cote, Dallas; Jeff Daniels, Carolina; Denny Lambert, Ottawa; Craig Darby, Philadelphia. Centers: Doug Friedman, Edmonton; Tony Hrkac, Pittsburgh; Greg Johnson, Chicago; Mike Sullivan, Boston; Scott Walker, Vancouver. Goalies: Frederic Chabot, Kings; Mike Dunham, New Jersey; Mike Richter, N.Y. Rangers; Mikhail Shtalenkov, Mighty Ducks; Tomas Vokoun, Montreal

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