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October 27, 2011
Pucks From The Past
Saskatoon Westerns, 1987-88

by Iain Fyffe

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Saskatoon Westerns at the 1987 Entry Draft

Fictional GM Ardal Ekrub has a new wrinkle to deal with for the 1987 edition of the NHL Entry Draft, one which puts additional constraints on the players he can select. Starting this season, most age-17 players from the Canadian major junior leagues are restricted to the first three rounds of the draft. Ekrub prefers to draft age-17 players, of course, since generally speaking good prospects will have revealed themselves to be good prospects by that age. Older players who have big seasons, but who were not impressive at 17 years old, are generally not highly-ranked by the Project-a-Tron.

This means that although the list below shows the 30 best prospects available, Ekrub will not necessarily be able to select the best player remaining on the list, starting in the fourth round of the draft. As it turns out, this restriction is not a huge impediment in 1987, and doesn't affect the Westerns until pick 121, when Ekrub would have drafted Marc Saumier (5.4 PGVT+) if not for his being 17 years of age. He would have later drafted Daniel Maurice (4.8 PGVT+) and Wayne Hynes (4.6 PGVT+) as well, but instead selects Roman Nemcicky (4.5 PGVT+), Darcy Norton (4.2 PGVT+), and Brad Hornung (3.2 PGVT+) as the best players available at the time that the team is allowed to select.

Top 30 Players Available at 1987 Entry Draft

Rank	Player			Pos	League	PGVT+	Drafted
1	Turgeon, Pierre		F	QMJHL	13.2	1
2	Richardson, Luke	D	OHL	9.6	7
3	Archibald, Dave		F	WHL	9.4	6
4	Fogarty, Bryan		D	OHL	9.0	9
5	Wesley, Glen		D	WHL	8.0	3
6	Kivela, Teppo		F	Fin	7.8	88
7	Glickman, Jason		G	OHL	7.8	-
8	Shanahan, Brendan	F	OHL	7.7	2
9	Persson, Ricard		D	Swe	7.6	23
10	Kiuru, Marko		F	Fin	7.3	-
11	McBean, Wayne		D	WHL	7.0	4
12	Miller, Brad		D	WHL	6.9	22
13	McCrady, Scott		D	WHL	6.9	35
14	Osborne, Keith		F	OHL	6.8	12
15	Bergeron, Jean-Claude	G	QMJHL	6.8	-
16	Erickson, Patrik	F	Swe	6.7	37
17	Fitzpatrick, Mark	G	WHL	6.6	27
18	Cassels, Andrew		F	OHL	6.4	17
19	Sakic, Joe		F	WHL	5.9	15
20	Luce, Scott		G	OHL	5.8	-
21	Beausoleil, Luc		F	QMJHL	5.5	-
22	Waite, Jimmy		G	OHL	5.5	8
23	Holland, Dennis		F	WHL	5.4	52
24	Saumier, Marc		F	QMJHL	5.4	-
25	Wilkie, Bob		D	WHL	5.3	41
26	Tremblay, Patrice	F	QMJHL	5.1	-
27	Miller, Kip		F	CCHA	5.1	72
28	Recchi, Mark		F	WHL	5.0	-
29	McGill, Ryan		D	WHL	5.0	29
30	Tabaracci, Rick		G	OHL	5.0	26

We, with knowledge of the future that Ekrub cannot possess, already know that most of the players he selected at the 1987 Entry Draft (see below) will not pan out. But there is one very notable exception. Just like Theoren Fleury the year before, he takes a small(ish) WHL right wing in the later rounds of the draft, one which seems to be a decent prospect but who was completely undrafted in the real world this season, but who would emerge as a bona fide NHL star: Mark Recchi. In a few years, Ekrub will look back on this draft as being worthwhile, if only for uncovering Recchi.

Saskatoon Westerns 1987 Entry Draft Picks

Pick	Player			Pos	League	PGVT+
16	Kivela, Teppo		C	Fin	7.8
37	Glickman, Jason		G	OHL	7.8
58	Kiuru, Marko		LW	Fin	7.3
79	Bergeron, Jean-Claude	G	QMJHL	6.8
100	Beausoleil, Luc		RW	QMJHL	5.5
121	Tremblay, Patrice	RW	QMJHL	5.1
142	Recchi, Mark		RW	WHL	5.0
163	Jurik, Juraj		LW	Cze	4.7
184	Lefebvre, Patrice	RW	QMJHL	4.6
205	Nemcicky, Roman		LW	Cze	4.5
226	Norton, Darcy		LW	WHL	4.2
247	Hornung, Brad		C	WHL	3.2

Other than the Entry Draft, offseason moves are of the housecleaning variety only. The Westerns release Mike Bishop, Darren McKay, Rik Wilson, Claude Julien, Paul Fenton, Tim Tookey, John Markell, Mark Reeds, and Dave Michayluk, in order to make room for their newly-selected prospects. Limited to only 80 players on the Reserve List, and 50 signed to professional contracts, the Westerns stand at 79 and 47 respectively after all of these moves, meaning that each year as players are drafted, more non-prospects will have to be culled from the roster to make room. It's the only option to deal with these limits.

If there was one word you would use to describe the Saskatoon roster now, it might be young. Bernie Federko (31 years old) and Joe Mullen (30) are the only players over 30, and Curt Giles, Brad McCrimmon, and Brian Propp (all 28) are the only others above 27 years of age. This is to be expected, given the team's strategy of building through the draft, and their GM's penchant of trading aging players for draft picks.

Saskatoon Westerns 1987-88 Reserve List

Pos	Name			Age (1987-88)
G	Beals, Darren (k)	19
G	Beaupre, Don (k)	25
G	Bergeron, Jean-Claude	18
G	Evoy, Sean (k)		21
G	Glickman, Jason		18
G	McKinley, Rob (k)	19
G	Riendeau, Vincent (k)	21
G	Sands, Mike (k)		24
D	Albelin, Tommy (k)	23
D	Andersson, Peter	22
D	Bodger, Doug (k)	21
D	Brown, Jeff (k)		21
D	Delorme, Gilbert (k)	24
D	Friman, Kari-Pekka	20
D	Giles, Curt (k)		28
D	Hawgood, Greg (k)	19
D	Maciver, Norm (k)	24
D	McCrimmon, Brad (k)	28
D	Norwood, Lee (k)	27
D	Numminen, Teppo		19
D	Posavad, Mike (k)	23
D	Taylor, Randy (k)	22
D	Whitham, Sean		20
C	Bradley, Brian (k)	22
C	Callander, Jock (k)	25
C	Conroy, Al (k)		21
C	Derkatch, Dale (k)	22
C	Federko, Bernie (k)	31
C	Gilmour, Doug (k)	24
C	Groulx, Wayne (k)	22
C	Helminen, Raimo (k)	23
C	Hornung, Brad		19
C	Johansson, Mikael	21
C	Jooris, Mark (k)	23
C	Kames, Vladimir		22
C	Keskinen, Esa		22
C	Kivela, Teppo		19
C	Kron, Robert		20
C	Kucera, Jiri		21
C	Laaksonen, Mikko	20
C	Larter, Tyler (k)	19
C	Lebeau, Stephan (k)	19
C	Lomow, Byron (k)	21
C	McMillan, John (k)	22
C	Nelson, Jeff		19
C	Nielsen, Len (k)	20
C	Nieuwendyk, Joe (k)	21
C	Pepin, Steve (k)	22
C	Wickenheiser, Doug (k)	26
C	Verbeek, Brian (k)	20
LW	Endean, Craig (k)	19
LW	Gosselin, Claude (k)	22
LW	Jurik, Juraj		19
LW	Kastak, Kamil		21
LW	Kiuru, Marko		18
LW	Lubina, Ladislav	20
LW	MacDonald, Lane		21
LW	Nemcicky, Roman		19
LW	Norton, Darcy		19
LW	Pehrsson, Joakim	21
LW	Propp, Brian (k)	28
LW	Tikkanen, Esa (k)	22
LW	Torkki, Jari		22
RW	Beausoleil, Luc		19
RW	Brown, Rob (k)		19
RW	Chernomaz, Rich (k)	24
RW	Drulia, Stan (k)	19
RW	Fleury, Theoren (k)	19
RW	Ganchar, Perry (k)	23
RW	Graham, Dirk (k)	27
RW	Klima, Petr (k)		22
RW	Lefebvre, Patrice	19
RW	Mullen, Joe (k)		30
RW	Paslawski, Greg (k)	26
RW	Recchi, Mark		19
RW	Rosol, Petr		23
RW	Sjogren, Thomas		19
RW	Tremblay, Patrice	19
RW	Wahlsten, Sami		19

Players on Reserve List (Maximum 80): 79
Players Under Contract (Maximum 50): 47

For the first time, an Ekrub-drafted man is the most valuable player on the team for the 1987-88 season. Young Joe Nieuwendyk overtakes Doug Gilmour as the team's leading center, winning the Calder Trophy with a 50-goal season. Norm Maciver, Tommy Albelin, Rob Brown, and Dale Derkatch also see significant action with the big club, though Derkatch's performance is not what Ekrub had envisioned when he made the player the team's first-ever selection in the 1983 Entry Draft.

The Westerns establish a new team best with a 90-point season, but remain trapped behind Calgary and Edmonton in the Smythe Division. It seems Alberta might actually be the biggest obstacle standing in Saskatoon's way on the road to NHL success. Will the team be able to overtake the Flames and Oilers of their own accord, or will they have to wait (and hope) for the teams to decline first? Only time will tell.

Saskatoon Westerns 1987-88 NHL Season Results

GP	W	L	T	GF	GA	Pts	Finish
80	41	31	8	345	307	90	3rd place, Smythe; 6th overall

Player			Pos	GP	OGVT	DGVT	GVT
Nieuwendyk, Joe		C	75	16.3	2.9	19.2
Mullen, Joe		RW	80	12.8	1.9	14.7
Gilmour, Doug		C	72	9.6	2.6	12.2
McCrimmon, Brad		D	80	5.2	6.3	11.5
Tikkanen, Esa		LW	80	8.1	2.2	10.3
Propp, Brian		LW	74	6.2	3.5	9.7
Riendeau, Vincent	G	44	0.0	9.0	9.0
Maciver, Norm		D	64	4.9	3.9	8.8
Federko, Bernie		C	79	6.4	2.0	8.4
Klima, Petr		LW	78	6.0	1.6	7.6
Brown, Jeff		D	78	4.6	2.4	7.0
Bodger, Doug		D	69	4.8	1.7	6.5
Graham, Dirk		RW	70	4.4	1.8	6.2
Norwood, Lee		D	51	3.5	2.3	5.8
Bradley, Brian		RW	65	3.0	2.4	5.4
Albelin, Tommy		D	61	1.5	2.9	4.4
Brown, Rob		RW	51	3.1	0.6	3.7
Derkatch, Dale		RW	41	2.2	0.0	2.2
Wickenheiser, Doug	C	80	-1.5	3.4	1.9
Chernomaz, Rich		LW	75	1.6	0.1	1.7
Jooris, Mark		RW	10	0.6	0.0	0.6
Delorme, Gilbert	D	5	0.0	0.3	0.3
Lomow, Byron		RW	13	-0.2	-0.2	-0.4
Giles, Curt		D	72	-1.7	0.3	-1.4
Paslawski, Greg		RW	17	-1.3	-0.4	-1.7
Beaupre, Don		G	36	0.0	-2.2	-2.2
Total				80	100.1	51.3	151.4

Playoffs, First Round

Another year, another series lost to a mighty Alberta-based NHL team. This time it's the Flames, who managed to unseat the Oilers from the position as division champions. Now, in reality, the Flames might not have accomplished this feat without Nieuwendyk, who of course is in the Westerns lineup in our fictional world. This will become even more apparent in the future when the Flames are led by players such as Doug Gilmour, Joe Mullen, and Theo Fleury, and even Brad McCrimmon, all of which play for the Westerns in our fantasy world. Clearly, the Flames would not be the Flames as we knew them without these men. But for our exercise, we're not going to worry about the effects of specific player changes on other teams; that's far too much niggling for too little return. Besides, if the Flames hadn't invested resources in acquiring these specific players, they would have had others in their place. So we'll deal only with the Saskatoon roster, and not worry about the other teams.

Back on target, the Flames sweep the Westerns in 1988 by scored of 3-1, 3-1, 9-6, and 5-3. Ekrub can only hope that the Saskatoon fans hold on to their patience just a bit more. He still expects good things to come, as more and more of his draft picks develop and take their places in the everyday lineup.

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Driving To The Net (10/27)
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