Friday, October 13, 2017

1998 Off-Season

1998 Entry Draft

The 1998 Entry Draft was historical for a few reasons. Fewer Canadians were selected in the first round than ever before in the PHL draft. Only nine were picked, while Americans outnumbered their Northern neighbors in the first round for the first time ever. Mikael Malmberg was selected first overall out of the Swedish Elite League. Malmberg, a late 1979 birthday, was able to play pro a year early. Big forward Kyle Mathis went second to Edmonton, his hometown team, while Plattsburgh, NY native and former high school star Darren Reid was selected third by New Orleans. Other interesting pics included Anders Almgren, whose father was one of the greatest coaches in Swedish Elite league history, and goaltender Mark Davis, selected 26th by Toronto. Davis had suffered two broken legs at age 13 and was told he would never play competitive sports again. After two years of intense rehab, Davis returned in time to dominate in high school, then play a year in the NCAA, where he shot up the draft rankings.

1.      DEN – Mikael Malmberg, D, SWE
2.      EDM – Kyle Mathis, F, CAN
3.      NOS – Darren Reid, F, USA
4.      BOS – Igor Nokavich, D, RUS
5.      DAL – Shawn Marchinski, F, CAN
6.      MIL – Riko Nokalainen, F, FIN
7.      VAN – Pascal Lemaire, F, CAN
8.      CGY – Justin Timmins, F, CAN
9.      LI – Trevor Keller, F, USA
10.   CHI (From MIA) – Alan Morrow, D, USA
11.   QUE – Todd McDonald, F, CAN
12.   DET – Kevin Smith, D, USA
13.   KC – Paul Hrlac, F, CZE
14.   STL – Anders Almgren, F, SWE
15.   PHI – Brett Zink, D, CAN
16.   WPG – Joni Kita, F, FIN
17.   CAR – Chris May, D, CAN
18.   SEA – Sergei Kruev, F, RUS
19.   PIT – Adam Tanzer, F, GER
20.   CLE – Ryan Hardy, G, USA
21.   LA – Patrick Gaines, F, USA
22.   MTL – Jean Pierre Cote, D, CAN
23.   WSH – Luke Moyer, D, CAN
24.   MIN – Jozef Banik, F, SVK
25.   CAL – Ted Brown, D, USA
26.   TOR – Mark Davis, G, USA
27.   NYC – Alexei Bobarov, F, RUS
28.   CHI – Jared Young, F, USA

Notable Retirements:

Niklas Ekberg, F, STL, 1979-1998
Though he was largely overshadowed by David Appleby and Grant Millen, Ekberg still played an important depth role in the St. Louis dynasty of the 1980s, even scoring the winning goals in the 1984 and 86 finals. After other key parts of the dynasty left during the 1990s, Ekberg remained in St. Louis for the remainder of his career, seriving as an important leader and mentor to the younger players on the team.

Jakob Martensson, G, PIT, DEN, 1982-1998
Martensson backstopped one of the more powerful franchises through the 1980s. The Pittsburgh Stingers appeared in four Lewis Cup finals through the decade and won it all in 1985 with Martensson playing an important role each time. In 1996, Martensson left Pittsburgh and signed with the Denver Bulls, where he would finish his career.

Magnus Swedberg, F, PHI, TOR, KC, 1982-1998
One of the most talented European players in PHL history, Magnus Swedberg played a big role on all three teams he played for. Swedberg helped Philadelphia to a Lewis Cup finals appearance in 1989, but never returned to the championship, playing nine more seasons in Toronto and Kansas City before retiring.

Notable Trades

Chicago trades D Theo Sprouse to Miami in exchange for 1st round pick.
The Shamrocks make the first in a slew of cap-related trades over the summer. Sprouse’s departure gets Chicago under the new salary cap while the Stingrays hope his arrival in Florida will mean a return to the playoffs.

Washington trades F Maxime Trepanier to Calgary in exchange for D Ben Parsons.
Parsons’ entry-level cap hit is more manageable for the Generals than Trepanier’s $2 Million. Trepanier will give the Wranglers some much-needed depth.

Los Angeles trades F Gustav Mattsen to Philadelphia in exchange for F Owen Betts.
In another cap move, the Wizards are forced to part ways with one of their star forwards. Betts adds size and grit to the LA offense, while Mattsen brings speed and a natural scoring ability to Philly.

Seattle trades D Olle Ragnarsson to Dallas in exchange for D Luke Ferguson.
In a last-minute move to get under the cap, the Wolves move Ragnarsson to Dallas at the conclusion of the pre-season. Ragnarsson is expected to significantly improve the Desperadoes defense.

Key Free Agents

AJ Vernon signs new 10-year deal with Dallas worth $8 Million/year.

Igor Zharkov signs new 6-year deal with Washington worth $7 Million/year.

AJ Devries signs new 12-year deal with Vancouver worth $6 Million/year.

Jeremy Kitchen (NYC) signs 4-year deal with Kansas City worth $5 Million/year.
The Twisters replace Magnus Swedberg with star veteran Kitchen, who was forced out of New York when the Civics couldn’t afford to re-sign him.

Ali Leino (CAL) signs 7-year deal with Calgary worth $5 Million/year.
The Wranglers continue to improve their roster with the addition of Leino, who will be looked at as a leader on the Calgary blueline.

Scott Whitmore (TOR) signs 3-year deal with Washington worth $4 Million/year.
Whitmore is released by the Racers, and will now face immense pressure in Washington after the Generals had to move key pieces to fit Whitmore under the cap.


The biggest news item in 1998 was the announcement of six cities applying for expansion. Houston, Phoenix, Portland, Atlanta, Tampa, and Baltimore would all be reviewed by an expansion committee beginning in the summer of 1999. Byrd stated that preferably, one western city and one eastern city would be chosen. Among the rejected cities were Las Vegas, San Antonio, Anaheim, Orlando, Memphis, Newark, and Ottawa, where a new arena will finally be built in 2002. Tampa expressed interest at the last minute but submitted a bid that was too impressive for Byrd to turn down. “I believe any of these six markets would serve our league well” said Byrd. “We’ll let the expansion committee decide it from here.”

In California the Nuggets finally secured a new arena in the Bay area. The team announced it would be relocating to Oakland in time for the 2000-01 season. The city of Oakland agreed to pay for 60 percent of the construction costs with several conditions, most notably that the team be renamed the Oakland Nuggets.

In other arena news two teams announced plans for new buildings. Los Angeles Wizards President Stuart Holly announced plans for a new arena to be built across the parking lot from Inglewood Colosseum. The arena would open in the spring of 2001 with the Wizards moving in in time for the 2001-02 season. The St. Louis Spirits also secured financing for a new arena with the hope it would be built in time for 2001-02.

When the 1998-99 schedule was released, the league announced six regular season games to take place in Europe early in the regular season. The Toronto Racers and Chicago Shamrocks would play two games in Moscow, the Montreal Royale would play the New York Civics twice in Stockholm, and the Los Angeles Wizards and Minnesota Lumberjacks would play two games in Prague. “These games will play a big role in expanding our global footprint” said commissioner Darryl Byrd.

There was also sad news out of Minnesota, as Bobby Sorel, the legendary Lumberjacks goaltender, was diagnosed with Cancer. In July, doctors determined that Sorel was terminally ill and likely had less than two years to live. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Bobby and his family during this time. Bobby has meant a lot to this organization and this community over the years.” said Lumberjacks owner Gil McCarthy. Sorel stated that he would continue as the team’s goaltending coach as long as he could.

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