Some day the waiver draft is expected to contribute toward competitive parity in the National Hockey League. Today's second edition, however, will provide no shuffling among the blessed and the oppressed.
The Washington Capitals, of whom none is needier, receive the first choice, as a condition of the Cleveland-Minnesota merger agreement. They are expected to choose a wing with impressive minor-league credentials. None is available who has dazzled NHL eyes before.
The prime hunting ground is the unprotected list of the Los Angeles Kings, which includes three high-scoring wingers who performed for Springfield of the American Hockey League a year ago. But if the Kings don't want them, who does?
Charlies Simmer, 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds with a history of knee problems, collected 42 goals for the AHL Indians. Steve Clippindale, 6-2 and 195, netted 33 and Russ Walker, 6-2 and 185, had 30.
Also left open for claims was Los Angeles right wing Hartland Monahan, the man for whom the Capitals obtained a No. 1 draft choice from Pittsburgh. For a modest $40,000 investment, the Capitals could get him back.
Also among the unguarded is goalie Ron Low, who deserted the Capitals for higher pay as a free agent in Detroit and became excess baggage with the acquisition of Rogie Vachon.
Past Capitals, however, are unlikely to tempt Washington General Manager Max McNab, who is seeking a young winger with scoring potential.
Besides the Los Angeles trio, McNab will be weighing the future possibilities of Pittsburgh's Jacques Cossette, a 39-goal scorer with Binghamton of the AHL; Philadelphia's AI Hill, 32 goals with Maine of the AHL; Detroit's Dan Gruen, Minnesota's Kelly Greenbank and Chicago's Dan Hinton.
Available veterans with some skating time left include Buffalo's Jim Lorentz and Fred Stanfield, Los Angeles' Pete Stemkowski, Minnesota's Gerry O'Flaherty and Pittsburgh's Brian Spencer.
Each team may protect 18 skaters, two goalies, two players entering their third pro season and all players with one year of pro experience or less. The available talent was diluted by such maneuvers as Montreal failing to register the NHL contract of WHA defector Mark Napier and Boston making goalie Gerry. Cheevers a free agent. Neither is eligible, but both will be playing in the NHL this year.
Left unprotected by the Capitals were wingers Craig Patrick, Blair Stewart and Doug Patey, and centers Ron Lalonde and Doug Gibson.
After the draft, the Capitals will make minor-league assignments and designate the 19 players who will suit up for Wednesday's opener here.
Rosters have been frozen since Friday because of the draft. McNab has been discussing several trade possibilities and it would not be surprising if the paucity of waiver-draft talent spurred him to dealing for a winger.