1998 Entry Draft and Expansion Draft: Where it all started
Let’s start with the 1998 Expansion Draft, which had much different parameters than what it is today with the Vegas Golden Knights and the Seattle Kraken in 2021.
The Predators made some impactful selections in this process, including their workhorse starting goaltender in Mike Dunham. He was taken from the New Jersey Devils, and ended up winning 81 games for Nashville with eight shutouts.
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All of those previously mentioned players ended up having productive careers with the Predators and were big parts of the team.
Now for the draft itself, it doesn’t have a lot of highlights after David Legwand.
Obviously Legwand went on to have an outstanding and long career for the Predators, and there’s really no reason to cringe when looking back.
Other than Alex Tanguay, taken 12th-overall by the Colorado Avalanche, I don’t really see a player that jumped off the page that the Predators would’ve taken. They could’ve made a much more disastrous pick here, so they get an “A” for taking Legwand as the franchise’s first pick.
Not many solid picks after Legwand in their inaugural draft. They took Denis Arkhipov with their third-round pick, who very few remember. He did play a couple moderately productive seasons with Nashville (2001-2003) but never really lived up to it.
The next five picks of the 1998 draft for the Predators never registered an NHL point, with their final pick, Karlis Skrastins, cracking into the NHL rather quickly for his draft position and putting up 54 points for his Predators career.
1998 Draft Grade: C+