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November 25, 2011
Pucks From The Past
Saskatoon Westerns, 1992-93

by Iain Fyffe

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As we've discussed before, our fictional GM Ardal Ekrub does not set out to draft from a particular group of players. That he tends to end up with smaller players and Europeans is the result of other teams undervaluing these groups. Going into the 1992 Entry Draft, though, Ekrub would be quite pleased to draft another raft of players from across the Atlantic. Of the top nine players available (according to his Project-a-Tron objective draft rating system), seven are from Europe, including the top four (Robert Petrovicky, Sergei Krivokrasov, Alexei Yashin, and Roman Hamrlik). Landing of few of these players would make it a very good draft indeed for our beloved Saskatoon Westerns. Although his team has won Stanley Cups in both 1990 and 1992, Ekrub is constantly looking for top prospects, believing that a model of consistent success through drafting is a realistic one.

Top 30 Players Available at 1992 Entry Draft

Rank	Player			Pos	League	PGVT+	Drafted
1	Petrovicky, Robert	F	Cze	14.5	9
2	Krivokrasov, Sergei	F	Rus	13.3	12
3	Yashin, Alexei		F	Rus	10.8	2
4	Hamrlik, Roman		D	Cze	10.0	1
5	Brousseau, Paul		F	QMJHL	9.4	28
6	Cooper, David		D	WHL	8.7	11
7	Brylin, Sergei		F	Rus	8.7	42
8	Kapanen, Sami		F	Fin	8.4	-
9	Luovi, Mikko		F	Fin	8.1	-
10	Gendron, Martin		F	QMJHL	7.3	71
11	Rathje, Mike		D	WHL	7.0	3
12	Warriner, Todd		F	OHL	6.7	4
13	Suk, Steve		F	CCHA	6.7	-
14	Stillman, Cory		F	OHL	6.5	6
15	Wilkinson, Derek	G	OHL	6.1	145
16	Convery, Brandon	F	OHL	5.6	8
17	Wilkie, David		D	WHL	5.5	20
18	Klimt, Tomas		F	Cze	5.5	104
19	Hussey, Marc		D	WHL	5.4	43
20	Smith, Jason		D	WHL	5.3	18
21	Lamothe, Marc		G	OHL	5.3	92
22	DeRouville, Philippe	G	QMJHL	5.3	115
23	Murray, Rem		F	CCHA	5.3	135
24	Dackell, Andreas	F	Swe	5.3	-
25	Intranuovo, Ralph	F	OHL	5.2	96
26	Smith, Ryan		D	WHL	5.0	171
27	Corpse, Keli		F	OHL	4.9	44
28	Bannister, Drew		D	OHL	4.8	26
29	Marchant, Todd		F	ECAC	4.8	-
30	Peca, Mike		F	OHL	4.6	40

Ekrub continues to use a 15% upward PGVT+ adjustment for defensemen, in order to build up his team's relative paucity of blueliners drafted each year. He still has no reason to believe this reflects a flaw in his Project-a-Tron system, but rather that other NHL teams do a better job of drafting the best defensive prospects, while often leaving quality young forwards undrafted. In order to avoid having to trade for defensemen, Ekrub needs to massage his ratings to ensure he is able to draft enough players for this position.

This adjustment does not help Ekrub much this year, as the top four defensemen available (and five of the top six) have already been drafted by the time he gets his first pick at number 23. He does select three blueliners, though later in the draft, and he does manage to nab several of the top-rated Euros in Sergei Brylin, Sami Kapanen, and Mikko Luovi, in addition to Andreas Dackell and Frantisek Kaberle in the later rounds.

Saskatoon Westerns 1992 Entry Draft Picks

Pick	Player			Pos	League	PGVT+
23	Brousseau, Paul		RW	QMJHL	9.4
30	Brylin, Sergei		C	Rus	8.7
46	Kapanen, Sami		RW	Fin	8.4
48	Luovi, Mikko		LW	Fin	8.1
71	Gendron, Martin		RW	QMJHL	7.3
95	Suk, Steve		C	CCHA	6.7
119	Wilkinson, Derek	G	OHL	6.1
143	Smith, Ryan		D	WHL	5.0
167	Dackell, Andreas	RW	Swe	5.3
191	Kaberle, Frantisek	D	Cze	4.4
215	Marchant, Todd		C	ECAC	4.8
239	Julien, Stephane	D	QMJHL	4.2
263	Ducharme, Dom		C	ECAC	4.2

Ekurb uses a variety of means to purge his roster during the 1992 offseason. First of all, Brian Propp announces his retirement, and like Bernie Federko before him joins the management team. His number 26 is retired in a ceremony celebrating the team's second Stanley Cup win.

The 1992 Expansion Draft claims Don Beaupre and Greg Hawgood. Beaupre was left exposed so that Ekrub could protect his younger goaltenders. With Felix Potvin's performance in the 1992 playoffs, it seems likely that he will be able to start regularly for the team, and Beaupre is aging. It's not without regret that Ekrub has to say goodbye to his long-time netminder, but the team comes first, and this move is best for the team.

Veterans Esa Tikkanen and Peter Andersson are traded to the New York Rangers for a second round draft pick (48th overall), and a package including Tommy Albelin, Norm Maciver, Tyler Larter, and Vincent Riendeau are shipped to Calgary for Scott Sharples (in order to have a backup goaltender at the AHL level) and a second round draft pick (30th overall). Juraj Jurik, Darcy Norton, Jens Neilsen, Marko Kiuru, and Henrik Nilsson are then released to complete the roster moves, getting the team below its Reserve List limit of 80 players.

Saskatoon Westerns 1991-92 Reserve List

Pos	Name			Age	Acquired
G	Bergeron, J-C (k)	23	Draft—1987 (79)
G	Fiset, Stephane (k)	22	Draft—1988 (24)
G	Potvin, Felix (k)	21	Draft—1989 (61)
G	Sharples, Scott (k)	24	Trade—1992
G	Wilkinson, Derek	18	Draft—1992 (119)
D	Bodger, Doug (k)	26	Draft—1984 (9)
D	Brown, Jeff (k)		26	Draft—1984 (30)
D	Dahl, Kevin (k)		23	Trade—1991
D	Friman, Kari-Pekka (k)	25	Draft—1985 (57)
D	Julien, Stephane	18	Draft—1992 (239)
D	Kaberle, Frantisek	18	Draft—1992 (191)
D	Lambert, Dan (k)	22	Draft—1988 (61)
D	Mironov, Boris (k)	20	Draft—1991 (197)
D	McCrimmon, Brad (k)	33	Trade—1983
D	Norwood, Lee (k)	32	Trade—1983
D	Numminen, Teppo (k)	24	Draft—1986 (15)
D	Olsson, Mattias (k)	20	Draft—1990 (150)
D	Smith, Ryan		18	Draft—1992 (143)
D	Snell, Chris (k)	21	Draft—1990 (249)
D	Van Impe, Darren (k)	19	Draft—1991 (104)
D	Whitham, Sean (k)	25	Draft—1985 (114)
D	Yushkevich, Dmitri (k)	20	Draft—1990 (45)
D	Zhitnik, Alexei (k)	19	Draft—1991 (65)
D	Zubov, Sergei (k)	21	Draft—1990 (81)
C	Brylin, Sergei		18	Draft—1992 (30)
C	Chalifoux, Denis (k)	21	Draft—1990 (165)
C	Conroy, Al (k)		26	Draft—1984 (218)
C	Ducharme, Dom		19	Draft—1992 (263)
C	Firth, Jason (k)	21	Draft—1990 (186)
C	Gilmour, Doug (k)	29	Transfer—1983
C	Goodall, Glen (k)	22	Draft—1988 (82)
C	Kivela, Teppo (k)	24	Draft—1987 (16)
C	Lapointe, Claude (k)	23	Draft—1988 (229)
C	Larouche, Steve (k)	21	Draft—1989 (40)
C	Lebeau, Stephan (k)	24	Draft—1990 (141)
C	Marchant, Todd		19	Draft—1992 (215)
C	Miller, Colin (k)	21	Draft—1990 (228)
C	Nieuwendyk, Joe (k)	26	Draft—1985 (9)
C	Nylander, Michael	19	Draft—1991 (43)
C	Perreault, Yanic (k)	21	Draft—1990 (102)
C	Raitanen, Pauli		22	Draft—1988 (103)
C	Reichel, Robert (k)	21	Draft—1989 (19)
C	Sakic, Brian (k)	21	Draft—1990 (39)
C	Straka, Martin		20	Draft—1991 (219)
C	Suk, Steve		19	Draft—1992 (95)
C	Zhamnov, Alexei		21	Draft—1990 (60)
LW	Alatalo, Mika		21	Draft—1989 (103)
LW	Andersson, Niklas	21	Draft—1989 (43)
LW	Hoglund, Jonas		20	Draft—1991 (241)
LW	Horak, Roman		22	Draft—1988 (19)
LW	Kozlov, Vyacheslav (k)	20	Draft—1990 (18)
LW	Luovi, Mikko		18	Draft—1992 (48)
LW	Recchi, Mark (k)	24	Draft—1987 (142)
LW	Rob, Lubos (k)		22	Draft—1989 (145)
LW	Stepanov, Alexei	20	Draft—1991 (263)
LW	Suvanto, Harri		21	Draft—1989 (166)
LW	Torkki, Jari (k)	27	Draft—1983 (90)
LW	Tormanen, Antti		21	Draft—1989 (187)
LW	Whitney, Ray (k)	20	Draft—1991 (21)
RW	Audette, Donald (k)	22	Draft—1988 (250)
RW	Brousseau, Paul		19	Draft—1992 (23)
RW	Caloun, Jan		19	Draft—1991 (87)
RW	Cherbaev, Alexander	19	Draft—1991 (109)
RW	Dackell, Andreas	19	Draft—1992 (167)
RW	Drulia, Stan (k)	24	Draft—1986 (162)
RW	Fleury, Theoren (k)	24	Draft—1986 (204)
RW	Gendron, Martin		18	Draft—1992 (71)
RW	Graham, Dirk (k)	32	Free Agent—1983
RW	Kapanen, Sami		19	Draft—1992 (46)
RW	Lebeau, Patrick (k)	22	Draft—1989 (82)
RW	Lefebvre, Patrice (k)	24	Draft—1987 (184)
RW	Lehtinen, Jere		19	Draft—1991 (131)
RW	Mullen, Joe (k)		35	Transfer—1983
RW	Petrov, Oleg (k)	21	Draft—1990 (57)
RW	Prochazka, Martin	20	Draft—1990 (144)
RW	Sjogren, Thomas (k)	24	Draft—1986 (57)
RW	Tuomainen, Marko	20	Draft—1991 (175)
RW	Varvio, Jarkko		20	Draft—1991 (153)
RW	Vujtek, Vladimir	20	Draft—1990 (207)
RW	Wahlsten, Sami (k)	24	Draft—1986 (120)

Players on Reserve List (Maximum 80): 78
Players Under Contract (Maximum 50): 49

Although Ekrub would be happy to record consistent seasons of 100 points, in 1992-93 the Westerns reach beyond even that lofty total, recording 115 points to finish behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins (though Saskatoon has the better goal differential). Perhaps the biggest reason is the outstanding work of young Felix Potvin, who follows up his Stanley Cup heroics by recording a team record 26.6 GVT in only 51 games.

Saskatoon Westerns Season Results Through 1992-93

Season	GP	W	L	T	GF	GA	Pts
1983-84	80	32	39	9	314	324	73
1984-85	80	34	36	10	311	313	78
1985-86	80	40	32	8	321	309	88
1986-87	80	40	32	8	328	297	88
1987-88	80	41	31	8	345	307	90
1988-89	80	45	26	9	365	297	99
1989-90	80	45	27	8	344	277	98
1990-91	80	47	23	10	341	257	104
1991-92	80	45	25	10	339	269	100
1992-93	84	53	23	8	382	268	115
Total	804	422	294	88	3390	2628	933

The 1992-93 edition of the Westerns is the best offensive team the city has yet seen. They score 382 goals, more than a dozen clear of Detroit and Pittsburgh, and the highest total in the league since the 1987-88 Flames. With Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Mark Recchi, Robert Reichel, Theoren Fleury, and Joe Mullen as their top six forwards, it's no wonder the red light is lit so often.

The crop of Russian players that were drafted in 1990 begin to make their marks here: Dmitri Yushkevich, Sergei Zubov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, and Alexeis Zhamnov and Zhitnik all appear with the NHL team, most in fairly significant roles. An intepreter is surely needed in the dressing room, as four Finns and a Czech also play for Saskatoon. The team's Reserve List also features a number of other Finnish players, but relatively few Swedes. It seems other NHL teams undervalue players from Finland, with respect to their value as compared to those from Sweden.

Saskatoon Westerns 1992-93 NHL Season Results

GP	W	L	T	GF	GA	Pts	Finish
84	53	23	8	382	268	115	1st place, Smythe; 2nd overall

Player			Num	Pos	GP	OGVT	DGVT	GVT
Potvin, Felix		31	G	51	0.0	26.6	26.6
Gilmour, Doug		9	C	83	15.4	7.5	22.9
Recchi, Mark		8	LW	84	16.9	2.5	19.4
Brown, Jeff		28	D	71	12.6	2.9	15.5
Reichel, Robert		29	LW	80	11.6	2.7	14.3
Fleury, Theoren		14	RW	83	10.9	3.2	14.1
Mullen, Joe		7	RW	72	10.1	3.1	13.2
Bodger, Doug		3	D	81	4.6	6.4	11.0
Nieuwendyk, Joe		25	C	79	8.6	1.6	10.2
Lebeau, Stephan		47	C	71	7.9	2.0	9.9
Numminen, Teppo		27	D	66	4.1	4.3	8.4
Kivela, Teppo		40	LW	84	4.0	2.5	6.5
Yushkevich, Dmitri	2	D	82	1.9	4.2	6.1
Zubov, Sergei		46	D	69	2.9	3.1	6.0
Graham, Dirk		21	RW	84	-0.2	5.7	5.5
Lapointe, Claude	17	LW	72	2.2	2.8	5.0
McCrimmon, Brad		10	D	60	0.1	4.4	4.5
Zhamnov, Alexei		23	C	68	3.2	1.1	4.3
Fiset, Stephane		35	G	23	0.0	2.5	2.5
Audette, Donald		18	RW	49	2.2	0.3	2.5
Zhitnik, Alexei		44	D	39	1.6	0.2	1.8
Torkki, Jari		13	LW	26	1.0	0.6	1.6
Drulia, Stan		36	RW	26	0.9	0.4	1.3
Lebeau, Patrick		32	RW	25	0.8	0.1	0.9
Lambert, Dan		15	D	32	0.6	0.3	0.9
Friman, Kari-Pekka	22	D	4	0.0	0.1	0.1
Bergeron, Jean-Claude	1	G	10	0.0	0.0	0.0
Kozlov, Vyacheslav	16	LW	17	0.2	-0.2	0.0
Goodall, Glen		42	C	5	0.0	0.0	0.0
Total					84	124.1	90.9	215.0

Playoffs, First Round

When the Westerns lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the 1991 playoffs, Ekrub said "[t]he Kings are one heck of a team, and there's no shame in losing to Wayne Gretzky. We've done it many times before, and we may do it again." The first round of the 1993 playoffs proves him right, as Gretzky's team takes the series in five games (2-3, 0-2, 3-5, 8-6, 2-4), eventually advancing to the Stanley Cup finals before losing to Montreal.

Ekrub is not disheartened by the loss. He knows the playoffs are dominated by randomness. Two Stanley Cup wins in four seasons is evidence that he has built an excellent team, and he sees no reason why they won't continue to play at this level for years to come.

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