The WHA has announced that seven current NHL players have been selected by its member teams. The players will appear as draft exemptions prior to the leagues draft, coming up July 17. On assumes that these are the seven most likely players that the new league feels they can lure over from the clutches of the NHL owners.
The players that suddenly find their free agent bargaining power increased include: Brett Hull, claimed by Dallas, Chris Chelios, coveted by the Detroit franchise, Martin St. Louis who has attracted the attention of the Florida owners group, Glen Murray who could end up a bluenoser, Hamilton likes the cut of Paul Kariya’s uniform, Mike Riberio can become extremely hated in Montreal should he wish to sign with the Quebec entry and Chris Phillips could hold down the blue line in the Skydome if the Toronto franchise has its way.
They are the first seven names selected in the new WHA and now wait to see if they will become this century’s version of Bobby Hull, Derek Sanderson and J C Tremblay. The interesting part of Wednesday’s announcement is the inclusion of Toronto and Hamilton to the happy band of would be hockey tycoons. The last word we had was that those two cities had yet to sign any agreements with their respective rinks, by far more of a rumour of a team than a factual entity.
With nine days to go until draft day for the WHA it will be interesting to see if the Hamilton and Toronto contingent take their place at the table when it comes time to stock the teams. Should they be there on draft day, the new league will have very much an Eastern Canadian feel to it’s make up, which if nothing else may guarantee some television interest in the two largest markets in a possibly hockey deprived country.